STAR Port Fairy midfielder/forward Daniel Nicholson is the Hampden coaches’ tip to take out the 2017 Maskell Medal.
Seven coaches have tipped Nicholson to be a front-runner for the award, which will be presented to the league’s best and fairest player on Sunday.
Koroit coach Chris McLaren said it was hard to ignore Nicholson’s impact.
“He’s obviously an elite player and gets a lot of the footy,” McLaren said. “But he’s really explosive as well.
“He’s one that will take some beating.”
While some coaches questioned whether Nicholson spending more time forward could be detrimental for his hopes in what has predominantly been a midfielder’s award, Terang Mortlake leader Michael Sargeant said it could be a benefit.
“Anyone who can have a midfielder who can push through and kick 60 goals in a season (is in a good position),” he said.
Camperdown coach Phil Carse stuck to his guns in tipping Nicholson for a second year running, despite a surprisingly low poll of votes in 2016, while Hamilton Kangaroos’ leader Matt Dunn and outgoing Warrnambool coach John Cook also tipped him.
Port Fairy coach Brett Evans tipped his players Nicholson and Jack Hollmer to do well in the voting.
“I think both of them should be right up there,” he said. “As to which one would win, I’m not too sure.
“I think with Jack’s start of the year – he started really well – he could have a really good chance to be an early leader. ‘Nico’ is going to be right there at the end.”
Three coaches expect Hollmer to be right among the votes, and the same number anticipate South Warrnambool’s James Hussey will poll well.
Cobden coach Levi Dare expects a four-player race for the medal: Hollmer, Nicholson, Hussey or Brody Mahoney
“Hollmer is the pick for mine,” Dare said. “But Nicholson will be right up there as well. They’ll take votes off each other.
“If either of them don’t win it, James Hussey from South Warrnambool might.”
Dare expects Bombers ball-winner Mahoney to be well in the hunt for the medal as well, as does North Warrnambool Eagles leader Graeme Twaddle.
Twaddle also tipped Hollmer to be in contention.
South Warrnambool coach Mathew Buck chose one from out of the box, expecting Koroit’s Liam Hoy, who was also a Hampden interleague representative this season, to win the award.
“I reckon he started the year really well,” Buck said.
“His first 10 games were as good as anyone.”
A few coaches also expect Dare, the reigning Maskell Medallist, to poll well again, although he is ineligible for the 2017 award as he was suspended during the season.