West Coast’s All-Australian wingman Andrew Gaff believes the continued development of players such as Luke Shuey and himself could be the only thing that stops Matt Priddis winning back-to-back Brownlow Medals.
Priddis is one of the favourites for Monday night’s award for the AFL’s best player and although Gaff expects him to poll strongly, he might not win because of the outstanding seasons the rest of the team have had.
“I think he’ll go really close. We’ve had a good year so there might be a few blokes taking votes off him, but he’s had another great year and I’m sure he’ll definitely be in the top two or three at least,” Gaff said.
“It’s obviously a great honour (named All-Australian) and to have two other boys in the team, and another couple of guys unlucky who were in the squad, is a testament to how far we’ve come as a group.”
Gaff and Shuey were both heavily tagged in the preliminary final win over North Melbourne at Domain Stadium, but they still made strong contributions to help West Coast in to the AFL grand final.
Gaff has now played 109 games and the 23-year-old believes the work that he and Shuey have done with former North Melbourne tagger Brady Rawlings has helped them improve, especially in coping with tags like they copped on Saturday night.
“We’ve got Brady Rawlings as our midfield coach who has done a lot of that in the past so he provides us with a lot of advice about that, and he’s been great since coming in,” Gaff said.
“We feel like we’ve all grown individually and with a lot of blokes going through the midfield we feel like we’re able to negate the impact of taggers a bit.
“There are still games when we’re shut out here and there and you’ll always have good or bad patches, but we have a lot of guys who can give us a chop out if things aren’t going so well.”
Only three West Coast players have previously played in a grand final with Sam Butler winning a premiership with the Eagles in 2006, Xavier Ellis with Hawthorn in 2008 and Sharrod Wellingham with Collingwood in 2010, but Gaff will make sure he soaks up the experience.
“It’s obviously very exciting and you dont play in a grand final too often so we’ll relish it because who knows if and when it might happen again,” Gaff said.
“We are going to give it our absolute best and I’m sure we’ll all speak to Xavier, Sharrod and Sam for a bit of advice because they have been there and actually won premierships before.”