Norm Smith Medal Tips - Who will be judged as best player in the 2018 AFL Grand Final?

Adam Cusworth 25 Sep 2018
  • Will it be Steele Sidebottom or Elliott Yeo?
  • Can a non-midfielder win the Norm Smith?
  • Who are the value contenders?

The Norm Smith Medal will be presented to the best player in the AFL Grand Final and we've picked out four value bets in what is a very competitive betting market.

Collingwood's Steele Sidebottom, Scott Pendlebury and Brodie Grundy are at single figure odds for the medal as is West Coast's Elliot Yeo. Sidebottom, who finished runner-up in the recent Brownlow Medal is a $6.50 favourite, ahead Pendlebury and Yeo (both $8), while Grundy is at $9. 

The Eagle's spearhead, Josh Kennedy, is at $10, while Jordan de Goey ($12), Luke Shuey ($13) and Jack Redden ($13) are next in the market.   

There is also plenty of value in the betting. Collingwood's man of the moment, Mason Cox is at $34, while Chris Masten ($51), Willie Rioli ($67) and Will Hoskin-Elliott ($81) are among those paying big. 

Finding a winner for the Norm Smith can come down to a bit of luck but here are a few things to keep in mind:

The Norm Smith Medal is normally won by midfielders. Last year's winner, Dustin Martin is an example but there have been a few exceptions. The 2016 recipient Jason Johannisen, claimed the Norm Smith as a running half-back-flanker, while Hawthorn's full back, Brian Lake, won the medal in 2013. He was the first defender since Gary Ayres won the Norm Smith in 1988. 

Forwards also have a moderate record in the Norm Smith Medal. Cyril Rioli bucked that trend in 2015 by starring for the Hawks and the last true forward to win the medal prior to Cyril was another Hawk, Paul Dear in 1991. 

Geelong’s pair, Steve Johnson (2007) and Paul Chapman (2009), both spent time up forward when they took out the award. Jack Gunston was unlucky not to win for the Hawks in 2013 after kicking four goals in their win over Fremantle. 

Norm Smith medallists usually come from the winning team. Only four of the 40 winners have come from the losing team, most recently Chris Judd in 2005 and Nathan Buckley in 2002. Lenny Hayes won the medal in the drawn 2010 Grand Final. 

Looking at the form between the two sides from their two encounters this year we see that Jack Redden, Luke Shuey, Shannon Hurn and Elliot Yeo have been among West Coast's better players, while Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury have found plenty of the ball for Collingwood. 

Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling have had an influence in both of those games, combining for 10 goals. The Eagles and the Magpies faced each other twice this year with West Coast winning on both occasions. In Round 17 it was a 35 point win for the Perth based side, while in the Qualifying Final they secured a 16 point win. 

In the Round 17 clash, West Coast's Jeremy McGovern (3), Andrew Gaff (2) and Jack Redden (1) were awarded the votes from the umpires on Brownlow Medal night, but unlike the Brownlow, where the umpires allocate the votes, the Norm Smith is decided by a panel of media experts and former players. 

In terms of form against other sides, Jack Redden and Jamie Cripps starred in the Eagles 66 point Preliminary Final win, while Kennedy and Darling combined for seven goals. In Collingwood's Prelim it was Mason Cox, Steele Sidebottom and Brodie Grundy that were universally regarded as the Magpies bets trio.

Recommended Bets: We have suggested a winner and a value pick for both sides. 

Winner: Steele Sidebottom- Collingwood 

It is hard to overlook Sidebottom in this. He ticks a lot of boxes in that he is a midfielder that can find a stack of the footy, while he has an ability to turn a game on its head during the clutch moments. He can bob up with goals at vital times, while his performance in the Brownlow will no doubt have him on the radar of the judges. A big game performer, Sidebottom is one of three Magpies from their 2010 success that are still in the side and is a logical choice for best on. 

Value: Jeremy Howe- Collingwood ($26 at BetEasy)

Should the Magpies snare the premiership, their defenders will need to play a leading role, particularly in curtailing the Eagles key forwards in Kennedy and Darling. With Tyson Goldsack likely to get the job on one of these players, we can expect the likes of Tom Langdon and Jeremy Howe to rotate on the other. Howe's steadying influence should be suited to Grand Final day, particularly if the wet and cold weather arrives. The former Demon has a bag of tricks including high-flying marking, spoiling and sublime foot skills that are worthy of a bit of a punt at the each way odds. 

Winner: Jeremy McGovern- West Coast 

A lot of West Coast's fortunes rests in the hands of the Eagles defender, who is renowned as one of the competition's best in the back-half of the ground. The three-time All Australian ranked No.1 over the course of the season for intercept marks and was the dominant player in the first half of the recent Qualifying Final between the two sides, while he was voted best in the home and away game between the two sides. He will be right up there in calculations if the Eagles enjoy a win. 

Value: Jamie Cripps- West Coast ($51 at sportsbet)

One player that may have snuck under the radar in the market and is at big odds is Jamie Cripps. The midfielder/forward is one that could bob up, given the attention that will be aimed towards some of the bigger names including Kennedy and Darling. He has had an excellent finals series and was arguably West Coast's best in their Preliminary Final win. He has booted 37 goals this season and is capable of finding plenty of the ball.  

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*Over 18s only. Wagering requirements apply. State exclusions apply to some offers. Exc. NSW, SA, WA & VIC. Please read the T&Cs of each offer with each bookmaker.

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