AFL – Brayshaw bursts into Brownlow contention

A blistering start to the 2022 AFL season has seen young Fremantle star Andrew Brayshaw surge into serious Brownlow Medal contention.

Andrew Brayshaw’s career is on an upward trajectory.

Almost all statistics point to it since his debut in 2018, and his improvement — most pleasingly for Fremantle fans — has been year on year. And that’s reflected from a Brownlow Medal perspective, too. He received one vote in 2019, nine votes in 2020, and 10 votes in 2021. What will that figure land on in 2022? Well, if the markets are anything to go by, his ceiling is certainly high. Starting the season as a distant $51 Brownlow hope with Palmerbet, a dominant start to the year has seen him shorten already into the $10 fourth-favourite.

KPI ‘top liner’

Brayshaw has put out consistently strong numbers in the first five rounds of this AFL season. Statistically, he is a top 10 player in: disposals, inside-50s, score involvements and tackles. With that, he leads the AFL Fantasy numbers, too. “If you follow your footy closely, he’s a top liner in most key indicators,” David King said of the 22-year-old. “He’s mounting a charge for the best midfielder in the competition right now, isn’t he?”

Furthermore, he is also kicking goals more regularly, traditionally something required of midfield Brownlow Medal winners. And it almost always is midfielders. You’ve arguably got to go back to 1993 (Gavin Wanganeen) to find a winner who wasn’t playing in the midfield.

Coaches’ favourite

If the coaches were to decide the AFL’s most prestigious individual honour, Brayshaw would currently be in the lead. An eight-vote effort in the Dockers’ dominant win over Essendon in AFL Round 5 saw him leapfrog Carlton’s Patrick Cripps into the lead. Brayshaw has polled in all five games this season – the only player to do so.

Another coach (of VFL side Werribee), Michael Barlow — a former Dockers midfielder himself — told SEN Radio this week that Brayshaw was a “high-end talent”. “You can’t help but love him,” Barlow said. “I follow Fremantle very closely and keep a close eye on what they do. He’s come in and he’s very humble and he’s a hard worker. He celebrates other’s success out there. It does come with a bit of risk bringing some city Victorian-based players to Perth, but I think Andy Brayshaw is going to be a long-term player for Fremantle, so they’re reaping the rewards there.”