Dane Swan... racking up the points.

Dane Swan... racking up the points. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

COULD Dane Swan win the Brownlow Medal for a second year in a row?

It's a possibility if you look at his form and his history. Despite the fact he did not win when he was white-hot favourite in 2010, before taking the game's most coveted individual honour last year when he was not the fancied runner, Swan is much loved by the umpires.

In the past six years he has never polled fewer than 12 votes. He garnered a massive 34 votes last year, 24 in 2010 when Chris Judd won, and 20 in 2007 when he was sixth.

This is a seriously good form line and there are other factors in his favour, notably that his primary rival for the Brownlow within his own ranks, Scott Pendlebury, missed a string of games with a broken bone in a leg.

Dayne Beams is another Magpie who should poll well this season, but Swan's year has followed a similar pattern to last year. In 2011 he broke down mid-season and went off to Arizona for high-altitude training, and caught fire when he came back, polling 21 votes in the last 10 games.

This season he started steadily, tweaked a hamstring and missed rounds nine and 10, then burst to prominence on his return. In seven games since that unscheduled break, Swan has had at least 35 disposals six times.

His raw numbers are better than last year. In 15 games he is averaging 36 disposals and he has 19 goals. Last year he averaged 32 disposals in the regular season, and kicked 30 goals. In 2010 he averaged 32 disposals and kicked 18 goals.

Whether the bare possession statistics count for much is a point of debate. For instance, a fortnight ago Swan logged a whopping 49 disposals and two goals in the loss to Hawthorn, but most media (and the coaches) did not have him in the top three players on the ground. Sometimes, Swan accumulates Dream Team points without having a big influence.

But on other occasions he is pivotal to the result, and his goals help. He kicked five against Greater Western Sydney last weekend and surely will poll. A snapshot of games studied by The Age yesterday had him tracking for about 20 votes so far. It's impossible to know how many are needed to win the medal, but 25 would give him a chance.

Of the other contenders, Jobe Watson looms as a serious chance. Essendon's captain was on track to win the Brownlow last year, polling heavily before two hamstring injuries cruelled the back half of the season for him. He still polled 16 votes, and he has had a better year in 2012, with eight games when he has had at least 30 possessions.

There are some value bets in the market. Beams at $41 is having a slashing year, although his currency with umpires is not proven. Sydney's Kieren Jack at the same odds is playing brilliantly, and his teammate Lewis Jetta is at $251 at Centrebet despite most observers slotting him for All-Australian status.

Adelaide's burgeoning midfielder Rory Sloane at $101 is an attractive bet considering umpires could not miss him with his long locks and hard-nosed play.

But the safer bet is that Swan will extract something in the 20-plus vote region, because he almost always does. It just remains to be seen whether that is enough.

THE BROWNLOW ODDS

$4.25 Jobe Watson (Ess)
$6 Gary Ablett (GC)
Scott Thompson (Adel)
$7 Dane Swan (Coll)
$10 Sam Mitchell (Haw)
$12 Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
Trent Cotchin (Rich)
$15 Joel Selwood (Geel)
$26 Josh Kennedy (Syd)
Matthew Pavlich (Frem)
Lenny Hayes (StK)
Patrick Dangerfield (Adel)
$41 Kieren Jack (Syd)
Dayne Beams (Coll)
Matthew Boyd (WB)

SOURCE: CENTREBET

 

THE AGE FOOTBALLER OF THE YEAR

Jobe Watson (Ess) 105
Trent Cotchin (Richmond) 102
Gary Ablett (GC) 87
Scott Pendlebury (Coll) 78
Lenny Hayes (StK) 76
Patrick Dangerfield (Adel) 76
Joel Selwood (Geel) 76
Scott Thompson (Adel) 72
Dayne Beams (Coll) 66
Andrew Swallow (NM) 66
Dane Swan (Coll) 65


COACHES' ASSOCIATION VOTING

80 Trent Cotchin (Rich)
75 Jobe Watson (Ess)
72 Scott Thompson (Adel)
70 Gary Ablett (GC)
67 Dayne Beams (Coll)
66 Matthew Boyd (WB)
Scott Pendlebury (Coll)
59 Sam Mitchell (Haw)
58 Dane Swan (Coll)
57 Andrew Swallow (NM)