Fremantle’s Matthew Pavlich remains a slender Coleman Medal favourite, despite doubts over his fitness ahead of this week’s final round clash with Melbourne.
Pavlich was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s 53-point win over North Melbourne, missing the chance to add to his tally of 60 goals.
Tiger Jack Riewoldt’s three goals against Essendon on Friday night moved him to within one of the Fremantle skipper, and Tom Hawkins’ four for Geelong against the Western Bulldogs took him to 58.
After the win, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said he aimed to have Pavlich back to face the Demons, but couldn’t give a guarantee.
TAB Sportsbet has Pavlich a $2.50 chance to claim the goalkicking crown, from Riewoldt ($3) and Hawkins ($3.50).
Lance Franklin and Drew Petrie, both with 55 goals, are seen as longshots at $15.
Franklin was a near-unbackable favourite until injury and illness kept him out for six weeks between rounds 16 and 21.
“As well as having a one-goal lead, Fremantle plays Melbourne in Perth next weekend and that gives Pavlich every chance to kick a bag of goals,” TAB’s Adam Hamilton said.
“Riewoldt has to be second pick with the Tigers playing Port Adelaide at the MCG.
“Hawkins is in stellar form, but it won’t be easy for him trailing by two goals and with the Cats facing Sydney, albeit at Simonds Stadium.”
Barring a big bag from one of the leading contenders this week, the winner’s tally will be the lowest since Hawthorn’s John Peck claimed the medal with 56 goals in 1965.
Leigh Matthews kicked 67 goals to win the award in 1975.