The W Awards looked pretty different this year, with a virtual count and players finding their best wifi connection—instead of their best outfit—to join in at home. This didn’t, however, lower the anticipation of who would be named the competition’s Rising Star and Best and Fairest with a multitude of players rightly vying for each award. There were some genuine surprises that unfolded, and some worthy winners named. I’ve picked out five quirks of the 2020 W Awards.
From Rising Star to best in the competition
In 2019, Madison Prespakis burst into Carlton’s midfield and immediately stood out alongside one of the best mids in the competition in Brianna Davey. Prespakis rightly earned the Rising Star award at last year’s W Awards for her efforts, beating out genuine jets like Alyce Parker, Olivia Purcell and Eden Zanker. Come 2020, the 19-year-old Prespakis became the leader of the Blues’ midfield unit thanks to Davey’s move to Collingwood.The teenager well and truly earned her place as the competition’s Best and Fairest player with 15 votes across six home and away rounds—voted best on ground in five of those. Her spectacular, and immediate, rise is unprecedented, but also points to the competition-wide takeover of star young players. Our league is only getting better, and just remember; there’s a second Prespakis on her way.
Rising Star older than the MVP?
At the age of 21, 2017 number one draft pick Isabel Huntington took home (well, was awarded at home) the 2020 Rising Star award. Due to an injury plagued start to her career, Huntington still fit in the Rising Star criteria in her third year of AFLW and beat out young stars Caitlin Greiser, Georgia Patrikios and Kalinda Howarth. This went along with her move into the backline and first All Australian berth. Funnily enough, Huntington won the young player award while older than Prespakis who took out the competition-wide award.
Bowers comes home with a wet sail
For a very brief moment it looked as if Kiara Bowers would join Prespakis as the winner. Bowers earned a second placed four best on grounds and 12 votes for the season. This included her stunning performance in the first ever AFLW Western Derby where Bowers laid 18 tackles while injured and her gritty game in round six against the Dogs, dragging her team back from a deficit.
J. Garner, four votes
Something must have gone seriously wrong to have Jasmine Garner net just four votes for the season. She earned three for her best on ground performance against the Suns in round four and one for her 24 touches and two goals the following week against Adelaide and… that’s it? Her round six outing against Geelong resulted in 18 touches and three goals, yet the votes went to teammates Jenna Bruton and Emma Kearney and Geelong ruck Aasta O’Connor. Arguably the best player in the competition this year—after all, she kicked more goals this year than ever before, while playing the season in the midfield rather than forward and won North Melbourne’s Best and Fairest, as well as the AFLCA MVP by nearly 200 votes—Garner certainly deserved more than the four votes she was allocated.
G-Train pips her smooth moving teammate
Had you asked anyone before the awards who would take out the Rising Star award, nine out of ten responses would have been Georgia Patrikios. While Huntington took top spot with 33 votes, it wasn’t Patrikios but her Saints teammate Caitlin Greiser who landed in second place with 30 votes. All would have been very deserving, but Greiser’s goal kicking and athleticism was a highlight of the Saints’ season, most notably her 55m goal to register St Kilda’s first win against the Dees in round three.