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AFLPA awards: Nat Fyfe rated best by his peers

Nat Fyfe with skipper Matthew Pavlich on screen from Perth during the AFLPA awards in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images - ${keywords}
Nat Fyfe with skipper Matthew Pavlich on screen from Perth during the AFLPA awards in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images
NAT FYFE has capped off his incredible season by edging out Gary Ablett to win his first AFL Players' Association Most Valuable Player award.

The 22-year-old Fremantle midfielder was voted by his peers as this year's winner at a function attended by more than 600 people in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Fyfe wasn't present to accept the award, given the Dockers' semi-final against Port Adelaide this Saturday night, but accepted the award from captain Matthew Pavlich in a live cross from Perth.

"It's extremely humbling and a little bit embarrassing to be honest, when I look at some of the names up there," Fyfe said.

"I saw first-hand on the weekend how good Josh Kennedy and Lance Franklin are and obviously Gary Ablett, I think everyone still acknowledges he is the best player in the game.

"I'm really grateful for the award. 

"It's almost the greatest honour you can get, being voted by your peers. 

"I got a best and fairest last year and that was a great achievement, but this certainly is an ultimate award and along with a premiership I think it's the highest achievement you can receive."

Pavlich said Fyfe had been "ultra consistent" and had become a leader in his own right this season. 

In one of the closest counts in recent players' association history, Fyfe polled 945 votes from Ablett (787), ahead of Lance Franklin (428), Dyson Heppell (274) and Josh Kennedy (234).

Geelong captain Joel Selwood was named the game's most courageous player for the second consecutive year, while Luke Hodge was named best captain ahead of Selwood and Ablett.

Western Bulldogs youngster Marcus Bontempelli, after narrowly placing second in last week's NAB AFL Rising Star to Lewis Taylor, was the clear winner for best first year player.

Bontempelli beat St Kilda's Luke Dunstan and Taylor for the honour.

Essendon's Heppell was named the under-22 captain for the second straight year, with Hawthorn's Jack Gunston vice-captain, as selected in the fan voting category.

Jonathon Griffin was awarded the education and training excellence award.

AFL players' president Luke Ball said Fyfe was a deserving winner of the only player-voted award in the League.

"I think it comes as no surprise that Nat has won his first MVP, with the season he has had," Ball said.

"At just 22 years of age, he's had a standout year and this was rewarded with being named in the All Australian squad of 40.

"To be recognised by the 800 players who voted showcases just how much value is placed on this award and Nat's performance this year is a reflection of that."

Five-time MVP winner Gary Ablett and Jordan Papalia. Pictures: Getty Images

Nadia Coppolino with Geelong star Jimmy Bartel
Bombers Dyson Heppell and Ben Howlett pose for a photo
Kelly and retired Bulldog Daniel Giansiracusa

Hawk great Jason Dunstall speaks to 'Best Captain' winner, Luke Hodge

Jaeger O'Meara presents Bulldog Marcus Bontempelli with the Best First Year Player award

Rhiannon Joyce with Suns young star Jaeger O'Meara
Leigh Matthews Trophy

Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)
Gary Ablett (Gold Coast)
Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans)
Dyson Heppell (Essendon)
Josh Kennedy (Sydney Swans)
Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
Tom Rockliff (Brisbane Lions)
Joel Selwood (Geelong)
Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide)
Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)

The Robert Rose most courageous award
Joel Selwood
Callan Ward
Luke Hodge
Rory Sloane
Ben McGlynn

Best first year player
Marcus Bontempelli
Luke Dunstan
Lewis Taylor
Zach Merrett
Luke McDonald

Best captain
Luke Hodge
Joel Selwood
Gary Ablett
Travis Boak
Nick Riewoldt