Monique Conti poses with the AFLW Best and Fairest and trophy during the 2023 W Awards at Crown Palladium on November 27, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

MONIQUE Conti is the Tiger queen, the Richmond midfielder crowned the AFLW's best and fairest player on Monday night.

Such was Conti's dominance and the evenness across the rest of the competition, the star Tiger sewed up the win with a three-vote game against Hawthorn in Cairns in round eight, taking her tally to 20 with an unassailable lead of seven votes ahead of Adelaide's Anne Hatchard, North Melbourne's Ash Riddell and Essendon co-captain Bonnie Toogood.

The midfielder eventually finished on 23 votes, with a four-way tie for second place on 16 votes - Geelong's Amy McDonald, Sydney's Chloe Molloy, Riddell and Gold Coast's Claudia Whitfort.

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The speedy 23-year-old showed a clean pair of heels throughout the 2023 season, her agility a clear point of difference from her fellow midfielders in the stoppages.

A dual-sport athlete who has already returned to the basketball court following the end to Richmond's season, Conti started her career at the Western Bulldogs, winning the 2018 Grand Final best-on-ground medal at just 18.

In a tough, injury-hit year for Richmond, Conti was a clear star, averaging 28.5 disposals, a competition-high 7.3 clearances and 5.8 tackles.

Monique Conti during the 2023 W Awards at Crown Palladium on November 27, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A slightly bemused Conti accepted her award, admitting to some nerves in the final rounds after the result was locked in.

"I was just really nervous, I'm shaking here. I was sitting there trying to do the math, and I had (captain) Katie Brennan sitting there staring at me, which made me nervous," she said.

"Honestly, you can't be where you are without your teammates. I think we've got a really great coaching group in Ryan Ferrguson and his assistants. With the help of Grace Egan in the midfield this year, and Eilish (Sheerin) came in for the last round, some good people around me, it really helps. 

"Obviously, I've been really challenged this year (with Richmond's injury crisis), as the whole team have been, so just great coaches and team."


Conti is still juggling AFLW and WNBL, and recently returned to her basketball commitments with the Melbourne Boomers after the Tigers' season finished, paying credit to the recently retired Erin Phillips who turned to football after an illustrious basketball career.

"I don't think I ever sit still, I'd go crazy if I did, I like to be go, go, go all the time, and I think that's what makes me, me," Conti said.

"I go from one to the other to keep myself going, and that's the way I like it.

"I can help create a path for young girls who are told to choose one or the other, so credit to the girls who can do both. Being a role model is really important, I think it's one thing that drives me and something that drives a lot of us.

"Sometimes my body doesn't feel 23, but I just want to keep doing what I'm doing. I don't like to look too far ahead, that stresses me out."

After three rounds, pre-count favourite Jasmine Garner from North Melbourne had polled five of a possible nine votes, with Conti and Marinoff leading on seven.

Jasmine Garner celebrates a goal during North Melbourne's preliminary final against Adelaide on November 26, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A superstar till the end, retiring great Erin Phillips polled one last three-vote game, coming against St Kilda in round three.

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Melbourne's quiet achiever Tyla Hanks made her move in round four, jumping out to second place with nine votes, one behind Conti with 10.

Halfway through the count, Conti had a three-vote lead from Toogood, the key forward breaking the midfield dominance around her in second place.

Bonnie Toogood speaks to her Essendon teammates ahead of the elimination final against Geelong on November 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Sydney star Laura Gardiner finished second in the AFLCA count but only polled her first umpires' vote in round seven, as Brit Bonnici jumped up to fourth behind Conti, Hatchard and Riddell.

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Garner finished with 14 votes, her final three-vote game in round 10 met with raucous applause from the room.

2023 NAB AFLW Best and Fairest Trophy top 10

23 votes - Monique Conti (Rich)
16 - Amy McDonald (Geel)
16 - Chloe Molloy (Syd)
16 - Ashleigh Riddell (NM)
16 - Claudia Whitfort (GC)
15 - Bonnie Toogood (Ess)
14 - Ally Anderson (BL)
14 - Jasmine Garner (NM)
14 - Georgie Prespakis (Geel)
13 - Anne Hatchard (Adel)