Sam Walsh during the Second Preliminary Final between Brisbane and Carlton at the Gabba, September 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

CARLTON midfield star Sam Walsh has won the AFL coaches' award as the player of the finals series.

The prolific ball-winner polled 23 votes in the Gary Ayres Award over three games, including the Blues' preliminary final loss to Brisbane.

He finished 2.5 votes clear of Lions playmaker Keidean Coleman (20.5).


Collingwood Grand Final hero Bobby Hill (19) was third after starring with four goals in the season decider.


Rival coaches Craig McRae and Chris Fagan agreed with the Norm Smith Medal voting panel, awarding Hill a maximum 10 votes for his Grand Final performance.

The Grand Final votes are given an extra 50 per cent loading, meaning Hill was given 15.

Walsh injured a hamstring late in the season but returned in round 24 and was outstanding throughout September.

The 23-year-old collected eight votes in Carlton's six-point elimination final win over Sydney and the maximum 10 for his performance in a two-point semi-final victory over Melbourne.


Walsh polled another five votes in the Blues' season-ending 16-point defeat to eventual runners-up Brisbane.

Lions defender Coleman received a total of 10.5 votes for his grand final performance, with Collingwood stars Nick Daicos and Jack Crisp each awarded six votes.

Magpies midfielders Tom Mitchell and Scott Pendlebury (three each) and Brisbane forward Joe Daniher (1.5) rounded out the votes.

It was the eighth year of the Gary Ayres Award, named after the former Hawthorn champion who played in five premiership sides and won two Norm Smith Medals.

Richmond superstar Dustin Martin has snared the award three times.

Collingwood wingman Steele Sidebottom, retired Sydney captain Josh Kennedy, Western Bulldogs gun Jack Macrae and Geelong skipper Patrick Dangerfield are the other previous winners.

Collingwood v Brisbane

15 - Bobby Hill (Collingwood)
10.5 - Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
6 - Nick Daicos (Collingwood)
6 - Jack Crisp (Collingwood)
3 - Tom Mitchell (Collingwood)
3 - Scott Pendlebury (Collingwood)
1.5 - Joe Daniher (Brisbane)


Brisbane v Carlton

10 - Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
7 - Josh Dunkley (Brisbane)
5 - Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4 - Oscar McInerney (Brisbane)
3 - Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
1 - Caleb Marchbank (Carlton)


Collingwood v Greater Western Sydney

10 - Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)
5 - Tom Green (GWS)
4 - Jack Crisp (Collingwood)
3 - Nick Daicos (Collingwood)
3 - Connor Idun (GWS)
2 - Josh Kelly (GWS)
2 - Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood)
1 - Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)



23 Sam Walsh (Carlton)
20.5 Keidean Coleman (Brisbane)
19 Bobby Hill (Collingwood)
17 Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
16 Jack Crisp (Collingwood)
10 Stephen Coniglio (Greater Western Sydney)
10 Josh Kelly (Greater Western Sydney)
10 Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane)
10 Jordan De Goey (Collingwood)
9 Nick Daicos (Collingwood)
9 Blake Acres (Carlton)
8 Max Gawn (Melbourne)
8 Jesse Hogan (Greater Western Sydney)
8 Steven May (Melbourne)
8 Lachie Whitfield (Greater Western Sydney)
7 Joe Daniher (Brisbane)
7 Josh Dunkley (Brisbane)
8 Isaac Quaynor (Collingwood)
5 Tom McCartin (Sydney)
4 Matthew Cottrell (Carlton)
4 Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
4 Connor Idun (Greater Western Sydney)
4 Oscar McInerney (Brisbane)
4 Cameron Rayner (Brisbane)
4 Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
3 Connor Idun (Greater Western Sydney)
3 Tom Mitchell (Collingwood)
3 Harris Andrews (Brisbane)
1.5 Joe Daniher (Brisbane)
1 Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
1 Caleb Marchbank (Carlton)

Previous winners

2016 Josh Kennedy (Sydney)
2017 Dustin Martin (Richmond)
2018 Steele Sidebottom (Collingwood)
2019 Dustin Martin (Richmond)
2020 Dustin Martin (Richmond)
2021 Jack Macrae (Western Bulldogs)
2022 Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong)