ELECTRIFYING Swan Tom Papley is leading the rise and rise of the small forwards in this year's unusual Coleman Medal race, as the game's goalsneaks attempt to steal the award from the AFL's big men for the first time in 45 years.
The 177cm speedster has kicked 19 goals so far this season, to be one clear of two-time winner Josh Kennedy after the latter's big bag of seven against Collingwood on Sunday.
>> SEE THE COLEMAN LEADERS IN THE TABLE BELOW
Papley has put himself in the Coleman conversation by continuing the form that saw him top the Swans' goalkicking (37 majors) in 2019. He's now kicked at least one goal in each of his last 26 games across two seasons.
But Papley isn't the only small forward chasing the medal this year, with St Kilda's Dan Butler and Brisbane's Charlie Cameron both with 15 goals, just one behind Port key forward Charlie Dixon.
Greater Western Sydney superstar Toby Greene has also muscled his way into the race, averaging 2.3 goals a game (the same as Kennedy and Dixon), with a tally of 14 for the season.
Big Cat Tom Hawkins joined Greene on 14, booting three in the wet against the Dockers on Monday night.
Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews was the last small forward to win the goalkicking award when he slotted 67 majors through the 1975 home and away season - and Papley is more than happy for a similar scenario to be repeated in 2020.
"It would be good. Charlie Cameron is up there as well. It would be good if we could win it together," Papley said.
"But I'm not getting ahead of myself. I think the big boys will start kicking a few bags soon ..."
"It would be an amazing achievement, but it’s a long way off and, at the moment, I’m not really looking at that. I’m looking at getting some wins for the team."
Papley, who is under contract at Sydney, was pushing for a trade back to Victoria at the end of last year, but nothing eventuated.
The goalsneak was quick to put the rumours and unrest behind him when he returned to the club after the 2019 Telstra AFL Trade Period.
"I came back in the pre-season and addressed it on day one," Papley said.
"From there I think I had to earn the respect back from the playing group and show that I actually want to be here and that I’m committed, and I think I've done that so far.
"I'm here now and I'm committed to the football club."
The Coleman Medal leaderboard after round eight
|Tom Papley||Small forward, 177cm||Sydney||19|
|Josh Kennedy||Tall forward, 196cm||West Coast||18|
|Charlie Dixon||Tall forward, 200cm||Port Adelaide||16|
|Charlie Cameron||Small forward, 180cm||Brisbane||15|
|Dan Butler||Small forward, 182cm||St Kilda||15|
|Toby Greene||Small forward, 182cm||GWS Giants||14|
|Tom Hawkins||Tall forward, 198cm||Geelong||14|
|Jeremy Cameron||Tall forward, 196cm||GWS Giants||13|
|Jack Gunston||Medium forward, 193cm||Hawthorn||12|
|Ben King||Tall forward, 202cm||Gold Coast||12|
|Chad Wingard||Small forward, 183cm||Hawthorn||12|
|Brody Mihocek||Medium forward, 192 cm||Collingwood||12|
|Jeremy Finlayson||Tall forward, 196cm||GWS Giants||12|
|Tim Membrey||Medium forward, 190cm||St Kilda||12|