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.


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.

02:48 Mins
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Sydney goalkicking sensation lights it up again

Tom Papley has been in scintillating form for the Swans and he ran amok against Hawthorn

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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.

01:43 Mins
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Five-goal Greene the difference in GF rematch

GWS star Toby Greene unstoppable in the air and in front of goal against Richmond

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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.

00:21 Mins
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Charlie's captivating MOTY contender

Charlie Cameron stuns the Gabba after flying high for an amazing mark

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"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."

00:53 Mins
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'Horse' and Clarko's latest stoush

Premiership coaches and long-time mates Alastair Clarkson and John Longmire go toe-to-toe once again, this time over Tom Papley

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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.

04:25 Mins
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Papley: 'I had to earn back their respect'

Lively Sydney forward Tom Papley speaks to AFL.com.au about his future, his unique goal celebrations and picking up the tools during the season suspension

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"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