CARLTON has seen its investment in former No.1 pick Jacob Weitering pay off, with the impressive key defender claiming his first ever John Nicholls Medal as the club's 2020 best and fairest on Friday night.
Weitering, who enjoyed a career-best season last year, polled 137 votes to claim the honour ahead of second-year midfielder Sam Walsh (126 votes) and experienced onballer Ed Curnow (103 votes).
The 23-year-old enjoyed a reliable and consistent season in what was a breakout campaign in the backline, fulfilling the lofty potential that had made him the consensus No.1 pick in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft.
He had already been rewarded for his development with a fresh four-year contract extension signed last August, taking him through until the end of the 2025 campaign, with a first ever John Nicholls Medal capping an outstanding season.
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Having been elevated to the leadership group for the first time in 2020, Weitering averaged 11.1 disposals and 4.3 marks per game and also earned selection in the 40-man All-Australian squad.
Such reward came after he held some of the game's most dominant key forwards quiet throughout the year, keeping his direct opponent goalless in four of the club's first six matches.
"Last year, we asked Jacob to take the next step as a key defender and a leader. He not only welcomed that responsibility, he thrived on it," Blues coach David Teague said.
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"What is great about Jacob is how much he cares about making us a better football club. He pushes himself to compete and beat his opponents, he pushes his teammates to be better, leading from the front with his work ethic and his actions.
"He is now reaping the rewards of his hard work as we’ve seen, and as a football club we couldn’t be prouder to have Jacob crowned our 2020 John Nicholls Medallist."
Walsh capped a stellar second season in the AFL system with a second-place finish, while veteran midfielder Curnow earned his third straight top-three finish after another consistent campaign.
Defensive duo Lachie Plowman and Liam Jones rounded out the top-five, with three-time best and fairest winner Patrick Cripps finishing ninth in the count.
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Weitering had more to celebrate when he won the Bill Lanyon Inner Blue Ruthless Award earlier in the night, with budding ruckman Tom De Koning winning the Best Young Player Award and new recruit Jack Martin taking out the Coaches Award.
Nic Newman was awarded Best Clubman, having missed the overwhelming majority of the season after injuring his knee in round two, while Jones claimed the Most Valuable Bluebagger Award.
Carlton's best and fairest count was held in February, having initially been delayed so the Blues could hand retiring greats Kade Simpson and Matthew Kreuzer fitting farewells in front of members in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, it was ultimately held at Ikon Park on Friday night due to continued postponements.
CARLTON'S TOP 10 IN 2020
- Jacob Weitering (137 votes)
- Sam Walsh (126 votes)
- Ed Curnow (103 votes)
- Lachie Plowman (95 votes)
- Liam Jones (83 votes)
- Jack Martin (81 votes)
- Sam Docherty (76 votes)
- Levi Casboult (75 votes)
- Patrick Cripps (73 votes)
- Kade Simpson (68 votes)
The Carltonians William A. Cook Trophy: Sam Walsh
The Spirit of Carlton Award: Marc Pittonet
The Bill Lanyon Inner Blue Ruthless Award: Jacob Weitering
Best Young Player Award: Tom De Koning
Best Clubman Award: Nic Newman
Coaches Award: Jack Martin
Most Valuable Bluebagger Award: Liam Jones