BESIDES the Brownlow and the Norm Smith, is there a greater individual honour in Australian football than the ANZAC Day Medal?
A quick glance at the list of past winners tells you all you need to know.
James Hird won it three times. Scott Pendlebury could yet match that feat, while Dane Swan finished with a brace of his own.
Look back further to the retrospective winners pre-2000 and you see the likes of Sav Rocca, Marc Mercuri and Damien Monkhorst.
But you also get good, honest Aussie battlers: Mark McGough in muddy, trench-like conditions in 2002; Ben Johnson four years later; and Paddy Ryder in 2009, forced to ruck almost the entire game after David Hille went down injured early.
The name most conspicuous by its absence is that of current Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, who never won the medal even though he twice earned maximum Brownlow votes for his efforts on ANZAC Day.
Nor has Jobe Watson joined the honour roll, although there is time yet for the veteran Bomber to change that.
The question is: who will win it on Tuesday afternoon?
These are our tips, with odds provided by online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au.
Essendon ANZAC Medal tips
The favourite – Zach Merrett (+700)
If anyone thought the return of Essendon’s banned players would stifle this guy’s progress in 2017, they were sorely mistaken.
Four weeks into his fourth AFL season, Merrett has emerged as the top dog in a talented and experienced Bombers midfield.
He is averaging over 33 touches per game and is ranked first in the comp for kicks, second for total possessions and fourth for disposal efficiency.
That level of output makes him a real threat to win the medal even if the Dons lose.
The dark horse – Anthony McDonald-Tipingwuti (+3300)
There were plenty of positives to take away from Essendon’s heavy defeat in Adelaide last weekend.
Andy McGrath won the Rising Star nomination, Travis Colyer continued his promising start to the season and Connor McKenna showed a certain something in his first runout for 2017.
Another was the one they call ‘Walla’, who capped a typically energetic all-round display with four goals.
This guy always catches the eye when he is around the ball, and his signature defensive efforts will endear him to judges looking for players who embody the ‘ANZAC spirit’.
The one to avoid – David Zaharakis (+2500)
It might seem odd to put a former ANZAC Day Medalist on the scrap heap, but Zaharakis is a shadow of the bright, young prospect who kicked that famous winner back in 2009.
Ousted from the core midfield rotation with the return of Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson, et al, the 27-year-old from Eltham has failed to produce anything like his best in the opening four rounds.
His disposal is dodgy, his work-rate and defensive efforts are miles off the required standard and he isn’t delivering anything like the attacking threat of which we know he is capable.
There are far better options on both sides in the mid-price range.
Collingwood ANZAC Medal tips
The favourite – Scott Pendlebury (+800)
It is impossible to overlook a player who has already won this accolade twice before.
Pendlebury is a proven performer on the big stage and a major factor in Collingwood’s dominance of ANZAC Day in recent years.
Adam Treloar might be flashier and Taylor Adams might get more of it, but the skipper remains the lynchpin for one of the comp’s best midfield units.
He is ranked fifth in the AFL for effective disposals and is one of those solid all-weather players whose game won’t suffer too much if the heavens open up.
The dark horse – Alex Fasolo (+3000)
After starring with four goals in the win over Sydney, ‘The Faz’ was all but nonexistent as the Pies went down to St Kilda a week later.
It is fair to say consistency has never been this guy’s greatest asset, but he is more than capable of producing those one-off, match-winning displays when the mood takes him.
He has done it to Essendon several times before, including a four-goal haul on ANZAC Day 2016.
With the Bombers’ small defenders struggling to contain opposition forwards this season, Fasolo could be a real chance if he gets five or six looks at goal.
The one to avoid – Darcy Moore (+3300)
It is a huge burden, we know, but young Moore is struggling to adapt to life as the top forward at Collingwood.
After going goalless in only three games last season, he has already matched that tally in the first four weeks of 2017.
The 21-year-old has managed a mere four shots at goal this season, converting only one of those into a major.
The kid has a big future, but right now he is arguably the weakest link in a very ordinary forward line.
2017 ANZAC Day Medal odds at Sportsbet.com.au
+700 – Zach Merrett, Adam Treloar
+800 – Scott Pendlebury
+1000 – Dyson Heppell, Steele Sidebottom
+1100 – Taylor Adams
+1500 – Brodie Grundy, Jobe Watson
+2000 – Joe Daniher, Brendon Goddard
+2200 – Travis Colyer
+2500 – Orazio Fantasia, Jeremy Howe, David Zaharakis
+3000 – Jamie Elliott, Alex Fasolo, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Darcy Parish
+3300 – Anthony McDonald-Tipingwuti, Darcy Moore, Brent Stanton, Daniel Wells
+4000 – Tom Phillips
+5000 – Mason Cox, Jack Crisp, Aaron Francis, Levi Greenwood, Cale Hooker, Ben Howlett, James Kelly, Andy McGrath, Travis Varcoe
+6600 – Josh Green, Michael Hurley, Brayden Maynard, Ben Reid, Josh Smith, Jesse White
+8000 – Jarryd Blair, Craig Bird, Tim Broomhead, Chris Mayne, Jackson Ramsey
+10000 – Tom Bellchambers, Mitch Brown, Tyson Goldsack, Heath Hocking, Kyle Langford, Matthew Leuenberger
+12500 – Mark Baguley
+15000 – Patrick Ambrose, Henry Schade
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