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AFL 2017 Round 23 - Richmond v St Kilda

St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt after his final game last month.

It has certainly evolved and I think the players in the last five to 10 years have really come to value the award.

St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt thinks Sydney superstar Lance Franklin will win Tuesday night’s AFL Player’s Association most valuable player award.

Riewoldt won the coveted prize in just his fourth season in 2004 and is the last key position player to win the Leigh Matthews Trophy.

Since then, it has been a midfielder’s award with Gary Ablett Jr winning it on five occasions, Nat Fyfe and Chris Judd have won it twice. 

Last year's Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield won it last year and the superstar Cat is one of the main contenders again this season, along with Richmond game breaker Dustin Martin.  

The recently retired Riewoldt said the Leigh Matthew Trophy has gradually become more prestigious amongst the players, with the introduction of the MVP of the month award this year keeping the award front of mind across the season.  

“It has certainly evolved and I think the players in the last five to 10 years have really come to value the award,” Riewoldt told SEN Breakfast on Tuesday morning.

“The PA have done it really well because they now have a monthly award which keeps the form players in the competition on everyone’s mind, so we get an opportunity to vote on a player of the month every month throughout the season.

“At the end of the season we nominate three players from your own team that you think have been the most valuable players that year – No one knows better than the guys that play with each other week in week out.

“From there, that forms the pool of players the award will be voted on from the rest of the competition; you obviously can’t vote for your own teammate, but every club has an opportunity to vote for a 3, 2 and 1. For me it was Franklin, Dusty and Danger.

“Given the way Buddy is able to carry that side up there at times; he’s just an incredible talent. To be honest, it’s nice to shake it up a little bit, we know the midfielders have a monopoly and a mortgage on all those type of awards.”

St Kilda midfield star Seb Ross has been nominated for the MVP award, along with rebounding defender Dylan Roberton and new key defender Jake Carlisle, while skipper Jarryn Geary has been nominated for the Robert Rose most courageous award.