With the Ballarat Football Netball League nearing its midway point, there's no better time to look on the best and brightest of the season to date.
While it's been difficult to get a gauge on a sole premiership favourite, it's easy to see which players have been excelling.
Goalkicking forces have emerged, backmen are winning games for their sides, and, of course, midfielders continue to deliver.
IN OTHER NEWS:
The Courier has compiled its list of the top 20 players of the season so far.
Those on the list must have played at least three games this season, ruling out most VFL-affiliated players.
Only performances this season have been taken into account, not past accolades or reputations.
As always is the case with these lists, a host of gun players have narrowly missed the 20, and no doubt there will be some conjecture about who made the cut.
But, if anything, it speaks to the strength of the competition.
So, who makes our list of the top 20 players of the season so far?
The Courier's top 20 players of the BFNL season so far
20 - Toby Hutt
5 games, 10 goals, 3x in best, 9 Player of the Year votes
Hutt remains one of the Burra's most reliable tall forwards. He's stepped up when asked and has provided an important focal point for Sebastopol's attack.
19 - Ryan Hobbs
6 games, 3x in best, 4 Player of the Year votes
Hobbs is the leader in the Roosters' defence. North Ballarat coach Brendan McCartney has preached defensive discipline this season and his key backman has offered him just that.
18 - Jordyn Cotter
6 games, 4x in best, 5 Player of the Year votes
Cotter has offered valuable run-and-carry off the half-back line. His energy from deep is central to the Bloods' style of play.
17 - Bailey Van de Heuvel
4 games, 1x in best, 5 Player of the Year votes
Van de Heuvel has proved an impressive force down back. He is one of the best readers of the play and his impressive form earned him a call-up to the VFL.
16 - Simon McCartin
4 games, 1 goal, 3x in best, 2 Player of the Year votes
McCartin has been leading from the front for the Roosters. North Ballarat's skipper had offered true grit and class in the middle of the park and taken the pressure off his younger teammates.
15 - Aaron Willitts
5 games, 15 goals, 2 Player of the Year votes
Willitts is one half of the Cobras' dominant duo. He's kicked bags for fun this season and is reaping the rewards of a firing Cobras' outfit.
14 - Joseph Dodd
6 games, 8 goals, 3x in best, 9 Player of the Year votes
Dodd has stepped up for the injury-struck reigning premiers. He's offered goals from the middle of park, which have proved vital for the Roos.
13 - Tony Lockyer
5 games, 3 goals, 1x in best, 2 Player of the Year votes
Lockyer has been reliable as ever down back. He's received extra attention from opponents at times, but has always displayed his smarts and skill to counter it effectively.
12 - Jake Owen
5 games, 16 goals, 3x in best, 3 Player of the Year votes
Owen is one of the competition's most in-form forwards. He's formed a lethal partnership with Aaron Willitts up top and is making a charge to be the league's leading goalkicker.
11 - Nick Rippon
5 games, 6 goals, 4x in best, 5 Player of the Year votes
Rippon has provided a massive boost to the Lakers and is central to the club's rise. He's been the X-factor in the middle of the park and has offered valuable goals from midfield.
10 - Nicholas Stuhldreier
5 games, 4 goals, 3x in best, 11 Player of the Year votes
Stuhldreier is one of the Cobras' most impressive players this season. He's thrived in an energised engine room and performed in the biggest games.
9 - Lachie George
4 games, 5 goals, 4x in best, 8 Player of the Year votes
George has been one of the stand-outs in a misfiring start to the season for the Lions. He's been pin-point accurate with his forward 50 entries and has chipped in with goals of his own when playing forward.
8 - Tom German
5 games, 2 goals, 3x in best, 8 Player of the Year votes
German is one of the quiet achievers of the Cobras' resurgence. As coach, he is often missed from the accolades but controls the game better than most midfielders.
7 - Daniel Burton
5 games, 3 goals, 3x in best, 8 The Courier Player of the Year votes
Burton is making his claim as the best ruck in the competition.He puts his side in dominant positions from stoppages and offers mobility across the park.
6 - Dylan Conway
5 games, 17 goals, 2x in best, 7 Player of the Year votes
Conway has announced himself as one of the competition's best since his arrival this season. Has managed to kick mountains of goals even when service has let him down at times.
5 - Braedan Kight
6 games, 16 goals, 3x in best, 14 Player of the Year votes
Kight has been a valuable contributor both on and off the field for the top-of-the-table Bloods. He's been at his goalkicking best but as captain has provided incredible guidance to a group that's been faced with challenge after challenge.
4 - Matthew Johnston
6 games, 3 goals, 5x in best, 14 Player of the Year votes
Johnston has become Mr. Reliable for the reigning premiers. He's been the leader in the middle and his number of player of the year votes reflects his influence on matches.
3 - Josh Chatfield
6 games, 18 goals, 6x in best, 15 Player of the Year votes
Chatfield is one of the best forwards in the competition at the moment. He's manufactured goals on his own, and still only 20, it's scary to think what may be ahead.
2 - Jack Walker
6 games, 6 goals, 6x in best, 12 Player of the Year votes
Walker is enjoying a standout season for the Bloods. He's been the biggest influence in the midfield and no doubt his form is a big reason why Melton has won some many games.
1 - Riley Polkinghorne
6 games, 1 goal, 6x in best, 20 Player of the Year votes
Polkinghorne is one of the best, if not the best, young player in the competition. Has thrived under the tutelage of Brendan McCartney. His influence on his side is even more impressive in what is only his first full season of senior football, having left the Rebels program at the end of 2019.
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