BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 06: Dayne Zorko of the Lions kicks during the round three AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the Port Adelaide Power at The Gabba on April 06, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Brisbane skipper Dayne Zorko has won his fifth Merrett-Murray Medal, equaling club great Michael Voss with five best and fairests at the Lions.

Zorko’s season has cemented his elite play as on par with one of the game's legends, especially as his excellent leadership and elevated performances helped propel Brisbane to their third consecutive top-four finish, which appeared improbable given their shaky 1-3 start to the 2021 season.

Not only was Zorko asked to shoulder a heavier load once reigning Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale went down with a serious ankle injury, he put the team on his back as he finished the season ranked in the top five for inside 50's (148), goal assists (23), score involvements (177) and pressure acts (586). 

The Lions' B&F ceremony truely encapsulated Zorko's impact on the club as he was also awarded the Players' Player of the Year Award, meaning that the playing group's praise for their captain coincided with the coaching staff's perspective.

The count was tightly contested as eight votes separated the top three, yet it was Zorko’s 340 votes that sealed the deal. Youngster Hugh McCluggage was awarded the Nigel Lappin trophy as he finished runner-up with 336 votes, while Jarryd Lyons polled third and was presented with the Alastair Lynch trophy for his 332 votes.

Rounding out the top five was key defender Brandon Starcevich and the team's quarter-back Daniel Rich, as both were crucial components to the success of the Lions' back six.

The medals were awarded by senior coach Chris Fagan and his five assistant coaches, with each able to award a maximum of four votes to a player for a given performance, permitting maximum of 24 votes per game. There is no cap on how many players can receive votes, meaning that theoretically every player can pole at least once per game, as long as they perform well and exemplify the teams’ core values. 

With two straight set exits in three years, the Lions' young and talented playing group needs Zorko to continue leading by example as they remain in pursuit of a Premiership.