AFL Rd 2 - Brisbane v Fremantle
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 13: Lachie Neale of the Lions celebrates kicking a goal during the round 2 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the Fremantle Dockers at The Gabba on June 13, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

A one-horse race is never too enticing, with Brisbane star Lachie Neale likely taking home this year’s Brownlow Medal several lengths ahead of the next competitor.

With Neale’s 2020 season one like no-other, the race for silver adds to be as tight a contest as any, with several AFL stars pining for second place honours.

With an even field fighting for a podium finish, we’ve narrowed down the five likely candidates to find themselves sitting aside Neale atop the voting tally.

Travis Boak

 If Neale is the outright favourite to take home ‘Charlie’, then Boak would be the next best option for a podium finish.

The Port Adelaide veteran has averaged over 23 possessions, five clearances and four inside 50’s in a season that saw the Power placed atop the mantle of the competition from the start to the finish. And to be able to watch Boak’s Power in the upcoming preliminary final against Richmond from anywhere in the world, visit www.VPNPros.com and download a virtual private network (VPN).

Port ended the home and away season with 14 wins and three losses, warranting plenty of votes in favour of the men in black and teal, with no better performer all season than Boak. Port Adelaide won just 11 games from 22 last year, with Boak still managing to poll 16 votes.

The former Port captain will be off to a red-hot start to the count, likely securing three best-on-ground performances in the opening three rounds. With several outings just as impressive scattered throughout the remainder of his campaign, Boak will likely find himself as a podium finisher for 2020, but will it be silver or bronze?

Jack Steele

The Saints ball-magnet ranked elite in the completion for clearances, tackles and contested possessions in what was an evolved year for the midfielder.

St Kilda impressed many critics in 2020, progressing into the finals series for the first time since 2011, with many thanks to Steele’s rise.

Steele dropped below 20 disposals on just two occasions for the year and will look to attract votes left, right and centre after a slow opening month.

The major question surrounding Steele is his ability to land votes, polling a total of just five from his 78 games prior to 2020. However, Steele has not had a season remotely close to this year, with umpires and fans quickly taking notice of his capabilities.

If he can prove to become a known vote-getter, Steele will quickly shoot up the order and find himself in breaths distance from Lachie Neale.

Christian Petracca

The Melbourne bull has exploded onto the scene in 2020, becoming one of the premium midfielders of the competition.

Petracca’s ability to single-handedly carry his side across the line is what the umpires will take great notice of, and fair to say he did so on numerous occasions.

On 11 occasions, the powerful ball-winner had 24 or more touches – the equivalent to a 30-disposal game in 20-minute quarters. As well as his elite contested numbers in the engine room, Petracca’s one goal-per-game average adds plenty to the BOG thought process. Access to watching Petracca’s breakout in 2020 in other parts of the world however has been challenging, given live games happen at terribly inconvenient times.

A major concern for the Demons star is his fellow teammates Clayton Oliver and Max Gawn, with the latter at time favoured for the Brownlow within the first half of the season. Every star will have an ally that will steal a few votes here or there, but with great company surrounding Petracca, it may be more than just a few.

AFL Rd 5 - Melbourne v Richmond
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JULY 05: Christian Petracca of the Demons in action during the round 5 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Richmond Tigers at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 05, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Patrick Dangerfield

In similar fashion to Petracca, a number of Dangerfield’s teammates could be causes for concern if you’re backing the Geelong star in for a top three showing. With Sam Menegola and Cam Guthrie rising to the occasion more than ever, added to Tom Hawkins’ Coleman Medal winning season, Danger could be held back in the Brownlow race.

While the two right-hand men have elevated their worth in 2020, their ability to poll votes from dominant displays in the past might suggest the pair struggle to capitalise on man of the match honours.

Guthrie (10 votes) and Menegola (15) have failed to impress umpires since their debuts, with their loss being Dangerfield’s gain.

Supporting role aside, Dangerfield’s season has remained as astronomical as ever, holding up the midfield end of the bargain whilst taking his attacking game to new heights. The Cats superstar not only booted 16 goals for the year, but assisted another 20 and had a total of 114 score involvements for the year.

Jack Macrae

Perhaps the dark horse of the race, with star partner-in-crime Marcus Bontempelli perhaps just as strong as a shout for a podium placing.

Whilst the Bont was arguably one of the league’s best in the second half of the season, his opening half may suggest only a small handful of votes fall his way.

For Macrae, the Bulldogs ball-magnet was as consistent and damaging as ever, highlighted by a 40 disposal (equivalent to 50 in 20-minute quarters) outing in Round 11. Yes, his one-of-a-kind display was in a defeat, but it will be the votes polled in losses that decide this race.

The silky mover gained some recognition last season, polling 22 votes from 22 games, with perhaps an even more impressive campaign this year opening the gates for a higher finish.