The ascension of Collingwood’s Mason Cox to a serious big-game player has been confirmed by the coaches despite the American big man not winning the Neale Daniher trophy on Monday.
Fans seemingly had it right when a small chorus of boos rang out around the MCG after Melbourne star Clayton Oliver was given the award for best-on-ground in the Queen’s Birthday clash.
Cox received maximum votes from two of the judges but a third didn’t have him in the top three players on the ground and the American missed out on the award by a single vote.
That despite 31-year-old ending the day with a career-high 21 disposals, eight marks and six score involvements in one of his best games for a long time.
But vindication for Cox came on Tuesday when he was given a perfect 10 by Collingwood coach Craig McRae and Melbourne’s Simon Goodwin in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year award, five from each.
Oliver was clear second pick, with eight votes, four from each coach.
McRae could not have been more impressed with Cox in his post-game assesment.
Judges voting −3,2,1
Matthew Lloyd – Mason Cox, Clayton Oliver, Jack Crisp
Cameron Ling – Mason Cox, Clayton Oliver, Brody Mihocek
Josh Gabelich – Clayton Oliver, Nick Daicos, Brody Mihocek
— AFL House (@AFL_House) June 13, 2022
“I must admit, I‘m really proud of him and I told him how proud I am of him,“ McRae said.
“We go a long way back and to see him grow… he‘s had a lot of doubters.
“(When he‘s confident) he gets taller and taller out there – he’s been really important for us in the past month.”
The Collingwood coach also forecast Cox could spend more time in the ruck going forward as the Pies mount a solid finals case.
“I do believe he is a better ruck-forward than he is a forward-ruck,” McRae said.
“That‘s his best position.”
Collingwood has a bye this week before taking on GWS in Round 15.