By his own admission, Essendon forward Will Snelling is surprised by his top-three placing in the club’s Crichton Medal count.
The 24-year-old has enjoyed a remarkable rise from being a 2019 mid-season draft selection to finishing third in the Dons’ best and fairest.
In 2021, Snelling was a dependable team player who was always reliable in delivering and executing his role as a small forward.
He appeared 20 times for the Dons this season and recorded career-best games in disposals (25, round 15 v North Melbourne), tackles (11, round four v Sydney) and marks (seven, round 22 v Gold Coast).
Reflecting on his achievement, Snelling said he was completely unaware he’d end up finishing third behind All-Australian duo Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish.
“Absolutely not (when asked if he expected a top-three finish),” Snelling said.
“I missed a few weeks with my thumb (injured in round 11 v West Coast), so I wasn’t expecting too much.
“I’m pretty surprised to be honest. It’s been a crazy ride in such a short period of time.”
A finish which shocked many externally, Snelling is highly regarded inside the four walls of the NEC Hangar.
A terrier in the forward half, he averaged five tackles a game (rated elite) and 17.7 disposals (rated elite for small forwards) to help set up scores which contributed to the Dons finishing fourth best in the league for points per game.
It’s a skill he prides himself on as a cornerstone of his game, and it was something that was the feature of a series of light-hearted confectionary wagers throughout the season.
“To see the growth I’ve been able to have in two short years, both affected by COVID, is really exciting,” Snelling said.
“My pressure (is my best asset). We (forwards group) had a bit of a bet towards the end of the year with cans of Coke and Mars Bars for pressure acts.
“So, if I can get on the scoreboard and set my teammates up and create space, then it’s even better.”
Snelling also paid tribute to senior coach Ben Rutten for his role in helping him maximise his attributes as a player.
The small forward said Rutten’s first year as senior coach had been a positive one, and that he'd helped him focus on what he could do best for the team.
“’Truck’ has been really good and I felt really rewarded. I’m not the flashiest player, I’m happy to admit that, but he’s been really good at keeping me level-headed and embracing my role and what I can bring to the team and my strengths,” Snelling said.
“I’m really excited to keep working with him and the other coaches to see what I can keep achieving and keep getting better for the team.”