SANDHURST star Heather Oliver is a firm favourite to claim her second Betty Thompson Medal as the BFNL’s best and fairest for 2017.
Oliver, who has combined playing with coaching, has enjoyed a stellar season for the Dragons, who were the first team through to this year’s grand final following last weekend’s second semi-final win against Golden Square.
The versatile netballer won her previous medal in 2015, when she polled in all but one round and finished with 42 of a maximum 54 votes.
Oliver won her VNL club Melbourne University Lightning’s best and fairest this season and has excelled at both ends of the court this season as the Dragons compiled a 16-1-1 regular season record.
Strongest opposition is expected to come from her VNL teammate and Gisborne star Madeline Stewart, Sandhurst midcourter Meg Williams, reigning league medallist Brianna Dalrymple-Monro (Strathfieldsaye), Golden Square duo Gabe Richards and Meg Gilbert, Eaglehawk’s Ashley Ryan and Maryborough goal shooting ace Jordan Macilwain.
Stewart was the runner-up in last year’s count and fourth in 2015.
Dalrymple-Monro has enjoyed another standout season for Strathfieldsaye and always polls well.
A win to the Storm midcourter would be her third league best and fairest after she also won the medal in 2011 while playing for Sandhurst.
Kangaroo Flat young gun Ruby Barkmeyer should also expect to poll well, but missed several games through her VNL commitments with under-19 champions Geelong Cougars.
Gisborne’s Tiana Newman is another player with a strong voting history and has twice won the medal in 2009 and 2013 and finished third in 2015.