VFL no struggle for Ruggles

Updated: September 18, 2015
Tom Ruggles has claimed the Geelong VFL best and fairest. Picture: ARJ GIESE


THE decision to return to the VFL after a year’s break has paid dividends for Geelong defender Tom Ruggles after he was crowned the Cats’ 2015 best and fairest.

The consistent Ruggles polled 88 votes to take out the award from AFL-listed pair Jarrad Jansen (65) and first year recruit Dean Gore (62).

Ruggles joins Mark Corrigan (2013) and James Podsiadly (2009), James Byrne and (2004, 2006) as VFL-listed players to claim the top award.

It caps off a triumphant first year at Simonds Stadium for Ruggles, who previously spent two seasons up the highway at Werribee where he made 17 senior and 31 Development League appearances after joining the Tigers from the Geelong Falcons.

The 23-year-old was the only Geelong player to line-up in all 18 games this season and averaged 17.5 possessions, 5.3 marks and 2.2 tackles a match.

He provided the Cats with plenty of rebound from defence to put himself back on the radar of AFL recruiters ahead of this year’s national drafts.

Ruggles was lured back to the VFL by Geelong after a terrific 2014 in the Geelong Football League for Leopold, where he was named on a half-back flank in the Team of the Year.

Jansen played the most games of any AFL-listed player this season (16) while Gore’s result is an encouraging sign for the Cats as he missed seven games early in the year while he struggled with nerve pain in his neck and shoulder.

But the on-baller overcame that problem to return mid-year and finished off the season strongly.

George Horlin-Smith was another player that battled injuries this season but did enough to impress in his 10 appearances to finish equal fifth in the count alongside young defender Jake Kolodjashnij.

After two years on the sidelines, forward Daniel Menzel capped off his comeback by polling 33-and-a-half votes from his six VFL appearances that also resulted in 11 goals, which saw him finish just behind Shane Kersten (13 goals, four games) as the Cats’ leading goalkicker in 2015.

Twitter: @GreenBradley

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