SUFFICE to say, Lachie Plowman wasn’t expecting his place on the John Nicholls Medal podium on Friday night.

Joining leaders Patrick Cripps and Ed Curnow up on stage, a career-best year from Plowman was backed up in the vote count.

And while the unassuming defender downplayed his influence on the 2019 season, it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by his coaches.

Finishing with 134 votes, Plowman came in third: within nine votes of the now three-time John Nicholls Medallist in Cripps.

Ranking elite in intercept possessions and spoils, it’s clear why the rarely-beaten Plowman ranked so highly.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting it,” Plowman said on Friday night.

“I’ve actually been a bit sick during the week and I got told at the start of the night that if I wanted to go home, I could shoot off. It’s probably lucky that I stuck around.

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Mr Consistent. @lachplow takes out third place in the 2019 John Nicholls Medal. #BoundByBlue

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“It’s such a great honour and I feel very privileged to be part of this club.”

Plowman’s versatility was never more evident than this season, playing against opposition bigs and smalls while either serving as a negator or rebounder in defence.

He restricted All Australians Charlie Cameron (Round 12) and Jack Darling (Round 20) to one and two goals respectively, while having eight or more intercept possessions on nine occasions.

When asked what his mandate is each week, Plowman was pretty coy — “I do what I have to do”.

“I try to keep it pretty simple. I’ve learned a lot from my game in recent years,” he said.

“For me, it’s all about playing my role. It’s probably what the award is based on, getting that done.
“I don’t mind if I’m up against a tall or a small — just probably not the ‘tall tall’ ones!”

Plowman was one member of a standout defensive group which dominated the John Nicholls Medal, with swingman Levi Casboult and key defenders Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones also featuring in the top seven.

Unsurprisingly, the 25-year-old was keen to heap praise on a back line which he hopes to build with for years to come.

“It’s been amazing: just look at the guys I play with,” he said.

“Kade Simpson has played a mountain of games, Sam Docherty is only fresh in his football career but he has so much knowledge and leadership.

“Then you’ve got Caleb Marchbank, Jacob Weitering, Liam Jones… the list goes on.”

As always, any club’s best-and-fairest night is full of thank yous: this was no exception.

Leading the way for Plowman was his co-captain — and not the one who won the John Nicholls Medal, either.

“Especially ‘Doc’: we’ve missed him greatly on the field. However, the leadership that he’s shown for all of us has been outstanding — the bond the defenders have is amazing,” he said.

“[Assistant coach] Dale Amos has been huge for us. There’s been a lot of challenges down back with the injuries that we’ve had.”

Conceding that he’s “not a man of many words”, Plowman was hoping he’d be able to fade away into the background as Cripps and Curnow joined him on-stage.

However, one thing is he’s hoping to not avoid is something which he’s been looking to achieve for eight years: an elusive full pre-season.

“I’ve never done a full pre-season so this year, I want to chuck that away and put it behind me,” he said.

“I’ve learned so much about my body. In past years, it’s been a struggle towards the end of the year but this year, I felt like I got on top.

“The fitness staff led by ‘Jack’ Russell have helped me so much. If it wasn’t for them, I probably would have been crawling around tonight.”

And as for what’s to come in 2020?

“There’s always constant development and learning in certain areas that I need to work on, honing in on a few things and not trying to be the complete player,” he said.