Defender Matt Merrett has been named Adelaide’s best development player in 2019, winning the Dean Bailey Award.

Merrett played 18 SANFL games, the most of any development player in 2019 and averaged 14 disposals, five marks and two rebound 50s per game.

His best game was in his side’s Round Four draw with South Adelaide, where he recorded 25 disposals, 11 marks and eight rebound 50s.

The 25-year-old plays his local footy in his former hometown of Penola and was previously on Glenelg’s SANFL list, before joining the Crows’ development squad in 2019 with his brothers Brad and Scott.

Alongside veteran Andy Otten, Merrett was a leader for Adelaide’s young backline this season, helping 2018 draftees Will Hamill (18), Lachlan Sholl (19) and Jordon Butts (19).

The award is particularly significant for Merrett, given the quality of development players that represented the Crows in 2019.

Only 14 development squad members played this year compared to 25 in the 2018 season, a testament to the performances of those who continued to earn selections.

Midfielders Tom Hutchesson, Jordon Boyle and Hamish Latchford were also strong contributors throughout the season, while forward James Mathews and defender Pierce Seymour delivered impressive finals campaigns.

The Dean Bailey Award assesses on-field performance, dedication to training and overall commitment to the team in honour of the late Strategy and Innovations coach’s passion for nurturing young footballers.

Last year, Corey Davey won the Dean Bailey award and the defender played another four games in 2019.

SANFL development squad members 2019

Matt Merrett – 18 games
Tom Hutchesson – 14 games
Jordon Boyle – 13 games
Hamish Latchford – 12 games
Pierce Seymour – eight games
Lachie Ryan – six games
James Mathews – five games
Mitch Johnson – four games
Jackson Press – four games
Corey Davey – four games
Jy Farrar – two games
Billy Hayes – one game
Sam Tharaldsen – one game
Justin Smart – one game

Dean Bailey Award winners

2014 – Michael O'Malley
2015 – Matthew Spencely
2016 – Luke Carey
2017 – Lachlan Murphy
2018 – Corey Davey
2019 – Matt Merrett