BEN Howlett couldn’t have worked any harder so far in the 2018 WAFL season upon return to Peel Thunder and he was rewarded on Saturday with a best on ground performance in a much-needed victory against West Perth.
Howlett has been named the M & J Chickens Player of Round 10 following his standout performance on Saturday which saw Peel Thunder hold on for the thrilling three-point victory against West Perth at Bendigo Bank Stadium.
That saw the Thunder win consecutive matches for the first time in 2018 as they chase what would be a historic hat-trick of WAFL premierships with Howlett desperate to be part of that success upon return to the club after eight years in the AFL with Essendon.
While Howlett has been named M & J Chickens Player of Round 10, there were plenty other standout candidates including Claremont's Jye Bolton with 37 possessions in his team's win over Swan Districts.
Perth upset South Fremantle with a career-best five goals from Lachlan Dennis and with standout showings from Clint Jones and Brant Colledge while Luke Meadows (38 possessions) and Jay van Berlo (five goals) both recorded career-highs for West Perth in the tight loss to Peel.
Subiaco hammered East Fremantle with Kyal Horsley and Zac Clarke dominant performers, but in the end it was Howlett's showing in the win against West Perth that got him the nod in Round 10.
Howlett was superb in the midfield for Peel in the three-point victory finishing the afternoon in Mandurah with 33 possessions, 13 tackles, four entries inside the forward 50 and kicking the first two goals of the game.
It's not as if it's a one-off standout game from Howlett either. Just a week earlier he had 20 disposals and 17 tackles in the win against Claremont before 35 possessions the previous week against East Fremantle and 22 disposals and 13 tackles against Subiaco.
Over the course of the 2018 season, the 29-year-old from Donnybrook is averaging 25.1 disposals and 10.6 tackles a game to have been far and away Peel's best and most consistent performer.
There's every chance if Howlett's form continues he will claim a second fairest and best award at Peel Thunder having done so in 2009.
Having worked his way through the ranks at Peel, he had become a standout on-baller by that 2009 season both in terms of his ball-winning ability and ferocious tackling and defensive pressure he would apply.
That saw him drafted by Essendon into the AFL and he showed over the next eight years that he was more than capable of producing some outstanding football at the top level racking up 124 matches with the Bombers along the way.
Once his time in the AFL came to an end, he decided to return to Peel and join the reigning premiers of the past two years when being a premiership team had appeared nothing but a far away dream for the Thunder when Howlett last pulled on the jumper in 2009.
But following the retirement of Rory O'Brien following his 247-game WAFL career that included those premierships of 2016 and 2017, Howlett has slotted right into that experienced midfielder role at Peel and not only is he the Round 10 M & J Chickens Player of the Round, but deserves to be right in Sandover Medal contention too.
M & J Chickens Players of the Round
Round 1 – Rhys Palmer (Swan Districts)
Round 2 – Fraser McInnes (East Perth)
Round 3 – Cody Leggett (Perth)
Round 4 – Shane Nelson (West Perth)
Round 5 – Patrick McGinnity (East Perth)
Round 6 – Marlion Pickett (South Fremantle)
Round 7 – Andrew Strijk (West Perth)
Round 8 – George Hampson (East Fremantle)
Round 9 – Nick Suban (South Fremantle)
Round 10 – Ben Howlett (Peel Thunder)