Since they were both taken in the top five in the 2017 NAB AFL National Draft, Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra have more often than not been discussed as a duo than as individuals in their three seasons at Fremantle.
In keeping with the narrative, both players had breakout seasons in 2020 and couldn’t be separated in the Doig Medal with 150 votes each alongside David Mundy in a three-way tie.
It was only in a count back that they were split, seeing Cerra finishing third, Brayshaw fourth and Mundy fifth.
While Brayshaw agrees that both players bring their own individual skills and traits to the game, he said the comparisons can help both players with their drive and motivation to improve.
“It is pretty cool to be seen as a duo,” Brayshaw said.
“Every now and again there are some comparisons made between us that drives us a little bit.
“Although we don’t really think we should be compared that much, there are some times in an article written about ‘Cez’ or written bout me, we’ll try and one up each other.
“It’s a healthy competition for the two of us.
“I think (this season) was a continual build for us too. It might seem like a big jump this year but it was something we were working towards since getting drafted.
“Hopefully, we can keep continuing on this path and keep improving and be two of the starting midfielders for the team going forward.”
While both players competed through the engine room as inside midfielders, Cerra also flourished on the wing in 2020 as he helped Fremantle mitigate the departures of Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon in the 2019 off-season.
Cerra shone in the role with his occasionally freakish skills by foot a highlight.
“I’ve always thought that (Cerra’s) an absolute classy ball user when he’s got a bit of time and space, and he can create (time and space) really well,” Brayshaw said.
“Once he gets the ball he can do some special things with it, which we saw with his amazing goal against Melbourne.
“Those are just some glimpses of what you’re going to get out of Cez in the next few years.”
One of Brayshaw’s biggest improvements in 2020 came from his ball use by foot, upping his kicking efficiency from 43.1 per cent in 2019 to 62.8 per cent.
“(The improvement came) from a bit of hard work in the off-season working on pretty much the basics and the fundamentals,” Brayshaw said.
“Having confidence in the game with the ball helps a lot as well. Early on, where I might have thought I was under a lot of pressure and forced a kick, I feel like I’ve got a little bit confidence I can move through a few people before I can hit a target now.”
Brayshaw said some credit was due to two new coaches in senior coach Justin Longuir and midfield assistant coach coach Josh Carr.
“It’s been really amazing working with those two guys,” Brayshaw said.
“They just want to see improvement for the club and looking at oppositions through a different lens and just finding out little tricks and things you can go into a game with.
“It’s been really helpful and I think the midfield groups really respond well to those two coaches and I think we’ve improve this year, definitely.”