So far we’ve seen scintillating performances from players in their first years including father-son Nick Daicos and goal-sneak Josh Rachele. It’s no expectation that they turn the world on fire in their first season, however that was the case from some players.
So, we thought it’d be interesting to compare the Rising Star winners from the last decade.
2021 – Luke Jackson (MELB)
The superstar ruckman debuted in 2020, but quickly forced his way into the team, playing 24 of 25 in their Premiership winning year. Playing second ruck to skipper Max Gawn, Jackson worked on his forward craft and was a viable option up forward, kicking 16 goals. Some would also argue that he helped turn the course of the AFL Grand Final when the Dees were down. The agile ruckman asserted himself on the contest toward the end of the third term, as Melbourne piled on seven-unanswered goals. Jackson averaged 13 touches in 2021, along with two clearances and 11 hitouts. The Rising Star winner became a valued member of Simon Goodwin’s outfit and is seen pivotal to the future of the club.
2020 – Caleb Serong (FREM)
2020 Rising Star Caleb Serong slipped nicely into the AFL system, being drafted at pick 8 by Fremantle. The hard-nosed midfielder played 14 games in his debut season, with his best coming in sixth against Collingwood, tallying 24 disposals, six tackles and nine clearances. Serong averaged 17 throughout the year and quickly became an important cog in the Fremantle engine room alongside Fyfe and Brayshaw. His nomination came in round eight and was widely recognized as the next big thing in Fremantle, being awarded with best first-year player in the same year.
2019 – Sam Walsh (CARL)
Despite the hype surrounding Sam Walsh, his on-field performances were nothing short of remarkable, as he quickly displayed what a talent he is. Playing all but one game in his debut season, Walsh opened his AFL career with 24 disposals and four clearances against the League’s best, Richmond. The ready-made midfielder only dropped under 20 possessions three times and averaged 25 for the year. Walsh’s running ability is second-to-none and at such a young age, his smarts with and without the ball will see him become a supreme midfielder of the competition. His 2019-year is arguably the best Rising Star winner we’ve seen, coming fourth in the club’s Best and Fairest and receiving the best first-year player award.
2018 – Jaidyn Stephenson (COLL)
After being passed by five clubs, Jaidyn Stephenson seemed like a steal at pick 6 and the Pies quickly swooped. Drafted as a lively forward, Stephenson’s first goal came in his fourth game, as he kicked a bag of five against the 2017 Runners up. After that game, he was kept goalless only five teams, as the Pies stormed toward the Grand Final, knocking off Richmond in a Preliminary final. Stephenson kicked 38 goals for the year, with two in the Grand Final and the world was at his feet. The Eastern Rangers product was an integral part of the Collingwood line-up as they rose from 13th to 2nd†
2017 – Andrew McGrath (ESS)
McGrath started his career in fine form, debuting in round 1 against the Hawks with a win, amassing 22 touches and five tackles. Drafted as No.1 to the Bombers, McGrath was expected to come in and make a difference and that he did. The Vic Metro captain began off the halfback, with his elite speed and intensity used to break lines and penetrate the opposition defence. However, starting in the defence, McGrath was slowly molded into a midfielder where he played most of his junior footy. The exciting prospect was also awarded with a best first-year player award for his efforts.
2016 – Callum Mills (SYD)
Member of the Sydney Swans Academy, Mills was selected at pick 3 in the 2015 draft, after being highly touted as an impressive junior footballer. The Academy prospect debuted in round 1, a thrashing against Collingwood and recorded 18 disposals off the halfback. Mills went on to play 22 games in his first year and was brought into the Grand Final team after returning from injury. Mills’ nomination came after he tallied 23 disposals, six marks and four rebound-50s. It should also be noted that Mills received a total of 49 votes out of 50 and was awarded with the best first-year player in the same year.
2015 – Jesse Hogan (MELB)
Jesse Hogan’s Rising Star year was highly anticipated, with Demon fans waiting two years to see the talent at AFL. Being picked in a mini-draft in 2012 (age ineligibility) and playing VFL (2013), whilst missing all 2014 with injuries, the wait was finally over round 1 2015. Jesse Hogan began his career with a win over expansion club Gold Coast. The impressive young talent kicked two goals from 15 touches and looked to be an answer to many of the problems the Dees were having. Hogan was finally nominated after a string of strong performances in round 9, recording two goals, 16 touches and eight marks. The lead-up forward missed two games for the year but still kicked 44 goals for the year and averaged seven marks.
2014 – Lewis Taylor (BRIS)
In what was a surprise victor of the Rising Star, pick 28, Lewis Taylor managed to pip highly plugged pick 4 Marcus Bontempelli by one in the closest count yet. Taylor wasn’t big in stature, nor was he the fastest in the draft, but what he looked in physical attributes; he gained in skill and composition. The small forward played every game in his debut year for the Lions, alluding to coaches and fans that he was part of the new, talented wave up in the sunshine state. Taylor’s nomination came in round 9, as he went for 20 touches (90% efficiency) and eight marks. His ability to get to the outside and use the ball effectively made him such an impressive prospect and probably why he managed to beat out Bontempelli.
2013 – Jaeger O’Meara (GCS)
Jaeger O’Meara was seen by recruiters as a supreme talent and was drafted in the mini-draft in 2011 by Gold Coast because of it. As a result of this, fans and the like were forced to wait until 2013 for the unveiling of the Suns’ future due to age ineligibility but were thankful for it. O’Meara did not miss a beat, playing all 22 games and earning himself the Rising Star and AFLPA best first-year player in 2013. His stat line of 22 touches a game, five tackles and four clearances as a 19-year-old made it all the most impressive. On top of that, he managed to come third in the Gold Coast Best and Fairest, won be Gary Ablett Jnr. His nomination came in a round 5 win against GWS, where he kicked two, had 25 touches and 11 clearances.
2012 – Daniel Talia (ADE)
As seen above, it is unusual that a defender wins awards, as their job doesn’t involve flashy goals or high possession counts. Most of their job is behind-the-scenes and grunt work that is defined by one-percenters. Talia epitomized this in his second seasons for the Crows, as he managed to play 23 games on the road to a preliminary final loss. The key defender took on some of the biggest forwards at the time, including a young Lance Franklin, experienced Nick Riewoldt and brute-of-a-man Jonathon Brown. Talia was quickly recognized as a key cog in Adelaide’s line-up and was seen as one of the best lock-down defenders in the competition.
Ranking all previous Rising Star Winners
|#4||Jaeger O’Meara||Gold Coast|
The new batch of players has already seen so many impressive performances by the game’s young stars, including surprise packet Nic Martin who was picked up only a month before the season by the Bombers under the Supplemental Selection Period (SSP).
Nick Daicos and Josh Rachele continue to go from strength to strength, while Melbourne’s good luck charm, Jake Bowey, who recently made it 12 wins from 12 games consistently proves why he’s in the best 22 of last year’s Premiers.
Highly-touted number 1 pick, Jason Horne-Francis, is yet to receive a nomination, but this won’t last long while Gold Coast’s Alex Davies and Fremantle’s Heath Chapman won’t be far behind.
So, who wins this year’s Rising Star?