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Rich wins rising star

BRISBANE Lion Daniel Rich has won the NAB AFL Rising Star for 2009, scoring a maximum five votes from all nine judges.

Since Rising Star voting has been made public in 1997, Rich is only the second player to be the unanimous choice for the award, joining Melbourne's Jared Rivers, who won the award in 2004.

Rich was also the first player to win the award after being nominated in the first round since Hawthorn captain Sam Mitchell in 2003.

Rich was the standout performer in a stellar debut season for the Brisbane Lions where he played every single game.

Adelaide's Andy Otten finished as runner-up with 30 votes, ahead of Essendon Tayte Pears (28), Collingwood's Dayne Beams (10), Fremantle's Stephen Hill (nine) and Bulldog Callan Ward (nine).

Rich averaged 17.7 disposals per game for the Lions and 4.6 inside 50s.

He quickly earned a reputation for his ability to win contested possessions and his booming left foot.

Rich is the third consecutive No.7 draft pick to win the award, following on from Fremantle’s Rhys Palmer and Geelong’s Joel Selwood.

The stocky midfielder arrived at the Lions ready-made for senior football after a solid grounding from WAFL club Subiaco.

Rich was the first nomination for the award this season for his 21-disposal game against West Coast, the side he grew up supporting.

Speaking to afl.com.au after receiving his nomination in March, Rich said he was not overwhelmed by playing against the team he was barracking for just months earlier.

“I always supported the Eagles but I’m Brisbane through and through now. I didn’t really think about it too much,” he said.

The on-baller was one of the most highly-rated players in the lead-up to last year’s draft. Many experts had him tipped to be taken by Fremantle at No.3 before they chose fellow West Australian Stephen Hill instead.

Rich said he harboured no sadness at not being able to stay in his native WA and has comfortably set himself up on the other side of the country.

“I like Brisbane. It has good weather and a good lifestyle. I wasn’t disappointed. I just wanted the chance to play AFL and the opportunity to be at a club. Not being able to stay home didn’t bother me whatsoever,” he said.

Total votes
Daniel Rich 45
Andy Otten 30
Tayte Pears 28
Dayne Beams 10
Stephen Hill 9
Callan Ward 9
Patrick Dangerfield 4

Selectors’ votes
Andrew Demetriou
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Andy Otten
3 – Dayne Beams
2 – Tayte Pears
1 – Callan Ward

Adrian Anderson
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Tayte Pears
3 – Dayne Beams
2 – Andy Otten
1 – Stephen Hill

James Hird
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Tayte Pears
3 – Stephen Hill
2 – Andy Otten
1 – Dayne Beams

Kevin Bartlett
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Tayte Pears
3 – Andy Otten
2 – Patrick Dangerfield
1 – Callan Ward

Mark Riccuito
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Andy Otten
3 – Dayne Beams
2 – Tayte Pears
1 – Patrick Dangerfield

Gerard Healy
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Andy Otten
3 – Tayte Pears
2 – Stephen Hill
1 – Patrick Dangerfield

Glen Jakovich
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Andy Otten
3 – Callan Ward
2 – Tayte Pears
1 – Stephen Hill

Kevin Sheehan
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Andy Otten
3 – Tayte Pears
2 – Callan Ward
1 – Stephen Hill

Robert Walls
5 – Daniel Rich
4 – Tayte Pears
3 – Andy Otten
2 – Callan Ward
1 – Stephen Hill