Mitch Wallis in action in the 2012 London exhibition match against Port Adelaide
On the rise: Mitch Wallis
At a glance: After a modest debut season in 2011 in which he played just six games, the inside midfielder proved in 2012 why the Dogs gave up a first-round pick to secure the son of former Footscray captain Steve Wallis. The 19-year-old thrived under new coach Brendan McCartney's contested ball mantra, where his hardness and clean hands around the stoppages saw him average 22 possessions in 19 games. He also sneaked forward to kick seven goals. His breakout season was rewarded with a third place in the NAB Rising Star, fifth in Bulldogs best and fairest and the club's most improved player award. Such is the regard in which Wallis is held, he's the poster boy for the Dogs' latest marketing campaign.
Plays like: His coach caused raised eyebrows back in July when he compared Wallis to Hawthorn champion Sam Mitchell. Stats back up McCartney's argument, with his young charge shading the Hawks premiership skipper for output at the same stage of their careers. Wallis, like Mitchell, is natural leader who prides himself on contested footy and a cool head in a crisis.
Killer quality: The one attribute that stands out despite his tender years are Wallis' leadership qualities. From the moment he arrived at the Whitten Oval, he coveted the No. 3 guernsey worn by legendary leaders Ted Whitten and Chris Grant while declaring he wanted to emulate his father and captain the club. On exposed form so far, few would doubt him.
Best performance: In a year where consistency was a hallmark of Wallis' game, it's hard to go past his round 22 performance against a hardened Geelong outfit at Simmonds Stadium. Opposed to the likes of Joel Corey, James Kelly and Jimmy Bartel, Wallis countered with a equal career high 29 touches (82 per cent efficiency), six clearances and eight tackles.
What they say: "Mitch is showing the benefits of working at his all-round game and his performance against Melbourne was an example of that," said Brendan McCartney after Wallis' round four NAB Rising Star nomination. "He understands he still has a lot to learn but he's a good person and works very hard at his game. We're confidant he is building towards a good career at our club."
Stats that matter:
Third in total disposals (424 @ 22.32)
Second in total handballs (257 @ 13.5)
Fourth in tackles (79 @ 4 per game)
Fourth in clearances (95 @ 5 per game)
Eleventh in goals (7)