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Petracca makes three: Another Rising Star nod for Demons

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It's an unreal feeling
Christian Petracca

• Vote for 2016's winner at the NAB AFL Rising Star hub

MELBOURNE has locked in its third NAB AFL Rising Star nominee for the season, with Christian Petracca joining teammates Clayton Oliver and James Harmes in line for the prestigious award.

The Demons now have three nominations in the first nine rounds of the season, following on from star forward Jesse Hogan taking out the award last season and midfielder Angus Brayshaw finishing fifth in voting.

That Petracca and Billy Stretch were among the Demons' best players against the Brisbane Lions on Sunday underlines Melbourne's horde of improving youngsters.

"It's an unreal feeling," Petracca told AFL.com.au upon learning of his round nine nomination for the award.

"Boys want to come to work now and want to improve and the biggest thing I've found is that everyone is buying into the program and we're just loving coming into the club."

Oliver and Harmes were quick to initiate the powerful forward into their own esteemed circle.

"They just shook my hand and James Harmes actually said 'welcome to the club,'" Petracca said with a laugh.

Petracca, pick No.2 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft, had been building to a performance like the one he produced against the Lions.

The 20-year-old had displayed signs of his prodigious talent but he found his consistency on Sunday, racking up 21 disposals as well as being involved in 11 of Melbourne's score involvements.

Petracca also laid seven tackles and was credited with 21 pressure acts in his fourth AFL game.

"The more games you play the more comfortable you become in your body. I feel like I had a good all-round game on the weekend," Petracca said.

"I just needed to finish a few more shots but other than that I thought I had a good game."

The young star booted 0.4 and had a goal controversially recalled following what appeared to be inconclusive video evidence.

"I actually didn't think it was touched to be honest," Petracca said.

Focusing on hitting the first option, rather than trying to pull off the miraculous kick all the time, marked a significant change in Petracca's mindset at the weekend.

It had been a key point Paul Roos and his assistant coaches had been stressing to Petracca as he continues to learn what it takes to make it at AFL level.

"The biggest thing that I found when I made my debut against St Kilda (in round six) was the speed and intensity of the game," Petracca said.

"I thought I was ready for it but I clearly wasn't."

Melbourne forced the youngster to be patient, giving him three games in the VFL earlier in the year before the coaching staff eventually decided it could not ignore his irrepressible form.

Rebounding from having his debut season wiped away by a torn anterior cruciate ligament, and then suffering a pre-season toe injury in a basketball mishap, taught Petracca plenty about what it takes to be a professional sportsman.

"You're only one injury away from the end of your career, I guess. So the biggest thing I learn is that there's more to life than footy," he said.

"It's taught me to be a bit more humble."

Want more?

• Find 2016's nominees and vote for the winner at the NAB AFL Rising Star hub
• How does the Rising Star Award work and who is eligible?