GREATER Western Sydney's No.1 draft pick Nicola Barr and Melbourne forward Deanna Berry are the final nominees for the NAB AFL Women's Rising Star award.
The speedy Barr had 12 disposals, three marks and three tackles in the Giants’ loss to the Western Bulldogs in Canberra on Saturday night.
She was drafted from Sydney University despite having played footy for only three years.
An elite junior in soccer, Barr started playing football at school and stuck with it, finding she enjoyed the combination of elements from different sports.
The 20-year-old is already the recipient of a rising star award, taking out AFL Sydney's equivalent award in 2015. She followed that up with the 2016 Mostyn Medal as the league's best and fairest player.
The medical science student said she would continue to work on her decision-making in her return to club level.
"My coach Tim Schmidt was really happy with my last few weeks in my move from the midfield to half-back," Barr said.
"I like running out of defence. It's good to see the play develop in front of me, and I feel a lot more confident than I did in the midfield.
"It was a huge leap this year from club level – I really noticed it. So I want to make working on my decisions on the field a priority for the rest of the year."
Berry was highly influential up forward for the Demons in their 54-point win over Fremantle, finishing with 11 disposals, two goals and three marks.
The Melbourne University VFL Women's product was drafted ninth overall and was captain of the Calder Cannons youth girls' academy.
She played her junior footy with the Mernda Demons (north-east of Melbourne) and also represented Montmorency in the VWFL. The forward kicked 43 goals in just 12 games in 2015, playing seniors as a 16-year-old.
Berry is Melbourne's fourth Rising Star nominee, an impressive effort considering only 14 players have been named from the eight clubs.
Demons coach Mick Stinear said his young brigade had proven to be talented and keen to learn.
"Regardless of age you just want people who will give energy and effort every time … and it just happened for us they have turned out to be young players," he said.
Berry said the space Melbourne created up forward helped her turn in a season-best effort.
"As a forward, I really like to have that space out in front of me. We used every bit of width and depth we could to spread our opponents," Berry said.
"It's disappointing we're not playing in [the Grand Final], but finding out about the nomination did help raise my spirits a bit.
The forward will return to Melbourne Uni and play in the VFL Women's, while studying sports management and leadership at Richmond Institute (based out of Richmond Football Club).
The full list of Rising Star nominees is:
- Bailey Hunt (Western Bulldogs)
- Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide)
- Lily Mithen (Melbourne)
- Tayla Harris (Brisbane Lions)
- Erin McKinnon (GWS)
- Ashley Sharp (Fremantle)
- Jasmine Grierson (Melbourne)
- Sabrina Frederick-Traub (Brisbane Lions)
- Tilly Lucas-Rodd (Carlton)
- Bella Ayre (Carlton)
- Brittany Bonnici (Collingwood)
- Katherine Smith (Melbourne)
- Nicola Barr (Greater Western Sydney)
- Deanna Berry (Melbourne)