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No.1 pick likened to Dusty the latest Rising Star

Young Lion Rayner makes his mark A standout performance from top draft pick Cameron Rayner
Cam Rayner is looking more comfortable at AFL level after a harsh lesson early in the year - AFL,Brisbane Lions,Cameron Rayner,Rising Star
Cam Rayner is looking more comfortable at AFL level after a harsh lesson early in the year

RICHMOND'S premiership footballers had heard the grandiose comparison being lavished on the new kid on the block.

Cam Rayner was anointed dux of last year's draft class, but long before that as a Dustin Martin clone, down to the similarly outrageous haircut and forward-midfield one-two punch.

The new Lion's No.1 tag made him an instant sledging target and never more so than against Martin's Tigers, who thrashed Brisbane by 93 points that day.

WHO WILL WIN RISING STAR? All of 2018's nominees

"People were talking about me being like Dusty and the Richmond players were like, 'We've got Dusty in our team – we don't need another one'," Rayner told AFL.com.au with a laugh.

"I just walked off. There wasn't much I could say. We had a win on the weekend (against Fremantle) and I was up and about and threw a bit more out there."

Not only did Rayner's Lions post their second win of the season on Sunday, but the 18-year-old scored the round 15 NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

His 19 disposals (11 contested), two goals, six score involvements, five tackles and four inside 50s represented arguably the best performance of his 14-game AFL career.

Rayner's nomination ensured he didn't follow in the footsteps of past No.1s Paddy McCartin, Tom Boyd, Jonathon Patton and Jack Watts in not being recognised in the award in their first season.

PAST 10 NO.1 PICKS
2017: Cameron Rayner (Brisbane)
2016: Andy McGrath (Essendon)
2015: Jacob Weitering (Carlton)
2014: Paddy McCartin (St Kilda)
2013: Tom Boyd (GWS)
2012: Lachie Whitfield (GWS) 
2011: Jonathon Patton (GWS)
2010: David Swallow (Gold Coast)
2009: Tom Scully (Melbourne)
2008: Jack Watts (Melbourne)

It comes after the Western Jets product's draft peers predicted he would make the biggest impact out of all of them in 2018.

So did the nomination tick a box for Rayner?

"Yes and no. I do feel a little bit like you have to (get one as the No.1 pick), when you see other guys drafted around you doing it," he said.

"But at the end of the day, I'm just out there playing my footy and I've been enjoying it and that's the main thing.

"It's exciting to get it, but I'm more excited about the win – I'm thinking more about the bigger picture."

Rayner, who has re-signed until the end of 2021, has enjoyed being able to quietly start his AFL journey in a rugby league-obsessed state after the "chaotic" media attention before last year's draft.

He has moved in with teammate Tom Bell, after initially living with club CEO Greg Swann, and is learning from the senior brigade – including 2001's No.1 selection Luke Hodge – about things like recovery and hydration.

Rayner even regularly lobbies Brisbane's national recruiting manager Steve Conole to recruit his best mate, Calder Cannons and Vic Metro star Curtis Taylor.

But the teenager still appreciates his own place in draft history.

"It was awesome to be in contention during that whole lead-up to the draft, then to get picked with the No.1 pick was unbelievable," he said.

"Obviously it comes with a bit of pressure and that's the main thing I knew was going to happen, but there's pressure on every kid that gets drafted to do their best.

"When I took the time to look back and understand what had happened and saw some of the blokes who'd come before me, that was when I realised how much bigger a moment it was."