Rising Star contenders (L-R) Ryley Sanders, Harley Reid, Colby McKercher. Pictures: AFL Photos

A PAIR of 2022 draftees loom as the main contenders to stopping No.1 pick Harley Reid from taking out the Rising Star award this year, while a forgotten tall from the 2021 draft class remains in contention for the prestigious Ron Evans Medal.

Reid, one of the most hyped draftees in recent memory, looms as the hot favourite to be West Coast's first Rising Star winner since Ben Cousins in 1996, while North Melbourne's Colby McKercher and Western Bulldogs midfielder Ryley Sanders have also been backed to shine in their debut seasons.

But it's McKercher's Roos teammate George Wardlaw who could spoil the party for the 2023 draftees, with the 19-year-old still eligible after an injury-interrupted season last year.

To be eligible, players must be under 21 years of age as of January 1, 2024 and have played no more than 10 AFL games before the start of the season. Players will also be ineligible if they are suspended during the year.

George Wardlaw in action during the R10 match between North Melbourne and Sydney at Marvel Stadium on May 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Wardlaw remains in contention having managed just eight games in 2022, while Essendon's Elijah Tsatas - the No.5 pick in 2022 - played just four games last year following a serious knee injury.

Highly rated Bulldogs tall Sam Darcy, who won't turn 21 until July 19, has played just seven senior games in two seasons so remains eligible, while fellow 2021 draftee Angus Sheldrick (nine games in two seasons) is expected to play a role in Sydney's midfield this year and could be an outside chance for the award.

Angus Sheldrick celebrates a goal during the Round 14 match between Brisbane and Sydney at the Gabba, June 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Alongside Reid, McKercher and Sanders, other 2023 draftees who are expected to feature heavily this season are Adelaide's Daniel Curtin, Hawthorn small Nick Watson, Essendon tall Nate Caddy, Melbourne wingman Caleb Windsor and versatile Roo Zane Duursma.

Your club's leading Rising Star contender

Adelaide - Daniel Curtin
Brisbane - Kai Lohmann
Carlton - Lachie Cowan, Ashton Moir
Collingwood - Ed Allan
Essendon - Elijah Tsatas, Nate Caddy
Fremantle - Cooper Simpson
Geelong - Jhye Clark, Connor O'Sullivan
Gold Coast - Jed Walter, Jake Rogers
Greater Western Sydney - Darcy Jones, James Leake
Hawthorn - Nick Watson
Melbourne - Caleb Windsor
North Melbourne - Colby McKercher, Zane Duursma
Port Adelaide - Josh Sinn
Richmond - Tyler Sonsie
St Kilda - Darcy Wilson
Sydney - Angus Sheldrick, Matt Roberts
West Coast - Harley Reid
Western Bulldogs - Ryley Sanders, Sam Darcy