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

JAMES Sicily has made a habit of kicking clutch goals early in his career and they don't come much bigger than the four he booted after half-time in Hawthorn's nine-point win over North Melbourne on Friday night.

Sicily, 21, kicked a career-high five goals to clinch the round 13 NAB AFL Rising Star nomination, which was a long time coming if you ask expectant Hawthorn supporters.

After starting the game in defence, Sicily was the match-winner for Hawthorn up forward in a pulsating contest against the Kangaroos, stepping up to the plate when the game was on the line.

The young forward also drilled the match-sealing goal with just a minute left on the clock against the Western Bulldogs in round three.

"I really try to settle myself and get the heart rate down and concentrate on what I need to do and focus on my routine," Sicily told AFL.com.au.

Sicily said the consistent practice he had done on his goal-kicking in preparation for Friday night's huge game had paid off.

"I've done a fair bit of work on my goal kicking in the last few weeks because I haven't been kicking as well in front of goal as I would like," Sicily said.

"I've done a fair bit of work with (specialist coach) David Rath on my goal-kicking.

"It was good I was able to kick straight and get a bit of confidence back because that's something I was lacking the last few games."

Sicily, who hails from the Sunbury Lions Junior Football Club, becomes just the second Hawks player to be nominated for the award since 2014. Not even Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson was sure Sicily was eligible for the prestigious award when asked on Friday night.

In fact, Sicily fell just under the age requirement (a player must be under the age of 21 at January 1 to win the award), having turned 21 on January 6.

"I wasn't too sure, either," Sicily said. "I thought I might have been too old. But I'll take it."

An opportunity for Sicily, who has played all 13 matches for the Hawks this season, presented when the circumstances around Jarryd Roughead's illness became clearer.

Despite his ongoing cancer treatment, Roughead continues to tutor Sicily and the young forward counts his experienced teammate as a mentor.

"He's someone I lean on for advice and I try to pick his brain with tips and tricks," Sicily said.

"He's given me some advice on leading patterns and little things you can do to create separation as a forward. As well as some mindset things when things aren't going your way."

Sicily also came into focus for the way he drew a number of high-tackle free kicks on Friday night.

"I know I got a couple (of free kicks) but one of them I tripped over and got one high," Sicily said.

"We practice with our tackling technique on making sure we combat those tactics and 'double tackle,' which focuses on grabbing an arm once you have hold of your opponent, so that we don't get guys high."

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?