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Sydney product Callum Mills makes history to win 2016 Rising Star Award

Mills wins, Dogs in flight, injury latest A special edition of Footy Feed with Nat Edwards and Matt Thompson

SYDNEY Swans defender Callum Mills has won the NAB AFL Rising Star award, becoming the first academy player from any club to take out the title.

He is also the first New South Wales-born player to win the Ron Evans Medal, which he received in a presentation at Crown Palladium on Tuesday.

2016 NAB AFL Rising Star winner Callum Mills with his girlfriend Tiffany Browne

Mills finished with 49 votes, which meant he received maximum scores from all but one member of the voting panel, Geelong premiership captain Cameron Ling, who gave his top vote to Caleb Daniel.

Western Bulldogs midfielder Daniel finished second with 41 votes after a season that saw him line up in all but two matches.

 The 2016 NAB AFL Rising Star Award as it happened

Carlton defender Jacob Weitering was third on 26 votes.

Mills used to play rugby union but began playing AFL when he was 13, with one aspect in particular drawing him to the sport. 

"The 360 dimension of the game, it's so different every game. It's exciting, it's fast and there's so many more skills that you can use," Mills said upon taking out the award 

"In rugby, I used to kick the ball too much so my coach used to get angry, so I thought AFL was the game for me."

He has become known for his courage and seemingly has no issues running back with the flight of the ball.


"It seems reckless at the time but when you're on the field and you see how much support they (teammates) give you, it's quite easy to listen to what they say and do it," Mills said.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan chats to the Rising Star nominees. Picture: AFL Photos

Swans recruiting manager Kinnear Beatson believes the Rising Star winner could get even better once the club can find room in its midfield for him.

"Callum, in time, will push up and play through the midfield, which is where he played a lot of his junior football. We think there's still room for improvement in that area," Beatson said.

Essendon's Darcy Parish finished fourth (19 votes) and Collingwood forward Darcy Moore was fifth with nine votes.

Four other players received votes: Demon Christian Petracca (2), St Kilda's Jade Gresham (2), Melbourne's Clayton Oliver (1) and Fremantle's Lachie Weller (1).

2016 NAB AFL Rising Star

Callum Mills SYD 49
Caleb Daniel WB 41
Jacob Weitering CARL 26
Darcy Parish ESS 19
Darcy Moore COLL 9
Jade Gresham STK 2
Christian Petracca MELB 2
Clayton Oliver MELB 1
Lachie Weller FRE 1

Mills was drafted at No. 3 last year after Melbourne initially placed a bid for him at that position.

After the Swans matched the selection, the Demons selected Oliver.

Demons James Harmes, Oscar McDonald and Clayton Oliver catch up at the ceremony. Picture: AFL Photos

With the Swans finishing on top of the ladder, the 19-year-old could become just the second player to win a premiership in his rising star year, joining Geelong captain Joel Selwood (2007) on that list.

Mills has slotted seamlessly in to the Swans defence, and his hardness and reliability have impressed football observers.

Recruited from North Shore, he is the third Swan to win the award after Dan Hannebery (2010) and Adam Goodes (1999).

Mills missed the final game of the season with a corked calf but has been in full training for the past week and is expected to face Greater Western Sydney in the Swans' qualifying final on Saturday afternoon at ANZ Stadium.

Daniel was drafted at No. 46 in 2014 because of concerns he was too short (168cm) but has cemented a spot in the Dogs' side.

NAB AFL Rising Star winners: 1993-present

YearPlayerClubVotesRecruited from
2016 Callum Mills SYD 49 North Shore (NSW)
2015 Jesse Hogan MELB 49 Claremont (WA)
2014 Lewis Taylor BL 39 Terang-Mortlake (VIC)
2013 Jaeger O'Meara GCFC 44 Perth (WA)
2012 Daniel Talia ADEL 43 Calder Cannons (VIC)
2011 Dyson Heppell ESS 44 Gippsland Power (VIC)
2010 Daniel Hannebery SYD 45 Kew (VIC)
2009 Daniel Rich BL 45 Subiaco (WA)
2008 Rhys Palmer FRE 44 East Fremantle (WA)
2007 Joel Selwood GEEL 44 Bendigo U18
2006 Danyle Pearce PORT 43 Sturt (SA)
2005 Brett Deledio RICH 43 Kyabram/ Murray U18
2004 Jared Rivers MELB 45 North Adelaide (SA)
2003 Sam Mitchell HAW 33 Mooroolbark/ Eastern U18
2002 Nick Riewoldt STK 34 Southport (Qld)
2001 Justin Koschitzke STK 31 Albury (NSW)/ Murray U18
2000 Paul Hasleby FRE 33 East Fremantle (WA)
1999 Adam Goodes SYD 33 Horsham/ North Ballarat U18
1998 Byron Pickett NMFC 30 Port Adelaide (SANFL)
1997 Michael Wilson PORT 27 Port Adelaide (SANFL)
1996 Ben Cousins WCE  - East Fremantle (WA)
1995 Nick Holland HAW  - North Adelaide (SA)
1994 Chris Scott BL  - Eastern U18
1993 Nathan Buckley BL  - Port Adelaide (SANFL)

Want more?

• Full coverage at the NAB AFL Rising Star hub

 24 years of Rising Star winners in pictures

• How does the Rising Star Award work and who is eligible?

Listen to the Road to the Draft podcast, recorded live at the 2016 NAB AFL Rising Star Awards: