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Tenacious Crow and speedy Dog named AFLW Rising Stars

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 15: Bailey Hunt during the Western Bulldogs Womens open training session at Whitten Oval on December 15, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/AFL Media)
Bulldog Bailey Hunt has been nominated for the Rising Star award

TENACIOUS Adelaide midfielder Ebony Marinoff and speedy Western Bulldogs defender Bailey Hunt are the first nominees for the inaugural NAB AFL Women’s Rising Star award.

The 19-year-old Marinoff was everywhere for the Crows in their 36-point win against Greater Western Sydney at Thebarton Oval on Saturday, picking up a game-high 20 possessions and laying six tackles.

Later that night, Hunt, 20, was part of the Bulldogs’ defence that shut down Fremantle at Whitten Oval. She collected nine disposals, laid three tackles and had two clearances in the 32-point victory. 

Despite being relatively new to football, Hunt was selected at No.60 in the 2016 NAB AFL Women's Draft. Her speed means she can play on a variety of opponents. 

She played 15 matches for Melbourne University in the VFL Women's competition last year, including the losing Grand Final against Darebin. Hunt played at junior level for Montmorency JFC in Melbourne’s north-east.

The left-footed Marinoff was Adelaide’s first selection in the 2016 draft. She was recruited from Morphettville Park and played juniors with Lockleys JFC in Adelaide’s inner-west. The former surf-lifesaver was named an All Australian in 2016 after the AFL women’s exhibition series.

After the game, Marinoff told she put the build-up to the opening round and the pressure of playing in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 to one side to stay focused on winning the game. 

Ebony Marinoff celebrates the Crows' win over the Giants. Picture: AFL Photos

"If you're not nervous there's something wrong … but you've got to put that into your game and make sure you come out firing because at the end of the day, it's just a game of footy," Marinoff said. 

"The fans were bloody awesome, the atmosphere was insane and I can't wait to see where this leads."

The Crows selected Marinoff with the seventh overall pick in last year's draft. She gave up surf lifesaving at the end of 2015 to concentrate on football and was also a talented netballer. 

"To be at Thebarton Oval, have a League … with eight teams, guernseys (and) elite facilities – I didn't think it would happen," she said. 

"I know one day I'll be a professional athlete, so I'll keep at it and see where it takes me." 

Marinoff and Hunt are the first of 14 AFLW players aged 21 and under to be nominated for the award (two after each round), with the winner to be announced after the AFLW season.

The AFL also confirmed NAB had extended its support of women’s football and would sponsor the NAB AFL Women’s Rising Stars Program, which includes the Rising Star award, NAB AFL Women’s Draft, NAB AFL Women’s Draft Combine, NAB AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships and NAB AFL Women’s Academy.