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Who wins the 2019 Rising Star? Our reporters name their top five

Sam Walsh, Sydney Stack and Connor Rozee are all in the hunt for the Ron Evans Medal. All pictures: AFL Photos - AFL,Rising Star,All-Club Special,Sam Walsh,Carlton Blues,Connor Rozee,Port Adelaide Power,Bailey Smith,Western Bulldogs,Gryan Miers,Geelong Cats,Sydney Stack,Richmond Tigers
Sam Walsh, Sydney Stack and Connor Rozee are all in the hunt for the Ron Evans Medal. All pictures: AFL Photos

CARLTON prodigy Sam Walsh will win this year's NAB AFL Rising Star award in a landslide, according to AFL.com.au's team of experts.

Already a well-rounded midfielder, the 19-year-old accumulated more possessions in a season than any other first-year player in at least the past 20 years, tallying 554 at an average of 25.2 a game. 

The extraordinarily consistent Walsh dropped below 20 touches just three times in his 22 appearances. 

Stats tell only part of the story of a mature, driven youngster who immediately started setting standards for his teammates to follow the moment he arrived at Carlton.

Walsh received the maximum 60 votes from our writers to finish well clear of Port Adelaide young gun Connor Rozee (38), Richmond sensation Sydney Stack (35), Western Bulldogs runner Bailey Smith (19) and West Coast's versatile big man Oscar Allen (8).

The NAB AFL Rising Star ceremony will be held on Friday.

Riley Beveridge

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
1. Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne)

Why Sam Walsh should win: He might have just had the best first-year season of any player this century. His work ethic, consistency and ability to impact games has been evident all year. Remarkably, he dipped below 20 disposals just three times in 2019. That typifies his reliability, his application and his incredible ability to find the footy. He's a gem.

Connor Rozee is Port's leading goalkicker. Picture: AFL Photos

Sarah Black

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
3. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
2. Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide)
1. Oscar Allen (West Coast)

Why Sam Walsh should win: We haven't quite seen an 18-year-old draftee like him. Walsh's consistency of performance without an awful lot of support within his team – particularly early in the season – has been impressive, as has his poise and decision-making in his first year of the fast-paced AFL.

 
Jourdan Canil

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
3. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
2. Gryan Miers (Geelong)
1. Sydney Stack (Richmond)

Why Sam Walsh should win: In David Teague's first game as interim coach, Walsh racked up 32 disposals in a surprise win against the red-hot Lions. Patrick Cripps was the hero that day with four goals, but Walsh's elite tank shone as he cut through Brisbane's team defence by running from contest to contest all day.

Bailey Smith chats with former Dog Jake Stringer in R21. Picture: AFL Photos

Mitch Cleary

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
1. Josh Battle (St Kilda)

Why Sam Walsh should win: Looks every bit a future 250-game captain of the Carlton Football Club. Has mixed it with some of the competition's best midfielders and shown the most consistency of this year's class.

St Kilda defender Josh Battle with a banged-up nose. Picture: AFL Photos

Ben Collins

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide)
1. Oscar Allen (West Coast)

Why Sam Walsh should win: I can't recall a more consistently high level debut season from such a young player. Plays like a veteran, is just as comfortable inside as outside, is prolific, skilful and brave, and doesn't have a detectable weakness.

 
Adam Curley

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
3. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
2. Oscar Allen (West Coast)
1. Sydney Stack (Richmond)

Why Sam Walsh should win: Came in with plenty of hype and excelled. Carlton was thumped by Greater Western Sydney in round nine, but Walsh never wilted against stars like Josh Kelly, Toby Greene and Lachie Whitfield. Has the character to match his talent.

Travis King

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Oscar Allen (West Coast)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Nick Blakey (Sydney)
1. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)

Why Sam Walsh should win: Sometimes the most obvious choice is the right choice. He isn't the most talented player here, and might not have the best career, but breaking the disposal record for a first-year player and his cool head in a battling team was seriously impressive.

 
Marc McGowan

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
1. Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide)

Why Sam Walsh should win: The consistency of excellence from this kid is something to behold. Four games with 30 touches or more and 15 other games with at least 20 – and he's not just an accumulator.

Dinny Navaratnam

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
3. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
2. Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne)
1. Josh Battle (St Kilda)

Why Sam Walsh should win: The Blue picked up fewer than 20 disposals just once inside the first 20 rounds. His consistency, so early in his career, is absurd. It's close though, and if Stack didn't miss the final two weeks of the season and strutted his stuff against a couple of powerhouse sides, he might have pipped Walsh.  

Cam Zurhaar has thrived under new coach Rhyce Shaw. Picture: AFL Photos

Josh Schonafinger

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
3. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
2. Gryan Miers (Geelong)
1. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)

Why Sam Walsh should win: Even the most optimistic Carlton supporters wouldn't have expected Walsh's debut season to be that good. He instantly looked the part and finished top five at the Blues for disposals, tackles, inside 50s, clearances and goal assists. His last-minute goal against the Western Bulldogs in round five, which tipped Carlton over the 100-point barrier, was a highlight.

 
Callum Twomey

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs)
1. Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide)

Why Sam Walsh should win: An outstanding campaign for the Blues' No.1 pick. Lived up to the hype, was perhaps Carlton's hard-working midfielder and was assured at the level. Should finish in the top three in the club's best and fairest.

Michael Whiting

5. Sam Walsh (Carlton)
4. Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide)
3. Sydney Stack (Richmond)
2. Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne)
1. Nick Blakey (Sydney)

Why Sam Walsh should win: Even when the Blues were floundering in the first half of the season, Walsh starred. Along with Patrick Cripps, his 32 disposals in a come-from-behind win over Brisbane in round 12 helping turn around the club's fortunes.

Nick Blakey has been impressive in Sydney's forward line. Picture: AFL Photos

Total

60 – Sam Walsh (Carlton) – 555555555555
38 – Connor Rozee (Port Adelaide) – 444444333311
35 – Sydney Stack (Richmond) – 444333333311
19 – Bailey Smith (Western Bulldogs) – 4432222
8 – Oscar Allen (West Coast) – 4211
6 – Xavier Duursma (Port Adelaide) – 2211
5 – Cam Zurhaar (North Melbourne) – 221
4 – Gryan Miers (Geelong) - 22
3 – Nick Blakey (Sydney) – 21
2 – Josh Battle (St Kilda) – 11

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs