SAM STURT'S debut will go down in the history books as one of the most unique first games in history.

The Fremantle forward travelled to Melbourne to face Essendon in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic and played in front of an empty Marvel Stadium (aside from his family who were allowed to attend and sit in a corporate box).

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Debutant Sturt nearly wins it for Dockers

Sam Sturt kicked two of his three career first goals in the final quarter to almost lift his side to a come-from-behind win over the Dockers

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And now he can add to the tale that he also won the NAB AFL Rising Star nomination for the round, having been informed by the Dockers on Wednesday of the achievement.

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The AFL had held off on announcing a nominee for the round on Monday, when it usually reveals the honour, as it and its clubs underwent significant structural change as a result of the COVID-19 fallout. 

Sam Sturt's family celebrate one of his goals. Picture: AFL Photos

But, despite the season being stopped for at least the next two months, Sturt was given the nod after his three-goal performance.

The Dockers forward was crucial in his side's late comeback against Essendon, booting two final-term goals after taking strong marks against All-Australian defender Michael Hurley.

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Sturt had earlier opened his account with an impressive long goal in the first half, finishing as his side's leading goalkicker.

The 19-year-old was unable to break through for his senior debut last season having rocketed up the draft ranks late in his under-18 campaign in 2018 to be a first-round selection.

He is the Dockers' first nominee since midfielder Adam Cerra in round 16, 2018.