OVER the next few Mondays draft guru Callum Twomey will rank the five best NAB AFL Rising Star nominees in each round from 1993, the first year of the award, to 2019. This week we start with the best round-three nominees from history.  

The NAB AFL Rising Star is football's way to recognise the young up and coming players in the game. And looking through the names shows a roll call of some of the greatest players in AFL history who have been nominated for the award. While the game faces its shutdown period due to the coronavirus outbreak, we will be reflecting and ranking each round's best nominees.


The rankings will judge the players based on the eventuality of their careers and not just the performances in the game they were nominated or that season.

The history of the award shows round three to be a prominent one. Four winners were nominated in round three of their respective seasons – Byron Pickett (1998), Jared Rivers (2004), Danyle Pearce (2006) and Rhys Palmer (2008) – while younger guns Josh Kelly (2014), Isaac Heeney (2015) and Connor Rozee (2019) are all round three recipients of the honour.

Rhys Palmer with the 2008 NAB AFL Rising Star Award. Picture: AFL Photos

Apart from Pickett, all of the above have missed out on placings in the top-five R3 nominees of all time. Others to be unlucky omissions included premiership players Dylan Grimes (Richmond) and Mitch Duncan (Geelong), former Melbourne and Carlton midfielder Brock McLean and ex-Hawks and Lions forward John Barker.  


No.5: Luke Darcy (Western Bulldogs)
Nominated:1996 (did not win; only a winner was announced)
The Bulldogs ruckman earned his nomination after kicking two goals from 14 disposals in his breakout season of 1996. Went on to become one of the most dominant rucks in the competition, leading a new wave of skilful, athletic big men.

Luke Darcy celebrates a goal for the Bulldogs in 1999. Picture: AFL Photos

No.4: Byron Pickett (North Melbourne)
Nominated: 1998 (1st placed overall)
A bombshell from the beginning, Pickett played in the Roos' Grand Final loss in his Rising Star season before claiming a flag the following season with North Melbourne. The physical half-back/midfielder had a fascinating career, including winning the Norm Smith Medal in Port Adelaide's 2004 triumph, before finishing at Melbourne.

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No.3: Tom Hawkins (Geelong)
Nominated: 2007 (Did not place)
After booting three goals in his debut in round two, 2007, the Geelong father-son forward followed it with four goals to claim his Rising Star nomination in a sensational start to his career. Remains a key member of Geelong's forward half after featuring in the Cats' 2009 and 2011 flags.

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No.2: Daniel Kerr (West Coast)
Nominated: 2001 (2nd placed overall)
The brilliant midfielder came second in the Rising Star voting of his year behind Saint Justin Koschitzke. Kerr's pace, skills and tenacious approach made him one of the game's leading ball-getters through West Coast's dominant period.

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No.1: Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide)
Nominated: 2009 (Did not place)
Kicked a goal from 15 disposals in his first game of 2009 to claim the weekly nomination for the Crows. Dangerfield played 21 games that season, before gradually building his engine to become one of his generation's best midfielders. Tough, consistent and damaging, the 2016 Brownlow Medallist is a great of the game.