EVERY week 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 name the five best round nine nominees from history.
Two winners of the NAB AFL Rising Star were nominated in round nine of their respective seasons.
But it says something about the strength of the round nine group that neither could make our top-five of the best players to have received the honour in that round across the award's history.
Lewis Taylor (2014), while at Brisbane, and Jesse Hogan (2015), then a Demon, claimed the Rising Star back-to-back in impressive seasons.
During the COVID-19 shutdown period, we have been reflecting and ranking each round's best nominees, judging the players based on the totality of their careers and not just in the performances in the game or season they were nominated.
But neither Taylor nor Hogan are in the mix for this top-five, which is as star-studded as it gets, and included a very tight call between the top-two.
Outside of this group there were many other possibilities, including former Blue and Power midfielder Nick Stevens, Saint Austinn Jones, ex-Bomber and current St Kilda defender Jake Carlisle and Port Adelaide premiership player Jarrad Schofield.
The recent years have also included some excellent young players, including Melbourne's Christian Petracca, Collingwood's Tom Phillips, Brisbane's Alex Witherden and Bulldog Bailey Smith.
TOP FIVE ROUND NINE NAB AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES
No.5: Drew Banfield (West Coast)
Nominated: 1994 (Only winner was announced; did not win)
The Eagles' No.1 pick at the 1992 draft delivered early in his career, claiming a Rising Star nomination in the club's 1994 premiership season. Banfield, a hard-working defender who also pushed up the ground, was the only remaining member of that side to feature in the Eagles' 2006 premiership as well. In between, he was named their best and fairest once, in 1996.
No.4: Jude Bolton (Sydney)
Nominated: 2000 (Did not place)
Bolton is considered one of the toughest players of this century. The former Swans hard-man finished his career at the end of 2013 after 325 games with the club, including their breakthrough 2005 flag and another premiership in 2012. Bolton's tenacity, versatility through the midfield and half-forward, and tackling (he once held the all-time record for tackles before being surpassed) defined his approach.
No.3: Dustin Fletcher (Essendon)
Nominated: 1993 (Only winner was announced; did not win)
Fletcher became only the third player in VFL/AFL history to reach the amazing 400-game milestone in 2015. It was the final season of his remarkable 23-year career in Essendon's defence, which started in 1993, when he was full-back in Essendon's premiership side. He claimed the Bombers' best and fairest in their dominant 2000 premiership team, and could play on any range of forwards – smalls, talls and everything in between.
No.2: Nat Fyfe (Fremantle)
Nominated: 2010 (Did not place)
Fremantle's selection of the wiry midfielder paid dividends early, as Fyfe picked up a Rising Star nomination with 23 disposals in just his fifth game. The next week he booted three goals from 27 possessions and a star was born. Fyfe is now a two-time Brownlow medallist, the Dockers' captain and one of the superstars of the competition. A brilliant midfielder with exciting aerial traits and an appetite for the contest.
No.1: Simon Black (Brisbane)
Nominated: 1999 (3rd place overall)
Black is one of the finest midfielders of the modern era, being a key part of Brisbane's triple-premiership success. The silky midfielder was considered one of the most classy to play the game, claiming a Brownlow Medal and Norm Smith Medal throughout his 322-game career. The West Australian's CV is as good as any, and his career will be capped next month when he is officially inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.