BROUGHT TO YOU BYNAB

FOLLOWING our March assessment of each club's best chance for the NAB AFL Rising Star award, we are back with our mid-season update.

Sydney and Melbourne have dominated at the halfway mark with six of the 12 nominations, so who are the other young guns who are yet to be recognised?

Check out your club's contenders below.

Best chance: Lachlan Sholl

The third-year Crow grabbed a nomination for his dazzling 31-touch, one goal outing against North Melbourne in round four and is putting together a fine season. Sholl, 21, is averaging 20 disposals a game and catches the eye with his hard running and ability to link up during attacking chains. Adelaide has a number of strong candidates, but if Sholl can recapture his early-season best as the year winds down, he could find his way on to more than a few voting ballots. - Michael Whiting

Other contenders: Harry Schoenberg, Riley Thilthorpe, Sam Berry 

Adelaide's Lachie Sholl in action against West Coast in round nine, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best chance: Deven Robertson 

Despite the Lions having a stacked midfield full of experience, the second-year West Australian has forced his way into the best 22. Still without a nomination, Robertson has played nine of the past 10 games, averaging 15 disposals and five tackles. He helped shoulder some of the extra load in Lachie Neale's absence and has a nice mix between ball-winning and defensive workrate. The 19-year-old is like a cannonball in congestion. - Michael Whiting

Other contenders: Jaxon Prior, Keidean Coleman, Tom Berry 

Brisbane's Deven Robertson in action against Richmond in round 10, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Best chance: Liam Stocker

The former first-round pick has returned to Carlton's side recently, playing as a lockdown small defender for the last seven consecutive matches. Stocker has enjoyed some good battles and was trusted with manning dangerous West Coast forward Liam Ryan in his side's last match. Stocker would need a nomination to be in the running and could stand a better chance should he eventually be handed a more prominent role in his natural midfield position later in the season. – Riley Beveridge

Other contenders: Luke Parks, Brodie Kemp, Corey Durdin, Josh Honey 

Carlton's Liam Stocker in action during the round nine clash with Melbourne on May 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best chance: Caleb Poulter

The smooth-moving South Australian was made to wait until round seven for his AFL debut but has played all six games since, impressing with his composure on a wing. Third-year tall Will Kelly looked the club's strongest contender on the eve of the season, however a shoulder injury, and a subsequent move from attack to defence slowed his emergence. Poulter collected 20 disposals and kicked a goal in round 12 and narrowly missed a nomination in favour of Essendon's Nik Cox. But another strong showing on Queen's Birthday should be enough to claim the Pies' first of the season. – Mitch Cleary

Other contenders: Trent Bianco, Beau McCreery, Jay Rantall, Ollie Henry, Finlay Macrae 

Caleb Poulter of the Magpies celebrates kicking a goal during round 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best chance: Nik Cox

Essendon fans rejoiced on Monday night as their wait was over, with first-year sensation Cox being nominated for the NAB AFL Rising Star. His round 12 performance against Richmond was his best to date, with 23 disposals and a goal in an eye-catching display on the wing and through the midfield. Cox has played every game so far this season and stepped straight into the top level to be the favourite to become only the third Bomber in club history to claim the Rising Star at the end of the season. Teammates Archie Perkins and Harrison Jones are waiting for their nominations as well. - Callum Twomey

Other contenders: Harrison Jones, Archie Perkins, Zach Reid, Ned Cahill 

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NAB AFL Rising Star: Nik Cox lights up round 12

Watch the highlights and find out why Nik Cox gets the NAB AFL Rising Star in R12

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Best chance: Josh Treacy 

The bullocking teenage forward is coming off a breakout game and looks the most likely of the young Dockers to have a meaningful impact on the rest of this season. A big-bodied 18-year-old who leads with purpose, hits the ball hard and kicks straight, he was a terrific find for the Freo recruiters in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft and should now cement a spot in the forward line after booting three goals against the Western Bulldogs. Second-year teammate Liam Henry has shown glimpses of his significant talent this season but he is searching for more consistency as he beds down the small forward role. Defender Hayden Young was a chance to challenge for this year's award at the start of the season, but a serious hamstring injury has seen him play just three games. Fellow contenders Heath Chapman (shoulder) and Sam Sturt (knee) suffered season-ending injuries. - Nathan Schmook

Other contenders: Liam Henry 

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'The Big Cohuna' launches a bomb

Dockers Josh Treacy kicks from 55m out for his first goal in AFL

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Best chance: Max Holmes 

It's slim pickings on the Rising Star front at the Cats as Chris Scott continues to back in his older brigade. Holmes has now clocked four AFL appearances – albeit two as an unused sub – but hasn't looked out of place in his full games against Hawthorn and Collingwood as a speedy midfielder. Small forward Francis Evans looked lively on debut in round two but a syndesmosis injury in round three stalled his growth and the COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria has limited his VFL opportunities since. – Mitch Cleary

Other contenders: Sam De Koning 

Geelong's Max Holmes competes with Collingwood's Steele Sidebottom during the round 11 clash on May 29, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Best chance: Matt Rowell

This is possibly going out on a limb, considering Rowell has played just one quarter of footy this year, but with his return imminent and the exposed form of three best-on-grounds in four full games in 2020, it'd be silly to select anyone but the former No.1 draft pick. Rowell has 11 games to show his ball-winning, goalkicking prowess and make a charge for the award. - Michael Whiting

Other contenders: Sam Flanders 

Matthew Rowell of the Suns kicks a goal during round four, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best chance: Tom Green

After being dropped for round two, the big-bodied midfielder has returned to become such an important part of the Giants' midfield that he's now one of the leading contenders for this year's award. Green earned his second nomination in round nine when he gathered 24 disposals, four tackles and a goal in the Giants' narrow loss to Richmond, but the nod was as much an acknowledgement of him consistently having that sort of influence. The 20-year-old is averaging more than 20 disposals (more than half contested) and 4.6 clearances, while kicking seven goals in 10 matches, and is a strong chance to become the Giants' first NAB AFL Rising Star winner. – Martin Pegan

Other contenders: Connor Idun, Xavier O'Halloran, Tanner Bruhn 

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Green selling the candy, threading the needle

GWS young gun Tom Green brilliantly fakes out his opponent before sneaking in a clever shot

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Best chance: Jacob Koschitzke 

The key forward has been a shining light for Hawks fans in a disappointing year. The 21-year-old received a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination for his efforts in the team's win against Adelaide in round six, booting 5.3 from 14 disposals and taking nine marks in the process. His movement and hard running across the field has been eye-catching, particularly for his height, and he's averaging 9.3 disposals and 4.3 marks a game, having kicked 12 goals this season. Small forward Tyler Brockman was sharp early, but was managed out of the team in round five and has played VFL since then. – Sarah Black

Other contenders: Tyler Brockman, Josh Morris, Damon Greaves, Emerson Jeka, Denver Grainger-Barras, Jai Newcombe, Jackson Callow 

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NAB AFL Rising Star: Jacob Koschitzke lights up round six

Watch the highlights and find out why Jacob Koschitzke gets the NAB AFL Rising Star in R6

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Best chance: Luke Jackson

The gun Melbourne ruckman would have to be among the favourites for the NAB AFL Rising Star award this season, given his continued importance in a high-flying Demons outfit. Jackson has played in 11 of the side's 12 matches, missing one game due to injury, performing pivotal roles both in the forward line and through the ruck. Jackson earned a nomination in a round seven victory over North Melbourne, where he won 22 disposals, seven hitouts and finished with a goal. Expect him to be among the votes for the Rising Star later in the year. – Riley Beveridge

Other contenders: Trent Rivers, James Jordon, Jake Bowey, Tom Sparrow 

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NAB AFL Rising Star: Luke Jackson lights up round seven

Watch the highlights and find out why Luke Jackson gets the NAB AFL Rising Star in R7

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Best chance: Tom Powell

Claimed with pick No.13 in last season's NAB AFL Draft, the gun inside midfielder has emerged as one of the competition's best first-year players. He has played in every match, instantly becoming a key member of North Melbourne's developing onball group. Yet to be nominated, it's unlikely Powell will have to wait much longer after a super consistent campaign where he is averaging just over 17 disposals per match. Expect him to be in the running for the NAB AFL Rising Star award by season's end. – Riley Beveridge

Other contenders: Charlie Lazzaro, Will Phillips, Atu Bosenavulagi 

Tom Powell handballs during a North Melbourne training session on June 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best chance: Mitch Georgiades

The young forward has played every game since round two, when he earned his nomination with a bag of four goals. He has a return of 17 goals for the season and has become a crucial part of the Power's forward mix with his mobility, brilliant hands and smooth set-shot kicking a feature. The young West Australian entered the season with seven games to his name and is among the most exciting young key-position talents in the AFL. Sitting behind the top handful of contenders, a big second half of the season could see him rocket into contention if he can ride a run of form from the Power and hit the scoreboard regularly.  - Nathan Schmook

Other contenders: Lachie Jones, Miles Bergman 

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NAB AFL Rising Star: Mitch Georgiades lights up round five

Watch the highlights and find out why Mitch Georgiades gets the NAB AFL Rising Star nod

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Best chance: Riley Collier-Dawkins 

The Tigers' 2018 first-round pick has been a consistent performer since finally breaking through for his debut in round seven. The big-bodied midfielder had to take on extra responsibility in an undermanned engine room and stood up well, absorbing pressure and using the footy neatly. If he receives a nomination, he'll be one of the oldest in the running, having turned 21 in February. Hugo Ralphsmith was lively when given opportunities in both attack and defence, but has been forced out of the team as senior players return from injury. – Sarah Black

Other contenders: Hugo Ralphsmith, Thomson Dow, Will Martyn 

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First AFL goal worth the wait for Collier-Dawkins

Riley Collier-Dawkins conjures his first ever goal in the AFL with this lovely left-foot snap

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Best chance: Ryan Byrnes  

Picked ahead of fellow midfielder Jack Bytel purely because of his recent string of games in the senior side. Byrnes, who played one game in his debut campaign last season, has played seven consecutive matches since winning a recall in round seven. After a hamstring injury derailed his pre-season, the 20-year-old has since fitted into the Saints' midfield with ease. His best game came with 24 disposals in a heavy loss to the Western Bulldogs in round 10. Bytel, on the other hand, was dropped after the match against the Dogs. – Mitch Cleary

Other contenders: Leo Connolly, Matt Allison 

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Byrnes nails first AFL goal as Saints kick clear

Ryan Byrnes' first goal in AFL footy never looked in doubt as he helped extend his side's advantage

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Best chance: Chad Warner 

The bullocking midfielder's teammate Errol Gulden was an early bolter in this year's award, claiming the round one nomination and averaging 19 disposals in the first five rounds. But as Gulden seemed to tire and was then sidelined with injury, Warner's consistency has put him among the genuine contenders for the trophy. The 20-year-old has averaged 17 disposals and 2.5 clearances a game as a key part of a rejuvenated midfield group that has driven the Swans' dramatic improvement. Braeden Campbell was nominated in round two but has also been struck down by injury, leaving Warner to carry Sydney's hopes. – Martin Pegan

Other contenders: Errol Gulden, Braeden Campbell, Justin McInerney, Logan McDonald 

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NAB AFL Rising Star: Chad Warner lights up round three

Watch the highlights and find out why Chad Warner gets the NAB AFL Rising star nod

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Best chance: Bailey Williams 

The young ruckman has taken over from Xavier O'Neill as the Eagles' best chance given his more consistent recent role in the team, but neither are genuine contenders given their lack of overall opportunity. Williams has been the Eagles' go-to second ruckman ahead of Nathan Vardy, playing the past five matches and showcasing his athleticism and high leap at stoppages and ability to get busy at ground level. The likelihood Oscar Allen will still be used at times the second ruckman means Williams could be left out at any time when it suits the Eagles' structure. Opportunities have also been fleeting for O'Neill, who has played five games and been in and out of the team. - Nathan Schmook

Other contenders: Xavier O'Neill, Harry Edwards, Luke Edwards 

West Coast's Bailey Williams marks in front of Essendon's Jake Stringer in the R11 clash in 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Best chance: Cody Weightman

After getting a taste of senior action last year, Weightman had to wait until round nine for his chance at the top level this season but he has wasted no time making an imprint in the Bulldogs' forward line. The energetic and classy small forward has kicked eight goals in his four games this season, including the matchwinner against Port Adelaide before being nominated for the Rising Star for his two-goal, 14-disposal effort against the Saints. Weightman is creative, a good finisher and has brought some extra forward pressure to the Dogs' mix. - Callum Twomey

Other contenders: Rhylee West, Lachie McNeil, Riley Garcia, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan 

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NAB AFL Rising Star: Cody Weightman lights up round 10

Watch the highlights and find out why Cody Weightman gets the NAB AFL Rising Star nom

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