MELBOURNE is finally on the board in the 2013 NAB AFL Rising Star Award, with midfielder Jack Viney claiming the round 21 nomination.
Viney continues to warm the hearts of Melbourne supporters in a year that has otherwise has provided precious little cheer. Coach Neil Craig couldn’t praise Viney more highly after Sunday's game, describing him as a ''tenacious, fearless, hard player'' with much improvement to come.
The former Adelaide coach said Viney reminded him of one of the game's elite midfielders - Crows star Patrick Dangerfield.
“Jack has a fiercely competitive mindset - the only other player I’ve coached at such a young age with a similar mindset was Patrick Dangerfield," Craig said.
"Jack has a thirst for wanting to be the best player he could possibly be.
“The element that has really impressed me about Jack is that he really cares about wearing the Melbourne jumper; playing for Melbourne is more than just playing AFL football and he has great passion to change the perceptions of the Melbourne Football Club.
"As he continues to develop, he will bring a lot of joy, pride, excitement and hope to Melbourne supporters."
Viney said he was pleased to learn of his nomination.
"Obviously, it is good to get acknowledgement for having a good game and also in a game where the team performance wasn’t too good," he said.
Viney said one of his goals at the start of the year was to receive a Rising Star nomination, not so much for the personal plaudits but because it would mean he was having an impact on the team.
"I wanted to have an impact on the team performance and you can do that in terms of leadership, your behaviours and by trying to help the team as best you can," he said.
Viney has averaged 18 possessions and three marks in his 11 games for Melbourne this year. He rated Sunday's game as among his best for the club, along with his round one debut against Port Adelaide (best mate Oliver Wines won the nomination then) and a 23-possession effort against Gold Coast in round eight.
That was the last time he played before a foot injury kept him out of the side and perhaps the greatest indictment on the Demons this year is that just six games into his career, the side missed him dearly.
His toughness and leadership are already invaluable.
"It's how my dad (Todd Viney, a 238-game former Melbourne skipper) played his footy and how I play mine. I enjoy putting my body on the line and waking up the next day with the bumps and bruises," he said.
"I definitely want to be seen as a leader. It is something I aspire to be, but it's not something I've gone out of my way to become. I'm just putting my head down and working super hard and getting respect that way.
"I understand where the Melbourne Football Club is at. If people around the club stay quiet, we won't go too far too quickly. I'll speak my mind when I have to, which the boys appreciate as well."
Viney said his enthusiasm and drive hadn't been greatly affected by Melbourne's poor season.
"Early in the year I was really happy to be playing and getting an AFL game," he said.
"As the year goes you can one of two ways. You can either sook about it and give up, or you keep fighting. For me it's an obvious answer."