Here are the 23 nominees for this year’s NAB AFL Rising Star Award, to be presented in Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon:
Round one – Luke Dunstan, St Kilda
Selection No. 18 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Dunstan was the Saints’ first nominee since mid-2012. The midfielder played 16 games and averaged 18.7 disposals before having season-ending shoulder surgery.
Round two – Dylan Buckley, Carlton
The son of Carlton great Jim, Buckley was the Blues’ first nominee since 2010. He showed a strong attack on the ball across half-back in his eight appearances, before his season was hampered by injuries.
Round three – Josh Kelly, Greater Western Sydney
Selection No. 2 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Kelly stood out with his running capacity, accurate left-foot kick and willingness to get his hands dirty. The 19-year-old averaged 17.3 possessions through the midfield.
Round four – Luke McDonald, North Melbourne
The son of former Roo Donald, McDonald played all but two games this season, averaging 17.2 disposals. The 19-year-old has been a consistent performer in defence with stints on the wing. He provided great defensive run.
Round five – Matt Crouch, Adelaide
Taken at pick No. 23 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Crouch played seven games in his debut season. The 19-year-old averaged 16.5 touches in a midfield role, showcasing his precise left-foot kick.
Round six – James Aish, Brisbane Lions
Recruited with pick No. 7 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Aish featured in all but one game, averaging 17.6 touches per game. His ball use through the middle and willingness to take the game on impressed.
Round seven – Tom Langdon, Collingwood
Selection No. 65 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Langdon showed toughness across the half-back line and provided plenty of drive out of defence. The 20-year-old featured in all bar three games, averaging 16.6 touches.
Round eight – Jarman Impey, Port Adelaide
Taken at pick No. 21 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Impey played all but four matches in his debut season. The 19-year-old impressed in defence and through the midfield with his eye-catching speed.
Round nine – Lewis Taylor, Brisbane Lions
Selection No. 28 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Taylor provided real spark through the middle and up forward. He averaged 16.9 disposals and kicked 12 goals in his debut season.
Round 10 – Kade Kolodjashnij, Gold Coast
The defender was taken at pick No. 5 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft. Kolodjashnij averaged 17.1 disposals in his 18 games, boasting elite kicking skills, endurance and composure under pressure.
Round 11 – Zach Merrett, Essendon
Recruited with pick No. 26 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Merrett played all but three matches and booted 11 goals. The small forward showcased an excellent ability to transition through the midfield.
Round 12 – Joe Daniher, Essendon
The son of former Bomber Anthony, Daniher played all but two games this season and kicked 24 goals. The mobile key forward shouldered an enormous load for a second-year player. He played five matches in his debut season in 2013.
Round 13 – Marcus Bontempelli, Western Bulldogs
Selection No. 4 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Bontempelli shot to prominence in his debut season. He averaged 15.9 disposals and kicked 15 goals, including a remarkable match-winning snap against Melbourne in round 15.
Marcus Bontempelli played a huge role in several Bulldog victories this year. Picture: AFL Media
Round 14 – Jack Billings, St Kilda
Recruited with pick No. 3 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, the polished left-footer averaged 14.6 possessions up forward and kicked 14 goals, before a hamstring injury cut short his season.
Round 15 – Harry Cunningham, Sydney Swans
Taken at pick No. 49 in the 2012 NAB Rookie Draft, Cunningham played one game in 2012, before making five appearances last season. This year, the half-forward appeared in every game, booting 15 goals.
Round 16 – Troy Menzel, Carlton
Selection No. 11 in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, Menzel featured in seven games last season. The lively goalsneak played all but three games this year, finishing third on the club’s goalkicking tally with 26.
Round 17 – Nathan Hrovat, Western Bulldogs
Taken at pick No. 21 in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, Hrovat played seven games last year. This season, the 20-year-old played predominantly across half-forward, kicking eight goals and averaging 17.7 touches.
Round 18 – Jonathon Patton, Greater Western Sydney
Knee injuries restricted the No. 1 selection from the 2011 NAB AFL Draft to just 10 games in two seasons. This year, he kicked 25 goals and showed glimpses of his enormous potential, but sustained a second ACL injury, in round 21.
Before his horrific knee injury, Jonathon Patton was enjoying a breakout year. Picture: AFL Media
Round 19 – Darcy Gardiner, Brisbane Lions
Recruited with pick No. 22 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Gardiner averaged 11.3 disposals in the backline and showcased his strong spoiling skills. He became the Lions’ third Rising Star nominee this year.
Round 20 – Jake Stringer, Western Bulldogs
Selection No. 5 in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, Stringer managed 10 games last year. In 2014, the big-bodied forward slotted 26 goals in 18 appearances and was the club’s third Rising Star nominee.
Round 21 – Jake Lloyd, Sydney Swans
Taken at pick No. 16 in the 2013 NAB Rookie Draft, Lloyd played every game after making his debut in round five this year. The 20-year-old averaged 15.1 disposals through the midfield and up forward.
Round 22 – Matt Taberner, Fremantle
Recruited with pick No. 11 in the 2012 NAB Rookie Draft, the key forward managed four games last year. The 21-year-old averaged 12.1 touches and kicked seven goals in his seven appearances this season.
Round 23 – Jack Martin, Gold Coast
The first pick in the 2012 GWS 17-year-old mini-draft, Martin spent last year with the Suns’ reserves in the NEAFL. This season, the 19-year-old midfielder-forward recovered from an early injury to average 11.2 touches and he also booted 10 goals.