Comeback Cat Jackson Thurlow has been rewarded for his consistent season, claiming the Round 19 Rising Star nomination.
Thurlow collected 18 disposals, at 70 percent efficiency, and five marks – two contested during the Cats’ 32-point win on Saturday night.
Thurlow has put together his best season in 2015, averaging 17 disposals and three rebounds across his 15 matches including a 30-disposal effort against Collingwood in Round 6.
The Launceston native suffered a lacerated kidney before Christmas last year but returned to training ahead of schedule to show poise and elite kicking off half-back.
After copping a stray elbow at training resulting in the injury, Thurlow said there were initial fears he would lose his kidney. He can’t thank the club enough for the support during a tough time.
“It didn’t really hit home too much until my parents flew over from Tassie, and my girlfriend, so it became pretty real when I saw the look on their faces,” Thurlow told afl.com.au.
“The first five to six days were pretty touch and go. I was probably going to lose my kidney for the first 48 hours, which was a little bit scary.
“I was probably going to lose my kidney for the first 48 hours, which was a little bit scary” – Jackson Thurlow
“But the whole footy club was really good. I had basically everyone from the footy club come through the hospital doors in the three or four days I was in there.
“It was probably one of the harder things to get my head around if I could actually get back into the AFL team and if I was actually going to have an impact in 2015.
“I can’t thank the footy club enough. They’ve really backed me in and it’s given me a lot of confidence.”
The 21-year-old has played 25 games since getting drafted with pick 16 in the 2012 national draft, making his debut and playing four games in 2013 before following up with six matches in 2014.
Thurlow reads the play well and shares similar characteristics to Geelong premiership star and current teammate Andrew Mackie in the role in defence or on a wing.
In a remarkable eight-month turnaround, Thurlow has cemented a spot in the club’s best 22 and is enjoying his footy as the Cats storm home towards the finals after an indifferent start to the season.
“I’ve just been really happy to keep playing in the Geelong footy team at the moment.”
“We’re starting to get a lot of guys back from injury and it’s really important for me personally that I try and hold my spot and keep trying to build on the form that I had when I came back at the start of the year.
“I think our best is definitely good enough (to beat the best teams) and I think all the playing group and coaches believe that.
“It’s just a matter of putting four-quarter efforts together. The second half against Sydney we kept them to 11 points, so we are capable of doing it.”
Thurlow is the Cats 28th Rising Star nominee since the award’s inception in 1993 and follows Cory Gregson as the club’s second nominee in 2015.
Skipper Joel Selwood is Geelong’s only Rising Star winner, taking out the award in his debut season in 2007.
RISING STAR NOMINEES FOR 2015
Round 1 – Kamdyn McIntosh (Richmond)
Round 2 – Mitch Honeychurch (Western Bulldogs)
Round 3 – Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans)
Round 4 – Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Round 5 – Adam Saad (Gold Coast SUNS)
Round 6 – Cory Gregson (Geelong)
Round 7 – Billy Hartung (Hawthorn)
Round 8 – Cameron McCarthy (GWS Giants)
Round 9 – Jesse Hogan (Melbourne)
Round 10 – Angus Brayshaw (Melbourne)
Round 11 – Tim Broomhead (Collingwood)
Round 12 – Tom Boyd (Western Bulldogs)
Round 13 – Charlie Cameron (Adelaide Crows)
Round 14 – Jack Lonie (St Kilda)
Round 15 – Dom Sheed (West Coast Eagles)
Round 16 – Touk Miller (Gold Coast Suns)
Round 17 – Jake Lever (Adelaide Crows)
Round 18 – Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions)
Round 19 – Jackson Thurlow (Geelong)