Often by the halfway mark of the season, there’s a clear favourite for the Rising Star award.
That hasn’t been the case in 2015.
Sydney’s Isaac Heeney was looking the goods until injury struck him down in Round 6; a handful of others have since surpassed him in the race for the Rising Star Award.
The Best First Year Player award – which is decided by the votes of all players on an AFL list – is also up for grabs.
Winners of the Best First Year Player award and the Rising Star award from the last 15 years can be found below. Our top five young guns from 2015 can be seen below that.
Patrick Cripps (Carlton)
Carlton’s first pick in the 2013 National Draft (no.13 overall) played just three games in his first season at the Blues, but has come on in leaps and bounds in his second year, averaging 23 disposals per game.
The 190cm big-bodied clearance machine leads the Blues in contested possessions and clearances, and looks ready to play a bigger role in Carlton’s engine room now that Chris Judd has retired.
The 20-year-old isn’t eligible for the Best First Year Player award, given 2015 is his second year in the system, but is deservedly the favourite to win the Rising Star Award.
Jesse Hogan (Melbourne)
Arriving at Melbourne as a 17-year-old, Hogan’s AFL debut was a long time coming. The 20-year-old didn’t disappoint when he finally ran out in the red and blue in Round 1, racking up 16 possessions, seven marks and two goals in the Dees’ upset win over the Suns.
Hogan has kicked 22 goals from 10 games so far – with a haul of five against the Saints in Round 11 his best return. Despite having missed two games through injury, he’s also ranked fourth in the competition for contested marks.
Like Cripps, Hogan isn’t eligible for the Best First Year Player award, but is a good chance to take home the Rising Star Award at season’s end – a couple of big bags of goals could elevate him above the rest.
Angus Brayshaw (MELBOURNE)
Though Brayshaw’s highlights package mightn’t yet be as eye-catching as Hogan’s, the 19-year-old’s future looks incredibly bright.
The blue-collar midfielder set the tone for his 2015 season in his Round 1 debut, laying nine tackles against the Suns. Brayshaw has continued to work hard defensively – only 12 players in the AFL have laid more tackles this season – while showing his kicking, with both feet, will be an offensive threat for years to come.
He’s begun to find more of the ball as the season’s gone on, averaging almost 20 possessions in his last five games.
If there was a betting market on the AFL Players’ Best First Year Award, he’d likely be leading it.
Cam McCarthy (greater western sydney giants)
The big Giant who goes by the nickname ‘Sunshine’ has shone brightly during Greater Western Sydney’s rise up the ladder this season, kicking 29 goals in 12 games.
The 19-year-old played just one match in 2014 – his first season at the Giants – but has taken on a key forward role since Tom Boyd left to join the Bulldogs.
Like Cripps and Hogan, McCarthy isn’t eligible for the Best First Year Player award, but is a big chance to win the Rising Star award – particularly if he ends up with more than 50 goals for the season.
Adam Saad (gold coast suns)
The 20-year-old speedster has been a shining light in a disappointing year for the Suns.
Averaging more than 19 disposals per game, Saad has shown an ability to shut down the opposition’s most dangerous small forwards while providing plenty of run off half-back.
It’s been a meteoric rise for Saad, who started 2015 on Gold Coast’s rookie list but will be in contention for the Rising Star and Best First Year Player awards at season’s end.
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)