Hawthorn wingman Billy Hartung has been named the Rising Star nominee for Round 7.
The youngster claimed the gong after amassing a career-high 26 disposals – 21 uncontested – at 100 percent efficiency and also kicking a goal in the club’s 105-point demolition of Melbourne on Saturday.
Hartung, playing his 12th AFL match, has had a steady rise within the Hawthorn ranks. After being drafted with pick 24 in the 2013 national draft, the 177cm midfielder tasted senior footy for seven games in 2014 but spent the majority of his debut season developing in the VFL.
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The 20-year-old has been in the Hawthorn side for the last five matches, playing arguably his best match for the club in the absence of fellow wingman Isaac Smith.
He found a lot of space against the Demons, reflected in his uncontested possessions, working in tandem with fellow speedster Brad Hill – another of the Hawks’ best players.
“Each week I’m playing to stay in the side” – Billy Hartung
The speedster is averaging 21 disposals, a goal and two running bounces (he ranks eighth in competition for average bounces per game) in 2015.
An elite junior footballer, Hartung was selected as an under-18 All-Australian in his draft year and beat teammate Hill’s beep test record of 16.1 at the draft camp (set in the draft year before Hartung’s), recording 16.6 on the dreaded endurance assessment.
Having competed in triathlons as a junior to further his endurance for footy, he nearly eclipsed Smith in the pre-season 2km time trial, falling metres short of one of the competition’s hardest runners.
Speaking to the Hawthorn website, Hartung said the nomination doesn’t guarantee him a spot in the side for the coming weeks.
“It’s obviously pretty tough coming into a premiership side. It’s hard to cement a spot and I still feel, even after the weekend’s performance, I haven’t cemented my spot thus far,” Hartung said.
“And with a lot good players coming back into the side, it’s going to be even harder to keep my spot so I guess each week I’m playing to stay in the side and that’s how I’ve been playing my footy this year.”
Hartung is the Hawks’ third Rising Star nomination since 2012, following Brad Hill and Jed Anderson in 2013 and taking the club to 33 nominations since the award’s inception in 1993 – equal third-most in the competition.
The Hawks have registered two winners of the Ron Evans Medal, Nick Holland in 1995 and Sam Mitchell in 2003.