With the AFL season halfway done, the team at The Inner Sanctum has taken a look at your clubs’ 2021 AFL Rising Star prospects that are yet to be nominated.
Adelaide: Riley Thilthorpe
If you didn’t know the eligibility criteria for Rising Star, many may have picked James Rowe for Adelaide’s most prospective pick, but as Rowe was not under the age of 21 on January 1, 2021, last year’s number two draft pick in Thilthorpe gets his recognition.
The key forward has played six games in 2021 and has proven accurate in front of goal, averaging two goals per game, and is going at 70.6 percent goal accuracy.
Thilthorpe’s five-goal haul against Hawthorn was just not enough for nomination, as, on the same day, the Hawks Jacob Koschitzke booted five and snagged himself nomination.
Another bag in the second half of the season will be enough to secure Thilthorpe a nomination.
Others: Ronin O’Connor, Nick Murray
Brisbane: Deven Robertson
Robertson is eligible for a Rising Star nomination as the 20-year-old only played one game in his debut season last year. His second playing year has proven much successful, with eight games already under his belt for 2021.
In a very competitive midfield, Robertson has helped fill in the role of Lachie Neale, averaging 14.9 touches, three marks, and an above-average four tackles.
Robertson’s strong build at 185cms and 83kgs allows him to spend slightly more time in the defensive half, applying pressure to move the ball forward for the Lions.
Others: Harry Sharp, Tom Berry
Carlton: Matthew Cottrell
Scraping in for Rising Star contention is Matthew Cottrell, only by one month and 29 days. Cottrell played five games in 2021 but to this point, has managed nine of the 11 this year, also scoring two goals from his wing position.
Cottrell averages nearly 14 disposals per match and 2.8 tackles but his defensive work is what makes him stand out, consistently applying pressure on the ball.
Along with his tackles, Cottrell also applies 15.7 pressure acts and 3.2 intercept possessions and spends most of his time like Brisbane’s Robertson in the defensive half.
Cottrell may not be able to pull himself a Rising Star nomination among the talented pool of youngsters in 2021 but will remain a consistent and reliable midfielder for the Blues.
Others: Luke Parks, Liam Stocker
Collingwood: Caleb Poulter
Seven debutants have made their debut for Collingwood this year, and from the pool of youngsters, Caleb Poulter is looking the closest Magpie to securing a Rising Star nomination.
In his five games, the 18-year-old has shown class among an injury depleted Pies midfield, with enough composure to move the ball quickly from one wing to another.
Poulter averages 17 disposals, offering some much-needed ball winning ability in a side crying out for young talent to take the midfield mantle off Scott Pendlebury.
Others: Beau McCreery, Tom Wilson, Trent Bianco
Essendon: Nik Cox
Any of Essendon’s young stars could have easily been nominated for Rising Star already this year, but the standout at this point is the versatile Nik Cox.
Cox has undoubtedly been the Bombers’ most consistent young player, stepping up each week in the midfield. The 19-year-old is averaging 12 disposals, four marks, and has kicked seven goals for the season to date.
Essendon star Matthew Llyod has also backed Cox despite being snubbed of a Rising Star nomination in the 11 rounds played for 2021.
“I think it’s amazing that at Round 11 … I think he’s the best player of the season in terms of all these names, [yet] has still not been nominated,” Lloyd said on The Sunday Footy Show.
It’s only a matter of time until Cox gets nominated and he will be one of the players right in the mix.
Others: Harrison Jones, Archie Perkins
Fremantle: Josh Treacy
Fremantle’s side has been one that hasn’t needed too many young players, but it’s Josh Treacy who is the club’s best chance at a Rising Star nomination.
As a tall forward, Treacy has made the biggest impact in purple, booting just one major for the year. His game against the Swans was his best game, where he scored that goal and picked up eight disposals.
Treacy is unlikely to be nominated this year but he’s shown enough to suggest he could be a player of the future for the Dockers.
Others: Heath Chapman
Geelong: Max Holmes
Like Fremantle, it’s been nearly possible to break into the Geelong side. If any of its youngsters manage to earn a Rising Star nomination, it’ll be Max Holmes.
Holmes has played four games for the season but hasn’t done quite enough yet to make himself noticeable in the experienced midfield he’s trying to be a part of.
Only averaging 7.8 touches, and hasn’t contributed to the scoreboard yet. Among a veteran-heavy team, Holmes is unlikely to get much opportunity to play consistent footy in 2021.
Others: Sam De Koning
Gold Coast: Matt Rowell
Is it being too optimistic to say that if Matt Rowell can come back from his PCL injury, he’ll for sure be hungry to finally play football, and football good enough for a Rising Star nomination?
The 2019 number one pick has only played six games in his two years but was better than impressive for the Suns.
It’s a bit hard to judge how whatever football he gets to play this year will go based on what he could play in round one, but it’ll be exciting viewing nevertheless.
Others: Malcom Rosas
GWS Giants: Connor Idun
Another who scrapes in for eligibility as his 21st birthday is later in the year, Idun has stepped up in the key defender role while the Giants defence struggles with injuries.
Idun has played 10 games in 2021, already seven more than he managed since debut and averages 13.6 disposals and 2.2 tackles.
Idun loves the half-back position, picking up most of his possessions there and doing it accurately with an 84.6 per cent disposal efficiency over all.
Others: Tanner Bruhn
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Hawthorn: Tyler Brockman
He may not be in the team right now, but Tyler Brockman has shown plenty.
Brockman played the first four games to start the year for the Hawks and kicked at least one goal in each one.
the pick 46 bolted into the selection frame after a huge pre-season and was ranked above average for marks and goals across the early stint at the top level. (3.75 marks and 1.50 goals)
Brockman has continued strong form in the reserves and may find himself with another opportunity soon.
Others: Emerson Jeka, Damon Greaves, Finn Maginness, Denver Grainger-Barras, Josh Morris
Melbourne: Tom Sparrow
Tom Sparrow remains in contention for the rising star, if he can get some game time under his belt.
Sparrow started on the field early in the season and shows signs that suggest he could be Melbourne’s fourth rising star of the year.
After being subbed on against Geelong, Sparrow had nine disposals, five tackles, and three clearances in an eye-catching display that showcased his best attributes.
With more opportunity, Sparrow could be right in the conversation to get the nod later in the year.
Others: Fraser Rosman
North Melbourne: Tom Powell
Tom Powell has been one of the more impressive on-ballers to come out of the 2020 National Draft.
Powell has burst out of the blocks to start his career, averaging 17.5 disposals, 3.7 marks and is already a key component to North Melbourne’s rebuilding midfield.
A strong body of work so far this season will likely see Powell rewarded sooner rather than later.
Others: Charlie Lazzaro, Will Phillips, Atu Bosenavulagi
Port Adelaide: Lachie Jones
Already a cult hero at Port Adelaide, Lachie Jones has started to string some performances to bring his name into contention for a nod.
Despite only four games so far due to injury, Jones has not wavered from early form, with 18 disposals a new best and six marks an equal best, both achieved against Fremantle this past week.
Averaging 16 disposals a game, including seven contested, Jones, with a clean bill of health, will only grow further.
Others: Miles Bergman, Martin Frederick, Boyd Woodcock
Richmond: Riley-Collier Dawkins
Just falling under the parameters is Riley-Collier Dawkins, who’s strung together a handful of games to get his name in the conversation.
Collier Dawkins has gathered 18 disposals three games in succession, and averages four tackles and three clearances to the midway point of the season.
Continuing this recent form will see him in with a chance in the second half of the year.
Others: Hugo Ralphsmith, Will Martyn, Rhyan Mansell
St Kilda: Jack Bytel
Before being dumped in the wake of St Kilda’s massive loss to the Western Bulldogs, Jack Bytel had strung together a body of work that could have seen him earn a nod at some point.
Maintaining a steady average of 13 disposals a game, Bytel was also averaging four tackles and six clearances after playing every game up to round 10 this year.
Now needing to return to form to get back in, if he picks up where he left off, he could be right back in the conversation for a nod.
Others: Ryan Byrnes, Oscar Clavarino
Sydney: Justin McInerney
The most likely chance for the Swans in the second half of the season is one who has already had one rising star nod- Justin McInerney.
McInerney has continued to go from strength to strength after playing nine games to finish 2020, and averages 15 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s a game in 2021.
Already having personal bests for disposals, the wingman may become the fifth player in 2021 to get two rising star nods, with a solid body of work behind him once more.
Others: Logan McDonald, Dylan Stephens
West Coast: Xavier O’Neill
Xavier O’Neill may be out of the side at the moment, but he is one of the most likely West Coast players who are still under the Rising Star threshold to earn himself a nod.
O’Neill has played four games this season for West Coast, averaging 13 touches in those four games. Despite four clearances and four inside 50s in his last appearance, a demolition job at the hands of Geelong at the Cattery saw him dropped.
Averaging 25 touches in the WAFL, and with injuries continuing to mount for West Coast, O’Neill may have another opportunity to break through and land West Coast’s first nomination of the year.
Others: Harry Edwards, Bailey Williams
Western Bulldogs: Lachlan McNeil
One of the Western Bulldogs youngsters, Lachlan McNeil has played every game so far this year, and has shown plenty of promise to remain in the side, giving him opportunity to have a rising star nomination worthy performance.
As a medium forward, McNeil had an immediate impact when he kicked two quick goals as the medical sub in round six.
McNeil has hit the scoreboard in every game he has played bar one, and continued consistency, and a bit more accuracy (6.8 for the year) could see him join fellow forward Cody Weighman as a rising star nominee for the Dogs.
Others: Buku Khamis, Rhylee West
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