Many young stars have made a name for themselves at senior level in the 2022 AFL Season. (Images: Hawthorn FC/Twitter, Collingwood FC, Geelong FC).

The list of nominees for the 2022 AFL Rising Star award has been finalised, and this year’s crop has brought us some very solid candidates for the award.

Only one player can take it home in the end, but we are never short of options, and with the winner being announced on Wednesday it is a good time to assess how the best of these nominees have gone this season.

Here are the top 10 AFL Rising Star nominees of the 2022 AFL season.

Honourable Mentions:

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan – Western Bulldogs

After another slow start to his second year of football, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan seems to finally be edging towards his full potential. Ugle-Hagan has booted 12 goals since Round 17, cementing a spot in the Bulldogs side, and will look to carry his solid form through finals and into next season.

Logan McDonald – Sydney

Logan McDonald definitely has the ability to become one of the league’s best key forwards. He has shown great signs in his second season in the AFL and he will surely hit his full potential if he eventually becomes the focal point of the Sydney Swans’ forward line.

Josh Rachele – Adelaide

While he did slow down further into the season, Josh Rachele’s form at the start of the campaign makes him well worthy of a mention here. His Round 1 game saw him make an immediate impact, booting a bag of five against the Dockers, and the live wire will be a future star for the Adelaide Crows.

Ben Hobbs – Essendon

It’s been an impressive start to life at Essendon for Ben Hobbs. The speedy youngster is a great user of the football, averaging 14.4 disposals at 72.2 per cent efficiency. He will certainly build on his 2022 season and will be an important player for the Bombers as their young squad develops.

Corey Durdin – Carlton

Despite playing two games in the late stages of last year, Corey Durdin truly made his mark at Carlton this season. Durdin was presented with the great Eddie Betts’ number 19 in the wake of his retirement and he has put it to good use in his 21 games at the Blues this season, showing he is an exciting, young forward with a bright future.

Lachie Jones – Port Adelaide

Lachie Jones continued to develop well in his second season at Port Adelaide, despite a hamstring injury that has hampered his progress at the back end of the year. His pressure work has always been the area of his game that has stood out, and he will develop into a very solid defender if he can find a little bit more continuity in the coming years.

10. Nathan O’Driscoll – Fremantle (Round 23)

Nathan O’Driscoll was in red hot form in the early stages of this year, before a foot injury in Round 8 took him out of action for the Dockers. However, after 13 weeks out of the Dockers’ best 22, O’Driscoll finally made his way back into the side in Round 21 and snapped up the final Rising Star nomination of the season in Round 23.

With nine goals in his 10 games this season, O’Driscoll’s sharp eye for goal has made him a fan favourite at Fremantle for 2022. The injury through the middle of the season did hamper his consistency when it looked like he was building something special, but with the Dockers playing finals footy for the first time since 2015, O’Driscoll will have a chance to impact on the big stage, and will be able to find some of that consistency again, moving into 2023.

9. Noah Cumberland – Richmond (Round 20)

He only arrived on the scene in the latter stages of the season, but Noah Cumberland has been absolutely brilliant in his first few games of football. After technically debuting as the unused medical substitute in Round 11, Cumberland made his on-field debut in Round 17, coming on for Tom Lynch and booting two goals in his first run-out for the Tigers.

Since then, Cumberland has averaged 2.3 goals per game, along with an average of 6.1 score involvements and 5.1 contested possessions. His attacking nature has been a breath of fresh air for Richmond in a time when it almost looked like it wasn’t going to play finals after a couple of tight losses. Now that the Tigers’ have claimed a spot in the top eight, Cumberland will be an important piece in their finals jigsaw and is a huge chance at locking down a spot in their best 22 for next season and beyond.

8. Jason Horne-Francis – North Melbourne (Round 7)

Pick one from the 2021 draft, Jason Horne-Francis’ first year at North Melbourne has been quite tumultuous at times. However, the pressure of being taken first in the draft has definitely clouded over what has actually been a good season for the midfielder.

It’s never going to be easy playing for the bottom side in the competition, but Horne-Francis has proven to have great potential, particularly when it comes to pressure and his contested work. This season, he has averaged 16.5 disposals, 8.2 contested possessions, 3.5 clearances, 14.8 pressure acts, and 2.9 tackles per game. He can build on these already decent numbers greatly in the coming years, and will surely hit his full potential in due course, whether that be at North Melbourne or at any other club.

7. Jake Bowey – Melbourne (Round 2)

A premiership medal in your seventh game in the AFL isn’t a bad foundation for the rest of your career, but Jake Bowey can say he earned that honour. Carrying his form over to the 2022 season, however, Bowey has been just as solid for the Demons in his 17 games this season.

He has averaged 16.7 disposals at 80.3 per cent efficiency, 4.1 marks, and 251.6 metres gained per game this season. His Round 2 performance in particular, which saw him nominated for the Rising Star award, was a career-best game where Bowey collected 34 disposals, nine marks, and 18 contested possessions in a terrific display.

Bowey played in the Dees’ first 16 games of the season, before being dropped. However, he has now made his way back into the side and will look to impact in the finals series just as he did in 2021.

6. Heath Chapman – Fremantle (Round 8)

With a strong ability to intercept and use the football well in response, Heath Chapman has certainly proven himself to be one of the league’s best young defenders in his 15 games for Fremantle this season.

The 20-year-old may fly under the radar for some, but the statistics speak for themselves, and they show a player that is already very impactful, efficient, and mature for his age.

Chapman is averaging 18.1 disposals at 81.2 per cent this year, while also averaging 5.5 contested possessions, 5.7 intercept possessions, 5.9 marks, and 260.9 metres gained per game. His ability to intercept the ball and move it forward is already outstanding, and it will only get better with age. Keep a close eye on Heath Chapman, because he is going to be a star.

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5. Jack Ginnivan – Collingwood (Round 6)

Whether positive or negative, Jack Ginnivan has been quite a topic of conversation in 2022.

The small forward made his mark on the competition in Round 6, snagging a career-high five goals for the Magpies in an Anzac Day blockbuster against the Bombers. Since then, he has been a dangerous forward presence for Collingwood, finishing the home and away season on 36 goals, and only finishing a game goalless on three occasions.

Even with the controversy surrounding his knack for drawing free kicks, Ginnivan has continued to remain an attacking threat, and the 19-year-old will be an important part of the Magpies’ finals campaign, as well as their exciting future.

4. Nic Martin – Essendon (Round 1)

Nic Martin received his Rising Star nomination in Round 1 of the 2022 season, and there is no doubt he deserved to be selected this early. In a Bombers side that has at many times this year lacked skill, firepower, and goalscoring prowess from its small forwards and midfielders, Martin has brought all of that to them in spades.

His debut saw him collect 27 touches and boot five goals against a rampaging Geelong side, who have gone on to do brilliant things this season. The individual performance set up a blueprint for the rest of the year, where the 21-year-old was one of the Bombers’ star players throughout.

Martin averaged 19.9 disposals, 5.9 marks, and 12.6 pressure acts per game this season and is developing quite a well-rounded game. The pre-season supplemental selection of Martin has proven to be a gem from Essendon, and with his first season now under his belt, he will build on this and definitely become a superstar of the future.

3. Jai Newcombe – Hawthorn (Round 5)

After being snapped up by the Hawks with pick two in last year’s mid-season draft, not many expected Jai Newcombe to be playing the way he has in the 2022 season. Newcombe has easily been one of the best players at the club this year, with his high-pressure style of play shining through week after week.

Averaging 22.5 disposals, 4.6 tackles, 22 pressure acts and 9.1 contested possessions per game, the midfield bull has been a difficult player to match up on this year, and his form has not made the Hawks regret their decision to take him on board midway through last year.

In a Hawthorn side that is developing quite well as a unit under coach Sam Mitchell, Newcombe will be a centrepiece of the club for the years to come, and will certainly be a star of the game as he matures further.

2. Sam De Koning – Geelong (Round 11)

When you can hold the reigning Coleman Medallist goalless, you know you’ve got something special. Sam De Koning did just that in Round 18 when he halted Harry McKay’s influence completely in Geelong’s 30-point win over the Blues. However, he proved that this wasn’t just a one-off, as he has been doing it all year.

Averaging 12.3 disposals at 83.7 per cent efficiency, 7.1 intercept possessions, 5.5 spoils, and 5.2 marks per game, De Koning is already a huge defensive presence, and he has continued to get better with each and every game that he has played for the minor premiers.

De Koning will now look towards the finals series, with him being a very important player when it comes to their chances at a flag. At just 21 years of age, he will surely continue his form for the foreseeable future and become one of the premier key defenders of the competition.

1. Nick Daicos – Collingwood (Round 3)

You had to know this one was coming. As brilliant as the aforementioned players all are, Nick Daicos is the standout of the bunch, playing all 22 home and away games for Collingwood in a remarkable first season at the club.

Starting the season in the midfield, Daicos was impactful from the get-go but it was when coach Craig McRae moved him onto the half-back flank on a more regular basis, that his form really started to catch everyone’s full attention.

Averaging 26 disposals, 6.5 contested possessions, 13.3 pressure acts, and 4.5 score involvements off the half-back line per game, Daicos has developed such a well-rounded play style in his first season at Collingwood. Some already had him in the conversation for All-Australian honours this year, and while this won’t happen as Daicos was not selected in the extended squad, the 19-year-old will have many chances at it in the future. Daicos has also shown this season he has the potential to become one of the greats of the game if he can keep up his terrific form.

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