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Cream of crop: Top 5 candidates for 2018 Rising Star Award

Brisbane Lions youngster Alex Witherden will be a popular tip to win this year’s Rising Star award after a terrific debut in nine senior appearances in 2017.

Cream of crop: Top 5 candidates for 2018 Rising Star Award

Source: The AFL Update via Facebook.

A new season of scintillating AFL football is upon us and fans everywhere are looking forward to another year of action.

One of the greatest things about starting a new season is getting to see the hottest new prospects and draft picks running out for their first full season.

Another fantastic part is that if your team didn’t quite make the finals last year, odds are they’ve picked up some exciting young talent in the draft to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

As always, the Rising Star award will be presented to the standout young player that makes the biggest impact.

To be eligible, players must be younger than 21 before the January 1 and have played fewer than 10 matches before the start of the season. Some of the potential candidates may have played a few games at the tail-end of last year.

Let’s take a look at the top five candidates for this year’s award.

1. Alex Witherden – Brisbane Lions
The Lions have an abundance of talent coming through the ranks and the explosive half-back will be one of their brightest. He played nine games last season and made an immediate impact with his composure and decision making with the ball. His tidy average of 24 disposals and five marks is sure to improve and he’s looking like an early front runner to win the award. According to the latest AFL odds he is the equal favourite with Jack Graham at $7, and will definitely be one to keep an eye on in 2018.

2. Jack Graham – Richmond
Graham should have had more playing time last season but was sidelined with an ankle injury for 12 weeks. After returning to the squad, he managed to force his way into the side for the last five games of the year including all three of the Tigers’ finals. He was magnificent in the grand final with three goals and even earned himself a Norm Smith Medal vote. We can expect him to get a lot more playing time in the middle this season, and he will be right in the race for the Rising Star.
Source: Australia Times of News via Facebook.

3. Andrew Brayshaw – Fremantle
Selected at No.2 in the draft, Brayshaw has arrived at Fremantle with a huge amount of expectation, and so far, he is definitely living up to it. During his debut appearance for the Dockers in the JLT Community Series against Adelaide, he gathered 14 touches with an 86 per cent efficiency rate, as well as landing six tackles in what was a very impressive first performance. Brayshaw looks like a seasoned midfielder with the ball even when playing through a congested area, and should make a substantial impact for the Dockers this season.
Source: The AFL Update via Facebook.

4. Paddy Dow – Carlton
Dow was picked at No. 3 in the draft and made his debut in the Blues’ JLT Community Series win over a near full-strength St Kilda. The young speedster has already won over the hearts of the fans after losing a tooth in the first half, playing through the pain to finish the game with 13 disposals and two goals. He is a welcome addition to a rebuilding Carlton side and should turn a few heads with his quick footwork.
Source: AFL Supercoach via Facebook.

5. Luke Davies-Uniacke – North Melbourne
Last but certainly not least is the No. 4 draft pick Davies-Uniacke, another young talent who impressed in his debut match and looks like a sure starter for the Kangaroos this season. Physically strong and fantastic in the air, he will be a major threat through the middle of the park, and it will be interesting to see how opposition teams deal with his dynamic bursts of speed. He’s exactly the kind of player that North Melbourne was screaming for, and they’ll certainly utilise him as much as they can.
Source: AFL Trade Rumours, Draft & News via Facebook.

It’s going to be a big year for these five players, and hopefully they all stay injury free. Now we can sit back and enjoy the show as we watch these future stars come out to shine.