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AFL Rising Star Award

This annual award is presented to one of the best young players in the Australian Football League and has become highly valued thanks to the quality of the recipients.

From inaugural winner Nathan Buckley in 1993 to the likes of Sydney’s Adam Goodes, St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt and Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell, it has heralded in champions of the game. Indeed, three of the winners of this award, Buckley, Goodes and Ben Cousins, have gone on to take the highest individual award in the game, the Brownlow medal.

It has been a popular addition to futures betting on the AFL season, with fans keen to back their judgement on which youngsters are about to burst on to the scene.
And, as our table below shows, unlike the Brownlow Medal, this award is not all about the midfielders, though they have still taken most honours.

How the Rising Star Award winner is decided

Unlike the Brownlow Medal, which is decided by voting from the umpires, the result of the Rising Star is decided by a panel of nine AFL experts (well, administrators and former players anyway).

To qualify for the Rising Star Award a player must be:
• Under the age of 21 as at January 1 in the year of the award; and
• Have played 10 or fewer senior AFL matches at the start of that season.

After each round of AFL action, one youngster from across the league is nominated for the award. A player who has been suspended during the season can be nominated but is ineligible to win the overall award.
Come the end of the season, the nine-person panel of experts will award their votes on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis for their top five picks from the pool of nominees.

The player with the most votes after this process is the winner and joins a list of past and future legends of the game.

Rising Star Award winners plus positions

YearWinner (club)TeamPositionTotal gamesTotal goals
2020Caleb SerongFremantleMidfielder14*2
2019Sam WalshCarltonMidfielder39*14
2018Jaidyn StephensonCollingwoodForward/mid54*76
2017Andrew McGrathEssendonDefender/mid78*15
2016Callum MillsSydneyDefender78*3
2015Jesse HoganMelbourneKey forward90*170
2014Lewis TaylorBrisbaneMidfielder112*88
2013Jaeger O’MearaGold CoastMidfielder104*56
2012Daniel TaliaAdelaideKey defender200*6
2011Dyson HeppellEssendonMidfielder172*60
2010Daniel HanneberySydneyMidfielder221*99
2009Daniel RichBrisbane LionsMidfielder215*107
2008Rhys PalmerFremantleMidfielder12395
2007Joel SelwoodGeelongMidfielder310*162
2006Danyle PearcePort AdelaideMidfielder258127
2005Brett DeledioRichmondUtility275197
2004Jared RiversMelbourneDefender19418
2003Sam MitchellHawthornMidfielder32971
2002Nick RiewoldtSt KildaKey forward336718
2001Justin KoschitzkeSt KildaRuck/forward200247
2000Paul HaslebyFremantleMidfielder208131
1999Adam GoodesSydneyUtility372464
1998Byron PickettNorth MelbourneMidfielder/defender204177
1997Michael WilsonPort AdelaideMidfielder/defender19251
1996Ben CousinsWest CoastMidfielder270217
1995Nick HollandHawthornKey position179239
1994Chris ScottBrisbane BearsDefender21579
1993Nathan BuckleyBrisbane BearsMidfielder280284

* Active players at start of 2021 season