Every club in the AFL begins the footy season with high hopes for their newest crop of draftees, but only one young player can take home the well-regarded Rising Star award.
The 2021 AFL draft was another interesting event, as a majority of the young prospects were hit with another covid-interrupted season, forcing recruiters to make do with the limited exposure they had these last two years.
A total of 65 talented youngsters made their way onto AFL lists at the conclusion of the national draft, with some players already turning heads at preseason training in the lead up to round one.
Before we look at the top prospects in the 2022 Rising Star market, we will go over some important rules and information regarding the AFL’s prestigious award.
AFL Rising Star eligibility and nominations
The rules surrounding eligibility are simple, as any player aged 20 or younger on January 1 with less than 10 career games can win the award.
If a 20-year-old third-year player enters the season with nine career games, they are still in the running for the award, leaving plenty of room for interesting nominations throughout the year.
A single player will receive a Rising Star nomination in each round of the home-and-away season, meaning 23 unique players will be nominated by the end of round 23.
The nominee will be chosen based off which eligible player performed the best that weekend, or if a player has put together multiple impressive matches.
A player can receive multiple nominations across different seasons, while a suspended player is ineligible to win the award.
The 2021 season smashed the record for the most dual-nominated players, as Lachlan Sholl, Mitch Georgiades, Justin McInerney, Tom Green and the eventual winner, Luke Jackson, all received their second career nomination.
Once the season concludes, a panel of experts will name five players they believe had the best season, awarding five votes to their top pick, four for their next choice and so on.
Last year’s panel of 11 experts voted Luke Jackson as their winner, as the athletic Melbourne Demons’ forward finished with 51 out of a possible 55 votes.
AFL 2022 Rising Star candidates
Team: Collingwood Magpies
Draft Pick: 2021 – #4
Betting odds: $4.33 with Sportsbet
The second son of Peter Daicos has been on the radar of Collingwood coaches and supporters since he was very young, and with good reason. The extremely talented midfielder was labelled the best player in his draft class very early in the year, and he did not disappoint. Daicos was best afield in almost every game he played in 2021, showcasing his elite skills and accurate goal-kicking on a weekly basis. The Magpies are going through a rebuild under new head coach Craig McRae, who should give the young star ample time to cement his position in the midfield. The hype surrounding Nick Daicos is very real, and he is a deserving early favourite in Rising Star betting.
Team: North Melbourne
Draft Pick: 2021 – #1
Betting odds: $5 with Ladrokes
There was only one player in 2021 who could be compared to Nick Daicos, and that man was North Melbourne’s no.1 draft pick, Jason Horne-Francis. Coming out of the SANFL competition, Horne-Francis has already displayed his abundance of talent against league-level opposition. With an aerial presence that has been compared to Nat Fyfe, you can expect plenty of high-flying marks from the forward, who also has a hard edge to his game. The young Kangaroo should play round one and see out the season if his tough body holds together, making him a great option at $5 with Sportsbet.
Team: Sydney Swans
Draft Pick: 2020 – #5
Betting odds: $13 with Sportsbet
Braeden Campbell is eligible for the Rising Star after having only played eight games in his first season at the Sydney Swans. The small defender is very classy with the footy and can rack up plenty of possessions, as highlighted by his 25-disposal game against the Adelaide Crows last season. With Callum Mills spending more time in the midfield, Campbell should lock down a spot in the Swans’ back six and make a weekly impact.
Team: Adelaide Crows
Draft Pick: 2021 – #6
Betting odds: $15 with Sportsbet
One of the most exciting prospects in the 2021 AFL draft landed very early at the Crows, as Josh Rachele was scooped up with pick no.6. Rachele is an electric forward that has a bag of tricks; he can kick goals at ground level, take marks above his head and accurately slot goals from the boundary line. Rachele is a perfect pick for the Crows, as they desperately need a spark up forward to pair with Riley Thilthorpe.
Team: St Kilda Saints
Draft Pick: 2021 – #11
Betting odds: $26 with Sportsbet
Draft experts often label one player as the best kick in the talent pool, and the unanimous choice from this year’s crop was Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera. The Saints were very excited to pick up the wingman with their first choice, as the classy prospect fits a specific need for their developing squad. Wanganeen-Milera is a taller wingman at 187cm, whilst his elite kicking should synergize well with Max King inside 50. We do not mind the young Saint as an outside option for this year’s Rising Star at $26 with Sportsbet, as his elite talent could surprise the footy world.
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