Who’s the next big thing? That’s what punters are hoping to predict when they bet on who will win the Ron Evans Medal. Find out how and where to get the best odds and betting tips for the AFL Rising Star.
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What is the AFL Rising Star award?
The Rising Star is awarded to the best player under 21 years of age who had played less than 10 AFL games on January 1 of that season.
Similar to the Brownlow Medal, Rising Star winners must not have been suspended by the AFL tribunal, but they can still get away with being reprimanded and remain eligible.
The best player that fills the award’s stipulations is selected each round and, at the end of the season, a panel of experts comprising AFL executives, media commentators and past players votes on who will be the winner.
It’s an award that is a guide to future champions. Nathan Buckley, Ben Cousins, Adam Goodes and Sam Mitchell all went on to win the Brownlow, while the likes of Chris Scott, Michael Wilson, Byron Pickett, Joel Selwood and Dan Hannebery have since tasted AFL Premiership success.
The Sydney Swans became the first team to produce three Rising Star winners when Callum Mills got the nod in 2016. Eight other teams have two winners each, including the now-defunct Brisbane Bears, while the Western Bulldogs and GWS Giants are the only clubs without a Rising Star as of 2020. Fitzroy also did not have a winner before merging with Brisbane at the conclusion of the 1996 season.
Despite not producing a winner, Greater Western Sydney had eight nominees in 2012 – a season record.
When it was first coined in 1993, it was known as the Norwich Rising Star, a naming rights deal that lasted until 1999 when Ansett Airlines took over. That deal only lasted two years, with National Australia Bank stepping in from 2002.
The medal is named after celebrated former AFL administrator Ron Evans, who died of cancer in 2007.
If you know your footy and know the next generation of stars, this is a great award to bet on throughout the season. Here are a few tips to help you pick a winner.
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Betting tips for punting on the AFL Rising Star
- Look beyond the midfield:
Unlike the Brownlow Medal, players outside of the midfield have a genuine chance of winning the Rising Star. While it is true to say that more midfielders have won the award than any other spot on the field, key position players have had more than their fair share. Jesse Hogan won the award with a dominant season up front for the Demons in 2015, while key defenders Daniel Talia and Jared Rivers and former St Kilda stars Nick Riewoldt and Justin Koschitzke have also taken home the award.
- Forget about the ruckmen:
While the Rising Star is much more inclusive than some of the other AFL medals, the rucks have a hard time getting noticed. No out-and-out ruckman has ever won the award, although Adam Goodes did take it home in 1999 when he was playing between the position and the forward line. The only genuine rucks to finish in the top five are Beau McDonald (13 votes in 2000), Matthew Kreuzer (11 votes in 2008) and Zac Smith (21 votes in 2011).
- Follow the draft:
High draft picks who come in and make an impact straight away tend to be the men who win this award. It also helps if they are playing in one of the weaker teams, meaning they are more likely to see a full season than a youngster at one of the stronger clubs.
- Follow the form:
It is easy to see which players are making an impact. They are the ones who perform week in, week out, whether their team wins or loses. And they are the ones who make the voting panel sit up and take notice.
List of Rising Star winners
Luke Jackson (2021)
The likes of Tom Green, Justin McInerney, Errol Gulden and Nik Cox all put forward strong cases in what was a wide-open race for the 2021 Rising Star, but second-year ruck Luke Jackson emerged as the clear winner with his strong performances in a red-hot Melbourne side.
Caleb Serong (2020)
After short-priced favourite Matt Rowell went down with a season-ending injury in round five, Fremantle’s newest midfield star fought off stiff competition from the likes of Max King and Izak Rankine to clinch the 2020 Rising Star.
Sam Walsh (2019)
The no.1 pick at the 2018 AFL Draft broke the league record for most disposals by a first-year player and had a big hand in Carlton’s revival in the second half of the season.
Jaidyn Stephenson (2018)
With 38 goals out of the forward pocket, the speedster from Eastern Ranges was a major contributor in Collingwood’s shock run to the 2018 AFL Grand Final.
Andrew McGrath (2017)
Hawthorn’s Ryan Burton made a strong case, but it was the no.1 draft pick who claimed top honours after an outstanding debut season across half-back for Essendon.
Callum Mills (2016)
The Sydney Swans youngster was a popular winner, slotting straight into a team that finished first on the ladder and reached the grand final.
Jesse Hogan (2015)
A hulking forward with bags of talent, Hogan beat the likes of Charlie Cameron, Patrick Cripps and Isaac Heeney to become Melbourne’s second AFL Rising Star winner.
Lewis Taylor (2014)
Bursting onto the scene as a smart, goalkicking small forward in a struggling Brisbane Lions outfit, Taylor edged out Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli by a single vote.
Jaeger O’Meara (2013)
Having made a bright start at the Gold Coast Suns, the dynamic midfielder ran into injury trouble and moved to Hawthorn in 2017.
Daniel Talia (2012)
A key defender for the Adelaide Crows who routinely takes on and beats the opposition’s best forward. One of the best in the business.
Dyson Heppell (2011)
When in full flight, there are few players who blend toughness and elegance more seamlessly than Essendon’s blond dreadlocked star.
Dan Hannebery (2010)
The gutsy on-baller made an immediate impact at the Sydney Swans, where he played 208 game and won a premiership before joining St Kilda in 2019.
Daniel Rich (2009)
A big-bodied midfielder with a booming left foot, Rich was a unanimous Rising Star winner in a field that included Dayne Beams, Patrick Dangerfield, Taylor Walker and Callan Ward.
Rhys Palmer (2008)
Found a mountain of the footy as a rookie for Fremantle, but injury in his second season seemed to rob him of something and he never reached his best after that.
Joel Selwood (2007)
An absolute superstar and one of the best players on this list. Premierships, courage and leadership underline this man’s skills as one of the greatest midfielders to have played the game.
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Danyle Pearce (2006)
A dashing half-back, Pearce jumped out of the gates at Port Adelaide and finished his career at Fremantle in 2018 after 258 AFL games.
Brett Deledio (2005)
He missed out on Richmond’s glory years, but Deledio was arguably the best player at the club in ’05 and went on to be a heroic figure in tough times.
Jared Rivers (2004)
Former Geelong and Melbourne defender Rivers retired at the end of 2015 after being ravaged by injuries. At his best, was one of the best stoppers in the game and his use of the football was first rate.
Sam Mitchell (2003)
Hard to find words to describe Mitchell, but his nickname ‘The Extractor’ perhaps does him most justice. Hard yet skilful, his Rising Star win came after claiming the VFL’s JJ Liston Trophy in 2002.
Nick Riewoldt (2002)
One of the greatest Saints and greatest centre-half forwards to play the game. No big forward has ever had a motor quite like this man.
Justin Koschitzke (2001)
Might have been one of the greatest, were it not for Daniel Giansiracusa caving his face in. Was never the same after the sickening injury, but still carved out a solid career as a forward cum ruck.
Paul Hasleby (2000)
Was perhaps Freo’s greatest player until Matthew Pavlich took the title. A solid midfielder who got as much out of himself as humanly possible.
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Adam Goodes (1999)
Another all-time great. Perhaps the most versatile player ever to play the game. Key forward, ruck, midfield, defence, it didn’t matter – on his day, Goodes dominated.
Byron Pickett (1998)
If anyone hit harder than Byron Pickett, we never saw them play. Just ask Brendan Krummel. Tough defender who genuinely instilled fear in opponents.
Michael Wilson (1997)
A key figure in Port Adelaide’s formative years, Wilson played in the club’s first flag in 2004.
Ben Cousins (1996)
Before all the drugs and the dramas, Cousins was an electrifying midfielder who followed up his Rising Star nod with a Brownlow Medal (2005) and an AFL Premiership flag (2006).
Nick Holland (1995)
Dutchy was a Hawks fan favourite. He was moved forward in ’95 and impressed with his vice-like overhead marking en route to a second-place finish in Hawthorn’s best and fairest.
Chris Scott (1994)
While the Brisbane Bears never enjoyed any tangible success as a team, they went two for two in the Rising Star when hard-nosed stopper Chris Scott took out the title in ’94.
Nathan Buckley (1993)
Before his career-defining switch from Brisbane to Collingwood, Bucks beat the likes of Glenn Archer, Shane Crawford, Dustin Fletcher, James Hird, David Neitz, Mark Ricciuto, Matthew Richardson, Sav Rocca and Scott West to claim the inaugural Rising Star award.