Thu, Jul 26, 1:16pm by Staff Writer
The 2018 AFL Rising Star award is given annually to the best young player in the AFL. The winner receives the Ron Evans Medal, with past recipients including Adam Goodes, Nick Riewoldt, Sam Mitchell and Joel Selwood among others.
Collingwood’s Jaidyn Stephenson is the leading contender for the award this season, priced at $1.70 at Sportsbet.
Stephenson achieved his nomination in round four after the Pies defeated the Crows in Adelaide. He amassed only 13 disposals, but booted a match-winning five goals in the game.
He has benefitted from being on a winning side this season, with coach Nathan Buckley playing the youngster in all 17 fixtures thus far.
Stephenson has been a steady contributor in the forward line, through his combination of crisp kicking and blistering speed.
He has booted 28 goals and 14 behinds this season, and in the past six games has a haul of four goals against Melbourne and three times has bagged three goals against Carlton, Gold Coast and North Melbourne.
Brisbane’s Alex Witherden was nominated for the Rising Star in round nine and has shown tremendous growth in the second half of the seasons.
He is priced at $4.50 at Sportsbet to win the Rising Star award, being the first Lions since Lewis Taylor achieved the feat in 2014.
Witherden has played every game this season for the Lions after debuting in 2017 and playing nine matches.
His nomination came after the Lions first win of the season against the Hawks in round nine.
On that day, he had 24 disposals, two tackles and over 80 per cent disposal efficiency.
The highlight to this young half-backs game is his poise across such a pivotal area of the ground, at only 19-years of age.
Witherden’s involvement has intensified as the Lions have found form of the past month, racking up 31, 27 and 31 disposals in his past three matches.
Sydney’s Ben Ronke burst onto the scene in only his third AFL game in round eight this season against Hawthorn.
With Buddy Franklin an omission for the Swans, the youngster booted seven goals which were key to the Swans victory.
Since then he has managed a five goal haul against North in another close match that went the Swans way.
He is priced at $9 to win the Rising Star, but lacks the consistency in his performance, as well as the number of games played, at only 12, to compete with Stephenson and Witherden.
Adelaide’s Tom Doedee was nominated in round two after the Crows win against the Tigers.
He is $9 at Sportsbet to win the award, but is set to miss some football over the next week or two through injury.
Doedee has been a shining light on what has so far been an underwhelming season for the Crows.
He has amassed over 20 disposals seven times and averages just over 18 disposals per game.
2017 number one draft pick Cameron Rayner of the Brisbane Lions has come along nicely in the second half of the season.
He is a $14 outsider to win the award after receiving a nomination after Brisbane’s round 15 win against Carlton.
Rayner has managed to find the scoreboard as a midfielder, booting 16 goals this season. His disposal efficiency is hovering after the 70 per cent mark and his total disposals at 13 per game are what is holding him back from being a real contender in this award.
AFL Rising Star Award Winner – Sportsbet
Jaidyn Stephenson $1.70
Alex Witherden $4.50
Ben Ronke $9
Tom Doedee $9
Cameron Rayner $14
Oliver Florent $16
Ed Richards $21
Adam Cerra $41
Jack Higgins $41
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