THE Rising Star vote count on Friday will be one of the most intriguing in recent memory.
Four young guns are right in the mix to take out the 2017 Rising Star award, with a close count between Hawthorn’s Ryan Burton, Essendon’s Andrew McGrath, Port Adelaide’s Sam Powell-Pepper and Carlton’s Charlie Curnow.
Overall, 23 players were nominated for the award throughout the season.
But there were several youngsters that missed out on their time in the sun and deserved an invite to Friday’s lunchtime event.
These are the top Rising Stars who missed out on a nomination throughout 2017.
Sean Darcy (Fremantle)
Yes he only played eight games, but this 201cm ruckman — who has drawn comparisons to fictional character ‘Hodor’ from Game of Thrones — made a profound impact in a short space of time. With Aaron Sandilands succumbing to injury, Darcy stepped up in his absence, averaging more hit-outs per game (34) than any other eligible rising star, including a whopping 45 against Richmond in Round 22.
Brayden Fiorini (Gold Coast Suns)
Several times Fiorini put up games worthy of a Rising Star nomination, but one never game. Four times the Suns ball magnet racked up at least 24 disposals and 96 ranking points in a game, with two of those efforts coming in Gold Coast wins. A big game from McGrath in Round 4 proved unlucky for Fiorini, but he could consider himself stiff that Hawk Blake Hardwick won a nomination over him in Round 15. In his 12 matches since Round 3, he accumulated more than 20 touches on eight occasions.
Ryan Clarke (North Melbourne)
He earned a nomination in his third game last season, but Clarke arguably deserved another in 2017, especially at some stage during the back half of the season. In his final five games of the year, Clarke racked up 24, 31, 27, 25 and 27 disposals respectively. His 111 ranking points in North’s Round 23 win over the Lions should’ve been enough to win the final nomination, but three goals from three kicks was enough for Will Hayward.
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Matthew Kennedy (GWS Giants)
Of the 2015 Giants academy picks, Kennedy was arguably the most unlucky to not receive a nomination. The Collingullie product played 16 games in his second season and had a consistent 2017 campaign, but was unlucky on two occasions not to be selected. He had 28 touches in the Giants’ win over West Coast in Round 10 only for Adelaide’s Wayne Milera to get the call, before finishing with 25 touches and six tackles against the Hawks in a Round 16 draw — only for Blue Charlie Curnow to pip him with a huge game against Melbourne.
Jarrod Berry (Brisbane Lions)
It took him a while to get going, but Berry ended up being one of the Lions’ most consistent young players throughout the season. The Rebels product played 16 games under Chris Fagan in 2017, particularly impressing around stoppages. However Berry’s downfall was he never played a genuine, ‘pick me’ standout game. And when he produced his best effort for the year — a 21-disposal, six-clearance game against Carlton in Round 18 — Berry was pipped by Swan Lewis Melican, who kept Saints champ Nick Riewoldt very quiet.
Declan Mountford (North Melbourne)
After spending most of the first half of the season in the VFL, Mountford became a mainstay of North’s backline after the bye. From Round 13 onwards, Mountford averaged 15 disposals and four tackles per game. His best games, however, came in North Melbourne losses.
Bailey Williams (Western Bulldogs)
With the Bulldogs’ backline struggling with form and injury, the door was opened up for Williams, who managed to play the last seven straight games of the 2017 season. The 19-year-old’s efficiency and rebound became crucial for the Bulldogs as they pushed for a finals berth. Williams’ best game for the season came in Round 7 against Richmond (23 disposals, six intercepts and five score involvements). But Sam Petrevski-Seton’s game against Collingwood was too good to ignore.
Tom Williamson (Carlton)
The mid-sized defender top and tailed his 2017 season in promising touch, highlighted by his spoiling and contested marking ability. Williamson’s best game came against Port Adelaide in Round 5, finishing with 18 disposals, 10 intercepts and five marks. Unfortunately, it came on the same night as Carlton’s biggest loss of the season.
James Parsons (Geelong)
Of all the Cats debutants this season, Parsons has been arguably the most impressive. He was able to hit the scoreboard consistently throughout the home and away season, booting 13 goals from 18 games. Parsons’ best two games came against Hawthorn (2.1 from 21 disposals) in Round 4 — the same day he hit Luke Hodge with an elbow that cost him two weeks — then against Brisbane (3.1 from 12 touches) in Round 16 — the same weekend Charlie Curnow went nuts against Melbourne.
FULL LIST OF 2017 AFL RISING STAR NOMINEES
Round 1: Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide)
Round 2: Ryan Burton (Hawthorn)
Round 3: Brandan Parfitt (Geelong)
Round 4: Andrew McGrath (Essendon)
Round 5: Eric Hipwood (Brisbane Lions)
Round 6: Caleb Marchbank (Carlton)
Round 7: Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton)
Round 8: Tim Taranto (GWS Giants)
Round 9: Tom Phillips (Collingwood)
Round 10: Wayne Milera (Adelaide)
Round 11: Dan Butler (Richmond)
Round 12: David Cuningham (Carlton)
Round 13: Jack Silvagni (Carlton)
Round 14: Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane Lions)
Round 15: Blake Hardwick (Hawthorn)
Round 16: Charlie Curnow (Carlton)
Round 17: Alex Witherden (Brisbane Lions)
Round 18: Lewis Melican (Sydney Swans)
Round 19: Jason Castagna (Richmond)
Round 20: Luke Ryan (Fremantle)
Round 21: Dan Houston (Port Adelaide)
Round 22: Ben Ainsworth (Gold Coast Suns)
Round 23: Will Hayward (Sydney Swans)
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Originally published as Snubbed: The AFL young guns that missed out
Source: sports dailytelegraph