Is the AFL’s Rising Star award too subjective?

Former AFL Rising Star winner Paul Hasleby has suggested the league should consider changing the award's format to make the title less subjective.

Fremantle midfielder Caleb Serong enters Thursday night's count – held this year as part of a broader AFL Awards night – as the short-priced favourite to claim the award after a debut season in which he played 14 games, averages just under 17 disposals per match.

Fremantle’s Caleb Serong is the favourite to win the Rising Star award.Credit:Getty Images

Gold Coast's Noah Anderson is the second favourite, with teammate Izak Rankine also tipped to feature in the votes.

The winner is determined by a panel of judges, all of whom vote in a 5-4-3-2-1 format from the pool of nominees, of which one is chosen each round. The judging panel is the same as the All-Australian selection panel, with the addition of AFL talent guru Kevin Sheehan.

Former Docker Hasleby won the award in 2000. He pondered whether the AFL would be better tinkering with the voting system so that it was based on the sum of performances across individual games, like the Brownlow Medal or AFL Coaches' Association awards, rather than a broad lumping of cumulative efforts, which is also the case for the AFL Players' Association awards.

"It's quite subjective isn't it, where they look at the season as a whole. I still think there could be some formula that's used to actually look at each game, and votes are given to each individual within that game, and then you tally them up to get a more objective winner," Hasleby said.

Top 10 draft picks: (back, left to right) Tom Green, Liam Henry, Caleb Serong, Hayden Young, Fischer McAsey, (front) Lachie Ash, Luke Jackson, Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Dylan Stephens. Credit:Justin McManus

"Because no doubt, the media and the public opinion plays a part. We've just had some of the other awards which have been given. So I think it's something that can be looked at in the future."

There is also interest in whether No.1 draft pick Matt Rowell polls at all. Rowell was an almost unbackable favourite after four rounds, having been voted best afield by the coaches in three straight games. But a shoulder injury in round five ended his season. Hasleby said it was a tricky test case.

"It's a really difficult one, because the quality of those four [games before his inury] was outstanding. If you take into account coaches' association votes, he would have won for the last few years. But I think you do need to put a body of work together, that needs to be more substantial. But he's still a chance next year," Hasbleby said.

Hasbleby backed Serong to claim the title.

"I think he deserves it. I think he'll win. It's neck and neck though. I reckon Noah Anderson continued to improve, like Serong, as the season unfolded, and even down to the last couple of games."

Hasbleby has urged whoever wins to brace for a more challenging season in 2021.

"I struggled with it in my second year. You've got to have the right attitude to want to come back and get better in your second year. And you become a targetted player for the opposition. He's been allowed to go and play on the best players and beat them, but in future years, more time and work goes into those players, so you have to improve again.

Second-year Carlton midfielder Sam Walsh was on Wednesday announced as the AFLCA's best young player, following on from his Rising Star win last year.

To be eligible for the Rising Star award in any given season, a player must be under 21 on January 1 of that year, and have played no more than 10 AFL games before that season.

2020 Rising Star nominees
Round 1 Sam Sturt, Fremantle
2 Matt Rowell, Gold Coast
3 Connor Budarick, Gold Coast
4 Tom Green, Greater Western Sydney
5 Curtis Taylor, North Melbourne
6 Izak Rankine, Gold Coast
7 Noah Anderson, Gold Coast
8 Caleb Serong, Fremantle
9 Mitch Georgiades, Port Adelaide
10 Luke Jackson, Melbourne
11 Kysaiah Pickett, Melbourne
12 Max King, St Kilda
13 Brandon Starcevich, Brisbane Lions
14 Jake Riccardi, Greater Western Sydney
15 Justin McInerney, Sydney
16 Will Day, Hawthorn
17 Isaac Quaynor, Collingwood
18 Lachlan Sholl, Adelaide

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