It is I, Captain Hindsight; here again to pick apart the decisions of those who knew no better at the time.
On this occasion, we’re focusing on the 2017 Rising Star award, and where the contenders from that award are situated just six short months later. If you could vote on the award again, who would win it, just six games into 2018?
Firstly, here are the eight players that received votes in 2017, and their placings.
1 – Andrew McGrath (Essendon)
2 – Ryan Burton (Hawthorn)
3 – Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide)
4 – Charlie Curnow (Carlton)
5 – Eric Hipwood (Brisbane)
6 – Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton)
E7 – Lewis Melican (Sydney)
E7 – Tom Phillips (Collingwood)
Names that did not receive a vote but did receive a nomination include Brandan Parfitt (Geelong), Tim Taranto (GWS), Wayne Milera (Adelaide), Dan Butler (Richmond), Luke Ryan (Fremantle), Jason Castagna (Richmond).
Some have kicked on, and others have gone backwards. The decision now rests with you (or in this case, me). Given the chance, how would you award the Rising Star if you’re basing it on what you’ve seen in 2018 thus far? The only criteria is that the players must have received a Rising Star nomination in 2017.
Here’s how The Mongrel (AKA Captain Hindsight) sees it. Feel free to disagree.
1 – Tom Phillips (Collingwood)
If Phillips was good in 2017, he has shot through the roof in 2018. He has jumped from 21.11 in 2017 to 27.67 touches through the first six games, and is fast becoming one of the more reliable options in the Magpie side.
His run off the wing, and solid games against GWS (32 touches and 10 marks), Adelaide (31 touches) and Richmond (38 disposals) are exceeding expectations of even Pies supporters.
Phillips has jumped to the top of the heap, and with new confidence, and a bigger tank, doesn't look like stepping away from this spot.
2 – Charlie Curnow (Carlton)
A star. Not a star in the making, but a star right now. Curnow has presence, and it was on full display early on in Round One this season. He bagged five goals that day and has had some spectacular moments since.
Curnow looks dangerous every time he is near the ball. He has a beautiful pair of hands, and always looks dangerous. He is averaging a touch under two goals per game, and a touch over 17 touches, but Curnow has all the tools to be a monster in this comp.
With five goals in the season opener, plenty of shots at goal along the way, and 11 marks against the Bulldogs, Curnow is showing Carlton fans great signs.
3 – Tim Taranto (GWS)
While Taranto has not risen to the heights of Phillips, his 21 touches per game in the star-studded GWS midfield is enough to make you take notice. This is up from 15 disposals per game in 2017.
Taranto has also added a defensive side to his game in 2018, nailing seven tackles per game so far, up from three per game last year. The Giants continue to possess a wealth of midfield talent, and Taranto’s development adds to it. In the absence of Josh Kelly, Taranto has been a more than capable replacement.
4 – Brandan Parfitt (Geelong)
What a leap from the young Cat in 2018. He is now averaging over 21 disposals per game this season, up from 13 last season, which is nothing to sneeze at. He has a strong body and has stood up in some big games, and in big moments.
22 touches and 2 goals in the nail biter against Melbourne, and a potential best on ground performance against St Kilda with 28 disposals and three goals have punctuated his development.
Parfitt looks like the kind of player Geelong needed to step into a bigger role this year. While their one-way midfield is being criticised, Parfitt’s emergence as a strong midfield body might just be the remedy.
5 – Jason Castagna (Richmond)
He probably benefits from being in such a deadly Richmond side, but he has fit into their high-pressure forward line perfectly. In six games, he has had 19 shots at goal for 12 goals, and directly assisted on another goal every game.
Castagna has demonstrated plenty of tricks this season, with his numbers up across the board. He looks at home in the Tigers’ side, and that is a very nice place to feel at home right now.
6 – Andrew McGrath (Essendon)
Last year’s winner hasn’t had the same kind of impact this season. McGrath is getting just under 19 touches per game, but that is one down on his 2017 average.
It’s been a bit of feast or famine for him in 2018. Against the Demons, he had 19 disposals in the first half, and looked to have turned the corner, but the second half saw him accumulate just seven more.
The round before, he had a shocker on Anzac Day. 10 disposals. 0 clearances. 0 Inside 50s. 1 Rebound 50. 1 One Percenter. It was not a game he’d like to remember, and not a game befitting the best young player of 2017.
7 – Luke Ryan (Fremantle)
He has continued to develop beautifully in this young season, his averages up across the board.
After playing just 11 games in 2017, he hasn’t missed any of the first six this year. He is up from almost 16 touches per game in 2017 to close to 19 this season and has continued to deliver the ball at over 80% efficiency.
8 – Wayne Milera (Adelaide)
In his third season, Milera is starting to display the kind of form that warrants his selection at #11 in the 2015 draft.
19 touches a game and a ripping 33 disposal game in the game against Gold Coast have seen his stocks rise significantly as he replaces Brodie Smith off half back and running through the middle. Milera is one of those players who could be forced out of the Crows side as veterans and stars return, but with performances like his game on the weekend, he would be pretty hard up to lose his spot.
So who has dropped out?
Ryan Burton (finished second)
Hawthorn supporters were expecting huge things from Burton this year. Titles such as “future captain” were bandied about. No one saw this form slump happening.
Burton hurt an ankle early in the season but recovered to return the next week. He was then dropped after a less than impressive outing. His averages have dropped significantly this season. He’s averaging almost 13 touches a game this year, down from over 21 per game last season. His marks are down by half (2.8 this year to 5.6 last season).
To say Burton’s 2018 season thus far has been a disappointment is an understatement. Not even a Hawthorn supporter can dispute that.
Sam Powell-Pepper (finished third)
Well, he’s not making the list mainly because of off-field indiscretions and penalties resulting from them.
However, in the three games he has played this season, he’s failed to set the world on fire. He’s down from 17 touches a game to 15.7, with his contested possessions taking a hit, too.
Powell-Pepper is the sort of player that’ll bounce back. He’s a hard nut, and a bit of a nut in general by the looks of the footage outside the club he was in, but that’s beside the point. If we revisit this at the conclusion of the season, he’ll be back in the mix.
Eric Hipwood (finished fifth)
His three goal performance against Port aside, I find it hard to watch Hipwood at the moment.
There is obvious skill, but he has so much “baby giraffe” still present in his game that I just want him to stop loping around, and start asserting himself a little more. He snagged 30 goals last year, and is on track to match that again this season, but the Lions need improvement – not more of the same.
Schache has gone to the Dogs (literally and figuratively, apparently) which leaves the forward 50 to Hipwood. He needs to produce more.
Sam Petrevski-Seton (finished sixth)
It's too easy to say Petrevski-Seton isn't doing enough, especially when you consider he's playing in a team that's not doing enough.
I was a little worried in the first game of the year, when the Blues took it up to Richmond. He was good early in that game, and then went completely missing for two entire quarters. For mine, he's not doing enough little things... but he can sure drop a high-flying mark.
Lewis Melican (finished equal seventh)
I feel bad for Melican, as he is a victim of injury and others starting to excel. He’s played three games in 2018 and looked to be improving on what we saw last season, but the hamstring injury will see him miss another couple of weeks.
Like Powell-Pepper, he is on the outer due to not playing, and the improvement of others.
So what do you think? Did we get it right? Wrong? Somewhere in the middle? Like what you're getting from The Mongrel? Hate it and want to yell at us? Obsessing over it and want to stalk me at my workplace? You wouldn't be the first.... give us a like on Facebook or a follow on Twitter and have your say.