NAB AFL Rising Star Award

NAB AFL Rising Star logo

Since 2002, NAB has been helping Australia's most talented young footballers reach their potential through the NAB AFL Rising Star Program. The NAB AFL Rising Star Program provides NAB with a unique opportunity to help the young stars of the game reach their potential.

For NAB, contributing to the development of AFL Football through the NAB AFL Rising Star Program, NAB AFL Auskick and the NAB Cup is a great opportunity to offer Australians a unique football experience, from grassroots through to the elite level.

The NAB AFL Rising Star was instituted in 1993 to recognise and encourage talented young players in the AFL and is now recognised as one of the leagues most prestigious and sought after awards.

To be eligible, nominees must have played no more than 10 AFL games at the start of the season, and must be under 21 years of age as at 1 January of that year. After each AFL Home & Away round, a player is nominated for the award and at the end of the AFL season. The all-Australian selection panel then chooses the winner from these nominees.

In addition to receiving the NAB Club Recognition Award, the 22 junior clubs of each NAB AFL Rising Star nominee will also go in the running to win a nab on the rise event. Valued at approximately $15,000, the winning junior club will receive a special event at their local footy ground with a free sausage sizzle, AFL superstars, NAB AFL ambassadors and a number of exciting giveaways. For further information on this competition please email

2011 NAB AFL Rising Star Nominees

Dyson Heppell

Round 1 - Dyson Heppell

Dyson Heppell from Essendon was named the Round One NAB AFL Rising Star nominee for 2011.

The 18 year old put on an impressive display against the Western Bulldogs, gathering 20 possessions and taking 7 marks.

Playing against accomplished opponents such as Adam Cooney and Daniel Giansiracusa, Dyson remained composed and continued the good form that he displayed during the NAB Cup.

Dyson represented Vic Country in the 2010 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships and was selected at an all-Australian and Vic Country's MVP. In the 2010 NAB AFL Draft, Dyson was Essendon's first round selection, eighth overall.

Essendon Coach James Hird described Heppell as an exceptionally talented footballer who has made a smooth transition into AFL football.

"He is a player of outstanding character who we believe has the potential to grow into a long-term player for the Essendon Football Club," Hird said.

Originally from the Leongatha Football Club, Dyson played for the Gippsland Power and won the 2010 Morrish Medal – the TAC Cup's best and fairest.

Luke Shuey

Round 2 - Luke Shuey

20 year old Luke Shuey from the West Coast Eagles was named the NAB AFL Rising Star nominee for Round Two after an inspiring show of talent in the midfield against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

As one of the most dynamic players on the ground, Luke gathered 27 possessions and an impressive three goals in the 18 point victory, proving a vital member of the Eagles team.

Originally from the Bulleen-Templestowe Junior Football Club in Melbourne, he played for the Oakleigh Chargers and was a member of Vic Metro's winning side in the 2008 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Luke was selection 18 in the 2008 NAB AFL Draft, but was unfortunately forced to the sidelines for the past two seasons due to injury.

West Coast Coach John Worsfold said it was pleasing to see Luke in top form and making the most of his opportunity with the Eagles.

"Luke's highly rated around the club and we're happy to have him up and running after a couple of injury-interrupted seasons," he said.

"He reads the play well, his skills are clean and it's great that he's now been able to show what he's capable of."

Mitch Duncan

Round 3 – Mitch Duncan

After an exciting display in their win over Port Adelaide, Geelong's Mitch Duncan has been awarded the Round Three NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

Mitch starred for the Cats at Skilled Stadium, gathering 24 possessions and nine marks to help his side to an incredible 79 point win.

The 19 year old was instrumental in a number of exceptional passages of play, the highlight being two goals snatched on the run.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said Mitch had made the most of the opportunity to break into the Cats side.

"Mitch put in a really good pre-season and he has taken that into the season. He is taking the opportunity that is there and he reads the play and uses the ball well," Chris said.

"Mitch can play a variety of roles and he has the maturity and ability to develop into a very good player for the club."

After making his debut in Round One 2010, Mitch is now playing amongst Geelong's most experienced midfielders and averaging 19 disposals.

Jasper Pittard

Round 4 – Jasper Pittard

Jasper Pittard from the Port Adelaide Football Club is the Round Four NAB AFL Rising Star nominee after an impressive performance in the 32-point victory over the Adelaide Crows, notching up 25 possessions, including 19 kicks.

Originally from the Torquay Junior Football Club, 20 year old Jasper made his AFL debut in Round One after being named as an emergency on five occasions late in the 2010 season.

Port Adelaide coach Matthew Primus said Jasper has successfully made the transition to AFL football.

"Jasper has developed very well over the pre-season and has worked particularly hard on the defensive side of his game" Primus said

"He's a terrific young man with great qualities and we look forward to him continuing his development during the remainder of the season."

Brandon Matera

Round 5 – Brandon Matera

Gold Coast Suns' Brandon Matera is the Round Five NAB AFL Rising Star nominee. With 21 possessions and kicking four goals, two in the last quarter, Matera was instrumental in the club's historic first win over Port Adelaide.

At only 19 years of age, the small forward was one the Suns' best, topping their goalkicking and securing the clubs first NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

Originally from the Bullcreek Leeming Junior Football Club in Perth, Brandon is AIS-AFL Academy graduate, represented Western Australia in both the NAB AFL Under 16 and Under 18 Championships, was named an All-Australian in 2009 and played 17 matches in the VFL last year.

Suns coach Guy McKenna said Brandon's four goals were instrumental in the break-through win.

"Brandon's game on the weekend was exceptional and he deserves his rising star nomination," McKenna said.

"He has outstanding attributes and we believe his game is only going to develop over the coming years. I think he is someone that our fans will enjoy watching grow into a very exciting player."


Round 6 – Jack Darling

West Coast’s Jack Darling is the Round Six NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

With three goals and nine marks, the 18 year old forward was integral to the Eagles’ 54 point win over Melbourne last Thursday night.

Starting his football as a junior at the Sorrento Duncraig Junior Football Club, Jack went on to become a graduate of the 2008 AIS-AFL Academy Squad and represent Western Australia in the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships in both 2009 and 2010 while playing for West Perth in the WAFL.

Jack was West Coast’s priority selection at the 2010 NAB AFL Draft, selection 26 overall.

Since his Round One debut, Jack has played in every West Coast match this season. Eagles coach John Worsfold said Jack has started the season well.

“Jack’s had a solid impact on the team’s early performances through his defensive pressure and his ability to mark and tackle,” Worsfold said.

“He’s been playing his role well for the side and we’re rapt with his development.”

Jack is the second Eagle to be nominated for the rising star in 2011 following Luke Shuey in Round Two.

Zac Smith

Round 7 - Zac Smith

A stellar performance against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba has earned Gold Coast Sun’s Zac Smith the Round Seven NAB AFL Rising Star nomination.

The 205cm ruckman had 22 disposals, including 7 marks, during the 8-point win that had everyone watching on the edge of their seats.

In 2010, Zac had an outstanding year playing in the VFL, being the only player from the league included in AFL Queensland’s Team of the Year.

Sun’s coach Guy McKenna said he is pleased Zac is this week’s nomination.

“Zac has worked extremely hard since arriving at the club three years ago and I have seen him learn and grow into the exciting player that he is becoming.

“He has been playing AFL for just over five years now, and in his previous two seasons with the club, through under 18’s and in the VFL, he won our most professional player award, setting a great example for his teammates to follow.”

Shane Savage

Round 8 - Shane Savage

Hawthorn’s Shane Savage is the Round Eight NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

In his best match for the Hawks, Shane was impressive with a career-high 26 disposals, 14 marks, five tackles and two goals in the 30 point win over St Kilda at the MCG.

Recruited from the Noble Park Football Club during the 2008 NAB AFL Draft at the age of 17, Shane debuted for the Hawks in 2009, playing the last three matches of the home and away season. Last year saw him named as emergency numerous times, but unfortunately he made no senior appearances. This year, Shane has played in all eight matches for the Hawks.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said Shane has earned his place amongst the Hawthorn midfielders, playing every game this season.

“Shane has stepped up this year and has injected a great deal of pace, energy and footy nous into the team. His long, penetrating kick and ability to find the goals has been a great feature of his game and he has been a valued and consistent performer in 2011.

“This nomination is a great nod to a young kid who has shown much improvement over the course of his three years at this club and I think from a members’ and supporters’ point of view, is one to watch in coming years.”


Round 9 – Reece Conca

Richmond’s Reece Conca is the Round Nine NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 18-year-old midfielder gathered 23 possessions, took eight marks and laid three tackles in the 16-point win against Essendon at the Dreamtime at the G match.

Reece debuted for the Tigers in Round One and has played all nine matches this season, averaging 18 disposals.

Reece was recruited from the Victoria Park Raiders Junior Football Club in Perth. In 2010 he was vice captain of Western Australia during the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships and played for Perth in the WAFL. Reece was Richmond’s first selection in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft (selection six overall).

Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said Reece is gaining confidence with every match.

“We are really pleased with the way Reece has adapted to AFL level, and we believe he has the attributes to become a long-term player at the Richmond Football Club.

“Reece has shown versatility by playing in a number of positions on the ground, while maintaining a consistent level of performance,” he said.

Round 10 – Jack Steven

St Kilda’s Jack Steven is the Round 10 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 21-year-old small forward was one of the Saints’ best in their 46-point win over Fremantle in Perth last Saturday. He complemented his 27 possessions with four tackles, four marks and a goal.

Recruited from Torquay, Jack represented Vic Country at the 2007 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships and won the 2007 Geelong Falcons’ best and fairest. He was selection 42 in the 2007 NAB AFL Draft.

Jack made his AFL debut in Round 19 2009 in what was his only AFL appearance that year. He played a further six matches in 2010. He was called back into the seniors in Round Three and has made the most of his opportunity playing every game since.

St Kilda coach Ross Lyon said Jack’s hard work has seen him make the most of his opportunity in the senior line-up.

“After showing some good signs last season, Jack has been a great addition to the St Kilda side this year and has provided great energy and run over the last few games.

“He is a versatile player who has proved his ability as a small forward, and over recent weeks, has also stepped up as an attacking midfield player.

“We challenged Jack, asking him to step up, take on greater responsibility, and to his credit he has responded well relishing the new role.

“In his fourth year at the Club we are pleased that Jack has been able to seize the opportunity at senior level. At just 21 years of age and with only 16 games of experience, there is a lot to like about Jack, and we see him as an important player who can grow into a dangerous running midfielder,” Lyon said.

Round 11 – Jordan Gysberts

Melbourne’s Jordan Gysberts is the Round 11 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 19-year-old mid-fielder earned his nomination after an outstanding performance on Friday night against Essendon at the MCG. He complemented his 30 possessions with four tackles and eight marks.

Jordan made his AFL debut in Round Ten last year and was nominated as a Rising Star after his second league game. He suffered a back injury and did not play in the last two months of the 2010 season.

Under the criteria for the NAB AFL Rising Star, a player may win nominations across two seasons, provided he has not played more than 10 games and is under 21 years of age.

Melbourne coach Dean Bailey said Jordan’s second Rising Star nomination demonstrates he is a key player with a promising future ahead.

“Jordie’s contribution against Essendon was terrific, he’s just a natural footballer who is clearly at home at the elite level of AFL,” Bailey said.

Jordan represented Vic Metro in four matches in the 2009 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships before being drafted to Melbourne as selection 11 overall. During his stint with Vic Metro, Jordan averaged 16 possessions at 77 per cent efficiency and proved dangerous around goal, kicking five for the carnival.

In 2009, Jordan also played six matches with the Eastern Ranges and was part of the team’s leadership group. He averaged 23 disposals (nine contested) per match and was most impressive in the club’s two finals matches where he gathered a total of 50 possessions, 14 marks and booted three goals. Jordan played junior football for Chirnside Park Football Club.

This year, Jordan played his first senior match in Round Three and his sure-ball handling and neat disposal has kept him in the senior side since and won him another rising star nomination.

Round 12 – Sam Reid

Sam Reid from the Sydney Swans is the Round 12 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 19-year-old forward played a key role in the Swans 10-point win over Richmond at the SCG on Sunday. He took three contested marks inside the forward-fifty and kicked two goals.

Sam made his AFL debut in Round 22 2010 and he has played every game in 2011.

Jordan made his AFL debut in Round Ten last year and was nominated as a Rising Star after his second league game. He suffered a back injury and did not play in the last two months of the 2010 season.

Sydney coach John Longmire said Sam was an exciting young player and a deserved Rising Star nominee.

“As a 19 year old in his second season of AFL football, Sam has been outstanding for us in our forward line.

“He is a fantastic athlete and a fierce competitor. One of the really pleasing aspects of his game is his follow up and pressure, which brings other players into the game,” Longmire said.

Recruited from the Wangaratta Rovers in country Victoria, Sam played for the Murray Bushrangers in the TAC Cup and represented Vic Country in the 2009 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

Standing at 195cm, he was one of the outstanding athletic talls at the 2009 NAB AFL Draft Combine. He ranked high in the vertical jump, the 20 metre sprint and the kicking efficiency test.

Sam is the younger brother of Collingwood player Ben Reid.

He was selection 38 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft.


Round 13 – Daniel Menzel

Daniel Menzel from the Geelong Football Club is the Round 13 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 19-year-old kicked a career-high four goals in the Cats’ 28-point win over St Kilda at the MCG. He also gathered 15 possessions and took six marks.

Daniel has kicked 16 goals this season placing him third in the Cats goal-kicking, and providing another target in the Geelong forward line.

Recruited from the Golden Grove Junior Football Club in Adelaide, Daniel represented South Australia in the 2009 NAB AFL Under 18 championships and played with Central District in the SANFL. He was Geelong’s first selection in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft (selection 17 overall).

Daniel made his AFL debut in Round 20 last year and played the final three home and away matches. He has played 11 matches this season missing one match in Round Nine due to injury.

Geelong coach Chris Scott said it was hard to believe Daniel was only 14 games into his career.

“Obviously Daniel has been a tremendous and exciting talent for us in the forward line this year but it has also been the jobs he’s done in the midfield and down back that really shows his maturity as a player.

“It’s a credit to Daniel with the work he put in over the pre-season to now consistently demand a spot in the 22 each week,” Scott said.

Daniel is Geelong’s second rising star nominee this year following Mitch Duncan in Round Three.


Round 14 – David Swallow

David Swallow from the Gold Coast Suns is the Round 14 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.

The 18-year-old, who was the first selection in the 2010 NAB AFL Draft, kicked two goals, laid five tackles and took five marks against the Western Bulldogs. He has played 11 games and is averaging 19 possessions a match in his first AFL season.

Recruited from the Rossmoyne Junior Football Club in Perth, David was an outstanding junior footballer. In 2008 he was a member of the AIS-AFL Academy and represented Western Australia in the NAB AFL Under 16 Championships. In 2009 he was the joint winner of the Larke Medal – awarded to the Division One best and fairest at the Under 18 Championships.

In 2009 he played with East Fremantle in the WAFL and spent the entire 2010 season playing for the Gold Coast Suns in the VFL. Proving his class, he finished fourth in the J.J Liston Medal aged 17 years.

Gold Coast Suns coach Guy McKenna said David has set a high standard since arriving at the Club as a 16-year-old in late 2009.

“David is one of those rare kids that comes into the system and has a real understanding of the training and professionalism required to be an elite AFL player.

“It is no surprise to anyone at the Gold Coast Suns that David has been nominated for the award, he is a quality person who has played a role beyond his years in his first season of AFL football,” McKenna said.

David is the third Sun to be nominated for the rising star this year following Brandon Matera in Round Five and Zac Smith in Round Seven.

NAB on the rise terms & conditions (PDF, 18kB)
Previous NAB AFL Rising Star Medallists (PDF, 111kB)