2018 NEAFL Rising Star Nominee Profiles

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The profiles of the 18 NEAFL Rising Star Award nominees will be published on this page every week throughout the 2018 season.

The winner will be announced at the 2018 NEAFL Awards Ceremony on Sunday, August 26.

Check out the 2017 nominees below.


Jacob Dawson (Gold Coast)

Age: 17. NEAFL Games: 20.

Gold Coast Academy member Jacob Dawson has been awarded the final NEAFL Rising Star nomination for the 2017 season.

The 17-year-old midfielder impressed with 24 disposals and 10 clearances in the Suns’ win over the GIANTS at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.

The Under-18 Allies squad member made his NEAFL debut as a 16-year-old in 2016 and has been a member of the Suns Academy since he was 13.

Read the full story here.

Jake Brown (Sydney Swans)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 19.

Sydney Swans Academy member Jake Brown is hoping his bad run of injuries is over following a superb return to the NEAFL at the SCG on Saturday.

The 19-year-old midfielder earned the Round 17 Rising Star nomination after collecting 24 disposals, six marks and four inside 50s in the Swans big win over NT Thunder.

It was Brown’s first NEAFL match since Round 8, and the first game of any kind after an eight-week injury.

Read the full story here.

Jack Powell (Canberra Demons)

Age: 18. NEAFL Games: 12.

Canberra midfielder Jack Powell admits the uncertainty of an AFL career plays on his mind, but he isn’t letting the pressure get in the way of finishing the 2017 NEAFL season with a bang.

The AFL Academy member earned a NEAFL Rising Star nomination following his starring role for the Demons against Southport on Saturday, picking up 21 disposals, 11 marks, seven inside 50s and seven NEAFL MVP votes in his first match since Round 10.

Powell – who turned 18 on Saturday – has been a member of the GIANTS Academy since he was 13 and first joined the AFL Academy after a dominant National Under-16 Championship campaign two years ago.

Read the full story here.

Matt Wilson (Sydney University)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 25.

Matt Wilson had done just about everything right in his breakout NEAFL season in 2016.

A member of the Sydney Swans Academy, Wilson had played 17 games – including the Grand Final –  earned a NEAFL Rising Star nomination, and was the Swans leading goalkicker, all at age 18.

He joined Sydney University in the off-season with the intent of producing a similar season to put himself firmly back on the AFL Draft radar.

Read the full story here.

Brendan Myers (GIANTS)

Age: 18. NEAFL Games: 8.

Brendan Myers is proof that a week is certainly a long time in football.

The talented GWS GIANTS Academy member earned Allies selection this year and played the first three matches of the National Under-18s Division 1 Championships, before he was then dropped.

Not to be deterred, the Wagga Tigers product then set his sights on returning to form with the GIANTS in the NEAFL.

Read the full story here.

Ryan Hebron (Sydney University)

Age: 20. NEAFL Games: 37.

Two years ago, Ryan Hebron watched a number of fellow teammates become AFL draftees and thought to himself, why can’t that be me?

The St Ives junior had been identified by the Sydney Swans Academy only a few months into his first season at age 13, and had represented NSW/ACT Rams at national level in both under-16s and under-18s level.

While he was touted as a potential AFL Draft prospect, Hebron never really believed he could make it.

Read the full story here.


Nick Yarran (NT Thunder)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 10.

NT Thunder forward Nick Yarran has been awarded the Round 12 NEAFL Rising Star nomination after his impressive display against Canberra on Saturday.

The 19-year-old speedster was named among NT Thunder’s best and polled three NEAFL MVP votes after collecting 23 disposals, seven inside 50s and a goal in a comprehensive 91-point victory.

A former player with SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens last year, Yarran returned to the Territory and won the NTFL Rising Star Award for the 2016-17 season.

Read the full story here.


Sam Wicks (Sydney Swans)

Age: 17. NEAFL Games: 5.

For the past five weeks, Sydney has simply been no match for opposition sides in the NEAFL.

The barnstorming Swans have won each match against Canberra, Sydney University, Gold Coast and the GIANTS by an average of 122 points, and kicked an average of 21 goals per game.

With such dominance by a seemingly endless supply of AFL-listed talent at their disposal, it might surprise you to learn the Swans’ leading goalkicker over this period has been 17-year-old academy member, Sam Wicks.

Read the full story here.


Nathan Cooper (Sydney University)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 24.

To understand Nathan Cooper’s best-on-ground performance last Saturday, you need to know who he was dealing with.

There is no player more synonymous with NEAFL goalkicking history than four-time winner, Darren Ewing.

The NT Thunder star – and the competition’s record games holder – has won the NEAFL Goalkicking Award four times in six seasons.

Read the full story here.



Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 18.

Cody Filewood was pretty much willing to do whatever it takes to hold his place in Southport’s NEAFL side.

The 19-year-old youngster was handed a defensive role by coach Nathan Bock at the weekend, and it proved to be a masterstroke as Filewood played a crucial role in the Sharks’ 18-point victory over Redland at Fankhauser Reserve.

The 184cm and 84kg prospect finished among Southport’s best players with 21 disposals, nine marks, five rebound 50s, and earned the NEAFL Rising Star nomination as a result.

Read the full story here.


JACK ROLLS (Redland)

Age: 18. NEAFL Games: 14.

Redland teenager Jack Rolls was a shattered man last November when his name wasn’t called out at the NAB AFL Draft.

A member of the Lions Academy for four years, Rolls toured the United States with the NAB AFL Academy, represented the Allies at the National Under-18 Championships, and earned a second NEAFL Rising Star nomination – all in less than a year.

Rolls took a break from football following the draft, but was still lacking confidence when he joined Redland for pre-season training.

Read the full story here.


SOUL CORMICK (Redland Bombers)

Age: 20. NEAFL Games: 23.

Few players would have been happier to land on a NEAFL list this year than Redland midfielder Soul Cormick.

The 20-year-old Sunshine Coast product is reaping the rewards of the opportunity handed by the Bombers to join their club, after years of navigating his way through the Queensland football system.

Cormick first joined the Brisbane Lions Academy when he was 16 and represented Queensland at the National Under-18s Championships.

Read the full story here.



Oskar Baker (Aspley Hornets)

Age: 18. NEAFL Games: 2.

Being cut from the Brisbane Lions Academy may prove to be the turning point in NEAFL Rising Star nominee Oskar Baker’s career.

The Wilston Grange junior was 17 when his five-year involvement with the Lions Academy came to an end.

Baker had never represented Queensland at under-age National Championships level and was yet to make his senior debut with Wilston Grange, who he first joined in the under-8s.

But Baker wouldn’t be deterred by the setback, instead setting his sights on reaching the NEAFL.

Read the full story here.


Will Gowers (Sydney Swans)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 8

Sydney Swans Academy member Will Gowers considers himself a very lucky man.

He was lucky to have been an inaugural member of the Swans Academy eight years ago, he was fortunate to join their Under-19 squad in the NEAFL this year, and he says he was even in the right place at the right time in Darwin on Friday night.

Gowers first joined the Swans Academy when he was 11 years old. He was part of the very first intake of academy members, and has been part of the club ever since.

Read the full story here.


Darcy Baron-Hay (Sydney University)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 20.

By his own admission, Darcy Baron-Hay was ‘pretty lucky’ to even make a NSW/ACT Rams 60-player squad two years ago.

But it was genius move from coach Tadhg Kennelly which completely transformed the player he was.

Baron-Hay had played all his junior football in Sydney as a key forward up until one day when Kennelly threw him in defence to see if he would sink or swim.

Read the full story here.


Callum McFadden (Sydney University)

Age: 20. NEAFL Games: 23.

Sydney University midfielder Callum McFadden has been recognised for his strong start to the NEAFL season with the Round 3 Rising Star nomination.

The former Sydney Swans Academy member has been named in the Students’ best in two out of three matches so far, including their 57-point victory over Redland at Henson Park on Saturday.

Following several years within the Swans Academy and NSW/ACT Rams programs, McFadden was played for the Swans in the NEAFL last year as part of the club’s newly-formed NEAFL Development Squad.

Read the full story here.


Mitch Maguire (Canberra Demons)

Age: 18. NEAFL Games: 5.

Canberra Demons midfielder Mitch Maguire earned the Round 2 nomination after his impressive start to the 2017 season.

The 18-year-old polled two NEAFL MVP votes this week after collecting 23 disposals and a goal in the Demons’ loss to Aspley, backing up from 28 disposals and 11 clearances against Redland in Round 1.

Originally from the Northern Jets, he is a former NSW/ACT Rams representative who was selected in the Allies side for the National Under-18 Championships last year.

Read the full story here.


Adam Sambono (NT Thunder)

Age: 19. NEAFL Games: 1.

NT Thunder forward Adam Sambono has been awarded the Round 1 NEAFL Rising Star nomination after his best-on-ground effort against Aspley.

The slightly-built 19-year-old stole the show in the opening round at Darwin’s TIO Stadium, booting 6.4 and polling nine NEAFL MVP votes in a stunning debut appearance.

Read the full story here.





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