By: JESS WEBSTER
Round 11 Rising Star nominee: Jack Rolls
Draft prospect Jack Rolls has earned a second NEAFL Rising Star nomination after his latest effort for the Lions against Southport on Saturday.
The Brisbane Academy member was awarded his first nomination as a 16-year-old on debut last year.
It has been a jam-packed 12 months for the talented midfielder, who spent the off-season training with Brisbane’s senior squad before travelling to the United States with the AFL Academy.
He played his first NEAFL match of the season in Round 5 ahead of competing at the National Under-18s Division 2 Championships with Queensland.
Rolls was subsequently selected in the Allies side to take on the Division 1 clubs, playing his first match last week against South Australia before taking on the Sharks on Saturday where he collected 19 disposals playing off half-back.
The 17-year-old will fly to Perth this weekend to take on Western Australia in their second Division 1 match.
Although this year has been tough at times for the former Morningside junior, Rolls said he relishes any chance to play at senior level.
“Obviously it’s a lot tougher than under-18 footy, which is good, because you play in the NEAFL and challenge yourself there and then take what you’ve learned back to under-18s,” he said.
“It’s been a stressful year. Last year was probably a bit easier being my under-age year and not my draft year so I could relax a bit more.
“But I’ve been working pretty closely at the academy on my defensive side of my game.
“Coming in each week and trying to improve has been the main thing I’ve wanted to work on in the past 12 months.”
The National Under-18 Championships conclude on June 29 before Rolls will see out the season as a top-up player for the Lions’ NEAFL side.
Lions Academy manager, Luke Curran, said Rolls has continued to develop since his senior debut last year.
“Since his last nomination as a 16-year-old, he has had a really good state program last year and that was rewarded with selection in the national AFL academy,” he said.
“He’s had some challenges playing in different roles, so it’s been a bit of a learning curve this year for him which has been good. It’s not always a linear progression with these boys, they will have their ups and downs.
“He is a terrific athlete. He has a really high aerobic work rate and he runs hard. He is developing physically in terms of his body strength and his resilience nicely. We’re working with him on how to use that to his strength in games.
“It’s been a bit of whirlwind summer for him, and now it’s obviously crunch time this year in terms of performing in a week-in, week-out basis and trying to get some consistency in his performance so he has showcase himself to our recruiters, and the rest of the AFL world.”
The Rising Star is awarded to the most promising young talent in the NEAFL competition.
Nominees must be under the age of 21 and played less than 20 senior games (excluding games as AFL top-up players) at the start of the 2016 season.
Keep track of all the 2016 nominees and watch their individual highlights on our dedicated Rising Star page here.
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