North East Australian Football League
Rising Star Nominees

The profiles of the NEAFL Rising Star Award nominees will be published on this page every week throughout the 2016 season.

To see the list of last year's nominees, including eventual winner Matt Uebergang, click here.

To read more on the history of the award, click here.




ROUND 18: Jack Clayton

Club: Brisbane. Age: 17. Games: 7.

Brisbane Lions Academy member Jack Clayton has earned the final NEAFL Rising Star nomination for the 2016 season after being among the Lions best in their Round 18 loss to Aspley on Saturday.

A product of the Wests Juniors Football Club, Clayton was identified by the Lions Academy in his early teens, and has been a Queensland representative every year since under-12s.

Clayton has earned Under-15 All-Australian schoolboys honours, and was most recently selected in the NAB AFL Academy squad for the second consecutive year.

To read the full story, click here.



ROUND 17: Daniel Henderson

Club: Aspley. Age: 19. Games: 29. 

An honest conversation with Aspley coach John Blair earlier this year may prove to be the turning point in Daniel Henderson’s career.

The teenage defender is no stranger to senior football, having made his NEAFL debut back in 2013 for the Brisbane Lions at age 16.

Although he has continued to notch up games and experience at senior level, it was a frank reality check from Blair earlier this year which made the 19-year-old approach his football differently.

To read the full story, click here.



ROUND 16: Jack Bowes

Club: Gold Coast. Age: 18. Games: 3.

Gold Coast has produced back-to-back NEAFL Rising Star nominees with Jack Bowes the latest academy young gun to show his vast potential.

The AFL draft prospect was one of the Suns’ best players in their Round 16 loss to Sydney at Blacktown on Saturday, collecting 25 disposals and a goal in his just his third NEAFL match.

Originally from North Queensland, the decorated junior made the permanent move to the Gold Coast 18 months ago to pursue his promising football career.

To read the full story, click here.



ROUND 15: Brad Scheer

Club: Gold Coast. Age: 17. Games: 7.

Gold Coast Academy member Brad Scheer never looked out of place in his return to NEAFL football on Saturday.

Playing his first match of the NEAFL season, the AFL draft prospect picked up two NEAFL MVP votes for his 27 disposals and eight inside 50s as the Suns won a thriller over Brisbane by two points at Metricon Stadium.

The 17-year-old is no stranger to senior football, having created history as Palm Beach Currumbin’s youngest ever senior debutant at just 15 in the 2014 QAFL season.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 14: Tom Highmore

Club: Canberra. Age: 18. Games: 17.

Canberra defender Tom Highmore has followed on from his breakout debut NEAFL season by earning the Round 14 NEAFL Rising Star nomination after his latest performance against Redland.

The 18-year-old polled four NEAFL MVP votes for his 21 disposals and seven marks in the Demons’ eight-point victory at Tidbold Park.

It comes after his stellar debut season last year where the GWS Giants Academy member featured among Eastlake’s best players nine times in 13 matches to finish runner-up in their best-and-fairest at just 17.

To read the full story, click here.



ROUND 13: Dyson Budarick

Club: Southport. Age: 18. Games: 8.

Southport midfielder Dyson Budarick has returned from a long injury layoff to earn his second NEAFL Rising Star nomination in as many seasons.

Budarick was the final nominee of the Rising Star award in his debut NEAFL season last year, on top of earning a QAFL Rising Star nod as a 16-year-old in 2014.

At just 18, the Labrador junior is a three-time Rising Star nominee – but it’s a tag he wants to shake.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 12: Connor Byrne

Club: Giants. Age: 18. Games: 3.

Giants Academy member Connor Byrne has bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on Allies selection to earn a NEAFL Rising Star nomination in just his third match.

The Wagga product moved back home this year after attending boarding school in Ballarat, where he played 17 games for the Rebels in the TAC Cup last year.

Byrne represented NSW/ACT at the National Under-18 Division 2 Championships earlier this year, but was unlucky to miss out on the Allies squad.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 11: Jack Rolls

Club: Brisbane. Age: 17. Games: 7.

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.

To read the full story, click here.



ROUND 10: Matt Vardanega

Club: Canberra. Age: 17. Games: 5.

Matt Vardanega’s journey to his senior football debut began three years ago in Merimbula on the Sapphire Coast in southern New South Wales.

Determined to take the next step in his football career, a 14-year-old Vardanega began making the two-hour trip into Canberra every weekend to play junior football for the Queanbeyan Tigers.

He did it every weekend for the next two years, before making the brave decision to leave home permanently at just 16 to start a new life in the ACT last year.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 9: Jack Goodall

Club: Redland. Age: 21. Games: 21.

Redland forward Jack Goodall made a welcome return to form against the defending premier on Saturday when he earned top NEAFL MVP votes in a best-on-ground effort.

It was Goodall’s best game for the Bombers since joining the club in 2013 in what has been a journey riddled with major setbacks.

Originally from Port Douglas in North Queensland, Goodall’s debut season for the Bombers was derailed from a freak accident playing against Eastlake in Canberra.

To read the full story, click here.

ROUND 8: Darcy Cameron Reeves

Club: Redland. Age: 20. Games: 22.

Redland midfielder Darcy Cameron-Reeves is beginning his rise up the ranks all over again after a strong start to the 2016 NEAFL season.

A Coorparoo junior, Cameron-Reeves joined the Brisbane Lions Academy as a 15-year-old where he achieved several milestones in his teenage years.

Cameron-Reeves captained Queensland at both Under-16 and Under-18 level, and won a NEAFL premiership with Brisbane in 2013 as a top-up player.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 7: Brayden Crossley

Club: Gold Coast. Age: 16. Games: 2.

Gold Coast coach Stephen Daniel showed plenty of confidence to hand young ruckman Brayden Crossley his second NEAFL match against the GIANTS at Spotless on Stadium on Saturday.

His assignment? To tackle AFL-listed pair Tom Downie and Dawson Simpson in the ruck.

But Crossley is no ordinary player. At just 16, he already stands at a commanding 197cm.

To read the full story, click here.

ROUND 6: Doug Lawrence

Club: Aspley. Age: 20. Games: 4.

South African-born Aspley defender Doug Lawrence is still pinching himself at the thought of being offered a spot on the Hornets’ star-studded NEAFL list.

The 20-year-old had been on the Hornets’ radar for the last couple of seasons before earning his opportunity in the NEAFL this year.

Recruited from the Western Magpies, Lawrence hit his strides in the QAFL last season where he earned the competition’s Rising Star nomination in Round 1.

To read the full story, click here.

ROUND 5: Matt Wilson

Club: Sydney Swans: Age: 18. Games: 8.

The Sydney Swans have produced their second NEAFL Rising Star nominee this season after small forward Matt Wilson’s five-goal haul against Brisbane on Sunday.

Wilson jumped into third on the competition’s goalkicking leaderboard – level with teammate and Round 3 nominee Ned Reinhard – after his latest performance in a 110-point thrashing of the Lions.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 4: Luke McKay

Club: Canberra Demons. Age: 19. Games: 10.

The Canberra Demons have produced their first ever NEAFL Rising Star nominee in the form of teenage defender Luke McKay.

The 19-year-old born and bred ACT product, who began his football journey with Belconnen in the under-7s, now represents a new frontier in Canberra as part of the Demons’ NEAFL side.

McKay has taken his game to new heights in 2016, playing in every match so far and named in Canberra’s best players the past two weeks.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 3: Ned Reinhard

Club: Sydney Swans. Age: 18. Games: 6.

The Sydney Swans NEAFL Development Program has produced some early season success with teenage forward Ned Reinhard earning the Round 3 NEAFL Rising Star nomination.

Reinhard is beginning to build some confidence after dealing with stress fractures from a big growth spurt a couple of years ago.

After playing three NEAFL games last year, he has played in every match so far in 2016 and is looking forward to giving his AFL dream.

To read the full story, click here.

ROUND 2: Michael Manteit

Club: Sydney University. Age: 19. Games: 2.

Sydney University recruit Michael Manteit is making the most of his chance to reinvent himself in the NEAFL competition.

The former Collingwood rookie made the move to Sydney from Melbourne this year, where he has also taken the opportunity to switch from defence to attack.

Manteit has wasted no time making an impression on the competition, booting three goals against defending premier NT Thunder on Saturday to earn the Round 2 NEAFL Rising Star nomination.

To read the full story, click here.


ROUND 1: Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds

Club: Redland Bombers. Age: 20. Games: 19.

Emerging Redland midfielder Hayden Bertoli-Simmonds said he’s ready to take his game to a new level after beginning the 2016 season in style at the weekend.

The 20-year-old produced a best-on-ground performance in a 10-point win over Canberra, which earned the young gun the maximum 10 NEAFL MVP votes, followed by the Round 1 NEAFL Rising Star nomination.

A Morningside junior, Bertoli-Simmonds joined Redland last season and was named in the club’s leadership group this year.

To read the full story, click here.