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Best individual performances by first year players in the Rising Star era

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Roar Rookie
24th July, 2022

Nick Daicos has looked as composed as any other rookie to have graced the footy field. When it’s all said and done, the Collingwood half-back will have his name thrown around in the conversation for the greatest first season of all time; but that’s another story.

His 40-disposal, three-goal game is the point in question. Breaking a 31-year record, Daicos’ 17th game ranks in the top echelon from first year players.

So what previous rookie performances over the past 30 years are also in the conversation?

Matthew Richardson (Round 10 1993)

Richo put together a mammoth game in this five-goal win over Sydney. Six goals, 23 disposals and 14 marks earned the Tigers spearhead a Rising Star nomination, and kickstarted a legendary career.

Peter Everitt (Round 16 1993)

A ruckman can only dream of putting up the numbers that Spida Everitt did during this game in 1993. The Saint was superb in their 71-point win against Geelong. A 30-disposal, two-goal performance, accompanied with 12 marks earned Everitt two Brownlow votes.

Joel Selwood (Round 19 2007)

Many know Joel Selwood as the longest serving captain of any club, but in his maiden season, Selwood was placed in the conversation as the greatest first-year player of all time. During Round 19 2007, Selwood accumulated 27 disposals and two goals, supported by eight clearances and seven marks, en route to winning the Rising Star.

Adam Treloar tackles Joel Selwood.

Adam Treloar tackles Joel Selwood. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Daniel Rich (Round 16 2009)

Daniel Rich was one of the hottest first-year talents back in 2009, proving from a young age that he could cut it at AFL level. The eventual Rising Star winner had a day out against Fremantle in round 16 racking up 31 disposals and 12 clearances in a best on ground performance.

Michael Barlow (Round 1 2010)

This man has been as good a mature aged recruit the league has seen, and this performance proves exactly why. In his debut game, Barlow amassed 33 disposals and kicked two goals, yet he still didn’t receive Brownlow votes.

Tom Scully (Round 7 2010)

Scully’s best game from 2010 has to be the most complete of the lot. 39 disposals, seven clearances, six inside 50s, six rebound 50s, five tackles, and a goal, this rap sheet just proves that the former Dee was deserving of his Rising Star nomination.

Andrew Gaff (Round 9 2011)


The Eagles winger put on a clinic in their 123-point demolishing of the Bulldogs. Stiff to miss out on Brownlow votes, Gaff racked up 31 touches, nine inside 50s, eight marks, six rebound 50s and two goals.

Adam Treloar (Round 18 2012)

Treloar has always been an elite ball winner, which has been evident since his debut season. In his 14th game, the Giant got his hands on the ball 37 times in GWS’ 120-point loss to Collingwood.

Adam Treloar

Adam Treloar in his former stripes (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Ben Ronke (Round 8 2018)

For a one-game wonder to feature on this list, they would have to do something remarkable, and when you’re dubbed as Buddy Ronke by Bruce McAvaney, you’ve clearly made an impact. Seven goals from 11 disposals, along with 10 tackles in his third game, Ronke had quite the night.

Nic Martin (Round 1 2022)

Most recently, Nic Martin put together one of the best debut stat lines of all time. Despite the 11-goal loss, the Essendon young gun kicked five goals and had 27 possessions. This earned the Bomber a Rising Star nomination against tough competition.


Honourable mentions
– Chris Judd (Round 2 2002) – 19 disposals, six inside 50s, five clearances, and a goal on debut
– Andrew Walker (Round 5 2004) – 26 disposals, nine marks, five inside 50s on debut
– Matt Rowell (Round 2 2020) – 26 disposals, seven tackles, six rebound 50s, five clearances, two goals