Geelong Falcons young gun and top ten hopeful Lewis Taylor has taken out the inaugural Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Medal. Despite playing just 10 matches due to AIS and Vic Country commitments, Taylor managed to hold off the likes of Eastern Ranges’ Christian Petracca, Western Jets’ David Iaccarino and Gippsland Power’s Josh Scott.
Taylor polled in eight of his 10 games to finish with 33 votes, three ahead of bottom-ager Petracca and four ahead of over-agers Iaccarino and Scott. It is the first year the medal has been run and with Taylor likely to have to wait too long to hear his name called on draft day, it is no doubt one of the first of many awards he’ll win throughout his career.
The Rising Stars Medal joins his already illustrious TAC Cup awards this season with the TAC Cup Team of the Year and All-Australian honours as well as his Vic Country representation where he starred as a hard running midfielder. After playing primarily as a small forward while rotating through the midfield last season, he became a permanent midfielder across all levels of competition, lifting his already impressive disposal count and becoming the premier small midfielder in the competition.
Despite standing at just 173 cm, Taylor has earned the nickname ‘Energizer Bunny’ for his constant running that is a feature of his game. He rarely looks tired and continues to move throughout games across the field where he is often linked in handball chains which involve the quick give-and-go to keep the play moving and his team in possession. He toured to Europe with the AIS Academy earlier in the year which he described as a “great experience” getting to know a lot of the players and been able to travel overseas.
“I was lucky enough to go overseas with the AIS, that was great. Then being a part of the Falcons, we had a great team and won a few games which was great. Then of course I got injured with a stress fracture in the foot.”
That injury kept Taylor out of the last match of the season and finals series where he watched the Falcons go down to Eastern Ranges and miss out on the Grand Final despite being minor premiers. It was disappointing for the side, but Taylor was still happy he was able to play the game he loves at the highest level for his age. “We have a great group of guys at the Falcons and it was a great season.”
While some might be concerned about his injury, Taylor isn’t too concerned, knowing he hasn’t been unlucky in the past injury wise. “It was my first injury and I’ve been pretty lucky, touch wood, but it’s not a recurring injury or anything so I’m just keen to get back into pre-season training and build up my endurance” Taylor said sporting a moon boot.
“Thanks to guys like Justin Edwards the Falcons physio, Mick Turner, Levi, the club doctor and people like that at the Falcons, I was able to be in the best of care. I wasn’t able to compete at the draft combine but I still did the psychological testing and spoke to a few clubs and head coaches which was good.”
In the upcoming draft, Taylor is likely to go somewhere between the picks of 10-18 with sides in Carlton, Richmond and seemingly most likely GWS all in need of his type of player. While he uses his pace on the outside, Taylor wins his own ball at the coalface too which makes him a valuable dual midfield prospect.
When told he had won the Rising Stars Medal, Taylor was surprised. “Bit of a shock really” the unassuming Taylor said. In the 2013 TAC Cup season he averaged 31.5 disposals per match, with an impressive 23.6 effective disposals per game. Of his 10 matches, five saw him collect 30 or more disposals while one, against the Sandringham Dragons, had Taylor topping the disposals with 40 and taking 11 marks to be a clear best on ground.
When given feedback by clubs, Taylor said there was a main message to focus on running and disposing slightly differently. “The clubs have mostly said to work on 45s rather than laterally which was good, because it does give me some great feedback to work on over the preseason.”
While Taylor is being talked up as a first round prospect, he says there are no guarantees and doesn’t have a preference of where he ends up. “No-one knows about anything. I haven’t been told ‘we’ll take you if you’re there at our pick’ so it’s just a case of waiting. I don’t take much notice, I just go there and to me it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s just a number.”
While there’s no guarantees, Lewis Taylor is expected to find his way on to an AFL club’s list on Thursday, making the next step in his AFL career. The Bound For Glory News Rising Stars team wishes Lewis all the best and congratulates him on winning the inaugural Rising Stars Medal.