With seven rounds to go, the Bound For Glory News Rising Stars Medal leaderboard is starting to take shape. A total of 191 players have received votes in matches across the first 11 rounds, with three players above 20 votes and a further 29 players in double figure votes.
Bendigo Pioneers have not had a lot of luck this season, with just the one victory, but Lachlan Tardrew has been a shining light in an otherwise dull season. The tough midfielder has earned 24 votes to lead the count after 11 rounds, polling in seven of a possible 10 matches.
Another side that has not had a season to remember is the Northern Knights. While results have not gone their way, the Knights have had a number of key players find plenty of the ball, led by their captain, Jade Gresham. Gresham sits on 22 votes, polling in a remarkable six games from seven matches. Due to his stellar under 18 championships where he won the Vic Metro Most Valuable Player (MVP), he has not polled since round eight.
In third place is another state MVP with NSW/ACT’s Jacob Hopper currently on 20 votes. Hopper has had an outstanding season with the North Ballarat Rebels, with the inside midfielder expected to go top 10 and potentially top five in the national draft in November. Hopper has played six matches, receiving best on ground honours in four of them.
In equal fourth, Gippsland’s Nash Holmes and North Ballarat’s Tom Templeton sit on 19 votes and within a best on ground performance of top spot. Holmes was ultra-impressive in his bottom-age year and has had a good under 18 championships and has put his claim forward for an early selection. Templeton has also been impressive for the Rebels in his over-age year after missing out on being drafted in 2014. He has been rather consistent and earned his place in the strong Vic Country team as a half-back/midfielder.
Eastern Ranges’ Anthony Brolic is next on 17 votes and has had an underrated season in one of the competition’s top sides. While there is much talk about the Ranges’ forward potency, Brolic has been impressive in the midfield alongside a host of others.
Tasmania’s Nick Dodge has managed 15 votes despite only four games at TAC Cup level. Tasmania do not have any TAC Cup games remaining so Dodge will finish on that tally, with three best on grounds to his name.
Gippsland Power’s Thomas Papley and Oakleigh Chargers’ Ben Crocker are both on 14 votes, rewarding their fine seasons, with Crocker also kicking the winning goal for Vic Metro in the last under 18 championships game against South Australia.
Behind those two players are four players on 13 votes. Eastern Ranges’ Darcy Crocker and Ryan Clarke, Northern Knights’ Michael Ercolano and NSW/ACT’s Matthew Kennedy are all inside the top 15.
In terms of team voting, North Ballarat Rebels players have collected 105 votes from 16 different players, while Murray Bushrangers are second with 101 votes from 19 different players. Eastern Ranges are third with 100 votes from 14 players.
In the largest spread, Murray’s 19 players is equal to that of Dandenong Stingrays, while 18 players from the Geelong Falcons have received votes.
For the interstate teams, eight Tasmanian players have received 44 votes, while NSW/ACT have had eight players received 38 votes and Queensland, six players with a total of 35 votes. Northern Territory had two players receive a total of nine votes from their win against the Northern Knights.
At the other end of the scale, Western Jets players polled only 31 votes – only higher than the Northern Territory. Bendigo Pioneers (44 votes from nine players) and Sandringham Dragons (47 votes from 12 players) were also lower polling sides.
Below are the individual leaders for each club:
Bendigo Pioneers – Lachlan Tardrew (24 votes)
Calder Cannons – Nick O’Kearney (12 votes)
Dandenong Stingrays – Bailey Rice (12 votes)
Eastern Ranges – Anthony Brolic (17 votes)
Geelong Falcons – William Sexton (11 votes)
Gippsland Power – Nash Holmers (19 votes)
Murray Bushrangers – Nicholas Coughlan and Clayton Oliver (12 votes)
North Ballarat Rebels – Jacob Hopper (20 votes)
Northern Knights – Jade Gresham (22 votes)
NSW/ACT – Matthew Kennedy (13 votes)
Northern Territory – Jalen Clarke (5 votes)
Oakleigh Chargers – Ben Crocker (14 votes)
Queensland – Dyson Budarick (11 votes)
Sandringham Dragons – Theophilis Thompson (10 votes)
Tasmania – Nick Dodge (15 votes)
Western Jets – Jackson Volpato (12 votes)
With seven rounds remaining however, there is still plenty to play out with the under 18 championships over and the top talents returning to their TAC Cup club.