Will Luke Jackson win the 2021 AFL Rising Star?

The AFL.com.au team has spoken: Luke Jackson will be this year’s AFL Rising Star.

And it was almost unanimous, with the talented Melbourne ruck/forward considered the best Rising Star nominee of 2021 by all bar one of AFL.com.au‘s reporters.

It saw Jackson poll 44 out of a possible 45 votes, but there was a clear top three in AFL.com.au‘s assessment of the best five nominees this year.

The AFL Rising Star winner will be crowned at Thursday night’s AFL Awards.

Damian Barrett

5 votes – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
3 – Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)
2 – Tom Green (Tom Green)
1 – Trent Rivers (Melbourne)

Why Jackson should win: Jackson’s roles as a forward and back-up ruck for a team which has secured the minor premiership make him the standout choice in my eyes. He has genuine presence on a footy field and very soon we won’t be talking about him merely as a rising star, but as a star full stop. 

Riley Beveridge

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
3 – Tom Green (GWS Giants)
2 – Justin McInerney (Sydney)
1 – Errol Gulden (Sydney)

Why Jackson should win: Few second-year players standing at 199cm have achieved what he has this season. His importance was reflected in his versatility, filling roles wherever he was required for the minor premiers. He kicked four goals as a forward against Gold Coast, had 22 hitouts as a ruckman against Hawthorn, and won 20+ disposals doing a bit of everything on three occasions this year. Lock him in to follow in the footsteps of Jared Rivers and Jesse Hogan.

Sarah Black

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
3 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
2 – Justin McInerney (Sydney)
1 – James Jordon (Melbourne)

Why Jackson should win: Jackson has been a crucial part of Melbourne’s rise this year, playing an integral supporting ruck role to Max Gawn and causing trouble when up forward. Playing an incredibly difficult role for a developing 19-year-old, Jackson has averaged 13 touches, 10.2 hitouts and has kicked 15 goals.

GWS’ Tom Green in action against Melbourne in round 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Mitch Cleary

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
3 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
2 – Trent Rivers (Melbourne)
1 – Errol Gulden (Sydney)

Why Jackson should win: No ruck/forward has done what Jackson has been able to do in a top-four side as a 19-year-old so it’s a clear choice. He has provided a perfect foil for gun Max Gawn and allowed his senior teammate to spend more time in attack. Jackson’s two-goal, 18-disposal performance against Richmond in round six was his statement game to the rest of the competition.

Nat Edwards 

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
3 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
2 – Justin McInerney (Sydney)
1 – Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)

Why Jackson should win: What Jackson has achieved in just his second AFL season has been outstanding. Not only has he held down a key position role in the Demons’ forward line, but he has also shared the ruck burden with Max Gawn. His athleticism continues to surprise me for someone who stands at 198cm, and his ability to consistently perform at the level is why he should be crowned the 2021 NAB AFL Rising Star. 

Martin Pegan

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
3 – Errol Gulden (Sydney) 
2 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
1 – Justin McInerney (Sydney)

Why Jackson should win: The 199cm key forward / ruckman looks comfortable and has an influence in two of the trickiest positions for a young player. Jackson’s mobility makes him a tough match-up and helped him have a four-goal game against Gold Coast and to kick 15 for the season, while also averaging 13 disposals and 10.2 hit-outs.

Errol Gulden celebrates a goal in round 20, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Nathan Schmook 

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
3 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
2 – Errol Gulden (Sydney)
1 – Trent Rivers (Melbourne)

Why Jackson should win: The Melbourne ruck/forward proved in a two-week patch in rounds 20 and 21 that he can turn a game from the midfield or have a big influence forward. The West Australian’s athleticism and ground-level work for a big man have been outstanding traits and he is already important to the Demons’ premiership hopes.

Callum Twomey

5 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
4 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
3 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
2 – Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)
1 – Errol Gulden (Sydney)

Why Jackson should win: The Melbourne big man has played a crucial role in the Dees’ rise into premiership favouritism. As well as being a relief ruckman for Max Gawn, Jackson has held down a key position role in attack this year and produced some terrific matches in the athletic West Australian’s second AFL season.

Michael Whiting

5 – Mitch Georgiades (Port Adelaide)
4 – Luke Jackson (Melbourne)
3 – Tom Green (Greater Western Sydney)
2 – Cody Weightman (Western Bulldogs)
1 – Errol Gulden (Sydney)

Why Georgiades should win: Locking down a key forward post is hard enough in your second year, but kicking 32 goals with experienced, hardened defenders playing on your most weeks is incredible. Georgiades has been not only consistent, but productive, in one of the most difficult roles on the ground.

Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades celebrates a goal against GWS in round 20, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

TOTAL

44 votes – Luke Jackson
35 – Mitch Georgiades
27 – Tom Green
9 – Errol Gulden
8 – Cody Weightman
7 – Justin McInerney
4 – Trent Rivers
1 – James Jordon

Story – AFL.com.au