North Melbourne youngster Harry Sheezel has been unveiled as the AFL Rising Star after bursting onto the scene in 2023.
With a record-breaking first season, Sheezel was dubbed the league’s best young player with 54 votes. He was also awarded the AFL Players’ Association’s Best First-Year Player at the AFL award night on Wednesday.
Sheezel featured in all 23 games this home and away season, averaging 27 disposals.
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In his first game, Sheezel scored the most disposals by a VFL/AFL player on debut in 32, tallying 34 touches against West Coast.
Bursting out of the gates, Sheezel collected more than 30 disposals in 11 of his first 23 games, including a career-high 37 against Carlton in round four. He would go on to set a new record for the most disposals across a debut season.
The 18-year-old was recruited with pick No.3 in the 2022 AFL draft and entered the league as a forward/midfielder before coach Alastair Clarkson tried him at half-back in a move that paid dividends.
“It was a crazy start. I wasn’t really expecting to play half-back,” Sheezel said.
“I trust him (Clarkson). He’s obviously got an unbelievable footy brain.”
Sheezel clinched the award ahead of Brisbane midfielder Will Ashcroft (39 votes) and St Kilda forward Mitch Owens (33 votes).
He is only the second player from the Kangaroos to win the award after Byron Pickett in 1998.
Last year’s winner Nick Daicos picked up the AFLCA’s Best Young Player award after extending his stunning debut season.
Western Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli was crowned the AFL Players’ Association’s MVP and Best Captain. The 27-year-old is now a two-time winner of both awards.
FULL AFL AWARDS NIGHT RESULTS
AFL Players’ Association MVP: Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player: Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)
Rising Star: Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne)
AFLPA Best First-Year Player: Harry Sheezel (North Melbourne)
AFLPA Most Courageous Player: Zak Butters (Port Adelaide)
AFLPA Best Captain: Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs)
AFL Coaches’ Association Best Young Player: Nick Daicos (Collingwood)
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