GOLD Coast Suns star Noah Anderson has finished runner-up for the 2020 NAB FL Rising Star Award, with Fremantle’s Caleb Serong claiming the honours.
Serong won the award with 48 votes ahead of Anderson on 39 votes.
St Kilda’s Max King, the twin brother of Suns player Ben King, finished in third with 28 votes.
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The Gold Coast’s Izak Rankie was fourth with 16 votes.
Serong was the hot favourite to claim the win after a standout first season, averaging 16.8 disposals, 3.4 clearances, 4.1 tackles and over two marks in his 14 games in 2020.
He clinched the nomination after what was his best game of the season against Geelong where he went head to head with Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield.
In what was only his fifth AFL game, Serong managed 22 disposals, laid seven tackles and kicked a goal in the tight contest against the accomplished Dangerfield.
Serong was honoured to be recognised for his outstanding debut season.
“It is a massive honour to receive this award and there are some great players who I look up to who have won the NAB AFL Rising Star in recent years,” Serong said.
“There are some great players who have gone on to do some great things in football and it’s nice to be recognised with those guys and it’s truly humbling and a massive honour.
“My biggest goal at the start of the year was to play AFL footy and to make my debut, ideally to just keep my spot in the team. I think I set a few goals from the shutdown period just to initially debut and once I made my debut I didn’t want to give up my spot in the team.
“Ever since I was four or five I wanted to play AFL footy. I just wanted to run around the backyard, kicking the footy, that was just always my dream. My family have always been there to support me and I love them very much and thank them.”
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said Serong should be proud of his outstanding debut season.
“He deserves it. He’s been a really solid contributor for Fremantle. On the field he’s done a great job with all the challenges we’ve thrown at him, he’s been asked to play on some really good players and done it extremely well while being able to win his fair share of the ball as well. I’m really proud about the way he’s gone about his year,” Longmuir said.
“It’s his competitiveness and the strengths he brings to the table that gave us the confidence as a coaching group to give him those challenges. He prepared for a challenge really well, did his homework, and was able to execute most of the time. He’s had a really great year and we’re looking forward to seeing so much more from him in the years to come.”
He received the Ron Evans Medal, a $20,000 personal investment portfolio and a dedicated personal banker, courtesy of NAB, at the AFL Awards ceremony held virtually from the Gold Coast this evening.