After a blistering performance in Carlton’s opening pre-season hit-out last week, No.1 draft pick Sam Walsh is all the rage to snare this year’s Rising Star award.
But don’t be surprised if it’s a different Sam who flies under the radar to give the award a serious shake.
Sam Taylor, the Swan Districts product who made eight impressive appearances in his debut campaign with GWS, is the pick of former Eagle Xavier Ellis to be this year’s Rising Star bolter.
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Speaking on The Hard Ball Gets AFL Show alongside Nick Rynne, Ellis said Taylor had impressed while playing under him at Swan Districts and had the hallmarks of becoming a defensive ace this season.
“When he played (last year), he played some really good games before he had some hamstring troubles at the end of the year,” Ellis said.
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“I think he’s a slow burner up at GWS. Out of sight, out of mind.
“For an underdog, someone who’s not one of the favourites like Sam Walsh who showed his wares for Carlton (last weekend)… Sam Taylor is one to keep an eye on.”
Walsh is a red-hot $2.85 favourite to claim this year’s Rising Star prize, with Taylor considered a $26 outsider.
Taylor put in an encouraging first-up performance in GWS’ first-up JLT clash with Sydney and will look to establish a permanent place alongside the likes of Phil Davis, Nick Haynes and Zac Williams in the side’s back six.
The podcast also addresses why the Giants can’t be ignored as a premiership threat, the most impressive performances of the opening JLT round, and why it’s so hard for a player to build their own individual brand off the field.