The intrigue surrounding the race for the 2021 Rising Star Award has be hoisted to a new level following the news of favourite Tom Green's potentially season-ending injury.
With three rounds left in the home and away season, Green is facing an uphill battle to cash in any further minutes to impress this year's panel for the prized award after sustaining a hamstring injury in Round 20.
The 20-year-old is now set to miss the next 2-4 weeks, placing a threat to any possible return in adding to his stellar 2021 campaign.
Green has shot into favouritism for the Rising Star after emerging as a key facilitator in the Giants' midfield this season.
In an engine room comprised of Josh Kelly, Tim Taranto, Lachie Whitfield and Jacob Hopper, Green has flourished in just his second campaign in the AFL.
While Green's numbers justify a Rising Star crown, red-hot rookies across the league have given their own tilt for the title a reason to remain in the conversation.
Sydney is Green 💚
Toby Greene and Tom Green have the @GWSGIANTS on song early! #AFLGiantsSaints pic.twitter.com/dIqnwZKZba
— AFL (@AFL) March 21, 2021
Green's main competitor comes in the form of Demons tall Luke Jackson.
The forward/ruck hybrid has had a significant impact on Melbourne's premiership credentials, becoming a focal point of the Demons' attack as well as pinch-hitting as a ruckman.
Should some of the 2021 Rising Star panel already have the Melbourne teenager leading the conversation for the award, the next three weeks could decide this year's winner.
Jackson has missed just the one match this season at a club well-placed for a premiership, resulting in just three losses from 18 matches for the 19-year-old.
The argument that Jackson's role is having a greater impact on the outcome of this year's finals series is also set to play in the minds of those casting votes.
With key matches against the Eagles, Crows and Cats to end the home and away campaign, Jackson's chances at winning the Rising Star are likely to hinge on the final three rounds of this season.
Jackson will however need to carry over the form from Round 20, which saw him boot four majors and collect 17 disposals against the Suns.
Port Adelaide young gun Mitch Georgiades remains an outside chance to pip the aforementioned neophytes, as does Jackson's teammate James Jordon, who has enjoyed having a major hand in the Demons' successes of this season as well.
Georgiades has also thrived in a side that is looking to stamp it's authority on the upcoming finals series, arriving as a key partner to star forward Charlie Dixon at Alberton.
Jordon has been able to cement a similar role at the Demons, featuring as a key reinforcement to A-grade onballer Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca in Simon Goodwin's midfield stocks.
While Green remains the favourite for the Rising Star Award, the next three weeks could prove vital for those remaining in the chase.