MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: Sam Walsh of the Blues poses for a photo after winning the 2019 NAB Rising Star Award during the 2019 NAB AFL Rising Star Awards at Melbourne Showgrounds on August 30, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Former Bulldogs star and prominent commentator Luke Darcy has defended his controversial Rising Star award verdict.

Carlton midfielder Sam Walsh, last year’s number one draft pick, averaged 25 disposals per game to be a near-unanimous selection for the honour, with all voters except Darcy naming Walsh the winner.

Instead, Darcy gave the five votes to Power forward Connor Rozee, who averaged 15 disposals per game and booted 29 goals after being the fifth pick in the 2018 draft.

Darcy said Rozee’s ability to shine in an unfamiliar position made him worthy of the five votes.

“I gave him [Walsh] the four votes,” Darcy told Triple M’s The Hot Breakfast.

“I was getting a fair bit of feedback on this right across the week.

“Sam Walsh has been extraordinary, there is no doubt about it, but I watched Connor Rozee closely this year and I think his first up year has been one of the best that I’ve seen.

“[He was] drafted as a half-back, they taught him how to play forward, he’s kicked 30 goals Connor Rozee.

“I valued the goals aspect of it so highly and what he was able to do.”

Walsh also won the AFL Players’ Association Best First-Year Player award, with Rozee finishing a distant second.