MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Fox Footy commentator David King speaks to camera during the Round 4 AFL match between North Melbourne v Fremantle at Etihad Stadium on April 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

North Melbourne great David King has backed former No. 3 draft pick Luke Jackson to win this year's AFL Rising Star award.

The understudy to captain Max Gawn has had a superb breakout season and has been a key in Melbourne's success so far this season.

Speaking on SEN Breakfast, King said he believes Jackson has surpassed expectations in 2021.

"I did a little thing on AFL 360 the other night on Luke Jackson," King said.

"I think Luke Jackson is tracking towards becoming some sort of phenom in the ruck.

"If I was having a wager [on Rising Star], I’d be on Luke Jackson because I think he’s doing things ahead of time for a 19-year-old ruckman."

Gold Coast midfielder and former No. 1 draft pick Matt Rowell was the odds on favourite to take away the award this season before suffering another long term injury. Rowell was then injured in round one this year when he suffered a long-term PCL injury.

Rowell recently returned to the Gold Coast lineup but has been unable to recapture his terrific 2020 form

AFL Rd 1 - West Coast v Gold Coast
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Matt Rowell of the Suns walks back onto the ground on crutches during the 2021 AFL Round 01 match between the West Coast Eagles and the Gold Coast Suns at Optus Stadium on March 21, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

SEN reporter Sam Edmund said he was waiting for Rowell to find that form again.

"I’m just waiting for Matty Rowell to catch fire, but it hasn’t quite happened," Edmund said.

"Just missed a lot of footy obviously and needs a good pre-season underneath him."

Young Bomber Nik Cox is another well fancied contender in a wide open race for the Rising Star award while Jackson is current bookmakers favourite for the award.