Marcus Windhager during the AFL match between Hawthorn and St Kilda in Round 4, 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Our Rookie Rankings have taken further shape after the weekend's action, with a young Hawks midfielder breaking into the top six for the first time this year, while a Saint makes his return after a stellar defensive role against West Coast.

A young Roo falls out after breaking in just last week, while Tiger Josh Gibcus has fallen out of the top six after missing more action.

The podium has remained the same, but it could change in the coming weeks with plenty of competition trailing.

Criteria: For our Rookie Rankings, we are selecting players who have made their debut this season. Other players who may still be eligible for a Rising Star nomination but have already made their debut prior to the 2022 season will not be considered.

I.e. players like Jai NewcombeJake BoweyCorey Durdin and Sam De Koning are ineligible.

VIEW: ROUND 18 RANKINGS

Round 19 Honourable Mentions

Jai Culley (West Coast)
19 disposals, 7 tackles, 1 goal

A prolific performance in his second game, being among the Eagles' best in the loss.

Elijah Hollands (Gold Coast)
10 disposals, 5 marks, two goals

Finally made his AFL debut and was impressive, booting two majors.

Ashley Johnson (Collingwood)
3 goals, 6 kicks, 4 marks

Was a bright spark for the Magpies early as they jumped out of the gates in a dominant fashion.

6. Connor MacDonald (NEW)

The young Hawk finally breaks into our rankings off the back of a consistent run of form. He comes into the top six in place of Kangaroos Paul Curtis, with the pair having gone head-to-head over the weekend.

Not only has MacDonald come away with bragging rights with the four premiership points, but he has edged out Curtis for his maiden showing in our Rookie Rankings.

MacDonald recorded 16 disposals, 5 marks, 356 metres gained, 5 score involvements, 3 intercepts and 3 clearances in the 46-point win.

He could be joined or even replaced by teammate Josh Ward in the coming rounds, with the Hawks' top pick from last year's National Draft in scintillating form.

The duo will take on the Saints this weekend at Marvel Stadium, looking to extend their winning run.

5. Jake Soligo (+1) 

After making his debut in our Rookie Rankings last week, Soligo backed up his strong form with another formidable showing over the weekend against the Swans.

Albeit in a loss, the first-year Crow was again a shining light with 20 disposals, 302 metres gained, 4 tackles, 7 score involvements, 9 contested possessions and nice bending goal to keep Adelaide in the contest

The Crows will host Carlton on Saturday night, with Soligo a chance to increase his ranking before the end of the year.

4. Marcus Windhager (NEW)

The Saints NGA graduate has solidified his place in Brett Ratten's engine room for the rest of the year after a season-best performance against the Eagles.

The teenager took on a run-with role against West Coast star Tim Kelly and kept him to just four disposals for the entire match.

Kelly, who averaged over 25 touches a gamer prior to Sunday's loss, played a majority of the game in midfield and was limited in his impact due to Windhager's tag.

Not only did the young St Kilda onballer negate a star of the competition, but he collected 23 possessions of his own in what was a career-high tally.

Working alongside Jack Steele and Brad Crouch, Windhager has announced himself as another threat for options followers for the remaining rounds.

He could play a pivotal role in their run for a top-eight finish, with St Kilda now looking toward their matchup with Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.

3. Ben Hobbs (-)

Another solid outing for the Bombers onballer, who was once again placed in a forward role and took in a difficult job against the Pies.

15 disposals and 5 tackles for Hobbs. Doesn't scream at you, but the young gun has runs on the board across the second half of this season.

His gap over the chasing pack has shortened this weekend, with a place on the podium potentially up for grabs in Round 20.

Sunday's clash against the Roos frames as a great chance for Essendon to get back on the winner's list following their heart-breaking lose to Collingwood.

2. Nic Martin (-)

A stock-standard performance for Martin with 22 touches and a goal. That kind of stat line has become the norm, stunningly, for a first-year player.

He'll look to quickly forget the result, but should keep his head up after another prolific game as he continues to lead from a young age.

Martin will notch up his 18th game of the year on Sunday against North Melbourne, having held his place in Ben Rutten's side since their season opener.

1. Nick Daicos (-)

Can somehow look at a 21-disposal outing as a dip in performance for a rookie player. Astonishing isn't it?

Daicos, who even gained some attention from Bomber Will Snelling in the win, was again a pivotal piece for the Magpies as they collected their ninth-straight win and currently hold a place in the top four.

Spent more time on the half-back flank and once again accumulated over 400 metres gained with his precision passing.

Will be looking to add another scalp to his season in Round 20 when the Magpies host Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday.