MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 15: Sam Walsh of the Blues in action during the 2019 AFL round 13 match between the Carlton Blues and the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on June 15, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Sam Walsh arrived at IKON Park after being taken with Pick 1 in November’s national draft, and was being heralded as a future champion midfielder long before ever donning the navy blue.

A tremendously impressive debut season so far has at times defied even those lofty expectations, and with eight rounds to go Nick Dal Santo claims the Rising Star award has already been decided.

Speaking to SEN Breakfast, Dal Santo asserted that Walsh would take the prize even without playing another game this season as he named his top three place-getters in this year’s ballot.

“Sam Walsh wins it,” he said Tuesday morning.

“I think if Sam Walsh finished up right now, he still wins the Rising Star. I’ve got him as a clear No. 1.”

Walsh has starred in a rebuilding Carlton side, averaging 25.1 touches and 3.5 clearances a game and also featuring heavily in the Blues’ last-gasp win over Fremantle Sunday with 30 disposals and eight tackles.

Dal Santo went on to name Cats small forward Gryan Miers in second place to date, perhaps a surprise given the hefty media praise on Tigers revelation Sydney Stack in recent weeks.

“I’ve got Gryan Miers as No. 2. Small forward from Geelong, best team in the competition.”

Miers has done well to retain his place from Round 1 as the Cats surged atop the table, chipping in with 18 goals in his 14 games.

“I’ve got Sydney Stack in third,” Dal Santo said of the fledgling Richmond star.

“I know he was good on the weekend…he averages 17 disposals, he’s kicked seven goals, he’s been okay.”

A supplemental pre-season selection for Richmond, Stack’s pressure and attack on the ball has been lauded most in his debut season, quickly making him a fan favourite at Punt Road as an attacking midfielder.

Honourable mentions on SEN Breakfast were given to Sydney key forward Nick Blakey, Port Adelaide small forward Connor Rozee and Kangaroos speedster Tarryn Thomas.