Pick No.2 in the 2022 AFL Draft, Will Ashcroft is already emerging as the favourite for this year's Rising Star Award.
Ashcroft showed he was ready for the big-time last week after Brisbane defeated reigning premiers Geelong, 13.13 (91) to 6.9 (45). Ashcroft was named as one of Brisbane's best, with 26 disposals and seven score involvements.
Four-time Hawthorn premiership player, Jordan Lewis, said he considered the young gun to be the "early favourite", speaking on fox footy.com.au.
"It's hard to go past him... you speak to the people in and around Brisbane, they've never seen a kid that has come into a team ready to play," Lewis said.
"He'll play early, he'll be supported by a really strong midfield so he won't be tagged or anything like that. So for me he's the early favourite."
Western Bulldogs father-son pick, Sam Darcy, who has signed a contract extension until the end of 2025, appears another favourite for the award.
Darcy, who was selected as Pick No.2 from the 2021 Draft played four senior games for the Bulldogs last year, debuting in round 21.
Darcy averaged 11.5 disposals across his four games, kicking three goals.
He's just getting started.
Sam Darcy has signed a contract extension with the Dogs.https://t.co/cprz7DEy30
— AFL (@AFL) March 8, 2023
Another early contender is North Melbourne's Harry Sheezel, who kicked three goals in the Kangaroo's pre-season practice match against Richmond.
Sheezel should get plenty of game-time in a team that isn't expected to push for finals, which may hamper his chances of winning the award.
Former No.3 draft pick, Finn Callaghan, is expected to have a big campaign after an interrupted first season due to a foot injury.
GWS teammate, Sam Taylor, expects Callaghan to have a breakout year after a strong pre-season, praising him and Tom Green on SEN.
"Finn Callaghan, who is probably one of the Rising Stars, he is a special player," Taylor told SEN.
"I haven't seen two people dominate a pre-season like those two, I don't want to hype them up too much, but they could be an Oliver and Petracca like duo."
Collingwood's Nick Daicos was the winner of last year's Rising Star Award, claiming 60 votes to second-place, Sam De Koning's 48.
Daicos played in all of Collingwood's home-and-away matches as well as their three finals games.