Six players have been shortlisted for the 2017 Men’s Rising Star Award from the talented crop of 19 who were nominated after each round this season.
After a thorough deliberation process, those shortlisted and in the running to take out the coveted award are Lachlan Sullivan (St Kevin’s), Nick Baltas (Caulfield Grammarians), Alex Mastromanno (Old Brighton), Joe Harrison (Monash Blues), Nino Lazzaro (Fitzroy) and Fraser Cameron (Collegians).
The winner will be announced at the 2017 Woodrow Medal and Awards Night on Monday 18 September at Crown’s River Room.
The Rising Star Award has long been an accurate prelude of future football success, with previous winners including two-time Woodrow Medallist Brendan Iezzi (2007), VFL listed players James Fletcher (2015), Anthony Scott (2014) and Nick Wynne (2009) and AFL player Dan Nicholson (2010). For a full list of past winners, click HERE.
Lachlan Sullivan (St Kevin’s)
Sullivan is a starting midfielder for the top-ranked team in the VAFA and was the first player nominated in 2017 following his three-goal performance in SKOB’s 42-point win over University Blues. He has been named in SKOB’s best 11 times from his 17 games and kicked 20 goals for the year; including, multiples on five occasions.
What the club said: “Lachlan plays a lot like Jack Ziebell with his attack on the ball and has many strengths; including, being a tough inside mid providing options up forward, skilful with the football and he is renowned for loving his leftovers at St Kevin’s.”
Nick Baltas (Caulfield Grammarians)
Nominated in Round 3 on the back of two goals and a standout performance against Williamstown CYMS, Baltas has gone from strength-to-strength this season. He has kicked 35 goals from 17 games for the Premier C flag favourites; including, two bags of five and multiples on nine occasions.
What the club said: “His strengths as a footballer is that he can read the play very well, always finds himself in dangerous positions to create scoring opportunities and his tackling and pressure ensure that he locks the ball in the forward line.”
Alex Mastromanno (Old Brighton)
Mastromanno is one of the most exciting young talents in the VAFA and played a leading hand in Old Brighton’s 16-win home and away season. The Maestro kicked 40 goals in his first 11 games; including, hauls of nine, seven and four (twice). He starred in the U19 Big V’s four-point loss to AFL Vic Country in July with five of his side’s nine goals.
What the club said: “His nick-name, “Maestro”, has already launched cult status amongst players and supporters who realise how important Alex is to the Club’s future.”
Joe Harrison (Monash Blues)
In his first year at Monash Blues, Harrison starred through the midfield and was named in the best eight times from his 16 games. He regularly found the scoreboard with 18 goals for the finals-bound Blues and was part of the valiant U19’s team who narrowly missed out on victory against AFL Victoria Country.
What the club said: “He plays like Jobe Watson – strong body, sure hands, gets plenty of contested ball and racks up lots of possessions.”
Nino Lazzaro (Fitzroy)
After playing two games for Fitzroy’s Holmeglen U19 side, Lazzaro was called up to the senior team where he has flourished ever since. Although a highly-talented half forward, injury to key Roys forced Lazzaro to play a key position role for much of the season where he has kicked 30 goals from 15 games; including, two bags of five. The consistent young star hit the scoreboard in all but one match.
What the club said: “As a mid-sized forward he’s got a great grab and strong ground-level skills too, with a nice burst of pace, keeping pressure on the defenders even when he doesn’t have the ball.”
Fraser Cameron (Collegians)
Nominated in Round 10 following a standout display in the Lions’ 10-point win over St Bedes/Mentone Tigers, Cameron has established himself as a key cog of the Lions’ rotation. The half back flanker has been named in the best five times and kicked goals in five of the past six games. He starred in the Lions’ eight-point win over De La Salle in Round 16 with three goals in a BOG display.
What the club said: “Fraser is an attacking half back who can go into the midfield and play both inside and outside. His ability to read the play and take the game on in such a positive manner is fantastic for a player of his age.”