Rising Star award winner Andrew McGrath, of the Bombers, slips away while his teammate Dyson Heppell fends off Liam Shiels of the Hawks.
Rising Star award winner Andrew McGrath, of the Bombers, slips away while his teammate Dyson Heppell fends off Liam Shiels of the Hawks. Adam Trafford/AFL Media

Bombers prodigy claims Rising Star award

AFL: Andrew McGrath has been named this season's Rising Star award winner.

Not bad for a kid born in Mississauga, Ontario - Canada, if you didn't know.

Taken with pick No.1 by Essendon in the 2016 national draft, he also finished as the No.1 when it came voting for the prestigious gong.

The Bomber finished with 51 votes to beat Hawthorn defender Ryan Burton (41) and Port Adelaide midfielder Sam Powell-Pepper (35).

McGrath moved to Australia with his family at the age of five.

A national junior high jump champion, he had a natural athleticism ideally suited to Aussie rules.

Becoming Essendon's first Rising Star since Dyson Heppell in 2011, McGrath played 20 games in his debut season, averaging a healthy 19.6 disposals.

"The coaching staff have been great for putting their trust in me," McGrath said.

"I was very nervous the first couple of games, my main role was to shut down players. The coaches then turned to me and backed me into the run and attack role."

McGrath is now looking forward to his first finals campaign, with Essendon facing Sydney next Saturday.

"I missed training today so I will make it up tomorrow," he said.

Carlton forward Charlie Curnow finished fourth, and Brisbane revelation Eric Hipwood rounded out the top five.

Players under the age of 21 on January 1 and with fewer than 10 games under their belt going into the season are eligible for the Rising Star award.

One player per week is nominated for the award, which is voted on by 10 AFL experts, including CEO Gillon McLachlan. Each member of the selection panel gives 5-4-3-2-1 votes, with the winner crowned the Rising Star.

Previous winners of the Rising Star include Nathan Buckley, Ben Cousins, Adam Goodes, Nick Riewoldt, Sam Mitchell and Joel Selwood.

News Corp Australia

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