Dockers' Serong named AFL Rising Star

Caleb Serong has become the third Fremantle player to win the AFL's Rising Star award.
Caleb Serong has become the third Fremantle player to win the AFL's Rising Star award.

Fremantle midfielder Caleb Serong has become the Dockers' third Rising Star after claiming the AFL's best young player award, edging out Gold Coast's Noah Anderson.

The No.8 draft pick in last year's draft, Serong polled 48 votes to finish nine clear of Anderson - who was selected second by the Suns.

Serong is Fremantle's first Rising Star winner since Rhys Palmer in 2008, with Paul Hasleby taking it out in 2000.

Midfielder Serong received the maximum five votes from eight of the 10 judges, with Kevin Bartlett and Chris Johnson giving their top honours to Anderson.

The 19-year-old Serong shot to prominence in round eight, capturing 22 possessions and kicking a goal in a head-to-head duel with Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield.

Most of the Rising Star hype until that point had been around Gold Coast midfielder Matthew Rowell, but last year's No.1 draft pick played just five games after requiring shoulder surgery and he didn't poll a vote.

Serong averaged 16.8 disposals and 3.4 clearances across his 14 games, combining with fellow young on-ballers Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw to give support to dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe.

A huge factor in the Dockers' impressive end to the season, Serong only got better as the season went on as he racked up a career-high 25 possessions in Fremantle's final home-and-away game against the Western Bulldogs.

"My biggest goal at the start of the year was to play AFL footy and to make my debut, ideally to just keep my spot in the team," Serong said.

"I think I set a few goals from the shutdown period just to initially debut and once I made my debut I didn't want to give up my spot in the team."

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir paid tribute to Serong for his stunning breakout season and is excited by what is to come.

"It's his competitiveness and the strengths he brings to the table that gave us the confidence as a coaching group to give him those challenges," Longmuir said.

"He prepared for a challenge really well, did his homework, and was able to execute most of the time.

"He's had a really great year and we're looking forward to seeing so much more from him in the years to come."

AFL RISING STAR

1. Caleb Serong (Fre) - 48 votes

2. Noah Anderson (GCS) - 39

3. Max King (StK) - 28

4. Izak Rankine (GCS) - 16

5. Will Day (Haw) - 12

Australian Associated Press