Jesse Hogan’s unprecedented debut season has earned the Melbourne forward near-unanimous plaudits from the AFL Rising Star judges.
There was speculation that Hogan and Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps could have the first tie in the award’s 23-year history, given their stellar form throughout the year.
But Hogan scored 49 out of a possible 50 votes from the 10 judges, with only AFL talent manager Kevin Sheehan giving Cripps five votes.
Cripps was second with 41 and West Coast’s Dom Sheed polled 27.
“No one has done what Jesse’s done,” noted Demons coach Paul Roos.
Hogan debuted in round one and topped Melbourne’s goalkicking with 44 in 20 games, a stunning performance from a 20-year-old key forward.
He also finished third in the AFL for contested marks.
Roos said the back injury that ruined Hogan’s season last year turned out to be an invaluable lesson for him.
Hogan joined the Demons in late 2012, but had to wait a year before he was eligible for the AFL.
As the hype built about his potential, Hogan suffered a back injury early last year that put him out of action for most of the season.
He finally debuted in round one this year and quickly showed that the excitement about him was justified.
“What that allows them to do is grow into their body, watch a bit more football, understand the professionalism of the game,” Roos said of Hogan’s enforced layoff.
“They all come in thinking they can, as Jesse said, skateboard and surf and play golf and then turn up to training for two hours.
“That’s the biggest change I’ve seen in Jesse over the last 12 months, his attention to detail (and) his understanding of what is required for AFL footy.”
Hogan admitted it was a stark reality check.
“No one gets the perfect fairytale,” he said.
“You can’t just write your own script – you never know what’s going to happen.
“It obviously wasn’t ideal but, at the same time, it was a massive learning experience.
“I was probably thinking I was invincible and I could do whatever I wanted – go surf, skate and then do a main training session a few hours later.”
Roos also was impressed when Hogan rallied from a poor first half against Fremantle in round 22 to kick two goals.
“They’re the moments I look at, where I go ‘this kids gets it’, which is good,” Roos said.
Hogan and Cripps are the sorts of players who will be the bedrock of their teams for the next decade.
The obvious question for Melbourne is whether they can stop the dreaded “go home” factor affecting their WA native.
“That situation hasn’t occurred to me,” Hogan said.
“I’m hopeful it doesn’t arise and I can be a one-club player.
“But footy these days … you can’t say things now.
“If there is a circumstance, it could come back to bite you.”