Rising Star favourite Callum Mills has been rated by his coach as one of the best players in the star-studded AFL ladder-leading side this year.
The 19-year-old Sydney academy graduate, who came to the Swans as a midfielder, has shone in an unfamiliar role across half back.
Impressing with his courage, competitiveness and poise under pressure, Mills has averaged 19 disposals and five marks across his first 20 games.
He would have been an ever-present member of the team had he not been rested for one match.
On Tuesday, Mills was listed as a $1.75 favourite with one betting agent to take out the prestigious Rising Star award – with Bulldogs midfielder Caleb Daniel next best at $2.50 and no one else in single digits.
The same day, the senior coach at both Mills’ and Daniel’s clubs each gave a glowing endorsement of their efforts this season.
“He (Mills) has played the entire season in his first year of (senior) football at half back and has been one of our best players, and we’ve been reasonably competitive during the year,” said Swans coach John Longmire.
“It sort of stands to reason that he’s had a good year.
“For his first season at AFL level, let alone his first season in defence, he’s just been outstanding and we’re obviously keen for that to continue.”
South Australian Daniel, 20, made his senior debut last season and has averaged 21 touches across 19 games in the current campaign playing in the Bulldogs last 15 matches.
The smallest player in the competition at 168cms, Daniel has proven his lack of height has not been a disadvantage.
“When you think of a player who has come through adversity, if there was ever a player who has maybe proven the doubters wrong – you can imagine what he’s been through,” Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said.
“He’s been so consistent, he’s been quite brilliant at times.
“He’s one of the few stalwarts in our team (during an injury-riddled season), which is quite incredible.
“He should be really close (to winning the Rising Star). He’s had an outstanding year.”
Both Mills and Daniel were named on Tuesday in the initial 50-man AFL Players Association 2016 22Under22 squad.