Caleb Serong has senior coach Justin Longmuir’s vote to win the NAB AFL Rising Star award after the 19-year-old has put together one of the best debut seasons in Fremantle history.
The award recognises the best first or second year player in the AFL who has played fewer than 10 games going into the season.
While Serong’s stats compare favourably against any other midfielder in the running for the Rising Star, Longmuir feels the 19-year-old has gone above what his numbers show.
This included playing a shutdown role on Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield in round eight where he had 22 disposals, seven tackles and a goal while his opponent had 18 touches and three tackles.
Serong also played shutdown roles on Collingwood’s Taylor Adams and Sydney’s Luke Parker in Freo’s wins in rounds nine and 13.
“I think he should win it to be honest. He’s played against some of the best midfielders in the comp,” Longmuir said.
“He’s accepted every challenge that we’ve thrown at him and exceeded most of those expectations. I feel he’s well-placed to win it.”
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Longmuir praised Serong’s ability to have an impact while playing defensively.
“I think he’s found that balance really well between stopping his opponent and finding the footy,” Longmuir said.
“He’s had 20-plus possessions a lot of games, especially when he’s had those roles.
“I think it needs to be acknowledged (in the Rising Star voting) that he’s played on and stopped some of the best midfielders in the comp. Hopefully, the selectors look at that.”
Longmuir added that he hopes to see more than defender Luke Ryan considered for All Australian when the squad and team is announced next week, highlighting Nat Fyfe and Matt Taberner’s seasons.
“I think the skipper (Fyfe) has been overlooked all season for his form,” Longmuir said.
“He’s been phenomenal in every role we put him in. I think he’s having a fantastic year despite missing a couple of games with that hamstring injury.
“Matt’s been up there as the best key forwards in the competition. His contested marking has been elite, he’s hit the scoreboard. I think he’s been outstanding.
“I’d be surprised if those two weren’t heavily looked at.”