Kerridge joins race for AFL Rising Star Award

 CAREER-BEST performance in Adelaide’s stunning fightback to beat North Melbourne has put Sam Kerridge in the running for the AFL’s Rising Star award.

Playing just his seventh match in the big league, the former Bendigo Pioneers captain kicked six goals in the second half as the Crows overran the Kangaroos.

From Mildura, Kerridge played a crucial role in the Crows one-point victory at Etihad Stadium.

His 24-possession game included three goals and some goal assists in the dramatic final quarter.

The Crows number one pick in the 2011 draft, Kerridge played just one game last season, but has kicked on to play six matches in 2013.

Coach Brenton Sanderson praised Kerridge’s leadership and versatility.

“He’s played a variety of different roles for us, including important defensive jobs on some of the competition’s best players,” Sanderson said.

“He’s really relished those challenges and has also been able to hit the scoreboard consistently through his hard running and strong work ethic.”

Kerridge is the second draftee from the Bendigo Pioneers to be a Rising Star nominee this season.

Echuca’s Ollie Wines capped his debut for Port Adelaide by being nominated for the prestigious award, which is now named the Ron Evans medal.

Previous winners of the Rising Star award include Geelong’s Joel Selwood,  Sydney’s Adam Goodes, St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt, Hawthorn’s Sam Mitchell, and West Coast’s Ben Cousins.

Regional manager for the Bendigo Bank Pioneers Football Club, Ray Byrne said Kerridge had worked extremely hard to improve his fitness and skills.

“Last season was a really tough one for Sam, not only because of injury, but trying to break in to a strong team in his first year at the club.

“He was able to do a lot more training last pre-season and it’s showing in the way he is playing,” said Byrne.

He said Kerridge’s versatility was a huge plus when he played for the Pioneers, and it had  continued with the Crows.

“Sam was predominantly a midfielder when he played TAC Cup (under-18s), but also did well up forward or across half-back.

“It was great to see him play a great game on Sunday, unless you were barracking for North.”

Celebrating its 21st birthday this year, the Bendigo Pioneers Football Club has had 15 players nominated for the AFL’s Rising Star award.

Past nominees drafted from Bendigo are Nick Carter (Fitzroy), 1996; Michael Braun (West Coast), ’97 and ’98; Dean Solomon (Essendon) and Nathan Thompson (Hawthorn), ’99.

Brent Guerra (Port Adelaide) and Daniel Harris (North Melbourne), 2001; Andrew Walker (Carlton), ’04; Adam Selwood (West Coast), Troy Selwood (Brisbane Lions) and Colin Sylvia (Melbourne, ’05.

Joel Selwood (Geelong), ’07; Jarryn Geary (St Kilda), ’09; and Dustin Martin, (Richmond) 2010.

Meanwhile, four of the Bendigo Pioneers young guns have been selected in Victoria Country’s team for this year’s national under-16 championships.

Maryborough’s Bailey Edwards, Strathfieldsaye Storm’s Tommy Cole and Jamieson Sheahan, and Echuca’s Aidyn Johnson are in the squad of 25.

The championships will be played from July 6 to 12 in West Sydney.


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