GOLD Coast ruck Lauren Bella and Melbourne midfielder Eliza McNamara are the round seven nominees for the NAB AFLW Rising Star.
The 20-year-old Bella – the Suns' second ever Rising Star nominee after Kalinda Howarth – has been a consistently strong performer in the ruck this year, and recorded 25 hitouts, five disposals, two tackles and one inside-50 against Richmond.
Hailing from Mackay, Bella was originally drafted by Brisbane with pick No.45 in the 2018 NAB AFLW Draft from Bond University.
She crossed to the Suns ahead of their first season and has now played 17 games across nearly three seasons. Bella is legally blind and wears contacts to play.
McNamara is in her first AFLW season, having been drafted from NAB League side Sandringham Dragons and East Malvern juniors with pick No.15 last year.
The 18-year-old winger has elite endurance, famously beating teammate Karen Paxman in the club's time trial at the start of this year, the first time the veteran has lost the crown.
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Against Adelaide, McNamara's run and composure with the footy came to the fore, finishing with 16 disposals (15 of which were kicks), five tackles, four intercepts and two clearances.
Having suffered a serious concussion a few years ago, McNamara made the switch from an inside to outside midfielder, meaning she is well-skilled in both aspects of the craft.
Players are eligible for the NAB AFLW Rising Star if they are 21 years and under as of 1 January, 2021, and have not been previously nominated.
Two players will be nominated per home-and-away round of the NAB AFLW season.
2021 NAB AFLW RISING STAR NOMINEES
- Belle Dawes (Brisbane), round one
- Tarni White (St Kilda), round one
- Tyla Hanks (Melbourne), round two
- Jess Fitzgerald (Western Bulldogs), round two
- Nat Grider (Brisbane), round three
- Abbie McKay (Carlton), round three
- Tyanna Smith (St Kilda), round four
- Becky Webster (Geelong), round four
- Mikayla Bowen (West Coast), round five
- Ellie McKenzie (Richmond), round five
- Daisy Bateman (North Melbourne), round six
- Tarni Brown (Collingwood), round six
- Lauren Bella (Gold Coast), round seven
- Eliza McNamara (Melbourne), round seven
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