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Rising Star anyone’s guess

The 2014 NAB AFL Rising Star event promises to be one of the tightest in recent memory, with AFL National Talent Manager Kevin Sheehan indicating that up to a dozen players have been floated by the selection committee as being potential winners.

“That’s the first time that’s ever occurred. There’s normally only two or three possible contenders,” Sheehan told The Herald Sun.

“There would be a dozen players who could be in your top five, without a doubt in the world.

“There’s no doubt in my mind it’s potentially the most even we’ve ever seen.”

The Rising Star selection panel, which is headed by AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan, and includes football experts Kevin Bartlett, Luke Darcy, Mark Evans, Danny Frawley, Glen Jakovich, Cameron Ling, Matthew Richardson, Warren Tredrea and Sheehan, cast their votes in a 5-4-3-2-1 format on Sunday night at the conclusion of the regular season.

With so many talented youngsters to choose from, it was always going to be a difficult process, however Sheehan revealed that Rising Star votes were based strictly cast on output this year — and not “how you’ll unfold in five years’ time”.

Lions pair Lewy Taylor and James Aish are among the favourites to snare the award, although the Western Bulldogs’ Marcus Bontempelli remains the favourite with betting agencies.

The past 10 winners of the AFL Rising Star award have been pretty clear-cut, with all receiving at least 43 out of a possible 45 votes.

Since votes were made public in 1997, the closest Rising Star count in AFL history came in 2001, when St Kilda big man Justin Koschitzke edged out West Coast’s Daniel Kerr for the award by just four votes.

This year’s count promises to be just as tight, if not tighter, with many experts still divided with their opinions.

Could we possible see two winners for the first time in the award’s history?

Follow the Lions on Twitter for LIVE updates from Wednesday’s 2014 NAB AFL Rising Star event.