Adelaide Crows defender Daniel Talia was crowned the 2012 AFL Rising Star, an award that recognises the most prominent player throughout the season who is under the age of 21.

Talia, who was nominated for his outstanding Round 12 performance against St Kilda, comfortably won the Ron Evans Medal, polling 43 out of a possible 45 votes.

With his tendency to go hard at the ball and his highly effective spoiling skills, it is no surprise the 20-year-old has proven to be a dangerous asset for the Crows.

Talia, who was riddled with injury in his past two seasons, played every game in the 2012 home and away season, averaging eight disposals and ranked fourth in contested marks in the league.

Taken at pick 13 in the 2009 National Draft, how does Talia measure up in the 2012 season against some of his fellow draftees? 8 of the 17 first round draftees from 2009 have missed at least half of the 2012 season through injury. However, Tom Scully, Jack Trengove, Dustin Martin, Ben Cunnington, Jake Melksham and Lewis Jetta have only missed five games or less.

It is difficult to compare Talia as a defender to these midfielders, as it is like trying to compare apples to oranges. Statistically, the midfielders appear to have a more effective presence on the football field because their role allows for more access to the ball, therefore a higher average of kicks, marks and possessions compared to defenders.

However, there are two important statistics where Talia defeats his fellow draftees that specialise in the midfield, those two being disposal efficiency and one percenters per game.

Talia averaged 74.4% for disposal efficiency per game over the 2012 season. In comparison, the midfielders averaged:

Tom Scully (Pick 1) – 70.9 %
Jack Trengove (Pick 2) – 66.7%
Dustin Martin (Pick 3) – 69.6 %
Ben Cunnington (Pick 5) – 73.6%
Jake Melksham (Pick 10) – 64.4%
Lewis Jetta (Pick 14) – 71.2%

It is apparent that Talia has a higher disposal efficiency than his fellow draftees. What this means is that even though Talia doesn’t get as much of the ball in his defensive position, when he does, he uses it in a more effective manner.

Moreover, Talia averaged 6.7 one percenters per game throughout the 2012 season, whereas the aforementioned midfielders averaged:

Tom Scully (Pick 1) – 0.9
Jack Trengove (Pick 2) – 1.3
Dustin Martin (Pick 3) – 1.2
Ben Cunnington (Pick 5) – 1.5
Jake Melksham (Pick 10) – 1.4
Lewis Jetta (Pick 14) – 1.2

It is clear that Talia has a considerably higher number of one percenters per game in comparison to his fellow draftees, suggesting his work rate is considerably higher than the other top draft picks, and regularly butters up with second and third efforts against his opponents.

It’s refreshing to see a key position player win the Rising Star award, and Daniel Talia has well and truly earned his stripes.