Today's showdown between Adelaide defender Daniel Talia and Greater Western Sydney forward Jeremy Cameron for the NAB Rising Star Award is poised as a precursor for a great personal rivalry for years to come.
Talia turns 21 next month and has played 31 games since being selected by the Crows with pick No.13 in the 2009 national draft. The former Victorian junior's dour defence has silenced some of the AFL's biggest forward stars this season.
Cameron turned 19 in April and booted 29 goals in his 16 games as a go-to forward in the inaugural season of the Giants. His legendary coach Kevin Sheedy said yesterday that the efforts of the teenager, who hails from country Victoria, were as good as any he had seen for a key forward in his first season.
The pair have only clashed once, at Skoda Stadium in round 16 when Adelaide won by 119 points and Talia held Cameron goalless.
And if Crows coach Brenton Sanderson is to be believed, it will be his defender who will today be named the AFL's latest young hero.
"He just wins the Rising Star now," Sanderson said after Talia had added Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich to his long list of victims in 2012, with a solid performance in round 15.
"He's taken scalp after scalp after scalp. Pavlich is an outstanding player who's had a great season and he's been in red-hot form.
"For a young kid to do what he's doing every week, he just wins it. He just beats the opposition's best forward every week. It shows great confidence when you can just put a young kid on the opposition's best forward and he just knocks them over."
But Sheedy was equally adamant his new protege had played well enough to deserve the award, claiming he had the potential to be considered alongside two star fellow left-footers he had coached at Essendon, Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas.
Sheedy also compared him to St Kilda captain Nick Riewoldt and Brisbane skipper Jonathan Brown.
He agreed Cameron and Talia had the potential to become great rivals through their careers, but suggested his young Giant had a tougher learning curve to master.
"I've played forward and I've played back and I know which is harder to play," Sheedy said.
"Jeremy Cameron can push up the ground, he can mark on the lead, he can sit on heads and take high marks and he's a good kick."He's also ruthless . . . he has the athleticism of a Riewoldt and the hardness of a Brown. In terms of positions, he's probably in between Lloyd and Lucas and that's a pretty big wrap, but he's a got a good footy brain and he's learning quick."
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