AFL: Dees and Blues live to rue the Rising Star

When you think back to controversial and, in hindsight, poor choices throughout the history of the AFL draft, your eyes are almost immediately drawn to 2004. The infamous year when Richmond selected Richard Tambling ahead of Lance Franklin.

However there may be a new candidate beginning to rise in the form of Adelaide’s Daniel Talia and a couple of increasingly frustrated Victorian clubs.

The key defender today capped off a wonderful 2012 season by becoming the first Crow to ever win a NAB Rising Start award. However he slipped under the radar of both Melbourne and Carlton’s recruiting managers.

Talia was taken at pick 13 in the 2009 draft, but was touted as a potential top 10 pick throughout his junior years. However a hamstring injury midway through the 2009 season sidelined him for the second half of the year.

As a result Melbourne (who had pick 11), Carlton (pick 12) and Adelaide (pick 13) began initial talks with the key position player.

The Dees already had the first two picks in the draft (where they selected Tom Scully and Jack Trengove), and gained pick 11 following a trade involving Brock McLean going to Carlton. With this high pick, they firmed as a likely destination for the Assumption College boy.

In fact, so far ahead were talks between Talia and the Demons that they forced the Blues to turn their attentions elsewhere.

That came in the form of midfielder Kane Lucas.

However Melbourne, for reasons still unknown, reneged on their selection of Talia, instead picking midfielder Jordan Gysberts with pick 11.

Gysberts has since played just 19 games for the Dees, with only one coming in an injury-plagued 2012.

Prior to the draft, Carlton was of the belief that Melbourne had all but locked away Talia at pick 11. This led to the Blues giving their word to Lucas that he would be their man.

They followed through on this selection, despite Melbourne’s backflip, and took Lucas at pick 12.

Lucas has since struggled to break into the fold at Carlton, and has managed just 18 games in an inconsistent three years at the club.

Adelaide was in a fortunate position. Talia almost fell into their lap.

In hindsight, Carlton will probably live to regret the situation the most. In their quest for a 17th premiership, a key defender has been the position they have lacked, and where opposition clubs have often exploited.

The mistake of not selecting Talia at pick 12 was pretty much admitted by the Blues just a year later, when they tried to offload Andrew Walker to the Crows in return for Talia. Adelaide rightfully rejected their enquiry.

The defender has since repaid their faith with a standout 2012 season highlighted by some impressive performances against the games best forwards.

Against direct opponents, Talia’s stats match up with the most experienced and proven defenders in the game. Against North Melbourne he kept Drew Petrie and Lachie Hansen goalless, against Richmond he kept Jack Riewoldt goalless, against Essendon he kept Michael Hurley goalless, against Hawthorn he kept Franklin and Jarryd Roughead to just one goal between them and against Fremantle he kept Matthew Pavlich to just two goals.

His scalps are incredible, and when you look at how elusive and sought-after key defenders are nowadays, his importance to the Crows’ set up is extraordinary.

All this at just 20 years of age.

Talia joins an exclusive group to be crowned the Rising Star winner, and will be hoping to emulate the likes of Nathan Buckley, Adam Goodes and Sam Mitchell, who have all forged highly-esteemed careers since taking out the honour.

However as delighted as Adelaide are to have the young defender, he may be a name which Melbourne and Carlton rue for the next 10 years.

Riley Beveridge.

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