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Swans Mills takes out Rising Star award

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016 By Jason Phelan

Callum Mills' fierce desire to learn everything there is to know about being a defender has culminated in the Sydney Swans teenager taking out this year's AFL Rising Star award.

Mills received 49 of a possible 50 votes to win the prestigious award ahead of Western Bulldogs midfielder Caleb Daniel (41 votes), with Carlton defender Jacob Weitering in third with 26 votes.

The 19-year-old is a product of the Swans Academy and was selected third overall at the 2015 draft before making his AFL debut in round one this season.

He played most of his junior football as a midfielder before making the transition to defence this year.

"I didn't want to put a limit on what I could do this year ... I just wanted to focus on learning how to play defence and the rest would take care of itself," Mills said after he received the Ron Evans Medal as the AFL's best young player at a ceremony at Crown Casino on Tuesday.

"If you're learning you can never really stop. I think if you keep looking for things to better yourself, everything will look after itself.

"I just did my homework as much as I could and learned from the people around me.

"Being at the Swans, it's such a great club and there's a lot of resources around me that I can feed off. It's pretty much spoon fed - all you have to do is open your mouth."

Mills featured in 20 games in his stellar debut season, playing an influential role across half-back where he averaged 19 possessions a match.

Swans recruiting manager Kinnear Beatson said Mills' courage and smart decision making were obvious from an early stage.

"We knew Cal was a pretty special player in what he'd shown us through his early days at the Academy, but to have the year that he's had ... you don't expect a first-year (player) to do that," Beatson said.

"But he's such a professional in how he approaches it all, how he goes about it, how he prepares, his research on the opposition - in that regard it doesn't surprise us with what he's been able to do this year."

The Rising Star award is voted on by the All Australian selection panel, which includes former players Luke Darcy, Danny Frawley, Matthew Richardson and Cameron Ling, who was the only judge not to award Mills maximum votes.

Each judge awards five votes to the nominee he considers the best player down to one vote for his fifth preference.

VOTING FOR THE 2016 AFL RISING STAR AWARD:

Callum Mills (Syd) 49

Caleb Daniel (WB) 41

Jacob Weitering (Carl) 26

Darcy Parish (Ess) 19

Darcy Moore (Coll) 9

Christian Petracca (Mel) 2

Jade Gresham (St K) 2

Clayton Oliver (Mel) 1

Lachie Weller (Fre) 1

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