TOM McDonald’s meteoric rise from AFL hopeful to regular Melbourne defender continued with the round 13 AFL Rising Star nomination yesterday.

McDonald, 19, was recruited from Edenhope-Apsley in 2010 as a project player.

“It’s exciting to win an award when there are great players who have won it before,” he said.

“I am moving on now and looking forward to this weekend.”

McDonald has cemented his spot in the Demons’ line-up this season, playing every game since a late call-up against West Coast in round two.

The key position player has played on some of the AFL’s biggest names including Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, Collingwood’s Travis Cloke and St Kilda’s Nick Riewoldt.

McDonald’s round five performance on Riewoldt was lauded, as it highlighted the 194-centimetre teenager’s strong aerobic capacity.

He expects to line up on Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown or swingman Daniel Merrett on Sunday.

“I enjoy the challenge of the one on one contest, especially with the big guys,” he said.

“I try not to take too much notice of their name and reputation. I take it case by case.”

McDonald earned his Rising Star nomination after a career-high 26-disposal effort against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday where he nullified number one draft pick Jonathon Patton.

The former North Ballarat Rebel collected 26 possessions, four marks and three tackles in the Demons’ 78-point win.

“I worked with Jade Rawlings about how to attack the game and what to do and we stuck to the plan well,” he said.

“I still made some mistakes.”

Other players with Wimmera connections to receive a Rising Star nomination include Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes, who won the award in 1999, Brisbane Lions’ Tim Notting in 1999 and Hawthorn’s Clinton Young and West Coast Eagles’ Matt Rosa in 2006.

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