THE RAPID rise of Melbourne midfielder Tyla Hanks has been officially recognised, named 2021's NAB AFLW Rising Star.
Hanks, 21, took out the award from Richmond's No.1 pick Ellie McKenzie and West Coast's Mikayla Bowen.
To be eligible, players must be under the age of 21 on 1 January 2021, and not previously nominated for the award.
The diminutive midfielder stands at just 157cm, but has worked incredibly hard on her fitness and core strength in the lead up to this year.
It's reflected in her numbers, averaging 18.7 disposals and 2.5 inside 50s this year, up from 10.4 and 1.4 in 2020.
Hanks was drafted with pick No.6 in 2018 from Gippsland Power, and played her junior footy with Beaconsfield JFC.
"I played a lot of basketball in my juniors, so I think that's where my (poise and maturity) comes from," Hanks said.
"I grew up playing with my dad and my brother out at Cora Lynn with the boys.
"The AFLW Academy was great in preparing us girls to come into the league, but also Gippsland Power, who I played NAB League for, Cora Lynn, Beaconsfield, they really helped me too.
"I think it's really special, I'm sure I can speak on behalf of the girls in the room, when you look out at the crowd or even at local footy, there's so many girls out there playing and they're not ashamed, they're really proud.
"I just want to keep going about things the way I am, keep developing as a person, as a player and a leader and keep playing with my teammates, who I love."
NAB AFLW Rising Star votes
Tyla Hanks (Melbourne) - 48 votes
Ellie McKenzie (Richmond) - 32 votes
Mikayla Bowen (West Coast) - 22 votes
Tyanna Smith (St Kilda) - 19 votes
Nat Grider (Brisbane) - 10 votes