Who are the players that you’ll be paying close attention to in 2018?
They may have changed clubs, or are returning from injury or a down year. Every team has players whose stories are worth paying attention to this season.
Former St Kilda and North Melbourne star Nick Dal Santo has revealed the top 10 players he's looking forward to seeing in 2018…
He played six games last year and 50 in total. We know how good he can be – we’ve seen glimpses of that at Hawthorn and particularly the Gold Coast Suns. But can he get through the year without injury?
Gary Ablett Jnr
Now part of the ‘Big Three’. He’s had injuries, he’s had weeks of speculation about not wanting to play due to injury. I see a lot of similarities for the first time with the West Coast team of the mid-2000s – they had Ben Cousins, Daniel Kerr, Chris Judd and Chad Fletcher and the Cats have Ablett, Paddy Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Mitch Duncan.
He’s heathy and he’s hungry. In the International Rules he read the flight of the round ball better than the Irish. He lost his mantle as the best player in the league because of injury, but the man-bun is back and he’s back with it.
What do the Dons get? Do they get Jake Stringer of 2015 – All Australian, elite goalkicker who can pinch hit in the midfield? Or do they get the Jake Stringer of last year – dropped for form, injuries and having a mind-set that was not right.
He’s just done his hamstring but he had a breakout year last year. He kicked 23 goals and 36 behinds – if he kicks a lot straighter, he’s in All Australian contention. He needs to be good for St Kilda to be good this year.
Voted captain of the year last year, but had a poor Grand Final. He’s almost like LeBron James – he can have a fantastic season, but he’s going to get judged by the public and the media on his finals performances.
He didn’t play a lot of football last year but when he played the Magpies generally won. He’s getting a little bit older, but he does things that not many others can do and there are few smoother.
Huge, huge talent. With the guidance of Hodge and the talent of Beams and Zorko, the ball should get inside the Lions forward 50 more often and he’ll get more opportunities to do things that few others can.
The captain is the future of Gold Coast club and there has already been speculation that the AFL will open the purse strings as an ambassador to keep him at the club. The Suns tough start to the season due to the Commonwealth Games makes his story a must-watch.
Can he do something that is anywhere near what he did last year? Can Richmond replicate what they did last year? Dusty was perfect. I don’t know if he can do it again, but if he can get anywhere close, he’s going to be great to watch again.
Originally published on SEN.com.au