My 2017 players to watch in review: Hawthorn Hawks to North Melbourne Kangaroos

Anna Pavlou Roar Rookie

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    In the 2017 pre-season I picked three players per club to preview for the upcoming season – now I’m looking back at how they did, and grading their performance. Today I’m looking at the Hawthorn Hawks, Melbourne Demons and North Melbourne Kangaroos.

    Hawthorn Hawks

    What I said: Jaeger O’Meara hasn’t played since 2014 due to injury, however is expected to fit right into the Hawks powerful midfield in 2017.

    His ability to read the play and become versatile when needed is what the Hawks need after the loss of veterans Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis.

    If O’Meara can play with the fearlessness and explosiveness out of the midfield as he did at the beginning of his career that will go a long way to keeping his new team in finals contention.

    How he really performed: The big recruit of 2017 managed only six games this season, due to ongoing knee troubles that ultimately interrupted the year.

    However, a glimpse of O’Meara’s magic was captured, when he gathered 36 disposals against Port Adelaide in Round 2. Despite the injuries, O’Meara has another chance to show us what he’s made of in 2018.

    Rating: C

    Jaeger O'Meara Hawthorn Hawks AFL 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    What I said: Billy Hartung now has the opportunity to step up into the gap left by Brad Hill, meaning he can take up the speedy role starting on the wing.

    With an average of 19 disposals in 2016, Hartung showed some promise in his game. He is a speedy young gun with the ability to break through contests and score if necessary. He will be expected to step up and become elite on the wing in 2017.

    How he really performed: Although he averaged 22.1 disposals per game – the best in his career – Hartung was delisted by the Hawks at the end of the season.

    He was commended for improving his run and carry as well as his uncontested touches, but was not the fit for the Hawks. Picked up by North Melbourne in the draft, Hartung’s lifeline may give him a rebirth in 2018.

    Rating: D+

    What I said: James Sicily kicked 30 goals in 2016. A straight and reliable kick, Sicily can be trusted with the ball in many situations.

    He is a fine contested mark and works well in pressure situations, confident in himself. In 2017 he will have the opportunity to cement a spot in the Hawks front half.

    How he really performed: A change saw Sicily head to the backline in 2017, where he averaged 18.5 disposals.

    Dropped after Round 1, Sicily worked hard to regain his spot, and when he did, he didn’t waste his opportunity, kicking 11 goals in seven games.

    However, he was moved to the backline for the latter part of 2017 where he averaged 9.1 marks. Sicily may have found his true calling down back, but let’s see where he is in 2018.

    Rating: C+

    Melbourne Demons

    What I said: Jesse Hogan is one of the best young forwards of the competition, he needs to prove himself as a force to be reckoned with in 2017.

    Booting 41 goals in 2016, Hogan highlighted how he has the ability to hurt opposition on the scoreboard.

    Melbourne has faith in the young gun, who has a steady kick as well as a strong mark. Even though young, Hogan has spent this preseason building himself up to become stronger in contests.

    How he really performed: Dealt with the hardest year of any player in a long time. Battled the death of his father, testicular cancer and many other issues that put numerous stops on his season.

    Still performed reasonably well considering, kicking 20 goals and averaging 14.2 disposals. Hopefully can have an uninterrupted 2018.

    Rating: C

    Jesse Hogan Melbourne Demons AFL 2017

    (Photo by Daniel Pockett/AFL Media/Getty Images)

    What I said: Half-forward gun Christian Petracca spent 2016 trying to establish himself in the Demons best 22. He played as a lead-up forward who averaged 17 disposals and kicked 12 goals in only 17 games.

    The Demons rate him as a key player in their drive to finals football. Petracca has the physical strength and the right mentality to only improve in 2017.

    How he really performed: Had a great season for the Demons and has plenty left to give to his club over the coming years. Averaged 18.8 disposals and was dominant in front of goal kicking a total of 26.

    Petracca established himself as a key puzzle piece in the young Demons side and will be praised for his fearlessness and ferociousness in every contest. Overall, the young gun settled well into the Demons side and is on track to lead in the midfield and in front of goals in years to come.

    Rating: A

    What I said: Clayton Oliver. The strong and big-0bodied midfielder left a mark in the young Demons team in 2016.

    He is capable of winning the contested ball gathering high clearance numbers. Has great vision in contests and heavy traffic.

    If he improves his stamina he will become a key cog in the Demons midfield.

    How he really performed: Oliver exceeded all expectations and became vital for the Demons. He averaged 30 disposals per game as well as nearly seven tackles, proving his defensive pressure is elite too.

    Oliver took out the Demons’ best and fairest, 184 votes clear of second-placed Jack Viney. By finishing in the top ten for average disposals, tackles, contested possessions and clearances, fans are still wondering why Oliver wasn’t selected in the All-Australian squad.

    Rating: A+

    North Melbourne Kangaroos

    What I said: After ten seasons in the AFL, defender Robbie Tarrant had a breakout 2016, winning North’s best and fairest.

    He has finally settled into a key defender role and dominates opponents with his strength and pace and intercepting marking as well as playing a shutdown role. Tarrant will be looked up to as a leader yet again for a changing North team.

    How he really performed: Tarrant played 22 matches in 2017, with an average of 17 disposals – the highest of his career. He laid 55 tackles and averaged 2.5 per game.

    Although North’s season did not go to plan, Tarrant continually led from the front and held the backline together. 2018 expectations are high and Tarrant will be up with the best again.

    Rating: B

    What I said: Jarrad Waite. A wonderful start to 2016 unfortunately ended in injury, however showed his best forward form in years.

    Before his injury, Waite kicked 27 goals in nine rounds, showing off true ability. In 2017, Waite will look to have a massive impact on the scoreboard with his presence, steady kick and strong mark.

    How he really performed: Positively, from his 10 games played, Waite kicked 22 goals for North, averaging more than two a game. He also averaged 14.1 disposals and showed he is still worthy for consideration.

    Contracted until the end of 2019, Waite has a major chance it redeem what he and the Kangaroos lost in 2017.

    Rating: C+

    Jarrad Waite North Melbourne Kangaroos AFL 2017

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    What I said: After the loss of Drew Petrie, Majak Daw has his opportunity to step up and take his chance to become a forward target and back up ruck to Todd Goldstein. An incredible athlete who needs to step up and dominate this season.

    How he really performed: Playing only seven games and averaging 16 hit outs, Daw’s season drew to a close due to knee and foot issues. Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to showcase and build on his talent.

    Rating: N/A

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    The Crowd Says (2)

    • December 15th 2017 @ 8:54am
      Birdman said | December 15th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      Bit harsh on yourself and James Sicily – had a breakout year IMO even if it was down back – easily worth a B+

      • December 16th 2017 @ 10:18am
        RobE said | December 16th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        Agree, couldn’t understand the rating. Was one of the best intercept backman in league in second half of season.

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