The coaching staff involved in assembling this team should take a bow.
Continuing from part one of my selected breakout players for 2018, in this edition I will look at the lists of Geelong, Gold Coast, Greater Western Sydney, Hawthorn, Melbourne and North Melbourne.
Despite Geelong all of the teams in this article have a relatively young list which will aim to become elite in the near future.
Geelong: Lincoln McCarthy
Geelong have a habit of having players on their list who have spent the majority of their career in rehab, McCarthy is no exception. The crafty forward has had his fair share of injury issues since being drafted with pick 66 in 2011, but after managing 19 games in 2016 his promising career was beginning to blossom.
Round 1 in 2017 was a brilliant start for McCarthy in what he had probably hoped would be his breakout campaign, an 11 Disposal, seven tackle and three goal effort helped carry the Cats past Fremantle. Unfortunately, after persistent groin injuries McCarthy elected to go under the knife which effectively ended his year.
Geelong have a multitude of new faces through both the trade period and the draft and McCarthy will have to working hard this preseason in order to get himself in the first 22 but if he can I’ll be expecting significant contributions.
Gold Coast: Harrison Wigg
I’m generally reluctant to put players yet to debut on these lists, but being a South Australian I’ve had the opportunity to watch Harrison Wigg play some footy and the signs are promising.
The SANFL is a proud and strong state competition so to see a young 21-year-old dominate week in and week out if often a good indicator of talent. Had Wigg been on any other AFL list besides Adelaide’s he would have played his first AFL game already, he’s known for having a laser left foot and being able to win his own ball.
It’s likely that he may miss the start of the season due to a fractured ankle but once he appears be sure to watch.
Greater Western Sydney: Tim Taranto
Taranto makes this list as he was clearly the most promising young gun under 30 games and GWS last season, its almost a moral that he has consolidated himself into a forward/midfield rotation in 2018. His best game last year came in the thrilling clash against Richmond at Spotless Stadium, 19 disposals to go with four tackles and a goal.
Wayne Milera played a solid role in a very good side and Taranto followed a similar path at the talented giants. I expect his big tank and general athleticism along with a second preseason will see him finding much more of the footy this year.
Hawthorn: Ryan Burton
Nothing groundbreaking here, Ryan Burton is going to be star. He was highly rated going into his final junior year but a broken leg derailed his potential to go pick one, instead the Hawks snapped him up with the last pick in the first round and boy what a pick it was.
Burton played down back last year and he did it well, being one of the leading hopes in the rising star award. He has the potential to play up forward and his size and mobility would likely see him be prolific in that role, 2018 will see Burton deployed all over the ground, I feel as though he has an opportunity to become an elite swingman in just his third season.
Melbourne: Angus Brayshaw
Brayshaw albeit immensely talented has found it hard to get on the park, a frightening series of head knocks has halted a promising young career to a mere 36 games coming into his fourth year. Towards the end of 2017 Brayshaw was able to string together five senior games, in which he averaged 19 disposals and five Marks playing as an in and under midfielder.
While the nature of his play will always put his head at risk Melbourne are hopeful that he can stay out of the wars for a time and they help him through the situation. 2018 is a fresh start for Brayshaw and I’m willing to stick it out there that he will be a key piece in Melbourne resurgence into September.
North Melbourne: Majak Daw
A controversial choice considering some of the development younger Kangaroos players got in the seniors last year but it’s now or never for Daw. He’s taken number one and stated publicly that the onus is on him to get it done this year otherwise his career may be short-lived.
Even at 195cm and 97kg Majak Daw is undoubtedly one of the most naturally gifted athletes in the league, he can clunk marks and knows how to make the ball spin backwards off the boot. Going into 2018 I only hope that Daw has refined his footy skills in order for him to become a more complete player, if he does his immense presence will be upon us.