With the 2019 AFL season drawing closer and closer, there’s no better time to cast one’s eye over which players they’re excited to watch this season.
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At the beginning of each AFL season, every player across the competition hopes to improve their performances of the previous season and years prior.
For some, their form level in the past has seen them drift in and out of the senior team, while others have had their true ability at the top questioned.
Prior to the beginning of the season, a large number of players will weigh up their future across the season, while others are battling to prove to their current employers they deserve to stay for the long term as their contracts are set to expire at the end of the season.
Here is a look at the players who need to step up at each AFL club.
Adelaide: Cam Ellis-Yolmen
After missing the entire 2017 season with a serious knee injury, the 25-year-old was afforded more midfield opportunities due to injuries at the Crows.
With players now returning from injury, it remains to be seen whether he is a regular senior player in the midfield or whether he may need to be tried elsewhere.
Brisbane: Ryan Bastinac
After playing 38 games in his first two seasons in Queensland, Bastinac very much fell out of favour with Chris Fagan in 2018, playing just two matches.
With the Lions exciting youngsters continuing to develop, Bastinac will need a strong pre-season as he looks to find a regular spot in the senior team. His one-year contract extension signed last year shows he has a challenge on his hands.
Carlton: Jack Silvagni
Just what exactly is Silvagni’s best position on the field? That is a question the Blues coaching staff are still looking to discover as they move forward.
Silvagni has been tried in several different positions but has battled for consistency. While it seems unlikely he would be delisted, a big 2019 is required if he wants to secure a long-term deal.
Collingwood: Ben Crocker
Crocker made 10 senior appearances last year, for a return of just five goals at a time where the Pies were crying out for a regular goal kicker.
Given Mason Cox’s presence and the emergence of Brody Mihocek it appears he faces an uphill battle, although an injury or two could present him with the opportunity he needs.
Essendon: Mason Redman
With just five senior games to his name in three seasons, 21-year-old Redman is reaching a critical part of his time with the Bombers.
He broke into the senior team last season before succumbing to injury and whether he can earn his place back could depend on injuries given Essendon’s depth down back.
Fremantle: Matt Taberner
The arrivals of Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb have put a bit more pressure onto Taberner who hasn’t quite developed just as much as the Dockers would have liked. From the outside looking in, it appears he could challenge Cam McCarthy for the third tall position come Round 1.
Geelong: Wylie Buzza
In his few appearances at the top level, Buzza has looked more than handy as a key forward for the Cats. Although his opportunities now appear to be limited slightly more given the rapid development of Esava Ratugolea.
Given Tom Hawkins isn’t getting any younger, Chris Scott’s side may look to keep hold of Buzza moving forward.
Gold Coast: Jack Martin
Linked with a move away from the Suns during the trade period, now is the season for Martin to deliver on his potential after the club hit the reset button once again.
At his best, Martin is a dynamic player who can trouble any opponent. His 2019 season, will go a long way to determining his next pay day.
GWS: Jacob Hopper
Hopper is by no means a poor player, but the Giants will be hoping he takes his game to the next level this year following the departure of Dylan Shiel to Essendon. Given Shiel’s departure, Hopper should be afforded more midfield time as he looks to stamp his authority on GWS’ premiership aspirations.