TALENT flows throughout the Hampden football league and on the eve of the season, The Standard identifies the top 30 players to watch.
Keep an eye out for the footballers expected to be a shining light for your club in 2018.
Jack Williams: A rebounding defender who will bolster the Pies’ back line when not required at VFL club Werribee. Oozes class and can turn defence into attack.
Phil Carse: Clever small onballer-forward whose leadership is crucial. Will be required to hit the scoreboard regularly.
Levi Dare: The ruck colossus is one of the competition’s most physically imposing players. His CV – three Maskell Medals – is just as imposing. A danger around the contest and a target when he plays forward.
Paul Hinkley: A key position match-winner who can nullify the opposition’s best forward – think ex-AFL spearhead Brendan Fevola during an interleague clash – and also be an effective weapon in the ruck.
Tyrone Ross: A swift mover whose athleticism is expected to boost the Roos’ engine room. Has a basketball background.
Dylan Long: A teenager from remote Western Australia whose leap and run will to add flair to the Roos’ line-up.
Tim McIntyre: Grand final hero who booted five goals in a best-on-ground display. One of the fittest players in the competition who can play a role in the midfield or forward line.
Dallas Mooney: Intercept king who controls the Saints’ back line. Unassuming but effective.
Damian O’Connor: Veteran whose best is still among the competition’s elite – if he can stay fit. A bull in the midfield and dangerous when floating forward.
Taylor Mulraney: A staple of the Saints’ engine room. One Hampden league rival coach has labelled him their barometer and a Maskell Medal chance.
Josh Saunders: An AFL-quality midfielder whose run and carry will help the Roosters break the lines. Could be a scoreboard threat too after overcoming a serious knee injury.
Manny Sandow: A surprise winner of the 2017 Maskell Medal, this aggressive ruckman is a workhorse who can impact across the ground. Imposing in the air and shows an intensity at the contest at ground level.
Harry Lee: A smart defender whose best trait is his ability to read the play and intercept mark. Courageous in the air.
Paddy Anderson: A line-breaker who can kick goals and turn games. Still only young, should be among the league’s best for the next decade.
Jarryd Lewis: Small in stature, big in impact. Can play forward and midfield and is crucial to the Eagles’ chances.
Tom Batten: A reliable key defender with a booming kick who will be charged with manning the oppositions’ best forwards.
Tom Sharp: A strong-bodied utility with endurance – just what the Tigers ordered. Returns to Portland with experience at VFL level with Footscray and will float between midfield, defence and forward.
Jay Moody: A mercurial goalkicker who can play tall and small. Booted 50 goals for the Tigers in 2015 when he was still a teenager. A match-winner.
Luke Crane: The coach will add much-needed class to the Tigers’ attack after overcoming a knee injury. Clever goal sneak whose onfield direction will also be welcomed.
Daniel Nicholson: With links to Melbourne, the new Seagulls coach is a match-winner. Boasts an uncanny ability to hit the scoreboard playing predominantly midfield. Booted 72 majors in 2017 as the Seagulls fell one game short of ending a 59-year premiership drought.
Matt Sully: A rock in defence and a threat in attack who can influence matches with his contested marking. His ability to rotate gives the Seagulls versatility and keeps opposition guessing.
Jackson Hollmer: Mr Everywhere. This Seagull is happy to roam wherever he’s needed – forward, back, midfield. Can be the difference, as evidenced in his runner-up finish in the 2017 Maskell Medal.
Matt Pitt: Just what the Seagulls ordered – a strong-bodied midfielder who will complement Nicholson, Isaac Martin and co. Could this recruit be the missing link?
Colin Garland: A massive inclusion who fell in the Bloods’ lap through a friendship with Jordie McKenzie. The recently-retired AFL key defender played 141 games at the top level for Melbourne and was even contracted at the Demons for this season. His nous down back will give Terang Mortlake a competitive edge.
Jordie McKenzie: A defensively-minded running machine at AFL level who will be given freedom to be a ball winner in Hampden ranks. A big-bodied midfielder who should influence games, particularly by hand.
Stephen Staunton: Experienced campaigner whose height will help the Bloods in the ruck and attack. A past league best and fairest runner-up.
Alex Moloney: A versatile tall who could patch a hole in defence, attack or the ruck. Smart footballer.
Sam Cowling: One of the competition’s most damaging players in the air is back at peak fitness. Expect the key forward to boost the Blues’ scoring power.
Jackson Bell: All class with a raking kick and an uncanny ability to turn a game in minutes. Stood up to be Hampden’s best at interleague level in 2017 which spoke volumes of his talent.
Luke Cody: Recruit who prides himself on his footy smarts and ability to find space at half-forward. Could play midfield minutes.