The Hampden league is full of talent and on the eve of another season, The Standard picks out the top-30 players to keep your eyes on around the grounds.
There's familiar faces, new recruits and emerging playmakers.
A general down back who will shoulder the added responsibility of a coaching role this season. A reliable, long kick out of defence who can also shut down a threatening opponent.
Plays like a quarter-back and directs play from the Magpies' back half. Racks up possessions at will and is a damaging kick. Works in tandem with good mate Williams.
Returned from a knee reconstruction last season and will be better for the run. Can play a variety of roles but looks most comfortable in the back half.
A hard nut in the midfield who has returned after a stint in the SANFL and will work in tandem with new ruckman Levi Dare.
A ruck colossus who is hard to shift. Can float forward and be a threat in the air too. A three-time Maskell Medal winner who has crossed from Cobden.
Small in stature, big in impact. Creative midfielder who gives the Kangaroos some x-factor.
One of the weapons in the Saints' forward line. Athletic and with VFL experience under his belt, he could be one of the recruits of the season. Expect 60-plus goals from the spearhead.
Will add leadership to the Saints' already experienced line-up. Can play anywhere but is best suited across half-back where his skills can set up forward forays.
A smooth-mover who remains on Geelong's VFL list. The Saints are unsure how much they will see of him. Skilful and a hard-worker.
The league's leading goal-kicker last season is still a work in progress which is a scary thought for the opposition. Lean, athletic and can kick goals from anywhere. Is on Geelong's VFL development list.
Unassuming midfielder who was crowned last season's Maskell medallist. Wins the ball in close and is clean with his ball use.
The best-on-ground winner in the 2018 grand final is imposing in both the midfield and up forward. Works all day and is tough in the contest.
Returns home with AFL experience. A utility who should dominate this league. Expect him to hit the scoreboard and provide run and carry.
A tall midfielder-forward who will ease the pressure on Adam Wines in the Eagles' forward half. Classy and one of the club's big off-season recruits.
The steady head in defence. Powerful with a booming kick and strong hands overhead. One of the Eagles' leaders.
Swingman who now looks settled as a forward. Can play tall and small and is expected to benefit from more time in the Eagles' attacking 50.
The coach is a nightmare for opposition. Can rack up possessions in the middle or go forward and kick a bag of goals.
The ultimate swingman who is likely to start in a key defensive post. His strong marking makes him a threat when he floats forward too.
One of the competition's premier ruckmen. Is agile and covers the ground well. Is a reliable overhead mark too.
Comes from the VAFA with big wraps. Fitness is his biggest strength so expect him to embrace a midfield role and run his opponent ragged.
Returns home with high hopes. A strong inside ball winner who will help the Tigers' smaller-framed midfielders. Expect him to lift the Tigers' clearance rate.
New coach who also provides some strength around the contests. Can play anywhere and is another with VFL experience.
A steady defender who reads the ball well in flight and enjoys taking the game on from the back half.
An emerging key forward who is also adept in the ruck. A game-changer.
A smooth mover who can break the lines. Really fit after a pre-season with VFL club Box Hill.
A big-bodied midfielder who relishes the clinches. Does his best work in close but can also float forward. A natural leader with AFL experience.
One of the best marks in the league. Gives the Bloods a target in attack. Experienced and a match-winner.
A classy midfielder-forward who has a knack for kicking special goals at important times. The Blues need the ball in his hands.
The captain is a powerful forward whose clean marking causes problems for his opponents.
Strong forward who returns to the area after a memorable NEAFL career. Will work in tandem with Cowling.
The watch list...
There are many players worthy of a spot on this list.
Camperdown recruit PJ Manivong comes with big wraps and is a speedster who could add x-factor to the Magpies' line-up.
His Magpie teammate Riley Arnold is another eye-catching player whose career is still in its infancy.
Portland ruckman Ben Malcolm, if fit, is a high-calibre player while North Warrnambool Eagles' Sam James is a hard-working ball winner on the rise.
Koroit's last-minute pick-up Tom Couch should be a stand out too.
Hamilton Kangaroos recruit Jarrod O'Brien will add a hardness to their midfield group.
Cobden's Jesse Williamson is an emerging wingman-midfielder and new assistant coach Daniel Watson is fully fit after a spate of injuries and will add hardness to the Bombers' onball brigade.
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