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Forward thinking: your club's goal-kicking options - Adelaide to GWS

The Crows need both leadership and bags of goals from Taylor Walker this year - ${keywords}
The Crows need both leadership and bags of goals from Taylor Walker this year
Case for the defence - Adelaide to Greater Western Sydney
Case for the defence - Hawthorn to Western Bulldogs 

ADELAIDE

Eddie Betts: The small forward was the Crows' leading goal kicker last year. His ability to turn nothing into something is impressive and his NAB Challenge form suggests he's primed for a big season.

Charlie Cameron: Such an exciting prospect, Cameron's 2014 debut season saw him promoted onto the senior list. He's got speed, agility, a natural goal sense and a competitive streak that leads to plenty of forward pressure is outstanding.

Harry Dear: A strapping young man at 197cm and 98kg but Dear is a raw prospect and will take time before pushing for a senior debut. He will get plenty of opportunity to develop his game against grown men in the SANFL this year. 

Josh Jenkins: Developed significantly last year to boot a career high 40 goals. His athleticism and sheer size make him a difficult opponent to match up on and his work to improve his rucking ability will only enhance his versatility.

Tom Lynch: A hard-running tall forward who often pushes high up the field to link defence with attack. He also wins the ball deep in attack and apart from a mild concussion in Adelaide's opening NAB Challenge has been injury free, after a 2014 ruined by some infamous knocks. 

Brodie Martin: Has worked hard in recent years to push up onto a wing and is quite capable of doing so, but Martin's best football is usually played across half-forward. Nice skills, great vision and he has a natural feel for the game.

Mitch McGovern: Younger brother of West Coast's Jeremy, McGovern has a superb leap and has also played senior football in the WAFL, which should help fast-track his development. He's quick off the mark and is reliable in front of goal, but his jump is his weapon.

James Podsiadly: A premiership veteran with Geelong, Podsiadly adds a wealth of experience as well as a genuine attacking target to Adelaide's side. At 33 he still looks a best-22 player, although he could spend more time in defence this year. 

Keenan Ramsey: He grew up with only one eye but hasn't been held back; Ramsey was one of the best shots at goal in his draft class and has impressed at training over the summer. In a few years he'll cut an imposing figure.

Taylor Walker: Handed the captaincy by coach Phil Walsh, Walker is a natural leader and is highly respected by the playing group. His return from a knee reconstruction was really impressive; he's an incredibly strong mark, an accurate kick of goal and lifts the side when it needs lifting. - Harry Thring

BRISBANE LIONS

Allen Christensen: The prized signing from Geelong had a delayed pre-season after undergoing back surgery in September. However, he has recovered well and is expected to play the final NAB Challenge game and be available for round one. Will play predominantly as a half-forward, but with his contested ball-winning ability, will rotate into the middle once fitness improves.

Josh Clayton: Taken as a father/son selection (he is the son of former Fitzroy player and current Gold Coast list manager Scott), Clayton is a clever lead-up forward. This will largely be a development year in the NEAFL for the 19-year-old.

Michael Close: Entering his third season, Close is likely to get plenty of chances to nail down a permanent key forward position. One of Jonathan Brown's protégés, the 20-year-old played 14 games last year and showed glimpses of potential. An incredible aerobic athlete for his size (196cm), Close is a solid mark on the lead and very competitive once the ball is on the ground.

Liam Dawson: Taken in last year's draft as a Lions academy graduate, Dawson looks a ready-made AFL player. He has a strong build, good hands and is composed in congestion. Will get his chances this year.

Jono Freeman: Will miss the first month of the season after going under the knife to repair a bulging disc in his back. After four games at the end of last year – including a four-goal haul against Collingwood at the MCG – Freeman was in line to push for a starting spot and should do so again on his return. Is a terrific pack mark and set shot for goal.

Josh Green: Continues to elevate his standing among the AFL's best small forwards after another excellent season. Despite limited forward entries Green kicked 33 goals and was the Lions' leading goalkicker. He is quick, evasive, has clean hands and can snap goals from nearly anywhere.

Matthew Hammelmann: A tall forward who is expected to take some time to develop, Hammelmann is a graduate of both the AIS and Lions academies. He is 197cm, has speed and a good leap, but will spend most of the year in the NEAFL as he bulks up to take on the bigger bodies.

Jaden McGrath: Taken late in last year's draft with pick 73, McGrath has jumped from the pack with an outstanding pre-season. With Dayne Zorko, Green, Taylor and Christensen playing similar roles, he will find it hard to win a spot, but McGrath is knocking on the door – loudly.

Luke McGuane: His first year at the Lions was ruined by a knee injury, but after a solid pre-season, McGuane is likely to battle with Brent Staker for a starting position. The 28-year-old is a strong overhead mark, but perhaps his best asset is his defensive pressure, which every coach loves.

Daniel McStay: Arguably the most exciting of the young Lions key forwards, McStay is quick, has a spring-heeled leap and a thumping left boot. He can play either end of the ground, but with Freeman's injury, will start the season forward. Don't take your eye off him because McStay is capable of the spectacular.

Jackson Paine: A difficult first season at the Lions, Paine again finds himself down the pecking order of the key talls. Paine has a great work ethic but failed to grab his limited chances last year and will be hoping to make inroads in his fourth season in the system.

Mitch Robinson: After a troubled finish to his six seasons with Carlton, Robinson was recruited by the Lions for his fearless attack on the footy. While his skills sometimes let him down, the 25-year-old can kick goals, win his own footy and inspire his teammates with his relentless attitude. Will play half-forward with stints in the midfield.

Brent Staker: Missed all of last season with a tendon injury in his calf, continuing a wretched run for the 30-year-old, who has played just 22 games in four years. Staker has had an excellent pre-season and looks back to his running, athletic best. He is the front-runner to play as the third tall forward that can add some experience alongside his young teammates.

Lewy Taylor: Taylor had an incredible first season, winning the NAB Rising Star award. He did that off virtually no pre-season, whereas this time around he hasn't skipped a beat. The diminutive half-forward is elusive, creative, energetic and adept off both sides of his body. He'll likely get some more attention this year, but Taylor has proved over his short footy career he likes to beat the odds. - Michael Whiting

Mitch Robinson will be out to impress in his first season at the Lions. Picture: AFL Media



CARLTON

Dennis Armfield: Has given himself a good platform to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 season with a strong summer on the track. Expected to rotate between high half-forward and a deeper crumbing role this year, when the Blues will encourage him to use his pace whenever possible to burn opponents off and apply defensive pressure.

Dylan Buckley: Alternated between Carlton's defensive and forward training groups this pre-season, but played as a small forward in the Blues' round one NAB Challenge loss to West Coast and looks set to start the premiership season in attack. With his speed and preparedness to take the opposition on, Buckley could help fill the hole left by the departures of Eddie Betts and Jeff Garlett in the past two years and Chris Yarran's move to defence.

Levi Casboult: The Blues are confident the key forward can build on his breakthrough 2014 season this year. Casboult is on the verge of becoming an elite contested mark, while he has a rare mix of speed, endurance and agility for someone who stands 199cm. Has worked overtime to improve his goalkicking and game sense this pre-season.

David Ellard: Was a revelation up forward last season with his defensive pressure and ability to shut down attacking opposition defenders. Ellard will again play a defensive forward role in 2015, but the Blues want him to hit the scoreboard as a crumbing small too. Has been sidelined by a minor calf strain recently but is expected to return for Carlton's final NAB Challenge game against Geelong on March 22.

Jayden Foster: Returned to full training last week after recovering from a hot spot on his foot. The key forward is well built for a first-year player, moves well and is a strong mark. But 2015 is likely to be a development year as he looks to build strength and endurance.

Lachie Henderson: Set to become the main man on the Blues' forward line after Jarrad Waite's departure to North Melbourne and, at 25, seems ready for the added responsibility. An elite runner for a key forward, Henderson has completed his best pre-season in recent years and is set to return for Carlton's final two NAB Challenge games.

Blaine Johnson: Played five games late last year in an impressive debut season but remains on Carlton's rookie list. At 186cm, Johnson is a hit-up forward who works extremely hard defensively.

Liam Jones: The former Bulldog was quiet in his club debut against West Coast in round one of the NAB Challenge, but the Blues have high hopes for him as a second or third tall after an impressive pre-season. Strong and explosive off the mark, Jones has been working hard on his marking technique since joining Carlton.

Matthew Kreuzer: Looked set for a big 2015 after an excellent start to the pre-season, but suffered another foot injury last month and is not expected to play for at least four weeks. Has played his best football in the ruck but is a capable forward who the Blues plan to rotate regularly through attack once he returns.

Troy Menzel: Missed the Blues' NAB Challenge loss to West Coast with a corked quad but is set to return for Sunday's clash against Collingwood. A class act in attack, the medium forward has a pin-point left foot and is deceptively strong overhead. Working hard to build his endurance and is likely to spend time in the midfield this year.

Clem Smith: Played mainly as a defender and midfielder as a junior, but the Blues will start him as a small forward in 2015. Has worked hard to build his fitness and improve his diet since joining Carlton in last year's national draft. A prodigious natural talent, the Blues expect him to play a fair bit of senior football this season.

Jason Tutt: The former Bulldog has enjoyed a strong first pre-season at Ikon Park, impressing Carlton's coaching staff with his ability to adjust to the Blues' game plan. The quick small is likely to spend most of his time in attack, but could drift into the midfield at times.

Matthew Watson: The former defender has been rejuvenated in his new role in attack, following up his four-goal game against Essendon in round 23 last year with a six-goal haul in Carlton's intra-club game last month. Was quiet in the Blues' opening NAB Challenge game against West Coast, but has relished the chance to make the play rather than manning an opponent. A strong mark, booming kick and hard runner on the lead. - Nick Bowen

Lachie Henderson will be the Blues' main man up forward this year. Picture: AFL Media

COLLINGWOOD

Brenden Abbott: A project player who the Pies believe, given the right development, will turn into a dangerous player inside forward 50. Possesses a raking left-foot and takes a strong grab. 

Jarryd Blair: Blair will be keen to atone for a down season in 2014, which started badly when he broke his toe while riding his bike to the beach in the pre-season. The Pies will rely on the small forward's pressure to create turnovers.
 
Tim Broomhead: Magpie fans are yet to see the best of Broomhead, who has been limited by injury and illness (glandular fever) in his first two seasons in the League. But you get the feeling the youngster, who has played eight senior games, is ready to make his mark. A clever forward/midfielder who can pick his way through traffic with relative ease.
 
Travis Cloke: Perhaps Collingwood's most vital player, considering his importance to the team's structure. Cloke's fortunes in front of goal will be crucial in determining the Magpies' finals hopes this season.
 
Jamie Elliott: Elliott is one of the most exciting young players in the AFL and he is starting to match potential with consistency. The 22-year-old is a difficult match-up because of his aerial ability and speed at ground level.
 
Alex Fasolo: Set to return to the forward line after a year of experimentation in defence. Fasolo suits a forward role because he can make something out of nothing and doesn't need a whole lot of possessions to influence a game.
 
Corey Gault: The big forward has been unlucky with injury, but showed enough in his debut game, in the final round of last season, that he could be worth persisting with. The 199cm forward can clunk marks and finish his work from set shots.
 
Tyson Goldsack: A crucial member of Nathan Buckley's line-up, given his ability to play in a range of positions. However, Goldsack is most valuable as a pressure forward. When the Pies are up and about, Goldsack and Blair are usually right in the thick of things.
 
Patrick Karnezis: Failed to debut in his first season at Collingwood, after crossing from the Brisbane Lions. Now injury free, that's unlikely to be the case this season with Karnezis shaping as a potential round one debutant.
 
Lachlan Keeffe: Nathan Buckley told AFL.com.au that Keeffe will likely play forward this season as the Magpies search for another option to aid Travis Cloke. With Ben Reid, Jack Frost and Nathan Brown to fill the positions down back, shifting forward could prove to be an inspired move for Keeffe.
 
Ben Kennedy: The nippy small forward has found himself in and out of the side in the past two years, but 2015 looms as the right year for him to make himself a regular. Has improved his fitness meaning he can also have stints through the midfield.
 
Ben Sinclair: Initially drafted as a forward, Sinclair is more likely to spend time down back in 2015 (as has been the case in recent seasons). His speed off the mark and ability to scrap make him a valuable defensive option for coach Nathan Buckley.
 
Travis Varcoe: After eight seasons at Geelong, Varcoe Has made every post a winner since joining the Pies in the off-season. He is fitter than he has ever been and has been one of the most impressive summer performers at Collingwood. Likely to rotate between the forward flank and the wing at the Pies this season.
 
Jesse White: Shed a whopping eight kilograms in the pre-season to ensure he was in the best shape to attack the 2015 season. White was inconsistent in his first season at Collingwood in 2014, but if he can make more of an impact this year then the Magpies will be better off. – Ben Guthrie

A svelte Jesse White celebrates a goal with Jordan De Goey during the NAB Challenge. Picture: AFL Media

ESSENDON

Patrick Ambrose: A standout over pre-season with his athleticism and excellent running capacity, Ambrose won the club's 2km time-trial in January and has continued to work on his forward craft under new specialist coach Matthew Lloyd. Competitive, tough and a reliable set-shot for goal, Ambrose brought plenty to Essendon's attack as a mature-age recruit last year.

Jake Carlisle: Carlisle only recently returned to full training at Essendon after a very interrupted pre-season with knee tendinitis. But he did show some encouraging signs last week in some match simulation drills during training with Williamstown's VFL team. Seems most likely to play as a forward and switch back when required but will enter the season a little underdone. 

Paul Chapman: Ahead of his second season with the Bombers, Chapman was elevated to the club's leadership group. It seems likely the 33-year-old will again have his moments through the year where his body is managed, but he adds obvious class and polish to Essendon's line-up near goal.

Travis Colyer: Colyer will be determined to back up his breakout 2014 season with an even better 2015 campaign. The speedy midfielder enjoyed a terrific second half to last season after being made to work hard to earn his spot in the senior team. His pace and tenacity brings something different to Essendon's side and he recently agreed to a new two-year deal through to the end of 2017.

Joe Daniher: An exciting talent for everybody associated with Essendon and a figure of optimism for Bombers supporters. That pressure won't burden Daniher, who wants to be very good and is in a hurry to get there. Has worked closely with Lloyd over summer to improve his goalkicking technique, and the 21-year-old key forward will enter the season with some confidence after being the club's leading goalkicker last season.

Shaun Edwards: Edwards has completed the first pre-season of his career and enters his fourth AFL season with some belief in his body. Will be used across half-forward and is capable of some brilliant moments. He booted three goals last week against St Kilda, and can produce something from nothing with his pace and dynamic movement. Needs to continue to improve consistency but can invent some goals.  

Nick Kommer: One of the disappointing stories of 2014 for the Bombers, Kommer's injury troubles will extend into 2015. The small and rugged forward is still recovering from his knee tendinitis, gradually stepping up his training load. He's not likely to be available for selection until the early part of the home and away season.

Kyle Langford: In his first pre-season Langford has managed to do a large volume of training, a by-product of having excellent endurance. The leading and marking forward has impressed with his game sense, agility and ability to find space on the lead. He offers the Bombers some lead-up and marking options out of the forward 50, which they have missed in recent seasons.

Jayden Laverde: A groin injury has limited Laverde in recent times, with the No. 20 pick at last year's draft restricted to light duties. Can play a number of positions, from half-back through to the wing and across half-forward, and do some eye-catching things like take big marks and use his run and carry. At 190cm he has good size to go through the midfield too.

Jake Long: There weren't too many expectations heaped on Long in his first pre-season, given how little the father-son rookie has played over the last few years with injury. But he has continued to surprise, belying his light frame to throw himself into contests and be smart in traffic. He played for the Bombers in their opening NAB Challenge game and was nimble when the ball was in his area.

Shaun McKernan:The former Crow found a second AFL home at last year's rookie draft when Essendon called his name. After 34 games in six seasons with Adelaide, he comes with some experience and physical maturity and will be used as a forward who can pinch-hit in the ruck.

Jackson Merrett: Merrett staked his claim for a more permanent move to the midfield with 27 disposals against St Kilda on Saturday as a wingman. But he still seems likely to be used across half-forward and the middle, offering the Bombers some important pace. After an up and down 2014, Merrett heads into his fourth AFL season with a strong fitness base.

Nick O'Brien: O'Brien has been trialled in a number of spots since arriving at Essendon at the 2011 NAB AFL Draft. He started as a half-forward, had a stint across half-back and has also used his running capabilities to be a shutdown player in the midfield. This year shapes as an important one in his career after failing to break into the senior team last season.

Jason Winderlich: After retiring, returning and then requesting a trade, Winderlich ended up staying at Essendon for a 13th season. He will again be managed through the year to prevent any injury hiccups, but he adds value and class across half-forward. Also showed some great rebound last year when shifted to half-back. – Callum Twomey

Joe Daniher celebrates a goal during the 2014 finals. Picture: AFL Media

FREMANTLE

Michael Apeness: Described as a "competitive beast" by his coach Ross Lyon, he has the opportunity in 2015 to cement a place in a three-pronged forward structure. He is 200cm and 101kg and is a brilliant contested mark. He is working on his engine and should add to the two games he played in 2014.

Hayden Ballantyne: Vital to the Dockers' premiership chances. Coming off his best season at AFL level. He kicked 49 goals and was named All Australian for the first time. In the 31 games he's kicked three goals or more at AFL level, the Dockers have won 30.  

Hayden Crozier: Talented left-footer who worked his way into the Dockers' best 22 by the end of last season and was impressive during the finals series. A smart, creative player that can pinch-hit in the midfield and knows how to find the goals. Expected to take another step forward this season.

Josh Deluca: Young forward/midfielder that has been managed through the pre-season. Impressed in the WAFL last year with Subiaco before he was drafted and will likely spend this year developing further at Peel.

Max Duffy: Got a taste of AFL football last season, kicking two goals on debut against Geelong. Had a shoulder operation during the off-season but has had a full pre-season. Will be on the cusp on the 22 again but may need injuries to others to get an opportunity.

Chris Mayne: Kicked just 13 goals last year and spent some time in defence in a disappointing campaign. Has been training in defence during match simulation sessions as the Dockers look for more flexibility. But he did play forward in the Dockers' first NAB Challenge match.

Matthew Pavlich: The captain remains one of the most important players for the Dockers. There is talk of managing him this year but he is keen to play as much as possible. Looks in great shape after kicking three goals against Melbourne last week. The trial of a new forward structure with three talls is designed to free him up.

Matt Taberner: Was very impressive at the end of the home and away season last year, although he was well held in the finals. Has had a terrific pre-season and it showed in the first NAB Challenge where he gathered 14 touches, took four marks and kicked three goals. Looks set for a big year.

Michael Walters: Had his 2014 campaign ruined by an ankle injury after kicking 46 goals in 2013. Has put in a monstrous pre-season and looks ready to recapture his best form. Will be very important if the Dockers' structure features more talls in the forward line. - Alex Malcolm

Matthew Pavlich showed no signs of slowing down with three goals last week. Picture: AFL Media



GEELONG

Zac Bates: A speedy small forward who had his 2014 season marred by recurring hamstring problems. He is agile and has the reputation for being difficult to tackle. Bates is listed as a short-term injury concern for the Cats.

Sam Blease: The former Melbourne speedster needed a fresh start and he is learning plenty in his first season at Geelong. The Cats lost Travis Varcoe and Allen Christensen in last year's off-season so Blease's pace and creativity make him an interesting addition to the line-up.
 
Mitch Clark:
Clark has made a strong impression in his first pre-season at the Cats. The tall forward is relishing his fresh start, after retiring in April last year while on Melbourne's list. He looms as an important piece of the forward puzzle alongside Tom Hawkins in 2015.
 
Cory Gregson:
The 175cm forward thrives on getting to contests and then using his pace to breakaway from his opponent. Gregson is tenacious and the forward pressure he brings to games may pave the way for senior opportunities in 2015.
 
Tom Hawkins:
There is no secret Geelong relies on Hawkins like no other member of its side. However, Hawkins invariably delivers when given the responsibility to be the match-winner. His connection with Clark looms as a fascinating sub-plot for Geelong's season.
 
Shane Kersten:
Kersten is highly rated down at the Cattery and he is likely to get the chance to show exactly why this season. The 21-year-old is agile on the lead and looms as the perfect foil for Hawkins and Clark. Often kicks booming goals from outside 50.
 
Darcy Lang:
Lang shapes as a likely inclusion when Geelong faces Hawthorn in round one at the MCG. The agile forward/midfielder shone for the Cats against the Suns in their NAB Challenge opener in Townsville, continuing his impressive pre-season. A potential replacement for Christensen.
 
Michael Luxford:
The Cats have been pleased with Luxford's development after he made the switch from an elite junior basketball program. The 187cm rookie has bulked up and improved his aerobic ability to the point where senior football isn't out of the question this year.
 
Daniel Menzel:
Menzel is on the comeback trail and the Cats are hopeful he will get back on the park in the early stages of this season. The 23-year-old has been through four knee reconstructions, but has remained amazingly positive through his journey. A supremely talented forward prospect who needs a bit of luck.
 
Lincoln McCarthy:
The clever small forward has had a wretched run with injury and it will continue in 2015. McCarthy, who has played five career games, had surgery on his troublesome foot last week and is expected to miss up to five months.
 
Steven Motlop:
A full pre-season has a reinvigorated Motlop ready to run rings around opposition defences. He is likely to spend time in the middle as well as forward, where his offensive running and creativity can be used to advantage the most. Back this speedster to have a big 2015.
 
Jordan Murdoch:
Blessed with exceptional pace, Murdoch's consistency improved in 2014. With Varcoe and Christensen departing, Murdoch's ability to break the lines looms as pivotal for Geelong. Needs to continue to apply forward pressure to match his offensive ability.
 
Rhys Stanley:
Stanley has had a frustrating pre-season with leg soreness restricting the amount of work he has been able to get in. However, the former Saint is on the mend and the Cats believe he'll be right for the start of the season. Will play ruck and forward this season.
 
Nathan Vardy:
Last year was a write-off for Vardy, after the tall forward tore his ACL before the season began. The 23-year-old, who has managed 21 games in three seasons on Geelong's list, is still considered a long-term injury prospect for the Cats, but the club is optimistic he may return midway through this season.
 
Josh Walker:
Walker made a big impact in last year's semi-final against North Melbourne where he booted three goals. The former rookie will look to build on an impressive finals series and take the next step in his career. – Ben Guthrie

Expect Geelong forward/mid Steven Motlop to have a huge 2015. Picture: AFL Media

GOLD COAST

Keegan Brooksby: Mature-age rookie from South Australia, Brooksby has mainly been drafted as a back-up in the ruck to Zac Smith and Tom Nicholls, but has trained forward to fill a role there if required. Kicking skills need some work, but he is super competitive both in the air and on the ground.

Andrew BostonMissed a big chunk of last season after badly dislocating his ankle, and has had a disrupted build-up to 2015 with a recurrence of the same problem. Boston is a clever half-forward and arguably the team's best set shot at goal. Has now slid down the pecking order a bit, but still a chance to play games once he returns to fitness. 

Sam DayBig season coming up for the former No.3 draft pick who showed glimpses of his best in 2014. Four-goal hauls against the Brisbane Lions and Collingwood have shown the athletically-gifted Day is good enough, but he just has to do it more often. Has trained in defence, and despite a nagging calf injury, should start in the forward line come round one.

Charlie Dixon: Bullocking forward who is one of the Suns' most valuable players. Dixon has been plagued by injuries over his short career, and an ankle problem has again limited his pre-season. Will be unavailable for the opening rounds, but his aggression both as a marking forward and second ruck are crucial to Gold Coast's success.

Tyrone Downie: Another mature-age rookie, drafted from Bendigo, Downie comes to the Suns as a clever marking forward. Caught behind a logjam of similar types, the 26-year-old will likely spend most of his time playing in the NEAFL this year.

Jarred Ellis: Second season on the list for the speedy Queenslander, Ellis has trained as a half-forward during the pre-season. Still needing to tidy up his skills, the 19-year-old will start off in the reserves.

Jarrod Garlett: Taken with pick No.15 in last year's draft, Garlett has impressed during his first pre-season and is right in the frame for a round one start. Capable of doing almost anything, he is quick, has great endurance and can kick goals from improbable angles. Was a midfielder in the juniors, but has worked hard on defensive pressure and will start up forward to launch his AFL career. 

Aaron Hall: After a topsy-turvy 2014 Hall spent much of the pre-season recovering from groin surgery. He played 16 games last year but was dropped on multiple occasions for inconsistent form. Hel will need some time to work into the season, but is quick and is certainly capable of kicking multiple goals as a small forward (44 in 46 games).

Josh Hall: After three years as a rookie, the former Australian high jump representative has been elevated to the senior list. With injuries to Dixon and Day during the pre-season, Hall was exposed to the top level during the NAB Challenge and showed glimpses he could mix it. Still with a lot of improving to do, the 24-year-old will start as a back-up key position player to his bigger name teammates.

Louis Herbert: One year into his AFL career and Herbert is still far from the finished product. A half-forward who is quick and good at ground level, Herbert needs to work on his tackling pressure to force a spot in the starting 22. 

Tom Lynch: Lynch is the cornerstone of the Suns' forward line and one of the best young talls in the AFL. The 22-year-old had a breakout season in 2014, kicking 46 goals, and patrols the difficult centre half-forward role with a combination of elite endurance, strong hands in the air and clean hands on the ground. Lynch will miss round one through suspension.

Brandon Matera: Much like Dixon, Matera has been plagued by injury for much of his brief career, but has got through one of his best pre-seasons to date. Kicked 27 goals in 16 matches last year but like his teammates, faded as the season wore on. Matera is terrific around goals, with his evasive skills and clever left foot able to create goals out of nothing.

Touk Miller: Super impressive pre-season after being taken by the Suns at No.30 in last year's draft. Miller is a coach's dream, chasing anything that moves in the forward 50, and is firmly in the picture to play in round one.

Timmy Sumner: Now entering his third season, Sumner has work to do to retain his spot in the senior team. Has had a solid pre-season, and with his tremendous power and explosive pace, has some attributes that can help any outfit. Turned the ball over a little too often last year and needs to clean that up. 

Peter Wright: The Suns' first pick in last year's draft (No.8 overall), Wright is a long-term key forward prospect. Had a strong pre-season that has only been slightly curtailed with a niggling knee injury. The Suns are in no hurry to rush him into the seniors – although injuries may dictate otherwise – and would like him to develop his strength in the NEAFL. - Michael Whiting

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

Dylan Addison: Brought experience and maturity to the young Giants after switching from the Western Bulldogs, but struggled for a senior game and only played five matches last year. Can chip in down back or in a defensive role in attack, however he faces stiff competition for those spots.

Paul Ahern: Has the flexibility to play forward or through midfield and shapes as a future star following a standout draft year. Has a knack for finding the footy and will be hoping for a taste of the big time in 2015.

Jeremy Cameron: All signs are pointing to a big year from the 2013 All Australian. Cameron ended speculation about his future last week by re-signing until 2020 and he has overcome the perforated eardrum and ankle issues that hampered him last year. The focal point while Jonathon Patton recuperates.

Will Hoskin-Elliott: Lifted his game to another level late last year and stamped himself as a star of the future. Has pace to burn and a touch of brilliance playing across half-forward or running through the midfield. Appears primed for a breakout campaign.

Joshua Kelly: Another of the young guns who has the competition fearing what GWS might become if its exciting group sticks together. Showed an instant adaptation to AFL level playing 18 games and kicking 13 goals last year. Destined for big things.

Jed Lamb: Former Sydney Swan was one of GWS' best in the NEAFL last year but struggled to crack a regular senior game (eight matches, six goals). Played the first NAB Challenge match, possibly a good sign after coach Leon Cameron signalled he was keen to work out his best 22 over the three games, but needs a strong season.

Cam McCarthy: Has been earmarked to step into Jonathon Patton shoes while he's sidelined and the 192cm Giant made a promising start to 2015 booting three goals against Gold Coast on Saturday. Can play both ends but forward spots have opened up following Tom Boyd's departure.

Patrick McKenna: Plucked from Gisborne in the Bendigo Football Netball League, the small forward's selection at pick 23 was the shock of last year's NAB AFL Draft. Has a nose for goals and is good overhead, but at just 78kg he needs time for his body to develop.

Rhys Palmer: Former midfielder made a seamless transition to a defensive and dangerous half-forward role last year, where he looks set to continue in 2015 after kicking 23 goals in 17 games. Particularly effective shutting down the opposition's best rebounder, but also ranked third for score assists at the Giants.

Jonathon Patton: The power forward is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from his second knee reconstruction and is on track for a mid-season return. Patton was back running in November and the former No.1 draft pick recently travelled to the USA for specialist treatment.

Jarrod Pickett: The electrifying small was keen to build his fitness once he arrived in Sydney and has enjoyed a strong pre-season. Pickett played as an attacking midfielder for WA in the under-18 championships but is more likely to be stationed in attack early on in his Giants career.

Devon Smith: One of the competition's pressure kings, Smith is coming off a breakout season when he averaged 25 touches and booted 26 goals as a small forward. The runner-up in the Kevin Sheedy Medal, Smith last week put contract speculation behind him by re-signing until 2017.

Jack Steele: The Canberra draftee has impressed everyone at the Giants with his leadership and workrate over the pre-season, which the academy selection started earlier than the rest of the new crop. His reward was being the only draftee picked in the club's opening NAB Challenge game. Looks a strong chance to debut this year.

James Stewart: Having missed out on a pre-season when his career kicked-off, Stewart was set back this summer by a bout of glandular fever in December. The athletic and versatile 198cm big man has played mostly as a forward but can pinch-hit in the ruck and on a wing.

Liam Sumner: Has endured a ruined pre-season after suffering a navicular stress fracture in his foot in December. Not expected to be off the injury list for another five weeks, the small forward faces a tough task to significantly ad to his 12 games this year.

Adam Tomlinson: An important foil for Jeremy Cameron and, when he returns, Jonathon Patton for his ability to provide a linking option across half-forward and the wings. The 193cm big man – who can also play through midfield – is in top shape and won the 3km time trial for young players in November before finishing second to Tom Scully in January. – Travis King

Tomorrow: part two of our club by club forwards special - Hawthorn to the Western Bulldogs