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Players' Top 50: The man who must carry the Suns

Steven May: a new breed of enforcer The Gold Coast captain comes in at no.41 in the Players' Top 50 countdown

HE MIGHT be emerging as one of the competition's best key defenders, but arguably Steven May's biggest role in 2018 comes with his leadership.

The bull-chested Gold Coast co-captain has been recognised by his peers as the AFL's 41st best player in the 2018 Players' Top 50.

Players 50-41 are revealed below, and you can click here to see the full Players' Top 50 as they are revealed

He is at the forefront of a huge season for the struggling Suns that might go a long way towards shaping their immediate future.

Inaugural skipper Gary Ablett got his wish and was traded back to Geelong in the off-season.

Stuart Dew was ushered in as the club's third coach following Rodney Eade's sacking.

There were also other changes in key football roles, with inaugural football manager Marcus Ashcroft and list manager Scott Clayton shown the door.

Add to the cocktail Tom Lynch's pending free agency and the fact Gold Coast don't play at home until June due to the Commonwealth Games, and May needs to be as strong off the field as he is on it.

He is now just one of eight Suns to still be at the club from their 2011 inception.

Steven May's 2017
18 games 19.3 average disposals
2 Brownlow votes No.5 key defender in the AFL Player Ratings

He has a quiet tone, but the 25-year-old's voice is the strongest in the Suns' changeroom.

May leads with voice, while co-captain Tom Lynch leads with actions.

No way past: May at his bullocking best against the Saints last year. Picture: AFL Photos

"Last year I think the captaincy sort of got put on me, it wasn't something I was aiming for, so I wasn't sort of ready for it," May said late last year after his appointment.

"I learnt a lot last year under Rocket and with Gaz around

"Now I've had a year to feel it.

"The way football is going, it's a lot relationship-based and if you can learn to give feedback, not only negative feedback, but positive feedback in the right way, certainly to the younger kids coming in, you get a huge spike in performance."

With barely a sniff of the finals in his seven seasons, May showed great loyalty by extending his deal to the end of 2019, and now he must be a driving force to lead the Suns towards September.

- Michael Whiting 

50. Nic Naitanui

West Coast
Ruck
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 292
Debut: 2009
Games: 146
AFL Fantasy value: $417,000

It's been a long time since the West Coast ruckman has been seen. His absence stretches back to round 22, 2016, when he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Despite the long layoff, it's hard to forget what the big man offers at his best. Naitanui is one of the most exciting players in the competition and will make the Eagles' midfield far more dangerous if he can return to his peak.

49. Rory Laird

Adelaide
Defender
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 78
Debut: 2013
Games: 101
AFL Fantasy value: $707,000

The Adelaide backman was underrated for a period but has won over the respect of the competition after earning a reputation as a prolific ball-winner. He finished third in last year's best and fairest as the Crows made the Grand Final and only once did he pick up fewer than 20 disposals. After consecutive years of making the squad, Laird was recognised in the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team for the first time last season.

48. Ollie Wines

Port Adelaide
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 33
Debut: 2013
Games: 107
AFL Fantasy value: $703,000

There's so much speculation about where the 23-year-old will play after his contract expires at the end of this season because of the traits he has shown. Wines entered the AFL with a man's body and has shown he is as tough as they come, and will be highly sought after if Port can't lock him in beyond 2018. For all the talk about the Power's recruits, Wines will continue to be one of their most important players.

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47. Adam Treloar

Collingwood
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: 40
Official AFL Player Rating: 9
Debut: 2012
Games: 122
AFL Fantasy value: $761,000

One of the more consistent players in the competition, Treloar's lowest disposal count last year was 21. The Magpies haven't had a lot of recent success but their midfield is full of stars and Treloar is one of their best. His kicking sometimes comes under criticism but the former Giant can be relied upon to run hard all game long.

46. Steele Sidebottom

Collingwood
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: 39
Official AFL Player Rating: 55
Debut: 2009
Games: 185
AFL Fantasy value: $745,000

Another Magpie jet who runs through the middle. Sidebottom is close to the fittest player at the club and can deliver the ball on either side of his body. After winning his maiden best and fairest last year, Sidebottom can go to another level by playing more in attack and kicking more goals, as he did in 2011, when he averaged a goal per game.

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45. Shaun Higgins

North Melbourne
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 127
Debut: 2006
Games: 183
AFL Fantasy value: $665,000

Injuries plagued Higgins for much of his time at the Western Bulldogs but his body has proven much more durable at North, and he was rewarded with the Syd Barker Medal last year. The classy midfielder can hit the scoreboard and offers a different option to many of the in-and-under types at the Kangaroos. It's a sign of faith by the club that it recently re-signed Higgins until the end of 2020.

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44. Tom Scully

GWS
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 84
Debut: 2010
Games: 151
AFL Fantasy value: $576,000

Scully is as impressive as anyone in the AFL when it comes to being able to cover kilometres. He has shown over several years that no one can match him as a midfielder covering territory and the left-footer can consistently produce huge efforts, running both ways. The former Demon has been nominated for the All Australian squad over the past two seasons.

43. Seb Ross

St Kilda
Midfielder
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 59
Debut: 2012
Games: 81
AFL Fantasy value: $718,000

The onballer took his game to the next level in 2017 and was a runaway winner of St Kilda's best and fairest. He can be assigned a variety of jobs, whether that involves winning the football himself or stopping an opposition player. The left-footer runs hard, rarely fumbles and can be relied upon to deliver the football accurately.

42. Dane Rampe

Sydney Swans
Defender
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 117
Debut: 2013
Games: 115
AFL Fantasy value: $470,000

It's not a coincidence Sydney started slowly last season while Rampe nursed a broken arm. He has become perhaps the Swans' most important defender, because he can stop an opponent while providing rebound. The Rampe story is all the more remarkable considering he was originally picked up as a rookie in 2013.

41. Steven May

Gold Coast
Defender
Last year's ranking: -
Official AFL Player Rating: 93
Debut: 2011
Games: 106
AFL Fantasy value: $545,000

Who's next?

• Check out the rest of the 2018 Players' Top 50 as they are revealed

• Players tip 2018's top five breakout stars

Who came top of the class in 2017's Players' Top 50?