THE AFL season being on hold until May 31 is proving difficult for everyone in football, with pay cuts, temporary stand downs, job losses and increasing uncertainty about the future.

Every club has multiple footballers whose agents were able to negotiate just a one-year deal for them, meaning in many cases they must prove themselves all over again in 2020.

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The 17-round season offers less opportunity for fringe types – although the likelihood of shorter breaks between games could be a boon for them – and the potential of the season not continuing would be stressful. has identified one player from each team on an expiring contract who will be more desperate than most for the season to resume.

Adelaide Crows

Riley Knight

Played 15 games last year but spent a good chunk of the middle of the season as a match-day emergency or in the SANFL. Knight spoke with Sydney coach John Longmire about a move to the Harbour City in the Telstra AFL Trade Period but re-signed with the Crows for the 2020 campaign. Knight was targeting a round three return this year after undergoing surgery on a nagging Achilles issue but the shutdown means he should be fighting fit for resumption. The 25-year-old is in a good age bracket to prove his worth for Matthew Nicks' rebuilding side. David MackayKieran Strachan and Patrick Wilson will also need to make every post a winner.

Round one: Did not play (injured – Achilles)

00:26 Mins
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What is this Crows goal celebration all about?

Riley Knight has us guessing with this reaction

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Brisbane Lions

Allen Christensen

Christensen fought his way into the strong Lions team in the second half of the season and played both finals but had to wait until after the Telstra AFL Trade Period to score a new contract. However, the 28-year-old didn't play in the Lions' season-opening defeat to Hawthorn at the MCG last Sunday, after missing both of the club's Marsh Community Series matches. Christensen faces a tough fight for a senior spot, with younger options such as Deven Robertson and Brandon Starcevich forcing their way in. Mitch HingeRyan LesterCorey LyonsSam Skinner and Matt Eagles are hanging on, too.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:24 Mins
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No angle too tight for Christensen

Allen Christensen slots a lovely goal from a tough angle

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Hugh Goddard

The former Saint is a long way separated from his high draft status and is onto his second AFL club but consistently strong form in the VFL last year earned him a second season at Ikon Park. Turns 24 this year and needs to leapfrog a lot of players to make his mark, with the Blues' tall defensive stocks including Jacob Weitering, Liam Jones, Lachie Plowman, Harrison Macreadie, Caleb Marchbank, Tom Williamson and even Levi Casboult, who could also go back down there. Among the others on one-season deals are Casboult, Ed CurnowKade SimpsonMatthew KreuzerMick Gibbons and Matthew Cottrell.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

Hugh Goddard in action during the Blues' training camp on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: AFL Photos


Lynden Dunn

It was an agonising wait for Dunn to discover whether he would play a 16th AFL season, with Nathan Buckley putting him out of his misery only days before the pre-season supplemental selection period deadline. The ex-Demon last played at senior level in round 15, 2018, when he ruptured the ACL in his left knee. Another ACL setback on the same knee last pre-season meant he missed the entire 2019 season. Dunn's proven he can be an effective defender at AFL level but his age (33 in May), injury history and the Pies' depth mean he has a fight on his hands. Fellow veterans Levi GreenwoodBen Reid and Travis Varcoe have similar challenges ahead.

Round one: DNP (injured – knee)


Mitch Hibberd

There was never any doubt about Hibberd's running power at his previous AFL stop at Arden Street but he managed only four games as a Roo. Reinventing himself as an inside midfielder at VFL club Williamstown helped him earn a second shot at the highest level. Hibberd's chances of being a round one bolter were dashed when he suffered meniscus damage in his left knee in a training mishap in mid-January. He is fit again but will have to wait for his chance to play. SSP signings Jacob Townsend and Henry Crauford and mid-season draftee Will Snelling are also on the hunt for contracts beyond the 2020 season. 

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

Mitch Hibberd was thrown a lifeline by the Bombers. Picture: AFL Photos


Cam McCarthy

McCarthy's never quite been able to recapture the heights of his promising 35-goal season while still a Giant in 2015. He kicked 63 goals in 48 matches for the Dockers before this year but started the season in a new role on a wing in a bid to kickstart his career. Most importantly, McCarthy was in Fremantle's round one side. He turns 25 on Wednesday and will be keen to perform if and when football is back in 2020 to solidify his long-term future out west. David MundyTobe WatsonDillon O'Reilly and Jarvis Pinawere among the players to sign one-season deals last year. 

Round one: Played (11 disposals, three marks, one tackle)

Cam McCarthy featured in the Dockers' round one loss to Essendon. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong Cats

Nakia Cockatoo

There's never been a shortage of talent or ability when it comes to Cockatoo, whose ongoing hamstring problems have marred his AFL career. It's hard to believe he will blow out the candles on his 24th birthday cake this year but begins the season with only 34 senior games to his name. The Cats have stuck by Cockatoo since selecting him in the top 10 of the 2014 NAB AFL Draft but he is again recovering from a hamstring setback. At some stage their patience will run out and he knows that, so he will be desperate to prove he can be durable before it's too late. Veterans Gary Ablett jnrHarry Taylor and Lachie Henderson are also on one-year contracts, while Brandan Parfitt opted last year to accept a deal for only the 2020 season. 

Round one: DNP (injured – hamstring)

00:00 Mins
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Cockatoo's stunning solo effort

Geelong's Nakia Cockatoo produces an incredible goal at Domain Stadium

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Gold Coast Suns

Jacob Heron

Started his third season at the Suns outside of the senior side and it will be tougher than ever to break in, with the Queensland club bringing in a wealth of top-line young talent. The fact Heron's a local product and Gold Coast has a bigger playing list than every other club works in his favour. Even still, the 20-year-old speedster will look to take a step forward in 2020 and add to his 13 senior matches to ease the pressure. Jacob Dawson, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will also hope to make an impression and earn a new deal this year.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:38 Mins
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Heron clean in the chaos

Gold Coast's Jacob Heron slots a goal out of the congestion

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GWS Giants

Sam Reid

Reid is one of football's great survivors – having been drafted or recruited four times by two clubs – but has thrived at the Giants to the point he is only 10 games short of reaching his century. He played all 26 of the club's matches last year, including the Grand Final, but started this season outside of the senior squad in a potentially ominous sign. Reid's versatility and defensive accountability have made him a Leon Cameron favourite but, at age 30, this might be his toughest challenge yet. Joining Reid on one-year deals are the likes of Daniel Lloyd, Heath Shaw and Shane Mumford.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:42 Mins
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Reid releases the goods

Some quick movement from the Giants opens up Sam Reid who finishes with the goal

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Conor Glass

This will be Glass' fifth and most important season as an AFL footballer. The defender played seven senior games last year to give him 17 in total but he started this season outside of the Hawks' best 22 after an injury-interrupted lead-up. The timing wasn't ideal, because backline staples Blake Hardwick and Jarman Impey are both sidelined with long-term injuries. Glass was originally planning to return to Ireland during the season's suspension but remained in Melbourne instead. Hawthorn has decisions to make this year not only on Glass but a host of veterans and kids, including Shaun Burgoyne, Ricky Henderson, Ollie Hanrahan, Changkuoth Jiath and Harry Jones.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

02:01 Mins
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Friends not foes: Irish kindness for an Eagles star

We loved the caring nature of Conor Glass towards Liam Ryan on Access All Areas

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Corey Wagner

Wagner enjoyed plenty of opportunity in his first season in red and blue last year – playing 11 senior games – because of the Demons' injury crisis. His second chance at AFL level came after he spent a season out of the system playing and starring for the club's VFL affiliate Casey. It promises to be tougher at the selection table in 2020 for the 23-year-old, with Melbourne already healthier before the enforced break. Wagner's brother and teammate Josh is in a similar boat, along with the likes of swingman Joel Smith, Harley Bennell, Kade Chandler, Kyle Dunkley and Jay Lockhart.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:41 Mins
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Wagner cleans up the chaos

The Dees can't get a clear shot at goal until Corey Wagner finds some space

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North Melbourne

Sam Durdin

Majak Daw's return from injury and Josh Walker's arrival from Brisbane have complicated matters for Durdin, even with Scott Thompson retiring. Durdin played nine of the last 10 games last year under new coach Rhyce Shaw but was overlooked in the last Marsh Community Series match and round one. He turns 24 in June and is into his sixth season, so will look to reclaim his spot in the back six on resumption. Daw is also on the hunt for a fresh contract after signing a one-year deal last year, along with Marley Williams, Kyron Hayden and Lachie Hosie.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

Sam Durdin has a big year ahead in the Roos' defence. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Cam Sutcliffe

New life was breathed into Sutcliffe's AFL career in last year's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft. The ex-Docker went on to perform some competent tagging jobs in five late-season appearances, most infamously on good mate Lachie Neale. Ken Hinkley's side is increasingly turning to talented youth, and Sutcliffe – while still only 27 – was left out of Port's season-opening win over Gold Coast. That said, the pressure is on to play finals and his dependability may help his cause. Trent McKenzie is another battling for his career but was selected in round one, while it's a similar story for newcomer Wylie Buzza, Jake Patmore, Tobin Cox and Martin Frederick.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:45 Mins
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Superb Sutcliffe only needed a sniff

Cam Sutcliffe is fed the ball on an extremely tough angle but still manages to snap through an absolute beauty

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Jake Aarts

Spent his first season as an AFL footballer at state league level, averaging 14 disposals and a tad more than a goal per game. The difference in Aarts' case is he did an extensive VFL apprenticeship and will be 26 by year's end, so he might not have as much wiggle room as younger draftees. The Tigers love small forwards but also have a glut of them – Dan Rioli, Jason Castagna and Shai Bolton played in round one – even after sending Dan Butler to St Kilda. Other Tigers keen to show their wares in a contract year include untried Next Generation Academy talent Derek Eggmolesse-Smith and Grand Final hero Marlion Pickett.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

Jake Aarts had a taste of senior action in the Marsh Community Series this year. Picture: Getty Images

St Kilda

Shane Savage

Last weekend marked the first time Savage didn't play in round one since missing out a decade ago while he was still at Hawthorn. The 29-year-old has played at least 18 games in four of the past five seasons, so he's in foreign territory at the moment. Ben Long's emergence at half-back and Dylan Roberton's return have seemingly cost Savage his place. Another defender, Jimmy Webster, is on the comeback trail, too, so Savage will have even more competition. Others who signed a one-year deal for 2020 are Jarryn Geary, Nathan Brown, Ryan Abbott and Jonathon Marsh.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:24 Mins
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Absolute savage stuff from Shane

Shane Savage kicks a ripping goal from the boundary

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Sydney Swans

Robbie Fox

Fox is into his fourth season as a Swan after being recruited as a mature-ager from VFL club Coburg at the end of the 2016 season. He's never been a senior regular but has racked up double-digit senior matches the past two seasons, including the last six games of last year. An ankle complaint kept him out of Sydney's Marsh Community Series finale and he subsequently wasn't selected for round one. The soon-to-be 27-year-old still has time on his side but the Swans are a team in transition who are prioritising youth and added Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor from rival sides. Joel Amartey, James Bell and Hayden McLean are in a similar position.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:23 Mins
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Flying Fox takes a speccy

Robbie Fox goes for a ride and kicks the goal

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West Coast Eagles

Brendon Ah Chee

Willie Rioli's provisional suspension opened a spot in the Eagles' forward line and it was Ah Chee who took it for round one. It was a surprising development, in a new position, after the 26-year-old was delisted and redrafted as a rookie only months earlier. He played only nine combined games in his previous two seasons after crossing from Port Adelaide, so he will need and want to maintain the momentum once the season resumes. Premiership defender Will Schofield, 31, wasn't part of West Coast's round one team and is still 10 games off bringing up 200, while Hamish Brayshaw is another who needs to impress to stick around.

Round one: Played (12 disposals, two goals, six score involvements)

01:14 Mins
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Ah Chee on a scoring spree

Brendon Ah Chee shows some smarts in the forward line to notch back-to-back goals

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Western Bulldogs

Roarke Smith

Consecutive ACL setbacks threatened to ruin Smith's career at one stage but he's bounced back to play 15 of his 17 senior games across the past two seasons. He wasn't part of the Dogs' first-round loss to Collingwood and there will be a premium on spots in Luke Beveridge's strong side. Smith's advantage is he is versatile. He isn't alone in his situation, with Matthew Suckling, mid-season draftee Ryan Gardner – who was stationed down back in round one – Tory Dickson, Fergus Greene, Callum Porter, Jordon Sweet and Lachie Young all looking for new deals.

Round one: DNP (missed selection)

00:41 Mins
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Smith slots his first AFL goal

Bulldogs players get around Roarke Smith after he kicks his first goal in the AFL

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