Eddie Betts: The electric small forward gets better with age, booting 55 goals last year and earning another All Australian jumper. Rested from the first JLT game, but starred in the Crows' intraclub and was quiet against Port Adelaide.

Ben Davis: A medium-sized forward who missed most of last year with a foot injury. Did most of the pre-season and played AFLX, sat out the Crows' SANFL trial against West Adelaide given his injury history, but is expected to be available for the club's next SANFL game.

Harry Dear: The key forward did some nice things in the Crows' JLT clash with Fremantle, kicking a couple goals, but was left out for the second game. Needs to improve on a couple aspects of his game in the SANFL and out of contract at the end of the year.

Darcy Fogarty: Last year's No.12 overall draft pick put himself into round one contention with an impressive three-goal effort against Port Adelaide. A big lump of a lad with great instincts, leads well, converts set shots from beyond 50 and has huge upside.


Jordan Gallucci: Was a leading contender to take Charlie Cameron's role in the forward line before a foot injury in the pre-season. Missed the first JLT game, but looked good in a SANFL trial on the same weekend as the second JLT game.

Elliott Himmelberg: The 198cm key position prospect was extremely impressive in the club's SANFL trial against West Adelaide, taking strong contested marks and showing sound decision making. At 19 years of age, there's plenty of upside and a chance to debut this year. Has signed a two-year contract extension until 2020.

Ben Jarman: There are still concerns he may be too small to make the grade at the elite level. Did ok in the club's SANFL trial without standing out.

Josh Jenkins: Guilty of going missing in big games and hardly sighted in the Grand Final. The key forward didn't kick a goal in the two JLT games and could be under pressure to hold his spot. 

Riley Knight: Was smashing it on the track until a foot injury ruled him out for the start of the season. Works hard across half-forward to lock the ball in the Crows' forward 50.

Tom Lynch: Does a mountain of work as the link-up forward working up to the wing. Had a huge game against Fremantle and did some nice things against Port Adelaide.

Mitch McGovern: Predicted to have a breakout season and emerge as a genuine star of the competition. Was quiet in the two JLT games, but still looks poised for a big year.

Lachlan Murphy: A rookie who could be a round one bolter as a terrier-like small forward. Booted three goals against Fremantle in the first JLT Series game and applied plenty of pressure against Port Adelaide.

Taylor Walker: The Crows skipper has been ruled out of round one with a foot injury, but the club is optimistic he'll be right to face Richmond in round two. A great leader who is a valuable cog in the Crows' forward line. - Lee Gaskin 


Connor Ballenden: Drafted from the Lions Academy, Ballenden has had a strong first pre-season. Still 18, he stands 200cm and weighs 95kg and is a long-term forward/ruck option. Will spend most of 2018 in the NEAFL.

Jake Barrett: Had a good first season at the club, playing 17 games, earning a spot with his hard work and pressure (he averaged five tackles a game). The arrival of Charlie Cameron and Cam Rayner make winning a spot that much more difficult.

Charlie Cameron: Lightning quick recruit from Adelaide who adds serious pace to the forward mix. Has played 73 games and kicked five goals in last year's preliminary final win over Geelong. Could also spend time on a wing.

Allen Christensen: A new recruit of sorts after missing almost two years with back-to-back collarbone fractures. Christensen has not missed a beat in the pre-season, played two strong JLT matches and will mix time between half-forward and the midfield with his excellent foot skills.


Tom Cutler: Has moved from half-back to the wing and now to half-forward. Cutler is significantly fitter than he's ever been and has pace and a long right-foot kick. Tough to win a regular spot, but he's good enough.

Eric Hipwood: One of the most talented key forwards in the competition, the wiry Hipwood kicked 30 goals last season. Loves to jump for his marks but is even more adept once the ball hits the ground. The languid left-footer will be the prime target inside 50.

Ben Keays: Much like Barrett, is fighting for a small forward position based on his willingness to chase and defend. Super fit and likely to move into the midfield in time, Keays needs to improve his clean hands and dispose to be a best 22 regular.

Cam Rayner: The No.1 pick has had a dream first pre-season. Powerfully built, Rayner can kick off both sides, loves the contested ball and is a fierce tackler. He'll play at half-forward with small minutes on-ball.

Mitch Robinson: Back after missing the final four months of last season with a broken foot. At 28, Robinson is now a veteran, but brings more enthusiasm than anyone and can spend time either mid or forward.

Lewy Taylor: The 2014 Rising Star winner is fresh of his best season yet and looks like going from strength to strength. Has learned to take the simple option and his speed, agility and goalsense provide headaches for opposition small defenders.

Josh Walker: Possibly saved his career with an outstanding second half of 2017. Showed he can play as a key defender, but his strong contested marking is likely to be a perfect complement for Hipwood. Can also pinch-hit in the ruck.

Toby Wooller: The grandson of former Geelong premiership captain Fred, Wooller was drafted as a clever, marking forward. Will likely spend most of the season playing NEAFL to help develop his game. - Michael Whiting 


Levi Casboult: One of the best contested marks in the competition and now more accurate around goal, leading the Blues' goalkicking in 2017. Does his fair share of ruck work and filled in admirably when Matthew Kreuzer was injured in the JLT Community Series match against Hawthorn.

Charlie Curnow: Finished fourth in the NAB AFL Rising Star voting in 2017, emerging as one of the League's most promising players. Powerfully built youngster is expected to play mainly as a forward in 2018, but has the athletic capability to go into the midfield eventually. Spent some time in the midfield during the JLT Community Series.

Tom De Koning: Key forward who is still growing and the Blues are excited about what they've seen so far on the track. Left-footer who marks strongly and is a reliable set shot for goal. Likely to spend a fair bit of time developing in the VFL this season.

Jarrod Garlett: Did enough with WAFL club South Fremantle last season to convince the Blues to give him another crack at the elite level. Showed impressive glimpses in the JLT Community Series against St Kilda before hurting his shoulder and should be available for round one.

Patrick Kerr: Spent his first season with the Northern Blues last year before suffering a season-ending hip injury that required surgery. Has impressed with his work-rate, overhead marking and ability to get to numerous contests, but likely to start in VFL.

Jed Lamb: Speedy midfielder/forward who can be used effectively in a run-with role. Has a habit of getting under opponents' skin, as he did again during the JLT Community Series. Makes the most of his opportunities.

Darcy Lang: Former Cat picked up in the trade period who played predominantly as a high half-forward last season. Missed the JLT Community Series after straining ankle ligaments at training in January and may struggle to be available for round one.

Kym Lebois: Ankle and quad injuries set the exciting rookie back at the start of his first season with Carlton last year. Capable of playing on the wing or through the midfield, he has excellent skills, speed and goal-sense.

Harry McKay: Given plenty of game-time in the JLT Community Series and showed impressive glimpses, even spending time in the ruck after Matthew Kreuzer was injured against Hawthorn. Big year for him after struggling with injury and playing only two games in his first two seasons.

Jarrod Pickett: Showed some encouraging form, particularly towards the end of last season, and was set to play in round one before fracturing his wrist at training last Thursday. This is a bitter blow for the speedster, who had worked hard on his fitness and lost seven kilograms over the summer.

Cameron Polson: Managed one senior game last season and impressed for the Northern Blues with his speed, strong tackling and ability to apply pressure. Returning from shoulder surgery in the off-season, he did not play in the JLT Community Series and is likely to start in the VFL.

Jack Silvagni: Does not win a lot of the ball but makes every possession count. An excellent decision-maker and possessing a great footy brain, he is a ferocious tackler and is fearless in his attack on the ball. Solid contributor in both JLT Community Series games.

Dale Thomas: Veteran who is best suited for his nous on the forward line these days, but can play through the midfield and in defence. On a one-year contract and his experience and leadership will be invaluable for this young group. Showed enough in the JLT Community Series to play in round one.

Matthew Wright: Has been great value around goal since coming across from Adelaide, kicking 52 goals in 44 games. Smart, skillful and hard-working player who can also push into the midfield. - Howard Kotton 


Jarryd Blair: The hard-working little man has been much maligned in recent years, perhaps unfairly given the lack of quality supply in a battling team. With the new breed coming through, Blair is likely to remain on the fringe.

Mason Cox: The beanpole forward/ruckman will be given the chance to spearhead the Pies’ attack – a tall order for an American who has played the game for just three years and has just 20 AFL games to his name. But his big-marking, four-goal effort in a pre-season game against the Bulldogs was something of a blueprint.

Ben Crocker: The third-year medium-sized forward’s best chance of breaking back into the line-up will be before Jamie Elliott and Alex Fasolo return to fitness. Lively, has good hands and adds a different element.

Josh Daicos: The second-year forward/midfielder, who broke into the Pies’ line-up for the last two rounds last year, is progressing well and should add to his games tally this season.

Jordan De Goey: After being earmarked for a big season the talented forward/midfielder has blotted his second successive pre-season campaign, copping another club-imposed suspension after being caught drink driving. Now recovering from a hamstring injury and won't be available until at least round three.

Jamie Elliott: The Magpies’ only genuine star forward has again been cruelled by injury, this time a troublesome ankle that required surgery in December. Won't play in the opening two or three rounds.

Alex Fasolo: Another Pie who required pre-season surgery, to a shoulder, which placed him behind the pack on the selection front. Will return via the VFL.

Tyson Goldsack: The popular utility had been set to return to attack when he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the Pies’ final JLT Community Series game against the Dogs. However, he has vowed to be back next year.

Kayle Kirby: The exciting medium-sized goalkicker is on his way to fulfilling his first requirement: to improve his professionalism and become fitter. And if he continues to perform at VFL level he’ll increase his chances of getting another AFL opportunity.

Chris Mayne: The former Docker faces a tough road. In the second year of a four-year contract, he seems fit and focused but lacking in confidence. Struggled in a pre-season game against the Giants, but so did plenty of teammates.

Ben Reid: The 2011 All Australian defender is now a key component of the Pies’ forward line and has shown he is more than capable of holding down centre half-forward. Has moved well in the pre-season and, body-permitting, a 40-goal year is not beyond him.

Travis Varcoe: The versatile veteran has the ability to play forward, back and midfield, but attack is most likely given the Pies' need for forward pressure. After two injury-interrupted seasons the former Cat will be keen to prove his durability. - Ben Collins


Josh Begley: Begley was one of Essendon's better players in its elimination final loss to Sydney last year when he booted two goals. He's a powerful, long-kicking forward, but the club wants him to build his tank to push further up the ground. 

Travis Colyer: A foot injury Colyer had been managing over the pre-season required surgery in February, putting him out until at least round six or so. Essendon will be keen to get his speed back into its line-up as soon as possible. 

Joe Daniher: Essendon's best and fairest last year and a first-time All Australian, Daniher looks set to spearhead the Bombers' potential rise up the ladder. Had some interruptions before Christmas with his training but is ready to go for round one. Could be the most exciting player in the competition by the end of the season.

Orazio Fantasia: Fantasia is set to miss the opening round after having minor knee surgery recently. The injury had bugged the livewire small forward throughout the pre-season. He is one of Essendon's most important players after a breakout 2017 campaign around goal. 

Josh Green: The former Brisbane small forward had a solid first season at Essendon in 2017, kicking 17 goals from 17 games. He required surgery on a fractured foot towards the end of the season but without a couple of Essendon's crumbers available earlier in the season Green should get a look in.

Matt Guelfi: Guelfi's persistence won through at last year's draft when, having been previously overlooked, the 20-year-old got his chance. Essendon likes his versatility, and he can play as a half-forward or inside midfielder. Senior experience in the WAFL works in his favour.

Cale Hooker: Moving Hooker forward last year was a success for the Bombers. The All Australian defender kicked 41 goals in 20 games before a leg injury prematurely ended his season, something that lingered and had to be managed across summer to be ready to go for 2018.

Jordan Houlahan: The Bombers' first pick at last year's draft (No.49) has been eased into things at Essendon. He's a raw half-forward who has excited some at the club with his aerial abilities, but will need to be more consistent before pushing for senior selection.

Kyle Langford: About to enter the fourth season of his career, Langford needs a big year as he attempts to solidify his place in Essendon's best side. Has trained as a midfielder but will may also fit in as a half-forward, having not yet dominated around the ball.

Jayden Laverde: Laverde was enjoying his best pre-season before a hamstring strain in February saw him sidelined for 8-10 weeks. The powerful and exciting half-forward is back running, though, and at training last week was gradually building up his program. Expected to be back a couple of rounds into the year.

Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti: The Essendon crowd favourite had a very good season in 2017, kicking 34 goals and exciting fans on a weekly basis. His tackling pressure and dead-eye conversion are key parts of the Bombers' set up and he will be an emerging player set for further impact around the midfield at stages this season too.

Shaun McKernan: McKernan is a strong back-up option for the Bombers in attack, where he can compete well in the air and also as a pinch-hitting ruckman if required.

Jackson Merrett: Faces a make-or-break year after signing a one-year extension at the end of last season. Merrett offers depth to the forward line and midfield.

Mason Redman: Putting on more size has been a priority for Redman, who didn't feature at senior level last year following three games in the middle of 2016. Redman is a running half-forward who uses the ball quite nicely.

James Stewart: Essendon traded in Stewart from GWS at the end of 2016 and he has proved a good pick-up. The athletic tall kicked three goals last week against Geelong in the JLT Community Series, having missed the previous week with a severe bout of gastro that saw him lose several kilograms. - Callum Twomey


Michael Apeness: The talented but injury-ravaged big man worked his way back from his PCL issues over summer but has been struck down by an adductor complaint. Should be back playing soon, however, and is crossing his fingers for a clear run this year. 

Hayden Ballantyne: Looked well off the pace in the Dockers' opening two pre-season games but came to life in the last clash with West Coast, booting three goals in a vintage display. The goalsneak has explored pilates to put last year's hamstring woes behind him.


Bailey Banfield: The Claremont best and fairest has come from nowhere to be in line for a round one debut against Port Adelaide. Banfield's history as a tagger has clearly helped him slot into Freo as a defensive forward but he also gets to the right spots to kick goals.

Harley Bennell: Has been welcomed back into the fold after an eight-week club suspension but is still working his way back from his latest calf setback. If he ever recaptures his best the Dockers will boast an A-grade midfielder but, for now, his path back looks via attack.

Hugh Dixon: The Tasmanian is a good size at 194cm and 95kg and will see that opportunities might be there if he can perform well for Peel early in the season, but will be given time to develop.

Brady Grey: Had a shoulder issue at the end of last year but completed the majority of pre-season. Has been pushed out of the line-up since Brandon Matera and Bailey Banfield arrived but his ability to apply pressure should keep him in the mix when a spot opens up.

Shane Kersten: Was solid throughout pre-season games without starring. Freo is leaning towards a quicker and smaller forward line – with stints from David Mundy and Nat Fyfe in attack – but the ex-Cat would be unlucky to miss out in round one.

Brandon Matera: Didn't kick a major during pre-season games but his mandate from Ross Lyon is to tackle first and worry about goals later. The ex-Sun laid a game-high eight tackles against Adelaide and should slot into the best 22.  

Cam McCarthy: Has worked hard during pre-season matches without much scoreboard reward. McCarthy should be better for another full summer under his belt and will be relieved if Matt Taberner and Nat Fyfe can ease some reliance on him as a marking target.

Luke Strnadica: Showed a bit late last year playing mainly as a ruckman for Peel. The 200cm big man is a good size but will have to fight to debut after Freo recruited some ready-made big men.

Sam Switkowski: The mature-age small forward is quick and competitive but hasn't seen any game time over pre-season. Will start at Peel.

Matt Taberner: Battled a leg stress fracture over the off-season but his commitment to getting himself right became crystal clear in a standout JLT Community Series. Taberner's contested marking has gone to another level and he could become the spearhead the Dockers have been crying out for. ­- Travis King


Aaron Black: Enters his second year at Geelong on the outer after one JLT fixture and has missed the past two VFL practice matches. Played four games last year and was dropped on two occasions. Has spent some time in defence this pre-season.

Wylie Buzza: A full pre-season has his engine now ready for the rigours of AFL football. Now into his third year on the list, he will look to add to his six games – all of which came last year. Played the round 23 fixture last year before he was dropped for Geelong's finals campaign. Looks ready to assume a key post as Harry Taylor moves back.

Stewart Crameri: On the comeback trail from injury, Crameri this week ruled himself of an immediate return to the AFL, requiring more game time in the VFL. Only played two games since 2015, had hip surgery last year and suspension in 2016, the 29-year-old is on a one-year deal at the Cats.

Lachlan Fogarty: Already one of the favourites inside the club after less than six months. Smart forward who will push into the midfield as he builds his endurance for AFL standard. One of two first-year players tipped by captain Joel Selwood to play in the first half of 2018.

Cory Gregson: Last match came in round 14, 2016 before a long-term foot injury cruelled his past 18 months. Finally back on the park, Geelong sees him ready to play in the high half-forward role vacated by Steven Motlop.

Tom Hawkins: Has had a focus this pre-season to add more endurance to his game. Featured in every pre-season outing, including a trip to Adelaide for AFLX and a five-goal haul in Colac against Essendon in the second JLT match. Will again be the focus in attack after 51 majors last year.

Jamaine Jones: Impressed as a dangerous small forward for Geelong's VFL team late in his debut season. Gathered 10 disposals in Geelong's opening pre-season fixture this year and will be pushing for AFL action behind returning duo Gregson and Lincoln McCarthy.

Daniel Menzel: Explored the chance for a two-year deal in the NAB AFL Trade Period before settling on a one-year extension with the Cats. Dropped for Geelong's qualifying final loss to Richmond in last year's finals series before he was welcomed back for the semi-final and preliminary final. Externally questioned for his lack of pressure but did manage 40 goals last year.

Lincoln McCarthy: Since his debut in 2012, has played 26 of a possible 132 games after a range of foot, back, groin, hip and quad injuries. Is back running at training and his potential return alongside small forward Gregson has Geelong people excited.

Gryan Miers: Hard to miss with his striking dreadlocks, Miers featured in both JLT pre-season matches. Seven goals in the TAC Cup Grand Final last year, is a proven goalkicker and will be in the early reckoning for game time as a number of fellow small forwards work their way back from long-term injures.

Brandan Parfitt: Looked extremely composed in traffic in his debut season with 15 games, has worked on his endurance over summer to be able to impact games for longer. Will ask for more midfield time as his tank increases.

Quinton Narkle: This week placed on the long-term injury list as he works his way back from an ACL tear suffered in June. Started running in October and the Cats will be confident he's banging down the door for a VFL recall in eight weeks when his time on the LTI list is done.

Esava Ratugolea: Captain Joel Selwood said the 19-year-old's past month in the pre-season has him in the frame for AFL selection early in 2018. Possessing a big leap, can play ruck/forward and crashes packs. Selwood: "He just attacks the ball really well, nice and clean one-grabbers when he goes for it." 

Sam Simpson: Came from the clouds last year to play five games off the rookie list. Has gained 6kg to take his frame to 74kg and has impressed on the track over summer. Will most likely start in the VFL – but only took six games to force his way in last year, will be hoping for an earlier recall this time around. - Mitch Cleary

Gold Coast

Callum Ah Chee: Highly skilled small forward who is a strong mark and great finisher. Ah Chee has had a rough pre-season, firstly breaking his hand and then sustaining a hamstring injury. He'll be back early in the season.

Ben Ainsworth: One of the shining lights for the Suns from a rough 2017. Ainsworth is a feisty small forward who is excellent overhead, quick on the ground and loves to kick a goal. Only his second season but has the signs of being a future star.

Sam Day: Has come back from a horrific dislocated hip that wiped out his entire last season. Played AFLX and both pre-season matches to be right in the frame for round one. Can play key position in defence if required.

Jacob Heron: A lightning quick small forward, Heron loves to exert defensive pressure. Moved from Cairns to the Gold Coast last year to join the Academy and excelled in a NEAFL elimination final.

Nick Holman: Given a lifeline by the Suns, Holman has made his pre-season count. Played two years at Carlton, was delisted, then two years in the SANFL before heading to Carrara. Relentless tackler who will earn a small forward spot through pressure and sheer hard work.

Sean Lemmens: Came to the club as a small defender, and after glimpses in the forward line last year, will make that his home in 2018. Needs to work on his skills but is disciplined and lightning quick over short distances. A hamstring injury will keep him out of the opening round.

Tom Lynch: Co-captain for a second season, Lynch will again spearhead Gold Coast's forward line. Slightly down on form last year – but still kicked 44 goals – he's had the perfect build-up to a season that sees him become a free agent and the biggest target in the game.

Darcy MacPherson: About to enter his third season, the rookie small forward looks on the verge of becoming a regular senior player. Loves to tackle and is clever around the goals.

Jack Martin: Can play at a high level in any part of the ground but will likely start at half-forward and spend stints in the midfield. Has finished third in back-to-back best and fairests with his rare combination of courage, skill, marking ability and willingness to defend.

Wil Powell: Seen by some as a surprise first round draft pick, the skinny West Australian has had a strong pre-season. In the same mould as Jack Martin, he is courageous and skilful. Powell will spend most of the year in the NEAFL to develop.

Brad Scheer: The Suns Academy product played a handful of games in his debut year at half-forward. Has noticeably got leaner and fitter in the pre-season, which can only aid a clever skill set he already possesses.

Alex Sexton: About to enter his seventh season, Sexton has made the move from wing to the forward line. Played 20 of his 75 career games last season and showed the positional switch had worked with an excellent JLT outing against Geelong. Sexton has great speed and is a difficult match-up.

Peter Wright: A calf niggle that has him in doubt for round one has blotted a good pre-season. Wright stands 203cm and weighs 100kg and kicked 31 goals in 2017 despite being down on form. At his best is a strong contested mark and one of the best – and longest – set shots in the competition. Will have to fight Day to play alongside Lynch.

Aaron Young: Recruited from Port Adelaide, the clever half-forward looks like slotting straight in. In 2016 Young kicked 37 goals before struggling to cement a regular spot with the Power last season. - Michael Whiting 

Greater Western Sydney

Aiden Bonar: The club's top draft pick had a solid pre-season but was overlooked for both JLT Community Series games and will start the year in the NEAFL. No rush to get him in, so some decent form in the reserves can only help him gain confidence.

Dylan Buckley: Added to the rookie list to give the Giants a tackling small forward, the former Blue has struggled to make an impact thanks to a minor knee problem, and a quiet inter-club match against the Swans.

Jack Buckley: The rookie tall forward will enjoy developing alongside Jeremy Cameron and Jon Patton but needs a full season in the NEAFL to add some bulk to complement his athleticism.

Jeremy Cameron: The star goalkicker is over the hamstring issues that plagued him late last season and will once again be the Giants' focal point inside 50. Should enjoy more space to roam alongside Patton with Rory Lobb moving into the ruck.

Brent Daniels: The small forward is still 4-6 weeks away from playing after a serious knee injury required surgery in December. A tough break with spots up for grabs, but sure to figure later in the year.

Matt de Boer: The former Docker discard was elevated into the leadership group this year after having a big impact off the field in 2017 and proving to be more than handy on it as a defensive forward. His leadership will be important again.

Brett Deledio: Had another modified pre-season to make sure he got on top of his Achilles/calf issues but struggled in his only JLT match. Might be worth a gamble for round one but likely needs another couple of weeks in the NEAFL to build into the season.

Toby Greene:  A broken toe saw him miss most of the pre-season but he got through the second JLT match, which was critical. The Giants' most important player will be primed for a round one clash with the Bulldogs.

Harry Himmelberg: The defender-turned-forward looks to have gained enormous confidence from his four-goal effort in last year's preliminary final loss to Richmond. Versatile and athletic, Himmelberg will have the chance to nail down a permanent spot in the forward line early in the season.

Zac Langdon: Solid without being spectacular during the JLT Community Series, the mature-age draftee should make his debut in the season opener. Langdon brings pressure at ground level and if can start adding a couple of goals a game he'll be just what the Giants need.

Daniel Lloyd: The rookie is another who looks set to face the Dogs after two solid JLT outings. Lloyd uses the footy well, tackles hard and is dangerous around goals from anywhere inside 60m.

Jonathon Patton: Took another huge step towards becoming one of the game's best power forwards when he booted 45 goals last year and was ranked sixth in the competition for contested marks. Will help out in the ruck this year, where he enjoys the freedom of getting up the ground.

Sam Reid: The versatile rookie filled a variety of important roles last year until he went down with an ankle injury. Can play forward or back, and his shutdown job on Brisbane star Dayne Zorko showed his tagging ability. Underrated but extremely valuable.

Zac Sproule: The key forward showed some promise in the NEAFL last year despite the team's struggles, but will find senior opportunities hard to come by. Good size for a tall forward and another year of development won't hurt.

Lachie Tiziani: The lightning-quick half-forward struggled through the second half of last season with injury but showed his value in the JLT Community Series. Needs to find more of the ball to increase his impact on games but has plenty of potential and a debut isn't far away. - Adam Curley 


Luke Breust: Struggled by his high standards last year. The clever forward was under plenty of scrutiny as teammates Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo spent time on the sidelines. He booted 33 goals last year – his lowest tally since 2011.

Taylor Duryea: Has spent time in the backline in the past but the left-footer found a new role as a defensive forward in the second half of 2017. His courage and versatility saw him thrive in that role.

Jack Gunston: With injuries hitting the defence last season, Gunston moved to the backline and showed his smarts and aerial prowess could translate to the other end of the ground. Will play up forward in 2018 though, where he has earned his reputation as a star.

Oliver Hanrahan: The small forward came close to senior selection at the end of last year. Has a nice sidestep and uses the football well – traits that serve Hanrahan when he goes into the midfield on occasion.

Jarman Impey: Brings speed to the Hawks' attack. At 22, Impey showed he could run with the football at Port Adelaide and Alastair Clarkson believes the recruit has star potential.

Changkuoth Jiath: A recruit from the club's Next Generation Academy, Jiath can also play in the midfield or the backline. He runs well and can mark overhead. Born in Ethiopia and has Sudanese heritage.

Mitchell Lewis: The young tall forward was trialled down back and in the ruck for Box Hill at times last year. A mid-season shoulder injury required a reconstruction but up to that point, the Hawks were happy with his development.

Teia Miles: Started in the backline in 2017 before becoming a small forward and earning a couple of games in the senior side late in the season. Needs to become stronger if he is to cement a spot for Hawthorn.

Dylan Moore: Has the ability to play in the midfield. Drafted at No.67 last year, Moore has a huge tank but needs to get stronger. His clean hands help him when it comes to crumbing as a small.

Tim O'Brien: A swingman who could be a focal point up forward in 2018 after spending time in defence last season. O'Brien is a great mark but needs to add size to his frame.

Paul Puopolo: The veteran applies pressure like few others in the AFL. Puopolo struggled with a groin injury last season that restricted him to 15 matches, but if he can regain his spot the triple premiership player will help lock the ball in the forward half.

Cyril Rioli: It has been a tumultuous pre-season for the 2015 Norm Smith medallist. He suffered a serious left knee injury in round eight last year and missed the rest of the season, then returned to the Northern Territory during the pre-season to help his father recover from a heart attack.

Jackson Ross: Drafted at No.71 last year, Ross can also play in the midfield. He can win it in the air or at ground level and kicks well on both sides.

Jarryd Roughead: The skipper came back from cancer treatment last year and expects he will be better for having had that season under his belt. He can also go into the midfield when a big body is required in there.

Ryan Schoenmakers: Split his time between Box Hill and Hawthorn in 2017 but was selected in Clarkson's side for the final 10 games of the season. A hard-working tall with a beautiful left boot, Schoenmakers can also go down back. - Dinny Navaratnam 


Harley Balic: The former Fremantle player did not feature in either JLT Community Series game and will start the year in the VFL. The Demons have been conscious of the amount of footy Balic missed last year through injury and personal reasons. Will need to find good form at the lower level before being considered for senior selection.

Tomas Bugg : Has won back the trust from his teammates and those at the club after an ugly incident involving Sydney's Callum Mills that saw Bugg suspended for six weeks last season. Displayed encouraging form in the JLT Series and will be in line for a spot in round one.

Bayley Fritsch: A round-one bolter after an excellent pre-season and promising JLT Series, which saw the 21-year-old drill three goals in the two pre-season games. He has an impressive vertical leap and is just as nimble at ground level as a mid-sized forward. A likely starter against the Cats.

Jeff Garlett: Garlett had a slightly interrupted pre-season following a rib injury he sustained at training after Christmas. Returned for the club's second JLT Community Series game against the Saints and kicked a brilliant goal. Looked unhindered in a VFL practice match on Saturday and should line up against the Cats.

Mitch Hannan: Hannan was a revelation for the Demons in his first season at AFL level in 2018, booting 22 goals in 20 games. The youngster was not able to rediscover his best form over the JLT Series after a slightly modified pre-season program. Will likely build into the season, but his talent cannot be questioned.

James Harmes: The high-energy forward was among the most influential Demons against North Melbourne in the first JLT game. However, a head knock at training ruled him out of the second pre-season game against the Saints. Was one of Casey's best players through the midfield in Saturday's VFL practice match.

Jesse Hogan: The key forward is in good nick and ready to attack the year after a solid pre-season and JLT Series. Although he will spend most of his time up forward, Hogan will also have stints in the midfield as the Demons look to be versatile forward of centre. Having Hogan back and fit again after such a personally challenging year is a huge fillip for the Dees.

Dion Johnstone: The young forward's pressure ability is strong and he has an appetite for the contest. Melbourne is working with him on winning more of the football and being able to impact the scoreboard on a more regular basis. That development will continue in the VFL for most of the season. 

Dean Kent Spent most of the pre-season in rehab following shoulder surgery in August last year. Kent has built up his training load in the last month and a bit and he had his first official hit-out in the VFL at the weekend. Out of contract at season's end, 2018 shapes as a defining year for the speedster.

Tom McDonald: Goes into round one in doubt due to a lingering toe injury. McDonald was on modified training up until Christmas following off-season ankle surgery, but got in a decent block after that. Will partner Jesse Hogan in attack in 2018. Becomes a free agent at the end of the year.

Jake Melksham: One of Melbourne's strongest-performing players across the JLT Community Series and AFLX tournament. Melksham appears to have found his niche up forward, where he applies strong pressure to the opposition and is tough to beat in one-on-one contests.

Alex Neal-Bullen: Neal-Bullen could be in for a breakout year after a strong pre-season and JLT Series where he demonstrated his running power and finishing ability. The Demons are stacked for half-forwards, but Neal-Bullen offers them a player who is strong around clearances and can work his opponent over in transition.  

Cameron Pedersen: Pedersen stepped up valiantly in the absence of Max Gawn through injury last year, playing as an under-sized ruckman. The versatile big man played a different role through the JLT Series up forward and sometimes behind the footy as well. Right on the borderline of selection heading into round one.

Tim Smith: Has been re-integrated into full training over the last six weeks after being sidelined by a long-term foot injury that required surgery late last year. Smith played in the VFL at the weekend and looms as a solid back-up option once fit should Hogan go down with injury.

Charlie Spargo: The club's top draft pick has made good progress after overcoming a shoulder injury he suffered midway through last season. Spargo has excellent goal sense and he's strong in the air for a player of his height (173cm). Could appear in the senior team later in the year. 

Aaron vandenBerg: Listed as 'indefinite' on the club's injury list, vandenBerg ran outside for the first time this year last Friday. The midfielder has been battling a stress fracture in his heel and had a number of setbacks last year. Will not be rushed back after missing the entire 2017 season with injury.

Sam Weideman: The promising young forward had surgery on his ankle at the end of last season and subsequently had a restricted pre-season campaign. Played in the VFL at the weekend and booted two goals. The Demons remain hopeful he will push into the senior team sooner rather than later. - Ben Guthrie 

North Melbourne

Shaun Atley: The long-time defender has spent this pre-season preparing for a move to the forward line in 2018. The Kangaroos are keen to utilise his speed in a high half-forward role, where he showed promising signs during the JLT Community Series. North will be looking for Atley to hit the scoreboard regularly this season, as it seeks to cover the departure of small forward Lindsay Thomas.

Ben Brown: Now the undisputed focal point of North's attack, the Tasmanian had a delayed start to his pre-season after minor elbow surgery and his subsequent appearance in November's International Rules Series. Brown is on top of the left knee niggles that have troubled him in the past and has said he wants to take his game to a new level in 2018. Carries a heavy aerial load inside North's forward 50, but that burden will be reduced considerably if Jarrad Waite can stay fit.  

Taylor Garner: The Roos took a very conservative approach with the talented medium forward this summer, putting him on a modified program designed to avoid any recurrence of the hamstring and hip problems that have previously plagued him. Returned for the JLT game against the Tigers and should be primed for round one. If the former first-round draft pick can enjoy an injury-free run this season, the Kangaroos will be hoping he can become one of their most influential players.

Nathan Hrovat: Restricted by an ankle niggle early in the pre-season but enjoyed a better run after the Christmas break and played in both of North's JLT matches. Played every game in his first season at Arden St last year and appears well placed to hold his spot for round one. Will be looking to hit the scoreboard more often in 2018 after kicking 14.8 last year.

Nick Larkey: The Kangaroos' high hopes for the young tall were underlined when he assumed the No.20 jumper last worn by club favourite Drew Petrie, a contested mark specialist who the former Oakleigh Charger has been compared to. Quiet in North's opening JLT game against Melbourne, he was overlooked for the following match against Richmond. After notching two games in an encouraging 2017 debut season, Larkey will be pushing for more senior opportunities this year.

Gordon Narrier: The lightning-quick first-year rookie got a small taste of senior football when he played in the inaugural AFLX competition, but was overlooked for both of North's JLT games. This season shapes as a development year for the West Australian but he has shown enough this pre-season to encourage the Roos' coaching staff.

Jy Simpkin: The 20-year-old spent time in the midfield during match simulation over the pre-season, but his transition into an on-ball role is likely to be a gradual one, with the majority of his time in 2018 likely to be spent in attack. Bounced back from a disappointing off-field indiscretion in February in which he injured his ankle to play in the Roos' final JLT game against Richmond. One of North's most promising youngsters.  

Kayne Turner: Made an early start to his pre-season after joining North's first-to-fourth year players on the club's annual high-altitude training camp in Utah in late October. Emerged as one of the Kangaroos' most improved players in the first half of 2017 before a posterior cruciate ligament injury disrupted his season. With his speed, toughness and defensive pressure, the 22-year-old has the tools to become one of the Roos' most valuable players. 

Jarrad Waite: Having lost little of his athleticism, the 35-year-old remains a formidable force when fit but has struggled with injury over the past two seasons. The former Blue has enjoyed a strong pre-season and played both of the Roos' JLT games. Coach Brad Scott is confident Waite's best football remains ahead of him and his ability to provide a secondary marking target alongside Ben Brown will be crucial to North's season.

Mason Wood: Had a delayed start to the pre-season because of a calf injury and missed North's opening JLT game against Melbourne after breaking a thumb in an intra-game club game. Injury has prevented the 192cm forward from enjoying the continuity he needs to deliver on his obvious talents, so he and North will be desperately hoping his luck changes this year. His endurance makes him ideally suited to playing as a lead-up forward, but he can also be damaging closer to goal. Now 24, the Roos need him to stand up this year. 

Cameron Zurhaar: The second-year rookie has presence and makes things happen. Strong at the contest and in the air, the 189cm West Australian impressed in an intraclub match in February and his prospects of a round one berth appear good after he was named in both of North's JLT games. Shapes as one of the Kangaroos' big improvers in 2018. - Nick Bowen

Port Adelaide

Travis Boak: The Power skipper missed the second JLT game with a hamstring injury and is in doubt for round one. Will start at half-forward, but will also spend time in the midfield.

Charlie Dixon: The dominant key forward is coming off his best season, booting 49 goals, finishing runner-up in the club's best and fairest and being elevated to the leadership group. Worked well alongside Jack Watts in the second JLT game.

Kane Farrell: The 19-year-old – selected by the Power with the 51st pick in last year's draft – has impressed with his ball use and creativity. Will start in the SANFL across half-forward while also getting midfield time as he builds muscle and increases his endurance.

Robbie Gray: The All Australian small forward will miss the Power's round one clash with Fremantle after failing to have his suspension for a hit on Jeremy McGovern overturned. Can be thrown into the midfield and is dangerous wherever he plays.

Sam Gray: An important player in the Power's forward line with his pressure and ability to hit the scoreboard. Kicked a couple goals against Adelaide last week.

Aidyn Johnson: The pacy half-forward didn't play either of the JLT games, missing the win over the Crows through illness. Will likely start the season in the SANFL, but showed enough last year to suggest he can push for a senior spot.

Todd Marshall: The athletic tall forward missed the first JLT game with a calf injury, but played the second. Played across half-forward with Charlie Dixon and Jack Watts staying deeper in attack. 

Steven Motlop: The former Geelong speedster was impressive in the second JLT game against Adelaide using his pace across half-forward and the midfield. One of a number of players who will play in both areas of the ground.

Jake Neade: Was very busy in limited opportunities in the second JLT game against Adelaide, gathering 15 possessions in 45 per cent of game time. However, it's hard to find a spot for the small forward in the Power's best 22.

Jake Patmore: Selected with the 58th pick in last year's draft, the 19-year-old is working on developing his endurance. Will start in the SANFL across half-forward with some midfield time.

Lindsay Thomas: The veteran former North Melbourne goalsneak has had his training loads managed in his first pre-season with the Power. Had just four possessions in 52 per cent game time in the first JLT clash, and played in the club's SANFL trial instead of another JLT match.

Jack Watts: Made a sensational arrival to his new club with six goals against Adelaide in the club's second JLT clash. Played deeper alongside Charlie Dixon to allow Todd Marshall to play higher, but can also push higher up the ground if the Power go smaller.


Chad Wingard: Missed the first JLT game with a hamstring injury, but had 15 disposals in 44 per cent game time in the win against Adelaide. Will split his time between midfield and forward. - Lee Gaskin 


Liam Baker: The first-year small forward managed Achilles soreness in his first pre-season before progressing into full training. Gravitated towards Dan Butler and Jason Castagna as mentors in his first summer.     

Noah Balta: Another young Tiger who had to take it easy early in the pre-season because of soreness, Balta has played as a ruckman and a defender, but he has settled with the forwards this pre-season. Has looked to Alex Rance in training to learn from the All Australian captain.  

Shai Bolton: An impressive JLT Community Series has pushed Bolton to the front of the queue to replace injured small forward Daniel Rioli in round one. Defensive pressure is what the Tigers wanted to see, and he delivered enough while still showing his offensive flair.     

Dan Butler: A member of the premiership mosquito fleet in attack, Butler pushed onto a wing at times during the pre-season competition. His creativity stood out against North Melbourne.  

Jason Castagna: Laid three tackles in each of his pre-season games and kicked three goals, easing into the season in his customary small forward role. His defensive pressure remains crucial to the Tigers' game plan.  

Mabior Chol: Got his chance in the opening pre-season game against Essendon, but the small structure in attack appears preferable to playing Chol as a second tall forward. Won 10 hit-outs in that clash and has development still in him.   

Jack Higgins: A much-hyped pre-season at Tigerland saw him pushing for round one berth as Rioli's replacement, but will likely start the season in the VFL. If he stays fit, the first-year midfielder/forward won't be denied an opportunity this year.   

Callum Moore: Looks the most likely option if the Tigers decide to bring in a second tall forward. Entering his third season, the exciting rookie kicked two goals in an impressive second half cameo against the Kangaroos. 

Daniel Rioli: The valuable small forward has spent the entire pre-season working his way back from a broken foot suffered in the Grand Final. He started running at close to full pace two weeks ago and will now build the necessary conditioning before playing.    

Jack Riewoldt: A crucial cog in the premiership, Riewoldt is again preparing to play as a sole tall forward in 2018. His leadership and willingness to sacrifice his own game to create contests and bring the ball to ground was lauded at Tigerland.  

Tyson Stengle: An exciting prospect, the small forward spent 2017 developing in the VFL and was one of the state league's best goalsneaks. Brings defensive pressure and is available to play off the rookie list.   

Jacob Townsend: The fairytale story of the premiership, Townsend's toughness was again on display in the JLT Community Series. Booted through goals across both games, but it was his ability to impact the contest that stood out. - Nathan Schmook 

St Kilda

Josh Battle: School is finally over for the young tall, who finished year 12 at Haileybury College last year. Battle has a big tank and has improved over the pre-season, so could be in line for a spot if one of the other talls are injured or suspended.

Josh Bruce: Left knee surgery last December kept the key forward off the track for some time. He has been working closely with goalkicking coach Ben Dixon to improve his conversion, which was wayward at times in 2017.

Hunter Clark: Will eventually play in the midfield but the draftee has shown early potential across half-forward. His dual-sided kicking and hardness are his standout traits, while his poise is also very impressive.

Ray Connellan: Perhaps the quickest player at the club. The Irishman showed potential as a goalkicker while at Sandringham last year.

Jade Gresham: Groin surgery last October hindered the small forward's preparation. Gresham's tank has not developed enough to allow him to be a full-time midfielder, but he will spend stints in there because he's so good at stoppages.

Ben Long: The Territorian is tough, quick and skilful. He is one the club has high hopes for and Long will want to improve in his second year after managing four games in his debut season.

Jack Lonie: A niggly left-footer who offers plenty of defensive pressure. Regularly dominates at VFL level while playing through the midfield but has struggled to cement a spot in the senior side.

Rowan Marshall: Can also play in the ruck and is close to breaking into the senior team after an impressive pre-season. Marshall played just one match in 2017, which was his first year.

Paddy McCartin: A right foot sprain suffered in November kept McCartin out of full training for some time but the No.1 selection from the 2014 NAB AFL Draft is as lean as he has ever been. Just needs a decent run with injury.

Tim Membrey: The former Swan has established himself as the club's best forward. He is mobile, marks well, kicks accurately and can win the ball at ground level. At 23, Membrey should be ready to improve again.

Darren Minchington: Injuries have proven an impediment for the small forward over the past 12 months. Ankle surgery last June hindered much of his pre-season and he recently suffered medial ligament damage in his left knee.

Lewis Pierce: Can also play in the ruck. Pierce was moved to the rookie list at the end of last season. He spent time in defence at Sandringham, and as part of a new agreement will likely play for Frankston in the VFL at times to allow him to play in the ruck and in attack.

Mav Weller: A leader around the club, Weller is admired for his toughness. He struggled with a right ankle injury that he couldn't shake in 2017 and will be keen to bounce back.

Nathan Wright: The hard nut can be counted upon to tackle with ferocity. However, his foot skills can let him down. Will be among a group of pressure forwards keen to press their case at Sandringham. - Dinny Navaratnam


Jordan Dawson: Starred in the NEAFL last year and didn't look out of place in his one senior game, but finds himself caught in a tough spot. Not tall enough to be a key forward but not quick enough to be a small, Dawson might find it hard to break in again in 2018.

Lance Franklin: Added a fourth Coleman Medal and a seventh All Australian jumper to his stunning resume in 2017 and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Swans need to find more goals from his teammates to help take more advantage of Franklin's dominance.

Will Hayward: A fantastic debut season from the speedy small forward, who only looks like getting better this year. Hayward's pace is electric and he loves to take the game on, making him a huge asset in the forward half.

Kieren Jack: The veteran battled a hip issue early last season, but once he took the time to get it right he showed some positive signs. Still learning to play across half-forward but was very good in the JLT Community Series and his tackling pressure and leadership are vital.

Tom McCartin: The tall forward has excited everyone at the Swans with his competitiveness over summer, and looks a real star of the future. Will be given time to build confidence in the NEAFL but should see some senior footy this year.

Tom Papley: Overcame an injury interrupted pre-season to boot 30 goals last season and show his value at ground level. If he can find the goals more often to help Franklin, and maintain his quality defensive efforts, the Swans will be ecstatic.

Toby Pink: Played some good footy in the NEAFL last year, where his marking was a standout, but needs to find more consistency. Like most medium/tall forwards at the Swans will find chances tough to come by behind Franklin and Reid.

Sam Reid: Bounced back from a nightmare 2016 season when he failed to play a game to kick 30 goals from 22 appearances last year. Is a valuable right-hand man for Franklin and is the man the Swans send back when they need a loose player in defence.

Gary Rohan: A rare injury-free pre-season has Rohan fit and ready for round one for the first time since 2015. Brilliant at his best, but it doesn't happen often enough for a player of his talent. Needs a consistent season and a big September after another poor finals series in 2017.

Ben Ronke: Showed glimpses of his talent in between injury troubles in his debut season so will be after more luck this year. Blistering speed and power are his best assets but kicking lets him down too often.

James Rose: Dominates at NEAFL level but hasn't been able to carry that form into the AFL. Rose is dangerous around goals and finds plenty of the footy, but is a long way behind Jack, Papley, Hayward and Rohan in the pecking order. - Adam Curley 

West Coast

Matthew Allen: Has had some shocking luck with injuries during his time but club insiders believe the strong-bodied forward has potential. Allen's pre-season was interrupted by a hip problem but he is back on track and tried hard in East Perth's win last Saturday.

Oscar Allen: Arrived at the club with a leg stress fracture but has been building his training workload and should be appearing at East Perth in the near future. Has impressed with his appetite for training.

Tarir Bayok: Spent most of last year developing in East Perth's reserves but made his League debut in round 22. Has electrifying pace and has been on the track all summer but has some way to go understanding where to find the footy.

Jarrod Brander: An excellent athlete, Brander fits the prototype of the modern tall and showed in the scratch match against Freo he knows his way around the forward line. Putting on muscle will be his priority but the Eagles might have found Josh Kennedy's heir apparent.

Ryan Burrows: Remarkably plucked in the rookie draft after playing E-grade amateurs and only appearing in 12 WAFL Colts games for South Fremantle. Will aim to break into East Perth's senior line-up across half-forward.

Jamie Cripps: Had to do it all as a crumbing and pressure small forward last year without much support at ground level, however the likely inclusions of Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli should help Cripps focus on chasing and tackling that made him so valuable in 2015.

Jack Darling: Didn’t set the world on fire during the JLT Community Series, going goalless in both matches, and needs to step up when the real stuff starts in Josh Kennedy's absence. If he can produce another 40-plus goal season Darling will have done his job.

Malcolm Karpany: The small forward is facing a make-or-break season with competition for spots heating up after the influx of talented youngsters into attack. Didn't get a gig during the JLT Community Series and will want a fast start at WAFL level.

Josh Kennedy: The dual Coleman medallist might not be available until round three but the Eagles need him back from ankle surgery as soon as possible after the forward line looked impotent, albeit from limited supply, at times during the JLT Community Series.

Mark LeCras: The veteran was below his best last year as he struggled with hip issues but the Eagles hope some pressure to hit the scoreboard will be lifted by the introduction of Rioli and Ryan. LeCras' summer has been promising, although he didn't set pre-season games alight.

Fraser McInnes: Workhorse big man is a chance to add to his 11 career appearances early this year in the absence of Kennedy and with Nic Naitanui no certainty for round one.

Willie Rioli: The exciting small forward has suffered some bad luck this summer. After having his debut year ruined by hamstring setbacks, Rioli copped a knee knock in AFLX and then rolled his ankle against Fremantle. Has tons of talent but needs a clear run at it.

Liam Ryan: Former Subiaco star showed flashes of brilliance in three pre-season games but is still finding his feet at the level. Will do some magical things but first the Eagles will be looking for defensive efforts inside 50.

Jake Waterman: There is a lot to like about the hard-working father-son product. Waterman is a natural goalkicker who already looks comfortable deep inside 50 but he's studying Adelaide link-up star Tom Lynch in a bid to break into the side. In the round one mix. - Travis King

Western Bulldogs

Tom Boyd: The high-priced key forward was quiet in the Dogs' intraclub hit-out and didn't feature in the JLT Community Series. Was hampered by a glute complaint after Christmas, but the 22-year-old will come under fierce scrutiny if his form doesn't come close to what he produced in the club's 2016 Grand Final triumph.

Tory Dickson: After battling injuries over the past two seasons, the dangerous sharpshooter looked a little underdone in the club's final JLT clash. Very important cog as he'll help the Dogs' woeful efficiency in attack.

Luke Dahlhaus: Even though his numbers were up last season, the tenacious 25-year-old didn't have the same impact as in 2016. Looks set to play more forward this year and appeared rejuvenated in the pre-season competition.

Bailey Dale: The goal-kicking half-forward's breakout season last year suggests the youngster has a big future at Whitten Oval. One of the few reliable kicks at the Dogs and has a nose for a goal.

Josh Dunkley: While a shoulder injury wiped out most his 2017 campaign, the 21-year-old has impressed over the pre-season with work in attack. His kicking isn't perfect, but he's strong overhead and often hits the scoreboard.

Billy Gowers: After impressing with Footscray in the VFL last season, the hard-running forward earned a spot on the club's rookie list. The former Blue isn't dissimilar to former Dog Stewart Crameri in the way he plays.

Mitch Honeychurch: Injuries and lack of opportunity have hampered the diminutive 23-year-old in his time at the club, and 2018 looms as a make-or-break season for the defensive forward. Needs to take his chances in front of goal.

Patrick Lipinksi: The second-year half-forward impressed enough in the VFL last year to debut in round 23. Should get more opportunities this year with his footy smarts and strong overhead marking.

Nathan Mullenger-McHugh: The athletic tall was trialled all over the ground last year in the VFL with mixed results but appears best suited to a role in attack. Will be given more time to develop with Footscray.

Jack Redpath: The hulking key forward kicked 15 goals in nine games in his return from a knee reconstruction last year. Suspended for round one, the 27-year-old appears ahead of Boyd and Schache as the first-choice spearhead.

Josh Schache: The former Lion did some nice things in the JLT Series but nowhere near enough to cement a spot in round one. The 21-year-old has spent time in the ruck to add flexibility to his game.

Clay Smith: The premiership forward hasn't participated in any of the club's competitive hit-outs this pre-season, and there's rumours his troublesome right knee is causing him grief. Being a one-year deal, the 24-year-old needs to return to his damaging best. 

Easton Wood: In a bid to add flexibility to his game, the All Australian defender has been trialled in attack over the pre-season with mixed results. Will start forward in round one and will be given time to adjust to his new role. - Ryan Davidson