8. Luke Hodge
Last year's ranking: 13 (+5)
Official AFL Player Rating: 40
NAB AFL Fantasy value: $550,000
Hodge wrote another chapter in his storied career by claiming the Norm Smith Medal in last year's Grand Final win against the Sydney Swans. It was his second Norm Smith and he joined Gary Ayres and Andrew McLeod as dual winners of the prestigious best-on-ground medal.
Hodge was simply a class above in the main game, marshalling his teammates, throwing his body into contests and repeatedly repelling the Swans from half-back. He had 35 touches and kicked two crucial goals in his 250th game.
He added a comical twist by planting a kiss on the cheek of former teammate Lance Franklin late in the game, adding to his status as one of the game’s most likeable stars.
Now a three-time premiership player and twice a premiership captain, Hodge is a fearless warrior who reads the play superbly, can play at either end the ground and in the midfield and leads his teammates without peer.
The 30-year-old finished fourth in the best and fairest after leading his club for kicks, finishing fourth for marks and fifth for inside 50s. He received 12 votes in the Brownlow Medal (second-best for the Hawks), was named an All Australian and represented his country in the International Rules Series against Ireland. Several opposition players spoke highly of Hodge’s leadership qualities after playing with him against the Irish in Perth.
Hodge, a dual club best and fairest, has dished out and copped plenty of physical punishment in his career and speculation is building about him potentially making way for another Hawthorn captain as he reaches the twilight of his brilliant career.
The popular Hawk played his junior football for Colac in Victoria’s western district before joining the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup competition. He was the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft.