Predicting breakout candidates is never easy, but doing so after when this season still has one game to play makes things even more of a challenge. Regardless, it’s never too early to start planning for the next season, and today we’re going to look at five players that have proven over the course of this season that they could break into the top echelon of players in Season 2018.
After finishing Season 2016 as a Premiership player, Toby McLean started slowly in season 2017, averaging just 72.7 points and being dropped on two separate occasions. But once he returned to the side in Round 12, he started to fire, and provided the Bulldogs with a bright spark in a season that never really got going. From Round 12 through until season’s end, McLean averaged bang on 93 SuperCoach points per game, including four centuries, two 90’s and three 80’s. With another pre-season to add more bulk to his light frame and build on his engine, we could see more midfield minutes and even better scores from him on a more consistent basis in 2018.
JORDAN DE GOEY
De Goey’s season was marred by injury and off-field controversy, but when he finally managed to string together a run of games, he proved to us all once again that this is a highly-talented footballer that can have a big impact for Collingwood. Averaging just 18 disposals a season doesn’t sound significant, but the strength of De Goey’s game is being able to play low-possession, high-impact games, similar to Marcus Bontempelli. De Goey finished the season very well, with four centuries in his last seven games, but throughout the season were below-par scores, with five of his 14 performances yielding scores of 60 or less. However, if De Goey can improve on his consistency, he certainly has the capacity to be a terrific SuperCoach performer next year.
The Port Adelaide back-flanker has played just four games in his career – the last game of 2016, and the last three of 2017. In those four games, Bonner has scored 76, 75, 81 and 74. They’re solid numbers for a four-game veteran, but it’s hard to believe that someone who seems relatively comfortable at AFL level hasn’t been given more opportunities. If he continues to knock the door down in the SANFL and make good on his few chances at AFL level, he will make the grade; be it at Port Adelaide or elsewhere. He’s one you should be keeping a very close eye on during the pre-season, as he should get more chances next season.
With an average of 78.8 across eight games in his debut season, you could argue that Sean Darcy has already had his breakout season, but with an ageing Aaron Sandilands still dealing with injury issues, there’s every chance that the No.1 ruck duties could be transitioned over to Darcy next year. The youngster is an absolute man-mountain, and the abolishment of the third-man up has seen him thrive in the one-on-one ruck duels, using his sheer size to get the edge over his opponents. With a terrific mentor in Sandilands able to provide additional tutelage over the summer, Darcy could very quickly rise to the top and breakout again.
The 2016 Rising Star winner has been a very consistent performer for the Swans over the past two seasons but is now ready to take his game to the next level. His style of play is perfectly suited to the SuperCoach scoring system, with his intercept abilities and his use of the ball making him a very proficient scorer. Has averaged mid-70’s in both 2016 and 2017, and averaged 85 in his last five games of the season. You wouldn’t bet against him hitting an average of at least 90 next year with two full seasons already under his belt.
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