The next ‘Big Thing’

By Domenic Favata

As we all await the season opener, we continue to speculate our club’s talent and search for the next ‘big thing’ who will emerge from a box of talent and evolve into superstars like Gary Ablett and Dane Swan did. Often earmarked the ‘breakout year’, a year that often establishes a successful career for a player and set’s them up for greatness. Who’s going to have their break-out year this season?

Adelaide– Patrick Dangerfield: A player full of talent, a player that has been ‘dubbed’ a superstar of the future from several respectable journalists, Patrick Dangerfield needs to stand up now and lead Adelaide into a new generation of success. He has shown all the signs of being a star, once he puts it all together he will be a future Brownlow medallist.

Brisbane– Matthew Leunberger: The promising ruckman has shown enough to suggest that he will be a solid ruckman of the future. Hampered by injuries over the past few seasons, Leunberger will need to have a break-out year as the tall stocks for the Lions are severely limited. Needs to turn that promise into performance.

Carlton-Chris Yarran: A new role across half-back may bring out all the best qualities in Yarran. Strong, quick and an intelligent play-maker, Yarran could be looking at a big year, according the team-mates, he’s the next Andrew Mc Cleoud. This move down back could be great, or it could be risky, given Yarran’s lack of defensive skills.

Collingwood– Andrew Krakouer- Looking like the buy of the year, Andrew Krakouer will add another dimension to an already formidable forward line. Has had a solid pre-season and slotted in nicely. Could be a factor in Collingwood going back to back.

Essendon– Dyson Heppell- Everyone’s supercoach bargain, Dyson Heppell looks like an exciting prospect for Essendon, similar to a young Luke Hodge. His kicking and decision making has been notably good early, not just the blonde wavy mop of hair.

Fremantle– Tendai Mzungu- Although ruled out for the first part of the season, Mzungu looks like a great pick for the Dockers. The runner-up in the Sandover medal (Krakouer 1st) boasts speed and elite skill, will slot in nicely once fully fit again. A long term prospect.

Geelong– Mitch Duncan- Looked like a solid player in the first few rounds of last year, but due to the overall excellence of the Geelong team, has failed to break into the best 22. This year should be the year. A pacey forward/midfielder with great skill and an appetite for goal.

Gold Coast– David Swallow- Everyone’s pick for the Rising Star, David will hope to emulate his brother Andrew as an up & coming superstar. He has the hard body and endurance of an AFL star and will be looking to establish himself as the rock in the Sun’s midfield.

Hawthorn– Cyril Rioli- Could this be the year? The year in which Rioli goes from a flashy forward to an elite AFL midfielder, just as Gary Ablett did. I believe it is. Cyril boasts all the talent in the world and an off-season of endurance work should help him to move into Hawthorn’s star class midfield.

North Melbourne– Ben Cunnington- Hard as nails is this man. A relatively unknown draft pick from last year due to the hype of Scully, Martin and Trengove, Ben Cunnington has slid nicely under the radar and is ready to explode in 2011. He will be an additional rock to the Kangaroo’s midfield.

Melbourne– Jack Watts- We’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for Jack Watts to show credentials that see him as a number one draft pick. This should be the year for Watts to establish himself as the focal point of the Demon’s forward line. As Melbourne improves, the better the delivery into the forward line, the better Jack Watts gets.

Port Adelaide– Travis Boak- Probably the best player down at Port in my books, Boak will be looking to establish himself as a future captain of the Power. He’ll be looking for an injury free year and will need to fire if Port is to have any chance of making the eight.

Richmond– Trent Cotchin- Has ‘break out’ year all over him. Trent Cotchin has had his first full pre-season since he entered the AFL and believe me, he is fit and firing for a cracking year. Has average 147 supercoach points in the pre-season matches and along with the return of Nathan Foley, Richmond’s midfield is certainly looking polished.

St Kilda– James Gwilt- Could be one of the premier back man of the competition in my opinion. He has gone from strength to strength since his move down back and his solid body & defensive knack make him a tough opponent to crack. Gwilt will have break-out year in 2011, going from a solid defender to elite performer.

Sydney– Gary Rohan- The second round of the NAB cup against Collingwood convinced me that Gary Rohan will be a star of AFL football, sooner rather than later. He evaded Collingwood players with ease and used the ball efficiently in a role on the wing. He is a stand out ‘ranga’ and a stand out player.

West Coast– Brad Sheppard- Had a good debut season of half-back last year, Brad Sheppard will be hoping to continue on from his successful first year. A shining light in a poor team last year, Sheppard should take another big step towards being an elite running defender.

Western Bulldogs– Jordan Roughead- With the ageing body of Ben Hudson and the out of favour Will Minson, Roughead will need to have a much more dominant influence on the ruck stocks of the Dogs. I believe he will step up to the plate and build the foundations in being a dominant ruckman of the AFL.


  1. John Butler says

    Interesting selection Dom.

    Yarran had a rude awakening to what it’s like to be targeted last night, but I suspect you’ll be right about him in the long run.

  2. For the record.. Mzungu was not runner up for the Sandover last year. He polled 20 votes but that didn’t put him in the top 10. He will be good. Luke Blackwell, the player elbowed legally by Mr Kerr last week was the runner up. Interesting that seven of the nexters are from WA.

  3. Dom Favata says

    #2- My error, got told that he did finish 2nd, unreliable source!

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