Is there a proven formula to say when and where this magical occasion will occur? No, but we can predict pretty accurately through a few numbers and factors.
The folks at Champion Data tell us that players traditionally peak and play their best footy between the ages of 23 - 27. So we need someone right at the start or even before of this scale, someone old enough to drink in the ‘States but not old enough to start worrying about turning 30.
The other major factors apart from age are:
- New Coach: new ideas, a new game plan and a new lease on life
- New Role: players can be restricted in certain roles. Some birds are too good to be caged, let them play on the wing and gathered uncontested possessions.
- New Club: see new coach, a new environment is often the only thing required for massive change.
- Natural Progression: Some players just take time to develop, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Often the hardest to pick however.
Age: 21 / Factors: New Role, Natural Progression
The former number one has been tagging for the past season and playing quite defensively, but this year we’ll see a change, with a less restrictive midfield role on the cards, as seen in the NAB Challenge. Entering his fourth season, it’s his time to finally make an impact and improve on that high 70s average. Well worth the gamble, especially in defence.
Shane Savage - St.Kilda - MID - $341k
Age: 23 / Factors: New Club, New Coach
It’s understandable that Savage wanted out of the Hawks after last season, he averaged 93 SC points per game from Rounds 16-20, but was then put into the green vest until finals and missed September action. That’s frustrating, but at the Saints, he’s straight into their best 22. Unfortunately there’s no DPP for SS, but he’s got all the tools and could be a steal at less than #350k.
Age: 21 / Factors: New Role
Big JC’s influence was massively curbed last season by the curse of the green vest. When he escaped it though, he showed plenty, averaging 93 across a three-game stretch in the middle of the year. Dual Position status certainly helps his cause, and injuries to Allen Christensen and Steven Motlop mean Caddy is no longer in sub calculations and should secure himself a place the Cats’ midfield. He spent too much time forward last year, but I think in 2014 we’ll see that change.
Dylan Shiel - GWS - MID - $407k
Age: 21 / Factors: Natural Progression
Massive fan of the WindShield from Western Sydney, who tore it up in the junior competitions. He’s always in the guts and was second at the Giants in 2013 for clearances. 2014 will be Shiel’s third in the AFL and more than anything, the Giants need him to rapidly improve for them to become competitive. Unlike at a Collingwood, Fremantle or Sydney, there aren’t a heap of midfielders who could potentially steal points off him either. He went over 90 seven times last year, and that’s only going to improve.
Jack Trengove - Melbourne - MID - $404k
Age: 22 / Factors: New Coach, New Role
Jack Trengove’s got it. The former number two pick averaged 88 in his second year, that’s an elite achievement. But then he was weighed down by a mammoth task, the Melbourne captaincy. Paul Roos is in though, and his high possession game is perfect for Nathan Jones, Bernie Vince and Jack Trengove. The new role listed above is simply that he’s been released from the captaincy - finally he can be selfish again and rack up large numbers without worrying about off-field issues.
Unlucky; Mitch Grigg (ADE), Ryan Lester (BRI), Lachie Neale (FRE), Tom Scully (GWS), Rohan Bail (MEL), Matthew Lobbe (PA), Jared Polec (PA), Reece Conca (RIC), Sharrod Wellingham (WCE), Mitch Wallis (WB)