Sixteen players were forced to sit out the 2016 AFL season as the final verdict of the 2012 Essendon Supplements scandal removed them from the game for 12 months.
On balance, it would have to be said that a year of rest and recreation might have done those players good, physically, at least.
Ten of the 16 remained with Essendon. Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Travis Colyer, Heath Hocking, David Myers, Ben Howlett, Brent Stanton, Tom Bellchambers and Jobe Watson stayed with the Dons for the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership competition.
Of that group, Heppell, Hooker, Hurley and Colyer basically picked up where they left off. They deserve quite a measure of the credit for the Bombers showing hints that they could creep into the finals, where an optimist could claim that the Essendon Football Club has the opportunity to pull a Western Bulldogs-2016-style hijacking of the flag.
Hocking, Myers, Howlett, Stanton and Bellchambers all have had trouble staying on the ground. Hocking seems to have suffered the most and it seems as though his days at the top level are over.
Watson has declined somewhat, but his recent form provides glimmers of hope for the Bombers’ run home.
The Melbourne Demons have Michael Hibberd and Jake Melksham on their list. Hibberd has provided some impressive displays for the Dees. Melksham was a bit slow out of the gate, but has successfully tagged some of the game’s best in recent weeks to good effect.
Port Adelaide Power now has Angus Monfries and Paddy Ryder in their employ. Monfries seems star-crossed and his body fragile. He has not played an AFL game this season, so he has been relegated to the SANFL and he may not see a return anytime soon.
Ryder has been impressive for Port and appears worthy of consideration alongside the game’s elite ruckmen.
The St. Kilda Saints have had good production from Jake Carlisle and the 25-year-old seems to have retained all the traits that made him valuable.
The Western Bulldogs have Stewart Crameri. He has played only twice this season and his next opportunity may not come until 2018.