Which modern AFL superstars are most respected by their peers?
In the lead-up to Round 1, aflplayers.com.au (in conjunction with afl.com.au) is revealing the Top 50 players in the game, as voted by the players.
It’s not just Hawthorn on the verge of creating AFL history this season: It’s skipper, Luke Hodge, could join Collingwood great Syd Coventry as the only man to have captained four consecutive premiership teams.
He would also join Dick Reynolds (Essendon) and Michael Tuck as the only other men to be at the helm for four flags.
As you would expect, given that record, Hodge has forged a reputation not just as a great player but as an inspirational leader.
His courageous and uncompromising approach sets a stellar example for his team, and it seems his tackles, smothers and work rate filter through the group.
Complementing the grunt work are the polished skills and is the penetrating kicking, which mean he can never be discounted as a team lifter or match winner. Especially in the biggest games.
Consider his banana goal from the boundary during the second quarter of last year’s Grand Final against West Coast. As commentator Bruce McAvaney during the call: “We shouldn’t be surprised should we? He is Mr September.”
Hodge has twice won the Norm Smith Medal awarded for best afield in a Grand Final.
At age 31, his powers are showing no signs of waning. Across 21 games last season Hodge averaged 27 disposals (including 17 kicks), which equate to career-best numbers.
He is the seventh Hawk to feature in the 2016 Players’ Top 50 voting, following Sam Mitchell (6), Jarryd Roughead (11), Cyril Rioli (17) Jordan Lewis (27), Shaun Burgoyne (34) and Josh Gibson (46).