1, They need to be a fine player
2, They need to stand out to the 'Men in Multicolour'
3, They need to play in the Midfield
Names like Nat Fyfe, Patrick Dangerfield, Dustin Martin, Luke Parker, Rory Sloane and Marcus Bontempelli instantly come to mind along with rising phenoms Christian Petracca, Zack Merrett and Patrick Cripps.
One name that should be factored in as a 'Darkhorse' is Hawthorn's newly appointed skipper Jarryd Roughead.
If you view his current odds of $81 for the 2017 Award supported by Roughead being a traditionally poor performer as his 59 votes from 231 career games with a high of 9 votes in 2015 displays it is easy to dismiss this contention as absurd. The explanation behind a player often viewed as being amongst the most complete in the game being perennially overlooked is Roughy playing much of his career as a forward. A position on the ground that is rarely given recognition when the Umpires cast their votes for the annual Award.
2017 is likely to challenge this with the preseason pointing to Clarko shifting Roughead to a more permanent onball role as a big midfielder.
It will put him in the sights of the umpires from the toss of the coin followed by being under their noses in the square and around the ground. A factor made more valid with his heartwarming return from a Cancer battle that not only had his legion of fans fearing it might end his career but also challenge his life.
The publicity casting Roughead as 'the feel good story' of the upcoming season is sure to influence the easily swayed minds of Umpires. A factor that could easily represent 5-10 votes for the Hawk champ in the early season going when the focus on his return to the game is stealing much of the headlines.
If you doubt this as a factor, think of how umpires react from week to week over rule interpretations after a week of bad press. Roughead's return will represent inundation across all mediums for most of the season which is sure to have an influence.
Away from the cynicism directed at the easily manipulated Umps the greater justification is Roughead has it in his locker to be a dominating force in the midfield. One saw this in the early throws of the 2017 practices matches where despite having a year out of the game Roughead didn't miss a beat exemplifying his calibre as a natural footballer.
A valid comparison would be with Sydney's dual Brownlow Medalist Adam Goodes who won his Awards playing as an undersized ruckman and wingman. Roughead is likely to play as a big ruck rover that has the dual ability to win the ball in close as well as be a dangerous force in open play. His skills are superlative for a man standing 6'6 along with a high grade awareness underlined in this passage of play in a recent scratch match
It would be conceivable to see him set up many similar goals as well as dob 30 goals himself which are a real recipe for polling success.
The oil in the ointment, and main divergent from Roughead to Goodes and other Brownlow Medalist is his lack of 'ass licking ability' with the umps. Raising the question whether he can put aside his 'love for a chat' to bite his lip around the umps.
If he can, I suggest fellow Hawker's put some hard earned on him for this year's Brownlow Award