It has to be up there on the top of the list of Aussie sport’s most satisfying jobs: finding new players for the Australian Football League. “Its a pretty good job,” Kevin Sheehan admitted. “Very simply, Im tasked with finding enough talent both in Australia and overseas to replenish our list each year.” 

As the national and international talent manger, Kevin has to find around 120 young footballers from both Australia and abroad. As well as picking talented kids from the Australian youth leagues, he sets up sessions in places like Dublin and Los Angeles to lure potential superstars away from other games like Gaelic football or the NBA.

And even after only a few weeks, he believes we’re in for an exhilarating 2014 Toyota AFL Premiership Season. As far as teams to watch this year, Kevin believes there’s no discounting last year’s champions: the Hawks. “You cant ignore the title holder in Hawthorn. Theyve been, along with Geelong, the benchmarks of the competition for the last five years,” he said. “I think both of those clubs arent going to drop off the perch. Theyve set the bar pretty high, and from early indications, are going to be right up there again.”

After a difficult season last year, Kevin’s tipping that the West Coast Eagles are also a team to watch. “The emerging West Coast Eagles have still got some of the best players in the competition, and have probably had some frustration with injury in the last 12 months,” he said. “They might be the ones that really do rebound after a disappointing 2013 to be contenders.”

Kevin’s also impressed by the young side assembled by Port Adelaide. “They came from the clouds last year to play finals, and theyve got an emerging young side thats very well coached and well led,” he said. Youd expect that Port Adelaide would be a side to make further steps up the ladder in 2014.”

Of course, Kevin’s also got his finger on the pulse when it comes to teams to watch with up-and-coming players. First to mind is the Essendon Bombers for their signing of Joe Daniher, a member of one of the game’s most famous dynasties. “He hasnt played ten games yet, but gee, is he exciting,” said Kevin. “Hes a unique size of over 200 centimetres, and his marking is quite spectacular and brave.”

The Gold Coast Suns make it onto Kevin’s list due to Kade Kolodjashnij, a young player who forced his way into the team after 50-plus possessions in his first week. “Hes a left-footed defender that won the medal in division two of our nationals last year, and hes just a brilliantly poised user of the ball, a prolific ball-winner,” said Kevin.

The topic foremost in the mind of AFL fans is, of course, when the recently-formed Greater Western Sydney Giants will find their first premiership. Kevin reckons it won’t be long. “Somewhere in the next four or five years - but it could be earlier than that,” he advised. “Theyll have a few ups and downs, but theyre definitely on the move.”