Fremantle star Nat Fyfe will make his much-anticipated return to action this season.
Fremantle star Nat Fyfe will make his much-anticipated return to action this season. JULIAN SMITH

Some of the game's biggest names set for their return

MAY 17, 2015. It was a time Donald Trump running for the US presidency was still considered a joke. And when Nick Kyrgios was still considered someone who Australia could be proud of.

It was also the last time Dayne Beams enjoyed being part of a Brisbane Lions win.

It was early in his second season back in Queensland after being a premiership player with Collingwood.

He would play another nine games that season, but they would all result in defeats.

There would be another two losses in his only two appearances in 2016 before succumbing to a knee injury that required surgery.

Recently handed the captaincy from Tom Rockliff and fully fit, Beams is among a host of stars looking to make up for lost time in 2017.

Reigning Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe played just five games last season after he was forced to have surgery on his left leg.

Like Beams, he's back and with the title of club captain, and will be joined by Aaron Sandilands (five games last season) and Michael Johnson (four), and also forward Cam McCarthy, who sat out last season after walking out on GWS.

Harley Bennell will also aim to make his first appearance for the Dockers after his move from the Suns in 2015. He travelled to Germany in December for treatment on his soft tissue injuries that have plagued him.


Hawthorn captain Jarryd Roughead at the AFL 2017 Captains at a group photo media call at the MCG, Melbourne, Thursday, March 16, 2017. Round 1 of the AFL starts on March 23rd. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING
Hawthorn captain Jarryd Roughead has overcome a battle with cancer. DAVID CROSLING

Dyson Heppell is another to accept official leadership duties upon his return for Essendon - in this case from the 12-month doping ban.

Alongside side him will be Jobe Watson - minus the captaincy and 2012 Brownlow Medal - Cale Hooker and Michael Hurley.

Former Bombers Stewart Crameri (at the Bulldogs), Jake Melksham and Michael Hibberd (Melbourne), Jake Carlisle (St Kilda) and Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries (Port Adelaide), meanwhile, make their return.

Gympie's own Lachie Keeffe and fellow Queensland Magpie Josh Thomas are back from their two-year suspensions for taking the banned substance clenbuterol.

Jaeger O'Meara has also missed the last two seasons due to knee injuries - Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade never even got the chance to coach him in a game. But he looks cherry-ripe in the brown and gold at Hawthorn.

While his former skipper Gary Ablett managed to play 14 games last season due to his ongoing shoulder issues, Suns teammate David Swallow hasn't been seen since round 15, 2015, due to a knee injury of his own, and even sought a second opinion from the North Melbourne club doctor.

And who could forget Western Bulldogs skipper Robert 'Bob' Murphy, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in round three before watching his team go on and claim an historic premiership.

He returns in 2017, hoping for a chance at another flag - and as the oldest player in the league, approaching 35.

The biggest return of all, however, will come when Jarryd Roughead leads the Hawks on to the field.

Many wondered if such a prospect would occur after he battled, but ultimately beat, cancer in 2016.