(Last year finished 4th)
Predicted Average: 1745 with Standard Deviation of 432
The ‘Rines predictions that all good midfielders earn positional status late in their career seems to have paid off for 2016. Despite not showing any signs of players set for significant improvement in 2016 the ‘Rines will see a boost in scoring through the ridiculous number of beneficial changes;
Boyd -> Defence
Barlow -> Forward
Johnson -> Forward
Tippet -> Ruck
Bartel –> Defence
This more than outweighs the loss of Watson (though he looked cooked anyway). ‘Rines also strengthened their midfield with the addition of Mundy then bizarrely traded for Zaharakis and Polec. A fully fit Rockliff with the captain badge won’t hurt either.
Breakout Player – Jason Johannisen
The one player in the ‘Rine’s backline under 30 almost wins this by default. Johannisen looked good in the NAB Challenge despite his haircut as well as having a strong finish to 2015. Expect a solid 85+ average from Jason this year.
Time to Slide – Matthew Boyd
As good as Boyd has been he looks set to be managed even more in 2016. Bulldogs trialled a number of guys in his role during the NAB Challenge with their mind on a succession plan, something the ‘Rines have their head in the sand about. Boyd will score well this year and I expect him to average around 97 but would be surprised if he gets out on the park more than 15 times this year.
Make or Break – Tom Rockliff
Rumours are that ‘Break’ is a taboo word down at the ‘Rine’s training facility as the mere mention of it might result in a dislocated hip or slipped disc (especially around Leuenberger). Anyway, Rockliff wearing the captain’s arm band has the capability to win games single handed but will he be able to carry all the old men through the entire season? Will the mental pressure of knowing that after 2016 he likely won’t see premiership success for many more years be too much for the young lad?
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
Refusing to trade pick 7 for 100 point midfielders only to realise that there was no way Mills would slip that far and to then subsequently trade it for Zaharakis. No team’s premiership window is closing faster than the Wolverines’ and rather than look to boost their immediate chances of a premiership they elect to strengthen their long to medium term prospects. Bizarre. If they don’t win this year then the rebuild will be long and painful.
Special mentions: Polec, Trengove
‘Rines are running a pretty good retirement village at the moment but the pressure should be mounting to taste glory this year because if they haven’t realised by now that the downside of making use of every positional change possible is that it leaves you very vulnerable to changes next year then they should start sweating about it. This side could turn into a pumpkin in 2017 not only due to retirements. Having said that, their defence is ahead of the rest of the field by a significant margin (p value of 48) and if it can remain fit and firing while Rockliff returns to his best then it will be enough to push through to the end.