(Last year finished 7th)
Predicted Average: 1711
Vipers had a relatively quiet off-season with only one small trade and the shift of Heeney to the forward line. Viper’s improvement this year will come from within as they have a fair number of players capable of improving on their 2015 average. They would also be very pleased with the addition of Hall and Keays in the draft.
Breakout Player – Aaron Hall
The obvious choice but everyone tempered their expectations due to his role in a fully fit Gold Coast side. Well, Gold Coast look anything but. Swallow, Prestia and O’Meara continue to struggle to get on the field and Hall continues to perform in the midfield. Even when they do return, I’m sure Hall will have earned his right to significant midfield time by then. Could easily average in excess of 90 this year.
Time to Slide – Liam Picken
Bulldogs have a lot of young pups running through and will want to get them playing before they look for opportunities elsewhere. Unfortunately, Picken will get pushed out as a result. I think an average of 85 rather than his 101 is more reasonable.
Make or Break – Nick Malceski
Vipers have one of the strongest ruck departments so oddly this isn’t another ruckman. Malceski gets the nod here. Everyone thought Eksi was a sure thing at Gold Coast but we were all wrong. Can he return to his Sydney form? It will take some luck as he seems to be competing with Kolodjashnij, McKenzie and, when fit, Swallow and likely Rosa. He’s capable of lifting his average by 15 points easily and doing so would put the Viper’s backline in a clear second place behind Wolverines.
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
Trading away Lobb for what seems like very little in return was an odd move from the outside. Lobb looked like the next in line after Mumford and was the perfect handcuff for the meat pie loving monster of a country boy. Vipers may soon regret this trade when Mumford goes down for another half of the season.
A very solid ruck division makes the point of difference for the Vipers. Their midfield is 8th but only 20 ppg away from 1st. Vipers is also a very young side with Malceski and Mitchell the only players on the wrong side of 30. Vipers also sport a very even midfield and will be hoping Caddy or Shuey can take the next step and enter the elite midfielder category in 2016. Doing so will see them secure a spot in the top 4.