(Last year finished 9th)
Predicted Average: 1706
A few moves by the Gators this pre-season would indicate that they rate themselves pretty highly and expect to be pushing for a flag sooner rather than later. Mills was the obvious choice at 2 (and lucky to slip that far) but then the Gators proceeded to snap up Rich, Van Berlo and trade for Marley Williams. None of these players are the typical kids full of potential that Aaron likes to prey on but rather top up guys with known ceilings.
Breakout Player – Sam Kerridge
A fair few to choose from in the Gators’ squad but Sam Kerridge gets the nod due to the faith the coach kept in him. Sighted once in 2015 for a measly 19 points the Gators would have been forgiven for giving up on him and using the spot on their list for another kid. However, a trade to Carlton has seen Kerridge jump significantly up the order and an average around the 85 mark doesn’t seem unreasonable. Would be a huge reward for the Gators as they need a decisive 5th forward.
Time to Slide – Jamie Cripps
Was sluggish through the back end of 2015 and may have been relegated to a deeper pocket role. He’s handy but the Eagles have plenty of other players pushing into the midfield and they need him to play a small forward role where his pressure locks the ball in and forces turnovers.
Make or Break – Ben McEvoy
Gators are desperate for some bankable rucks and McEvoy has teased for a while now since his 2011 and 2012 seasons. With the retirement of Hale, the scrapping of the sub rule and about to enter prime ruck age 2016 will be the year McEvoy runs out of excuses. Ceglar was preferred over McEvoy at times last year and if that happens again it will be devastating for the Gators as, like the Jackals, Tom Bell-end will be glued to the bench all season.
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
Selling off Mundy for a single 1st round preseason pick in 2017 to the Wolverines may have been unders considering how suitable Mundy was to the Wolverines. Mundy is a 100 point player that may likely earn defensive eligibility in 2017, exactly what the Wolverines would have been after. Gators will be hoping that the inevitable Wolverines capitulation will happen sooner rather than later as his pick is tied directly to their fates.
Special mention: The 5 ruck dogpile – let’s all remember that Jake Spencer was taken with pick 2 in the round 9 draft only to be quietly delisted in the offseason.
Even with the departure of Mundy, Gators have a midfield that can be relied upon for years to come. They also have their top two defence and forward positions tied away with Docherty, Laird, Martin and Mitchell. The question will be who provides the next level of improvement so they can start matching it with the top teams of the comp. Plenty of guys look ready to take the next step and the Gators will surely be hoping a couple emerge from amongst their second tier of players and whether one of their rucks steps up. 9th to finals would be a giant leap for any team but not many players in the Gators squad look like taking a backwards step this year so it’s not impossible