(Last year finished 8th)
Predicted Average: 1800
8th to 1st in one season is an incredible call but the Gators look to have the cattle to do it. In the offseason they secured the services of Simpson and Ebert, got the biggest free hit since Montagna with Macrae going forward (kicked 1.2 for the H&A Season!) and were able to shore up their backline by swinging Mills into defence. After spending countless (actually 3 – Spencer, Campbell, Vardy) draft picks Gators were finally able to address the biggest issue dogging their list by securing a half decent ruck in Nankervis. The Gators run quite thin on forward and ruck depth but look for them to shuffle their rucks and maybe swing Gresham forward come the first mid-season draft.
Breakout Player – Toby Nankervis
Fun fact, Toby Nankervis averaged 228 DT points from two wins at the 2013 U18 National Championships and 105 points in three losses. He scored 209 against Queensland and 247 against Northern Territory. Huge! Toby the Nank-Engine looks to be of a similar mould to Stef Martin – less of a tap ruckman but mobile around the ground. If he can approach big Stef’s scoring the Gators are laughing.
Time to Slide – Brandon Ellis
Kade Simpson was going to get this but since he’s only a recent acquisition it didn’t seem fair. Many doubts surround Ellis’ role in the team with the mini midfield overhaul at Richmond. He loves his soft outside ball but his ball use is questionable. Ideally the addition of Prestia and Caddy means Ellis is able to receive more outside ball but who knows how long he can survive as a one dimensional player. (This was written before Thursday’s game)
Make or Break – Carlton
Gators have a heavy reliance on three Carlton players who’s roles are uncertain in a team going through a full rebuild – Simpson, Wright and Kerridge. Simpson could hang up the boots at any moment. There doesn’t look to be an abundance of fantasy points going at Carlton again this year and the way Wright and Kerridge finished the year was less than inspiring. Thankfully Kerridge and Wright are probably battling for the same positions.
Rucks are a repetitive theme but Gators will be scraping through the first 9 rounds with English on their bench. Any injury to Big Boy or Nank will likely spell a donut for the Gators.
That’s a Bold Strategy Cotton, Let’s See If It Pays Off For ‘Em…
Probably learning from the example set by the Vipers last year, the Gators have quickly shed young talent in order to grab players that will help them in the short term with Kade Simpson being the best example. Gators gave up Maynard and Stringer for Simpson and will expect at least a full years’ worth of service from him or the trade will be a bust.
Gators actually scored much better than their ladder finish indicated last year and were less than 500 points off the ladder leaders so the jump from 8th to 1st isn’t completely out of the blue. The Gator’s scoring will continue to come from their solid midfield and some absolute cream in the defence and forward line. A scary realisation is that the Gators haven’t sold the farm to get to this position. They hold a decent number of draft picks in future drafts and they core playing group is still very young.