Last week I put my professional and personal views to the public on my projection of the 2013 AFL ladder.
It is always a great way to get feedback from readers, as it is such a subjective exercise.
So I thought I would do it all again – this time following up my ladder with predictions on how it could all change depending on one player’s fortunes.
I have outlined the players who I believe are most important to their club’s finals chances, and have only included players from teams I believe are in the mix.
1. Aaron Sandilands (Fremantle):
I predicted Fremantle will finish fourth and get at least two finals come September. However, I can also see them missing the finals if Sandilands misses more than eight games. Players like Hill, Pearce, Mundy, Barlow and Fyfe are all much better when he plays and their midfield group may look thin without him
2. Jack Riewoldt (Richmond):
The Tigers are going to have an elite midfield and are under pressure to reach the finals – again.
Their small forwards, Nahas, Edwards and King are OK, but cannot influence a game without a strong and positive Jack Riewoldt.
A forward line based around Vickery and McGuane simply will not score enough against good teams.
3. Ben Reid (Collingwood):
The Pies, as my tip for the flag, have great depth through their midfield, have a good spread of goalkickers to support Travis Cloke and their ruck stocks get a pass mark.
With Chris Tarrant gone and Nick Maxwell asked to be the third man into most contests, the reliance on Ben Reid is enormous.
4. Brendon Goddard (Essendon):
Having watched Brendon closely in the 2010 finals series, he can be an elite player. Essendon has lacked genuine polish for a number of years now and he can certainly add that. He also brings no baggage with the ASADA investigation and will be relied on heavily to play back, mid and forward.
5. Matthew Kreuzer (Carlton):
I am expecting a significant rise from Carlton in 2013. Malthouse will help, but so will a good run with injuries. I saw Kruezer first-up after a long injury lay-off and he was first class. If he is able to put together a full season, the flexibility he offers the Blues will be invaluable.
In such a team-focused game, we aim and plan not to have too much of a reliance on one certain player.
However, I feel with the evenness of the AFL, all clubs need their best players playing well, a well-managed year with injuries and a bit of luck to achieve the ultimate success.
At some stage in 2013, one, if not more, of the above players will be sorely missed.