My thoughts on next year. Given injuries and departures we will need to change how we play. Defence This year we had 4 stoppers (Talia, Hartigan, Kelly and Brown) with 3 rebounders (Laird, Lever and Smith). Now Smith is injured and Lever is leaving. That leaves Laird, who is more of a connector than a creator. I love the optimism around Doedee but from all reports he is a contest-winner first, which is fine but we would be optimistic to rely on him to lead the rebound charge. I like Kelly but think we already have too many stopper-only defenders especially with Smith injured and Lever leaving. Contrast that to the premiership-winning Crows of 97-98 with players like Hart, Smart, Caven, Goodwin back there. All of them 2 way players. I think Milera should play in defence. He is brilliant at scooping up the loose ball and an elite ball user. Hopefully his defensive work can be good enough that we can hide him on the 6th best forward. I don't agree he is soft, and I think having a clear role to play in stopping a forward then providing rebound could really help him. We also need to trade someone in who can defend and provide rebound. Perhaps Gibbs if he is coming, if not, we desperately need someone who can provide some rebound from defence. Can Keath elevate his play and take over from one of Talia / Hartigan? Those two are both great defensively but we can only carry so many one-way players. My back 7 for next season: Stoppers - Talia, Keath, Doedee, Brown Rebounders - Laird, Milera, [trade target] We should be decent at stopping the opposition. Our lack of rebound is going to be a real problem against good teams with elite forward pressure (see: Richmond) and will lead to lots of slow kicks down the line just like on GF day. Midfield I think winning contests must be our strength. Jacobs with Sloane, M Crouch, B Crouch, Greenwood. Douglas at times. Unfortunately we don't have an absolute A grader here. Sloane would be however he tends to go missing when tagged and during critical moments of important matches such his 5-possession 2nd half to the GF. I think we will win a lot of matches on the strength of winning contests but not sure it will be enough when we come up against another team with a star playing at their best, as Martin was in the GF. Outside mids are not great, but that's the type of role which can look better or worse depending on how the contest-winners are going. Atkins, Seedsman, Mackay. Unlikely to be a strength, which will be exacerbated by the lack of rebound coming from our defence. My inside mids for next season: Ruck - Jacobs Inside mids - Sloane, M Crouch, B Crouch, Greenwood, Douglas Outside mids - Seedsman, Atkins, Mackay Probably our strength but not sure if it will be enough of a strength against another contender with one or two true stars at their best. Forwards By the start of next year, this year's starting forward line will be: Taylor Walker - 27 years / 153 games, 194 cm / 101 kg Tom Lynch - 27 years / 106 games, 191 cm / 88 kg Josh Jenkins - 29 years / 114 games, 200 cm / 108 kg Eddie Betts - 31 years / 277 games, 175 cm / 73 kg Mitch McGovern - 23 years / 36 games, 191 cm / 88 kgCharlie Cameron - 23 years / 73 games, 181 cm / 75 kg Despite the height and weight, McGovern is the one who consistently takes pack marks. Betts, McGovern and Cameron apply good pressure but Betts is getting older and Cameron is supposedly leaving. This will leave us with McGovern being the one player who routinely brings pack marking and ground level pressure. Those will be the two key elements we need given our lack of defensive rebound and outside midfield class. More scrubby kicks down the line means more pack contests which means less marks taken and more ground level contests. We need more ground-level pressure and ability to win contests. I think we must leave out Jenkins. Otten must stay in the SANFL. Menzel hasn't given any indication he is AFL standard. Hampton is too poor of a decision maker, doesn't get enough of the ball, and he's 24 so unlikely to change. Riley Knight needs to step up. Really hope Cameron stays. Crossing fingers that Gallucci can own a spot in the forward line. Maybe Ben Jarman will be just about AFL-ready. More hope than expectation here, but our player development has been good so there is reason to be hopeful. My forwards for next season: Key forward - Walker, Lynch, McGovern Small forward - Cameron, Knight, Gallucci Line-up FB: Brown, Talia, Milera HB: Laird, Hartigan, [Gibbs?] C: Seedsman, Douglas, Atkins HF: Cameron, Lynch, McGovern FF: Betts, Walker, Knight R: Jacobs, Sloane, M Crouch, B Crouch Int: Doedee (def), Greenwood (mid/fwd), Gallucci (mid/fwd), Mackay (def/mid) Greenwood to be back-up ruck, Grigg-style. Hopeful on Keath, Jarman, Poholke claiming a spot somewhere. Unfortunately the last couple of years have been trending towards forward pressure and defensive rebound, two areas we were already below premiership standard and will get worse with our injuries and our expected departures. We do have strengths and young players with room to improve, and I think Pyke is capable of putting together a method of playing which will fit our strengths. For example we could move to more of a rolling-maul style of play with big numbers around the ball and have our stopper defenders just kick down the line more often. Will be interested to see how it develops.