Hard to believe that GC won the first 3 games of the year and only ended up with 6. Granted injuries hurt them, using the most players (40) of any team in the competition but they were expected to push for finals and finished the year as easy beats.
Backline - 6: Developing well enough, and the inclusion of Hanley bolsters the defence. Steven May is their leader, he had career best numbers for intercept marks, possessions and spoils and really improve on his offensive side to only curtail opposition forwards but look dangerous on the rebound. Him getting suspended for 5 weeks basically ended GC’s season, they need May to stay fit if they’re any chance. Rory Thompson was reliable down back for them, he still has work to do but does a good enough job blanketing forwards but provides very little in the way of anything offensive. They won’t mind that too much if the other running defenders can finally step up to their potential. I think Hanley might be best suited as a running back, he has quality disposal and would really sure up the back stocks and add another composed body down back which is what they’ve been lacking to help bring through the other young talent. Adam Saad looks like he should be their next big thing down back, his running ability is matched only by Hall in the side but keeps getting himself injured before he can make a big impact. If he can have a big year then suddenly their backline looks very dangerous. Kolodjashnij had a bit of a down year, expected for a younger kid, but he’ll be a star of the competition and looks extremely classy with the ball in hand, in a few years he’ll be one of the best running backs in the competition. I think with Kolo, Saad, Hanley and May they have the core of a very strong backline, and if Thompson can improve then their backline looks quite strong. I don’t rate Harbrow as highly as the others, he’s still getting games but the defensive aspects of his game are lacking and his rebound is not at a high standard. I don’t think he’s half the player he was at the Dogs but for now will stay stays in the team due to the lack of depth. Sam Day was switched between forward and back with little results, I think this looms as a big year for him personally, I can see him on the scrapheap if he can’t starting giving them something on field. Alex Sexton was one of the few good news stories for them in 2016, he started to shine through as a good lockdown player and they’ll be looking for him to continue improving with each game. Trent MacKenzie was one who most expected to be a star a few years ago but has gone down hill big time in the past few years, with injuries and discipline being the key factors you have to wonder if he really wants it. If he gets a run at it then his kicking ability would be a dangerous prospect. I think having injury free years from most will definitely see natural improvement with the key being able to develop a few extra defenders as the year goes on.
Midfield - 6 : Have drafted to cover the losses of Prestia, JOM & Rischitelli being injured, and with Scrimshaw, Brodie and Bowes you have to say they’ve done a good job. Gary Ablett remains their best player and best player in the league on his day, although you have to wonder about his durability and if his shoulder will ever recover. He’s 33 but you’d be mad to rule him out, he’s a superstar on his day and will win them some games if his body allows them. Aaron Hall should be a gun if his hamstrings allow, averaged 28 possessions but his ability to break the lines is what really impressed and a point of difference. He lead the Brownlow after Round 3 with 3 straight best-ons he just needs to be able to replicate that throughout the year. If there’s anyone they want badly back in 2017 it’ll be David Swallow. The man has played 5 games in 2 years and he’s GC in a nutshell. Talented but always injured. If they get him back this year then their midfield suddenly looks stronger, they need him in the thick of the action giving support to the younger bodies, they can’t afford to have their best midfielders constantly injured. Touk Miller you could probably put down as a tick for the 2016 season, one of the few to thrive in the midfield, he averaged 28 touches in the last 8 weeks and you’d think he’d be set for a big year. They look reasonably set for pacy midfielders, in my mind they need more talented inside midfielders or just stronger midfielders. That’s why Lyons and Barlow were recruited. Jarryd Lyons looks like a very good pickup, genuine bargain pushed out only due to salary cap issues at Adelade and he is definitely what they need more of, quality disposal but able to kick goals from the midfield. I think they’ve done well to get him. Barlow also is another reliable body, he’s still got enough quality to hurt teams or do stopping jobs, only thing is I think this leaves Matt Rosa on the outer as they can’t afford another injury prone midfielder with mediocre skills. Barlow should help fill the void whilst Scrimshaw, Brodie & Bowes get midfield time into them and Jesse Lonergan continues to grow. Basically injuries will determine their fate and how competitive they are.
Rucks - 7.5 : They’re pretty set with some nice options. Nicholls I rate a little higher than others, seems to have the Ryder-laconic down pat about him but he’ll grow into a very handy ruckman and is better than average at ground level. Witts looks to be a very good pickup in my mind, could develop into a very good first choice ruckman but I’m not sure where that’d leave Nicholls. Throw in Currie and they have a few good choice ruckman to choose from.
Forwardline - 6.5 : Actually have the second best forward in the comp, Lynch kicked 66 goals from below average midfield contributions and you have to say he’'s an out and out gun in the making if not already. Wright is following suit quickly, kicked 27 goals but already has started kicking bags of 3 and 5 and at 20 it looks like he’ll be a very big presence with Lynch. Both in 2/3 years should almost be the best combo in the league, they just need some midfield support. They’ve brought in Ainsworth who should get plenty of game time at their feet but if he doesn’t kick on they still have plenty of smalls to provide support. Ah Chee had a promising year and him with Martin look exciting although inconsistent. Both flash in and out but on their day they’re outstanding, I’d dare say they’re 2 years away from being at the level GC need. Brandan Matera is another who rounds out another of their impressive set of fleet footed goal kickers, like many of his team mates able to kick multiple goals but too often his defensive pressure and consistency are lacking, being able to kick a few goals is nice but you cost your team just as many if you’re a weak link with some poor efforts. I’m not going to include Jarrad Grant as an option as I can’t believe he’s still on an AFL list. Overall a very talented but highly inconsistent forwardline, they need their smaller fleet to get some consistency.
Predicted Finish - 11-13th - I have a feeling they’re going to be a tipsters nightmare. They’ll win some exciting games and lose some horrible matches, such is their inconsistency across their whole side. They have talent to be envied but still have a way to go before they can match it with the better sides week in week out.