Another straight sets eviction from the September finals should ensure that the Red and Blue boys will be hungry to go one or two better this year. Having finished in the top 4 for the past three seasons means that there won’t be a lot of change to an outfit that has proven it is good enough, barring a couple of games.
Salem hasn’t had much luck in the past two years due to injuries. Last year, a thyroid issue kept him out until round 10, meaning he never reached full fitness. Even so, from his 14 games last year, he scored one 100+ score, two in the 90s, and four scores over 85. Considering his past two season averages were 77 and 73, he could be a handy D3 or even D2.
Kossie started the year with a bang, scoring 120 in round one before removing Smith’s head. After that, he had a season average of 63, which doesn’t look great. However, with forwards this year, it’s not too shabby. Included in that average wad four scores in the 20s. If he can improve this floor and with Melbourne having two tall forwards, providing more structure for crumbers, I can see Kossie pushing into the 70s, which will be very handy this year.
The Breakout Contenders
In the latter half of last year, Rivers was used up the ground more and also in the midfield. By all accounts, this looks set to continue into 2024, with him being used as an outside midfielder to utilize his kicking skills. Rivers looked pretty good in this role and last year already increased his average by 25 points. If he gets into the midfield rotation, I can see him adding another 10 points to that average.
Some may remember Hore from a few seasons ago. He played for the Dees in 2019 and in his first year of AFL, averaged 61.9 from 14 games. Unfortunately, he did his ACL and was let go during the COVID list cuts. In the past two seasons, he has been the number 1 intercept marking player in the VFL, averaging 102 last year. He could get a run in the Dees’ defense if the three-tall strategy doesn’t work out. He’s worth a late pick.
The Stash Options
Laurie played four games last year, mostly either starting as the substitute or being subbed off. He is a good ball user and has performed well in the VFL over the past two years, averaging 86 last year playing in the midfield. While he will probably play more as a half-forward in the Dees’ side, he has scoring potential and could rotate into the midfield.
Howes is a half-back ball mover with a nice kick and finds the ball easily across half-back. In 2022, he was close to playing in the senior side but was ruled out for the latter part of the season with a bad ankle injury. In 2023, Howes had a solid season, averaging 86 in the VFL. Currently, the half-back line is challenging to break into for the Dees, but at only 20 years old, he is showing promising signs.
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