2014 footy teams in-depth: part 3

PORT ADELAIDE

BIG QUESTION

Second year blues for Ken Hinkley?

Always a chance, but Port Adelaide had a steely look about it last season. A well-rounded team with young stars like Chad Wingard and Ollie Wines, and outstanding performers like Justin Westhoff, Travis Boak and Hamish Hartlett.

Should be around the eight again.

KEY PLAYER Travis Boak. The midfielder justified his decision to say no to Geelong by putting in a brilliant season. The captain is an inspiration.

ONE TO WATCH Matthew Lobbe. Young ruckman who has developed quite nicely, and tackles a lot for a big man. Should only get better.

RICHMOND

BIG QUESTION

New Richmond or old Richmond?

Old Richmond would disappear into the football wilderness after their finals failure last year, but I sense this is the new Richmond.

A wonderfully even team that played quality football last season, but the monkey on its back of last year's finals series will be there until September.

KEY PLAYER Jack Riewoldt. Must be played closer to the goals. Riewoldt is the team's best avenue to a big score, and must be used that way if the Tigers are successful rather than pushing further up the ground.

ONE TO WATCH Dustin Martin. Will be intriguing to see how he responds after last year's contract dramas.

ST KILDA

BIG QUESTION

What should we expect from Alan Richardson's first year in charge?

Unfortunately for St Kilda fans, not much. There looks to be more short term pain on the way before any on-field joy.

The Saints have some good youngsters to go with their star veterans, but not a huge amount in-between.

Bottom four beckons.

KEY PLAYER Nick Riewoldt. Was outstanding in 2013, defying his veteran status, covering the ground as well as any forward in the league.

ONE TO WATCH Jack Steven stepped up to the elite level and should cement that label this season. Tasmanian Eli Templeton looks like he'll attract a cult following.

SYDNEY

BIG QUESTION

What impact will Buddy have?

Lance Franklin gives Sydney such a powerful looking front-half with Adam Goodes, Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid, Gary Rohan and Lewis Jetta other options John Longmore has in attack.

How they gel together will be vital to this being a successful acquisition, but Buddy being the freak he is, the impact will be positive.

Remember, the Swans made the top four last season with a host of injuries, so with Franklin on board and a better run health wise, they should be right up there again.

KEY PLAYER Jarrad McVeigh. Was outstanding last season, playing roles all over the ground and winning All Australian selection. 

ONE TO WATCH Lance Franklin. It has to be Buddy and how he fits into the Sydney structure. Does he stay at home, or push up the ground?

WEST COAST

BIG QUESTION

Where to now for West Coast?

The Eagles will be intriguing to watch. Touted as premiership material this time last year, they didn't even make the eight after a host of injuries.

Has lost a host of established stars such as Mark Nicoski, Daniel Kerr and Andrew Embley, and their stranglehold over Patersons Stadium.

Its first goal is to turn its home ground back as a fortress in Adam Simpson's first year as coach.

KEY PLAYER Nic Naitanui. The most unique player in the game, the Eagles lost so much firepower when the ruckman-forward went down with his groin issues. His fitness is vital to any West Coast success.

 ONE TO WATCH Sharrod Wellingham. So many injuries last year for the former Pie, who will be looking to remind the footy world of his class. Ditto ex-Hawk Xavier Ellis.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

BIG QUESTION

Have the Dogs improved enough to sneak into the eight?

In a word, no. Showed great improvement in the second-half of 2013, but it's a big leap from there into the top eight.

Still a year or two away from being a September team, although the recruitment of Stewart Crameri will help bolster its attack, its main area of deficiency.

KEY PLAYER Ryan Griffin. The new skipper is a bona-fide star, and last year got back to some of the form that had people once labelling him a future Brownlow medalist. More of the same is needed.

ONE TO WATCH Stewart Crameri. Recruited from Essendon to kick goals, so must have an impact on the scoreboard to justify the investment. More so, his presence will help younger forwards such as Tasmania's Liam Jones.

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