AS Australia’s premier football code limbers up for a new season, local AFL identities have put their reputations on the line, this week predicting Port Adelaide to surge back into the top eight after two years in the football wilderness.
Maurice Lawless, a player with the Ballina Bombers and also the club’s president, believes the Power will not only make the eight but push right into the top four.
And long-time Summerland AFL and Byron Magpies administrator, George Pike, is of a like mind, predicting a return to the finals for the success-hungry South Australian club.
But Pike and Lawless stuck to the form guide in nominating most of last season’s finalists for another tilt at the flag.
Port Adelaide last saw finals action in 2007, but it was a day they’d rather forget. The Power were put to the sword in that season’s grand final by a ruthless Geelong, which defeated them by 119 points, an AFL grand final record.
The men from Alberton finished 13th the following year and 10th in 2009, but that hasn’t swayed our two punters.
“Port Adelaide have been rebuilding and they’re always a team to be reckoned with,” Lawless said.
“This year, I think their young talent will shine. Most of them have settled in.”
Pike, while finding a spot for the Power in the top eight, was not as generous.
“I’ve got them in at eighth,” he said.
“The old Port Magpies in the SANFL may be struggling, but if you were raised in the Port area, well, that’s my (top eight) hope anyway.”
Lawless and Pike also thought Brisbane were a definite chance to play finals this season.
“(Brendan) Fevola will give them a good run this year,” Lawless said.
“He’s on his last chance and I think he’s going to really strive and prove himself.”
“Brisbane are a big chance; they will have a pretty formidable forward line with Fevola and (Jonathon) Brown about,” Pike said.
Pike, however, was not so convinced with St Kilda, last year’s grand final losers and who also lost this season’s NAB Cup (pre-season) grand final.
“Naturally, St Kilda will be there (in the finals) but I was not all that impressed with their NAB Cup; the games they won wereby just a few points,”he said.
“Geelong will be there and the Western Bulldogs, now they have Barry Hall, will do well.
“Collingwood could finish better than last year (fourth) with (former Swans ruckman, Darren) Jolly and (former St Kilda on-baller) Luke Ball in their side.
“And then Carlton and the Swans to make the top eight.”