Hawthorn

As the 2015 season is fast approaching, here is a quick glance at what to expect from each team.

Adelaide

A new captain and a new coach for the Crows should suggest a significant change to the structure and outlook for 2015. The additions of Kyle Cheney and Luke Lowden will help Adelaide defensively, rounding out a competent backline and providing relief for a shallow ruck department. Adelaide should expect to see themselves in finals talks toward the end of the year, with a healthy and well-rounded list.

Keys to success: For Adelaide to get back into the finals they will need a massive boost from their role players, providing enough support so that the likes of Taylor Walker and Patrick Dangerfield don’t have to carry the team for 23 rounds.

Ladder prediction: 9th

Brisbane

A massive off-season for the Lions should boost the club’s confidence heading into 2015. Two A-grade recruits in Dayne Beams and Allen Christensen suggests Brisbane are locked and loaded in the midfield. Brisbane will need to utilise this heavily unbalanced list to their advantage in order to have success in 2015, as most of their attacking will have to come their prized midfielders. The loss of Joel Patfull will put a lot of pressure on a relatively green backline.

Keys to success: The cohort of young Lions will need to jump further into the deep end. Other young cubs such as Daniel McStay and Tom Cutler will have to jump on board with Lewis Taylor and provide some serious fire power up forward, as well as relief down back.

Ladder prediction: 11th 

Carlton

Carlton head into the 2015 season as somewhat of a mystery. With the losses of Jarrad Waite, Jeff Garlett and Mitch Robinson, the team will certainly be going through a transition phase. The inclusions of Liam Jones and Kristian Jaksch cover the loss of Waite, however the relatively unproven targets will need to step up and perform. Expect a big year from Troy Menzel.

Keys to Success: Carlton aren’t looking as strong as they have been in previous years, yet if Marc Murphy can inspire his team, with the help of players like Gibbs, Judd, Henderson and Rowe, anything is possible.

Ladder Prediction: 16th

Collingwood

Collingwood will also go through a transition phase in 2015. The loss of Dayne Beams is a significant blow to the side’s midfield. The inclusions of Levi Greenwood and Travis Varcoe should help keep Collingwood around the mark as long as they can provide sufficient support for Scott Pendlebury and Dane Swan. Expect a massive input from some of Collingwood’s younger players, with Nathan Freeman and Tom Langdon leading the charge.

Keys to success: Travis Cloke needs to have a big year for Collingwood to be in finals contention. With him firing, other players around him like Jamie Elliott and Jesse White should find themselves with more room to move, creating a potent forward line.

Ladder Prediction: 13th

Essendon

Hard to predict how the Bombers will fare in 2015. With a multitude of off-field conundrums, who knows if Essendon will be able to field a team that can last the gruelling test of the home and away season and reappear in the finals. What we can expect from the ‘Dons’ is constant fight and heart, as they have shown for the last three years.

Keys to Success: Fielding their first team and not having to deal with top-up players. If the Bombers can avoid sanctions they should be in good stead to make a run at the finals.

Ladder Prediction: ?

Fremantle

Fremantle will be looking toward September in what could be Matthew Pavlich’s last opportunity for ultimate AFL success. Don’t expect much to change with how the Dockers go about their business, a tough, defensive and unrelenting side that will grind and pound its way into Grand Final contention. Expect to see all Fremantle’s stars to be firing this year led by a very hungry Nat Fyfe.

Keys to Success: For Fremantle to succeed in 2015, they will need more input from their talls other than Aaron Sandilands. With plenty of athletic players, it’s time for some bigger bodies to step up and impose themselves on games.

Ladder Prediction: 3rd

Geelong

Geelong will potentially be the most interesting team to watch in 2015, having been at the top of the game for the last decade, it could be the year they fall. The cats have reached high this year, and to help they’ve recruited some height. The inclusion of Mitch Clark and Rhys Stanley to the forward line will mean opposing teams will have to find another key defender if they want to match the power and strength Geelong will be providing. If Clark can stay on the pitch, Geelong should remain in talks for September.

Keys to success: Finding the balance between run-and-carry and ‘tall ball’. Geelong will pose a huge threat in the air, but they will need their running players like Cam Guthrie and Steven Motlop to have stellar seasons.

Ladder Prediction: 7th

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast Suns will be looking for a debut finals birth in 2015. With the return of Gary Ablett and Jack Martin, expect to see some dazzling displays from the young team. Knocking on the finals door in 2014, the Suns will be reading to blast it wide open with the acquisition of Nick Malceski, who will undoubtedly solidify the backline and help press a major case for the Gold Coast Suns to be around come September. With Rodney Eade at the helm, the Suns should look to 2015 as an opportunity to really stamp their mark on the competition.

Keys to Success: Staying healthy. If the likes of Ablett, Martin and Charlie Dixon can stay healthy for the season, the Suns should be a formidable opponent for even the strongest teams. 2015 will also be the year Tom Lynch will have to really step up and become an imposing force in the competition.

Ladder Prediction: 4th

Greater Western Sydney

A blockbuster off-season has catapulted the Giants into unfamiliar territory. Despite the loss of some key young talent in Tom Boyd and Kristian Jaksch, the Giants will pose a major threat to finals contenders. The inclusions of Ryan Griffen and Joel Patfull will be a massive boost in veteran leadership, as well as help a very tight-knit unit perform to greater standards.

Keys to success: With the quality inclusions of Griffen and Patfull, it will be up to the young Giants to really step up and take the league by the throat. Players like Adam Tomlinson, James Stewart and Joshua Kelly will need to take their game to the next level like their fellow teammates Dylan Shiel and Adam Treloar have done in the past 18 months.

Ladder Prediction: 10th

Hawthorn

The reigning premiers will be striving for nothing less than another Grand Final appearance for 2015. With a fully-loaded list with seemingly no weak spots, the Hawks will be looking to dominate the competition for a third straight year. The inclusions of James Frawley from Melbourne and Jono O’Rourke from GWS should provide midfield and defensive depth and relief should key players go down with injury. Watch out for the emergence of young players Jed Anderson, Billy Hartung and Alex Woodward, who will be jumping at any and every opportunity to prove why they should be in the extremely talented first side.

Keys to success: Absorb the pressure from every club looking to prove themselves. Being the top dog, many teams will come after the Hawks with more energy than just a regular season match. For Hawthorn to hold the premiership cup in 2015, they’ll need to play consistently throughout the whole season.

Ladder Predictions: 1st

Melbourne

The new look-Demons will look to improve further in 2015. Many new faces to the red and blue should help the club rid its losing culture and hopefully bring some much needed success to the club. The fans should be buzzing with the inclusions of Heritier Lumumba and Jeff Garlett as well as finally being able to unveil prized recruit Jesse Hogan. Melbourne will be looking to develop their defensive-style game plan to a more attacking one in 2015, hopefully putting more points on the board and really stepping it up in the competition. Expect young players like Dean Kent and Christian Salem to really improve on their 2014 campaigns, as they will be seeking to cement a position for round one and beyond.

Keys to Success: The Demons need a lot of work before they start talking about finals contention, however if they can establish a strong offensive output to match their defensive mentality, Melbourne should be able to climb a few spots on the ladder. For that to happen, players like Jack Watts, Chris Dawes and Jack Viney will need to turn it up a notch and play really consistent, unrelenting football.

Ladder Position: 15th

North Melbourne

The Roos are looking to back up a very successful 2014 campaign. The veteran additions of Jarrad Waite and Shaun Higgins says it all. With top four in their sights, North Melbourne will look to really solidify their position high on the ladder and challenge the top sides consistently throughout the home and away season. The Roos won’t be able to afford lapses in concentration that often plagued them in 2014 and will need to focus in for all four quarters of every match. While the loss of Levi Greenwood over the off-season will hurt their midfield depth, North Melbourne will be looking toward their younger players like Luke McDonald and Ben Jacobs to really attack each game.

Keys to Success: Not putting themselves in positions where they have to come from behind and save the game. With a deep finals appearance under their belts, North Melbourne will have learned what it takes to go that one step further and reach the Grand Final, certainly something that will motivate the team throughout the season.

Ladder Position: 6th

Port Adelaide

Moments away from being in the 2014 Grand Final, Port Adelaide will be heading into the 2015 season hungrier than just about any other team in the competition. With a wealth of talent and depth coming through, the Power will be prepared to go the extra distance and make a claim for the Premiership. The addition of Paddy Ryder will be monumental for a side that seemed lacking only one area of the field – the ruck department. Now that Matthew Lobbe won’t have to run out 95% of games in the ruck, Port Adelaide will be a devastating foe. Combine the masterful coaching of Ken Hinkley with the top-tier talent and ridiculous home-field advantage, the Power will be looking to take the reigns of the competition in 2015.

Keys to Success: Maintain hungry and desire for premiership glory. Port Adelaide will most likely find themselves on long win streaks throughout 2015 and will need to stay focused and grounded if they want to see themselves playing in the Grand Final. Players like Jarman Impey and Jake Neade will also need to step up and take some pressure of some of Port’s stars.

Ladder Position: 2nd

Richmond

The most interesting aspect of Richmond’s 2015 season will be which Tigers outfit shows up to play. With a modest off-season, the Tigers will be relatively similar in their line-up and have maintained most of their coaching staff, so Richmond will be looking to continue on their amazing end of the 2014 season rather than the not-so-amazing start. With another year of football under some exciting young talent, look for Richmond to take the competition by the horns and really cement themselves in the top eight. If key players like Ivan Maric and Alex Rance can remain injury free, expect them to have a major part in the team’s success.

Keys to Success: Find stretches of winning streaks. When Richmond got going in 2014, they seemed near unstoppable. If the Tigers can pick up some early momentum throughout the season then they can stamp some authority on the competition and prove themselves as a serious threat. Richmond will need a massive output from Ben Griffiths and Tyrone Vickery to help support Jack Riewoldt in the forward line as well.

Ladder Position: 8th

St Kilda

St Kilda have begun their transition phase and have said goodbye to some of their older, mature players. With no more Clint Jones, James Gwilt or Lenny Hayes, the club will be short handed in terms of veteran leadership. In saying that, the club has picked up some very exciting young talent in Paddy McCartin and Hugh Goddard. In what will turn out to be more of a learning curve for the very young club, expect to see some great displays from Jack Steven and Mav Weller, two players that will have to step in to the holes left by Hayes and Jones. Expect some young players like Blake Acres, Eli Templeton and Luke Dunstan to step it up another level.

Keys to success: Hope for McCartin and new acquisition Tim Membrey to really produce a menacing forward line with Nick Riewoldt. Also have patience in the process and let the young talent develop without putting too much pressure on them to perform.

Ladder Position: 18th

Sydney

Sydney will be raring to go in 2015 after a disappointing loss in the Grand Final. With the trade ban during the off-season, Sydney’s list is relatively the same as it was in 2014, so you can expect the Bloods to produce another very successful season. The loss of Nick Malceski to the Suns will be something to worry about, yet with the depth and versatility of the list, expect the Swans to find a quality replacement. Another year of working together will help the twin towers up forward in Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett, and the inclusion of highly touted youngster Isaac Heeney will help rejuvenate a devastating midfield.

Keys to Success: Midfielders to get on top of their opponents early in every match. When the midfield is on and firing, Sydney are virtually unstoppable with such a potent forward line. Dan Hannebery, Kieran Jack and Josh Kennedy will need to put it on themselves to dominate early to set the rest of their teammates up for convincing wins. The Swans will need to stay as injury free as possible, to maintain consistency and momentum throughout the season.

Ladder Position: 5th

West Coast

West Coast are a very similar team to Richmond in terms of predicting which team will show up in 2015. With a plethora of talented players all over the field, it seems to be a question of desire for the Eagles. When they are on, the Eagles produce incredible displays of attacking football that looks unstoppable, yet lapses in concentration and lack of defensive pressure often undo all their offensive work. The Eagles will need some of their prized recruits in Sharrod Wellingham and Xavier Ellis to stay healthy as they could be the difference between West Coast finishing 7th or 14th. If Mark LeCras can stay healthy for the 2015 season, West Coast should maintain in the picture for a finals appearance, despite losing key defender Eric Mackenzie for the season.

Keys to success: Nic Naitanui went missing for far too long during the 2014 season. Without Dean Cox in 2015, Naitanui will really need to step up and become the imposing figure that he has been in previous years. A barometer for the Eagles, he will need to inspire the team week in week out in order for them to be successful.

Ladder Position: 12th

Western Bulldogs

It will be very interesting to see how the Western Bulldogs respond to such a massive off-season. After losing three prominent figures of the club in Ryan Griffen, Adam Cooney and Daniel Giansiracusa, as well as acquiring a new coach in Luke Beveridge, the Dogs will be searching for leadership from their young pups. With the disastrous season ending injury to Tom Liberatore, it will be on the shoulders of some other players like Mitch Wallis and Jake Stringer to step up and help out Bob Murphy and Jordan Roughead. It doesn’t all look bad for the dogs though as their stars-in-the-making Tom Boyd and Marcus Bontempelli will be eager to stake their claims as two of the best young talents in the country.

Keys to success: The Bulldogs will need to find an extra gear from their young talent in order to keep improving as a side. They have been steadily improving for the last two seasons and will need to be patient and expect some losses as well as some terrific wins. With Boyd in attack, Stringer and Stewart Crameri will have less pressure on them to score the majority of the Dogs’ goals.

Ladder Position: 17th