Every season there are players who catch our eye, do remarkable things on the football field and impact big games. Some years it is the young gun, other years the old warhorse recaptures his younger self, sometimes a developing talent finally blossoms.
In 2013 there are some forgotten players who will return from injury. Every fan sits and watches their team, whether they be struggling or dominating, and thinks to themselves “if only we had…” or “if only… wasn’t injured.”
West Coast had a reasonably successful season in 2012, although missing out on the top four did not sit well with John Worsfold after the side’s meteoric rise in 2011. It is hard to find too many holes in the Eagles’ line-up but they did miss their two best forwards for a huge chunk of the home and away season.
When goalsneak Mark LeCras went down in a pre-season training session, Eagles fans feared the worst. Their fears were confirmed when LeCras was ruled out of football in 2012 because he required a full knee reconstruction. Things got worse when Josh Kennedy went down with an ankle injury against Richmond in Round 5.
Jack Darling and Josh Hill stepped up admirably in the absence of Kennedy and LeCras, and they were ably supported by Quinten Lynch, Dean Cox, Nic Naitanui and others who rotated through the forward line. Despite their gallant efforts, West Coast will be praying LeCras and Kennedy get through the pre-season unscathed because their presence in an already formidable forward line, with a talented midfield to feed them, will be a scary proposition for any team in 2013.
Fremantle will also be looking forward to the return of young gun Anthony Morabito, who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury, which was yet another setback in a fledgling career that has been curtailed by injuries. Fremantle people have had big wraps on Morabito; he has been likened to a young Adam Goodes, and when he has managed game time he has shown the football world just how talented he is.
The Dockers will be hoping he, and another young star in the making in Nat Fyfe, can get full pre-seasons under their belt and boost what is already a very talented list. Ross Lyon’s men will be a top four threat if they can have a fully fit Morabito, Fyfe and Aaron Sandilands in the middle of the ground.
Swans speedster Gary Rohan will also be seeking a return in 2013. Rohan was rubbed out of 2012 action when he broke his leg in an ugly sliding incident with North Melbourne’s Lindsay Thomas. We’ve seen the impact badly broken legs can have on players when they return – Nathan Brown for one was never the same player – and hopefully for Sydney fans Rohan is not affected in the long term by his horrific injury.
If Rohan can return and have a similar or greater output than before his injury, it will be a huge boost for an already impressive Sydney side. Rohan, paired with Lewis Jetta, will offer the Swans a lot of speed and run on the wings and across half forward to compliment the grunt work of Josh Kennedy, Jude Bolton and Ryan O’Keefe.
Nathan Bock was another to suffer a broken leg, his injury occurring against Fremantle at Metricon Stadium in Round 6 was innocuous but telling. An unfortunate collision in a marking contest put the Suns star defender out for the season and his experience was sorely missed in Gold Coast’s youthful back half. Bock at his best is one of the best key defenders in the game so the Suns will be desperate to have his experience and skill back in 2013.
Port Adelaide had a 2012 to forget. As is often the case when teams struggle, injury plays a big part. Port really did suffer when it lost talented forward Robbie Gray to an ACL injury. Gray had been a shining light for the Power in 2011 and all fans of the club were hoping he would continue to develop in 2012.
Gray is one player who could really boost Port Adelaide next season. With the acquisition of Angus Monfries to go along with the marking prowess of Jay Schulz and the continuing development of John Butcher, Port Adelaide’s forward line could be very threatening for opposition defences if Gray can reclaim the form that put him on the radar in 2011.
Gray is a player in the LeCras and Monfries mould. He is too quick for the bigger defenders and too strong in the air for small backmen to match up on. His 32 goals in 2011 to top Port’s goalkicking is proof of just how good Gray can be and how welcome his return will be for Power fans.
Collingwood’s Andrew Krakouer also suffered an ACL injury early in 2012 but remarkably managed to make a return to AFL football in time for the Magpies’ finals campaign. Krakouer’s silky skills and evasive ability proved to be a handful for opposition defenders once again.
Krakouer will hopefully have completed a full pre-season before the 2013 season and will once again be able to add to Collingwood’s already impressive midfield depth. It goes without saying that a fully-fit Andrew Krakouer is a scary thought for the opposition.
2013 is set to be an exciting season as a new crop of youngsters get a taste of AFL football and some star players will hopefully have a successful return from injury for their teams. Watch out for these players; their skill is undoubted so let’s hope their bodies hold up.