After what was mostly a season to forget for South Australian football fans, Sunday will give us our first glimpse of what 2012 has in store against a widely-fancied Carlton side.
Adelaide and the Power both have very young lists with some exciting talent, while Carlton possesses what is possibly the best midfield in the competition.
All three clubs have asked the AFL for extra substitute players due to the heat and the time of day the game is being played but the AFL is waiting to make the call.
Why You Should Tune In
Adelaide have some gaps to fill due to the losses of Jack Gunston, a promising medium-sized forward, to Hawthorn and Phil Davis to Greater Western Sydney. While Gunston can most likely be covered by the strong duo of Tippett and Walker, Davis (along with the retirement of Scott Stevens) leaves a bigger dilemma in terms of their defense issues.
New coach Brenton Sanderson comes in with a big job and will no doubt be hoping to develop a thicker skin on a Crows side that was subject to occasional capitulations in 2011 – whether for a whole game or a game-losing quarter.
Players to watch:
Daniel Talia was relatively impressive in his nine games last season and will want to move his game up another peg to push for a regular berth.
Brad Crouch is a 17-year-old player taken in the GWS mini-draft at pick 10 and has been given special permission to play in the NAB Cup.
Was named All-Australian in the 2011 TAC Cup and recently impressed during in-club trials. A complete midfielder with an uncanny ability to find the ball, he’ll be one of the most interesting players on show as he clashes with more AFL-ready bodies.
The Power have kept their faith in Matthew Primus while bringing in some new assistant heads around him.
Keeping Butcher and gaining Brad Ebert from the Eagles, McCarthy from Collingwood and the highly-rated local Chad Wingard in the draft should prove to be a boon for a Port side in a rebuilding phase.
A good showing, especially against Carlton, would be a great confidence builder for a side that managed only three wins last season.
Losing two old-heads in Cornes and Brogan may now require their inexperienced talent to be fast-tracked to the necessary senior standard.
Players to watch:
John Butcher resisted the temptation to head home to Victoria and I would imagine the Power could barely contain their happiness. The number eight draft pick from 2009 debuted in round 21 last season, causing a big stir when he kicked six goals straight from six kicks against the Bulldogs in round 22.
He ended the season with 11 goals from four games, showing off his great pair of hands. Along with Sam Reid he is the most exciting key-position forward prospect under 21 in the league and the Power will be hoping he continues his great start.
Chad Wingard was taken at pick 6 in the draft and again, I would imagine the happiness could barely be contained (in fact in an interview after the draft, Port recruiting manager Geoff Parker didn’t even try). He was the SA under-18 captain, was stunning in the club’s recent intra-club and should slot in perfectly well with an emerging midfield.
Darren Pfeiffer, at his third club having only played seven games, Pfeiffer is on his last life. However after two impressive seasons away from the AFL (at Southport in the QAFL and Norwood in the SANFL) Port pounced in the rookie draft. A midfielder with a keen eye for the goals, the mature-aged Pfeiffer could prove to be a handy pickup. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out to see if third time’s a charm for the SA native.
Carlton came extremely close to a preliminary final berth last year and will be wanting to go at least one better this season. With Murphy having his best season, Judd being his usual self and a fully-fit Kreuzer, the Blues are going to be a very dangerous club.
Walker, Betts and Garlett managed 154 goals between them last year and the addition of Ratten trying to implement a ‘defensive press’ should see a top four finish easily within their reach. But, for the NAB Cup, there are other reasons to tune in to watch the Blues.
Players to watch:
Kane Lucas is the early front-runner for the NAB Rising Star this season and will hopefully get the chance to prove himself in 2012 after an injury-riddled first two seasons with the club. Has been impressive whenever he’s had the chance and after an uninterrupted pre-season will be hoping to put a strong foot in the door for round one.
Zach Tuohy is the Irish recruit who got his first chance to shine last year, and after being elevated from the rookie list went on to play 11 games for the season, including the semi-final loss against the Eagles.
Can be used to rebound from half-back or further up the ground and will be one to watch to see if he can develop as Pearce Hanley from the Lions did.
Matthew Watson, with Michael Jamison temporarily out injured, the NAB Cup might be one of the best chances 19-year-old Watson will get to show himself as a worthy defender. Watson will be well tested up against the likes of Tippett, Walker, Butcher and Schulz.
You’d expect Carlton would take both their games, but I think Port will surprise and get over the line against Adelaide; at the very least they’ll come closer in both their games than most would expect.
1. Richard Tambling, 3. Brent Reilly, 4. Kurt Tippett, 5. Scott Thompson, 6. Luke Thompson, 7. Nathan van Berlo, 8. Lewis Johnston, 9. Rory Sloane, 10. Matthew Jaensch, 11. Michael Doughty, 12. Daniel Talia, 13. Taylor Walker, 14. David Mackay, 15. Brad Symes, 17. Bernie Vince, 18. Graham Johncock, 20. Joshua Jenkins, 22. Andy Otten, 23. Jared Petrenko, 24. Sam Jacobs, 26. Richard Douglas, 27. Tom Lynch, 29. Sam Kerridge, 31. Jarryd Lyons, 32. Patrick Dangerfield, 33. Brodie Smith, 34. Sam Shaw, 35. Shaun McKernan, 37. Ian Callinan, 43. Aidan Riley, 45. Ricky Henderson, 47. Matthew Wright, 49. Tim McIntyre.
2. Jordan Russell, 3. Marc Murphy, 4. Bryce Gibbs, 6. Kade Simpson, 7. Dylan Buckley, 8. Matthew Kreuzer, 9. Kane Lucas, 10. Matthew Watson, 13. Chris Yarran,14. Brock McLean, 15. Jeremy Laidler, 16. Andrew Collins, 17. Sam Rowe, 18. Paul Bower, 19. Eddie Betts, 21. Josh Bootsma, 22. Shaun Hampson, 23. Lachie Henderson, 24. Patrick McCarthy, 26. Andrew McInnes, 27. Dennis Armfield, 29. Heath Scotland, 31. Marcus Davies, 32. Bret Thornton, 35. Edward Curnow, 36. Rohan Kerr, 38. Jeffrey Garlett, 39. Frazer Dale, 41. Levi Casboult, 42. Zach Tuohy, 44. Andrew Carrazzo, 45. Aaron Joseph, 46. David Ellard, 47. Mitchell Carter.
1. Domenic Cassisi, 3. Steven Salopek, 5. Matthew Broadbent, 6. Danyle Pearce, 7. Brad Ebert, 8. Hamish Hartlett, 9. Jacob Surjan, 10. Travis Boak, 11. Mitchell Banner, 12. Jackson Trengove, 13. Cameron O’Shea, 14. Paul Stewart, 15. David Rodan, 16. Ben Jacobs, 17. Robbie Gray, 18. Kane Cornes, 20. Chad Wingard, 22. Simon Phillips, 24. Nathan Blee, 26. Andrew Moore, 27. Alipate Carlile, 28. Jay Schulz, 30. Troy Chaplin, 31. Darren Pfeiffer, 32. John Butcher, 34. Jarrad Redden, 35. John McCarthy, 39. Justin Westhoff, 40. Aaron Young , 41. Brendon Ah Chee, 42. Thomas Jonas, 43. Daniel Stewart, 44. Tom Logan, 47. Jarrad Irons.
Begins 2:40pm Adelaide time, AAMI stadium. Live on Foxtel and radio.