Touk Miller of the Suns runs with the ball during a training session.
Touk Miller of the Suns runs with the ball during a training session. Scott Barbour

There's always next year for league's vanquished

EIGHT teams are preparing for what shapes to be an enthralling finals series, with at least six of them genuine premiership contenders.

The 10 others, meanwhile, can only examine why they won't be part of the action ... and look ahead to 2017 with positivity. Here's what they can look forward to.

 

Jack Billings has been battling injury for the past two seasons.
Jack Billings has been battling injury for the past two seasons.

ST KILDA

A fit Jack Billings. The No.3 draft pick from 2013 battled a shin complaint in 2015 and hampered by an ankle injury in 2016, restricting the midfielder to 26 games in two seasons.

One-time Essendon defender Jake Carlisle completing his suspension to join an impressive spine that also includes Hugh Goddard down back and Josh Bruce and Paddy McCartin up forward.

 

Paddy Ryder will make a welcome return to the Power line-up in 2017.
Paddy Ryder will make a welcome return to the Power line-up in 2017.

PORT ADELAIDE

Former Bombers Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries back from their 12-month bans to boost the ruck and half-forward line, respectively.

Jack Hombsch, Tom Jonas and Jackson Trengove shoring up the defence. Hombsch (10 games) and Jonas (9) were injured while Trengove was used in the ruck to cover Ryder and Matthew Lobbe.

 

Christian Petracca provided a glimpse of his undoubted potential in 2016.
Christian Petracca provided a glimpse of his undoubted potential in 2016.

MELBOURNE

Jesse Hogan getting over second-year blues. After kicking 44 goals in his debut season, the power forward slotted 41 in 2016, including just three in his last six games.

The midfield getting stronger and stronger. Young bulls Christian Petracca, Angus Brayshaw, Clayton Oliver will be another year older while outside runner Jake Melksham and halfback Michael Hibberd will join from Essendon.

 

Remember him? Jamie Elliott missed the entire 2016 season with injury.
Remember him? Jamie Elliott missed the entire 2016 season with injury.

COLLINGWOOD

Forwards Darcy Moore, Jamie Elliot and Alex Fasolo playing a full season. Elliot (back) missed the entire year. Fasolo (shoulder) played 12 games, though still topped the club goalkicking (25).

Getting more GWS talent. After nabbing Taylor Adams and Adam Treloar, the Magpies may now have their sights on key position player Adam Tomlinson and half-forward Will Hoskin Elliott.

 

Dion Prestia wants to join the Tigers after walking out on Gold Coast.
Dion Prestia wants to join the Tigers after walking out on Gold Coast.

 

RICHMOND

The arrival of clearance specialist Dion Prestia on a five-year deal from the Gold Coast to add some extra grunt to the midfield.

Brett Deledio (calf) returning to full fitness after missing 11 games in 2016, and Jack Riewoldt playing closer to goal after booting less than 50 majors (48) for the first time since 2009.

 

Marc Murphy will hope for an injury free year in 2017.
Marc Murphy will hope for an injury free year in 2017.

 

CARLTON

Having a fully fit Marc Murphy (ankle) after the skipper was restricted to 10 games, and securing yet another Giant wantaway, key defender Caleb Marchbank, who has requested a trade.

Spearhead Levi Casboult being told not to venture out of the goalsquare. He's a contested-marking beast but kicked a dreadful 18 goals in 22 games.

 

Sam Day showed promise this season, but needs to take another step.
Sam Day showed promise this season, but needs to take another step.

 

GOLD COAST

Promising midfielders Touk Miller and Brayden Fiorini continuing their development alongside a fit Gary Ablett. They are the future with Prestia and O'Meara gone ... and, importantly, staying put, having already re-signed.

Former No.3 draft pick Sam Day finally becoming a consistent threat and no 'third wheel' in potentially the league's most formidable three-pronged attack alongside Tom Lynch (66 goals) and Peter Wright (27).

 

GWS Giants-contracted AFL player Cam McCarthy trains with South Fremantle.
GWS Giants-contracted AFL player Cam McCarthy trains with South Fremantle. Paul Kane

 

FREMANTLE

An attack that includes proven goalkicker Cam McCarthy, who should finally be traded from GWS, alongside the dangerous Michael Walters and late-bloomer Shane Yarran (10 goals in six games).

Also throw in a few handy additions in Nat Fyfe (five games) and Harley Bennell (0) roaming forward of centre and All-Australian halfback Michael Johnson (four) after injury cruelled them all.

 

Josh Schache of the Lions.
Josh Schache of the Lions. Will Russell/AFL Media

 

BRISBANE

The spine of Josh Schache, Eric Hipwood, Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner being a little bigger and a little better to carry a bit more of the load, not to mention the drafting of another No.2 pick.

Star midfielder Dayne Beams (knee) playing about 20 more games than he did in 2016 (2).

 

Dyson Heppell is expected to take over the captaincy from Jobe Watson at Essendon.
Dyson Heppell is expected to take over the captaincy from Jobe Watson at Essendon.

 

ESSENDON

The return of stars Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker, Brent Stanton and possibly skipper Jobe Watson after their 12-month bans to rejoin youngsters Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish.

Whatever they use on the No.1 draft - be it the best young footballer in the country, or on a player once considered the best young footballer in the country, Jaeger O'Meara.


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