Carlton will take on Port Adelaide in Saturday night’s blockbuster at the MCG.
The fifth part of this six-part series features the five players that the Port Adelaide Power, Richmond Tigers and St Kilda Saints can least afford to lose in season 2021 plus an honourable mention.
The Port Adelaide Power will be looking to take positives into 2021. They will be looking to improve on their preliminary final finish. Here are the players that they can least afford to lose in 2021.
Honourable mention: Charlie Dixon was named at centre half forward in 2020 in the All Australian team, yet he finished ninth in the Port Adelaide Power best and fairest. Expect him to be an integral part of the Power’s structure in 2021.
5. Tom Rockliff responded well to being dropped. He appeared to use it as motivation and is an important part of the Port Adelaide Power midfield and should show why in 2021.
4. Zak Butters was named in the All Australian squad of 40. He was one of five Port Adelaide Power players to be a part of that squad. Expect him to play a key role on the half forward flank in 2021.
3. Tom Jonas was captain of the Port Adelaide Power in 2020. Expect Jonas to show why he finished third in the Power’s 2020 best and fairest in 2021. He will need to be at his best, once again, in 2021 if his team is to emulate their consistent performances that they produced for much of the 2020 season.
2. Darcy Byrne-Jones was a named on the half back flank in the All Australian team in 2020 and won the Port Adelaide Power best and fairest in the same season. Expect Byrne-Jones to be a pivotal part of the Power team in 2021.
1. Travis Boak was named vice-captain of the All Australian team in 2020. He leads by example. Expect him to show why he is such an elite player in 2021 for the Port Adelaide Power. How far the Power go in the finals, assuming they make it in 2021, should be determined partly by whether Travis Boak is fit, available for selection and at his best.
The Richmond Tigers will be looking to replicate their display in 2020 and peak at the right time in 2021 and win yet another premiership. The following players are the ones that they can least afford to lose in 2021 if the Tigers are to taste the ultimate success yet again.
Honourable mention: Tom Lynch was a pivotal part of the Richmond Tigers’ structure. The grand final epitomised his value to the Tigers team as he didn’t have a good game, but drew defenders and was a pivotal part of their system. Lynch should be an important part of the Tigers team in 2021.
5. Kane Lambert helped the Richmond Tigers make the grand final with a solid display in the preliminary final where he kicked two goals and had a big impact on the game. He is a player that often gets overlooked in terms of recognition and media hype. He is a quiet achiever. He may not be in 2021, as hopefully he gets more credit for the talent that he possesses.
4. Nick Vlastuin showed how valuable he is to the Richmond Tigers when he was concussed early in the grand final. It forced the Tigers to make adjustments. The Geelong Cats gained the ascendancy and momentum following his injury. It shows that the Tigers will need him fit and available for every game in 2021.
3. Jayden Short would have won the Norm Smith Medal if Dustin Martin didn’t kick some freakish goals. He was a deserved winner of the best and fairest in 2020 at the Richmond Tigers. He will be looking to continue on with the manner in which he played in 2020 when the new season commences in 2021.
2. Toby Nankervis will be extremely important if the Richmond Tigers are to be in the mix when it comes to the business end of the 2021. The Tigers’ other key ruckman Ivan Soldo will miss 2021 through injury. Mabior Chol is more a forward than a ruckman.
1. Dustin Martin does things that other players can’t. He impacted the result of the grand final in key moments. In 2021 he will be instrumental if the Richmond Tigers are to win yet another premiership.
The St Kilda Saints will be looking to improve in 2021. The following players are the ones that they can least afford to lose in 2021 if they achieve their aim, which should be to finish in the top four and be in the mix for the premiership.
Honourable mention: Brad Crouch averaged more disposals than any of the St Kilda Saints players despite playing for the wooden spooners in 2020, the Adelaide Crows. He featured in just 11 of 18 matches, but still managed to average 22 disposals and have an impact. His role in the Saints’ team will mean that the pressure will be taken off the likes of Seb Ross, Zak Jones and Jack Steele. It should prove to be an astute move to recruit Brad Crouch, if he performs to his optimum level in 2021.
5. Rowan Marshall. With Patrick Ryder coming towards the end of his career, Marshall will have to play a pivotal role in the ruck to give Ryder a rest in 2021 and help the St Kilda Saints become a great team, after being a good team in 2020.
4. Zak Jones has been a pivotal part of the St Kilda Saints’ team since joining them from the Sydney Swans. He finished sixth in the best and fairest, despite the fact that he missed three games in season 2020. He isn’t only a good player, but a leader, which is why the Saints will need him fit and firing in 2021.
3. Jade Gresham was sorely missed in eight out of 19 games for the St Kilda Saints in 2020, which could have cost the St Kilda Saints going further in the finals than he did. His versatility will be crucial to the Saints in 2021 as he can play in the forward line or in the midfield, wherever the team needs him.
2. Dan Butler will be looking to improve on his 2020 season as he was named in the All Australian squad of 40, but failed to make the final 22. He came second in the St Kilda Saints’ best and fairest in the same season. He has the capability of being an important part of the Saints team in 2021 and proving that his display in 2020 wasn’t an aberration.
1. Jack Steele was named on the interchange bench of the All Australian team in 2020. He will need to replicate that display in 2021 and substantiate why he is possibly the St Kilda Saints’ next captain, when Jarryn Geary eventually retires. Steele was a deserved winner of the Saints’ best and fairest in 2020 and will be looking to prove his 2020 display wasn’t an aberration, as he should be renowned as the Saints’ most integral player in 2021.