The ’Pies are damned hard to pick. They have good personnel, but last year continued to make bad decisions with ball in hand and miss-goal opportunities, putting scoreboard pressure on themselves. They’re still experimenting with ways to link their mids and forwards. A lot will fall to Daniel Wells in that regard. Darcy Moore (right), they say, will camp in defence. Ben Reid will be a target up front, and he’s due for a year of dominance. Brayden Maynard will strengthen the midfield.
The Magpies have a very classy midfield, but they’ll be relying entirely on existing resources after refraining from trading. This will be Buckley’s most settled season for a while now. Hardwick has proved, as Thompson did before him, that a coach who has put in the hard yards deserves to be persevered with. The fact that certain sides like Freo and West Coast – maybe Hawthorn – seem to be on the slide works in their favour in their quest for a top-eight spot.
Improbable scenario: The Pies will flounder at the bottom end of the eight, and still look more likely to miss the finals than make them. Coach Nathan Buckley will continue to walk the razor’s edge.