Sport AFL Who could your AFL team least afford to lose?

Who could your AFL team least afford to lose?

AAP
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Gold Coast are facing up to their nightmare scenario with Gary Ablett out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

Each club has its star players, but which one could your team least afford to lose?

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Adelaide

Daniel Talia – The futures of free-agent midfielders Patrick Dangerfield and Rory Sloane have captured the headlines, but Talia is the rock on which the Crows’ defence is based following the retirement of Ben Rutten.

Brisbane

Tom Rockliff – The Lions gave Collingwood a scare with their inspirational skipper in the side in round one and surrendered meekly against North Melbourne the next week when he missed with fractured ribs.

Carlton

Chris Judd – The fact that the 31-year-old dual Brownlow medallist still has to carry so much of the midfield burden for the Blues at his age is an indictment on his teammates.

Chris Judd of the Blues kicks the ball past Chris Newman of the Tigers. Photo: Getty
Chris Judd is a veteran at the Blues and his experience is integral. Photo: Getty

Collingwood

Scott Pendlebury – With Dayne Beams gone and Dane Swan into his twilight years, the Magpies rely on their skipper around the stoppages more than ever.

Essendon

Jobe Watson – The Brownlow medallist has obvious on-field attributes, but arguably even more important is the way he has held the Bombers together during the supplements crisis.

Fremantle

Nat Fyfe – The Dockers are fast becoming Fyfe’s team, if they aren’t already, with the gifted midfielder’s influence felt across all areas of the ground.

Geelong

Tom Hawkins – The Cats clearly recognised the lack of tall options around Hawkins with the recruitment of Mitch Clark and Rhys Stanley, but securing the long-term future of the free agent by year’s end remains a top priority.

Tom Hawkins of Geelong takes a mark ahead of Kyle Cheney of Hawthorn. Photo: AAP
Tom Hawkins’ size is a real asset to Geelong. Photo: AAP

Gold Coast

Gary Ablett – Former coach Guy McKenna lost his job in no small part due to Ablett’s shoulder injury. The Suns lost six of their last seven games in 2014 without Ablett and now Rodney Eade must find a way to cover the absence of the star onballer.

Greater Western Sydney

Shane Mumford – The former Swans ruckman has brought a steely presence to the Giants’ onball brigade that is allowing their talented youngsters to flourish.

Hawthorn

Jarryd Roughead – The Hawks handled the transition to life without Lance Franklin brilliantly, with Roughead now the centrepiece of an attack that has claimed back-to-back flags.

Melbourne

Nathan Jones – Jones has been a beacon of strength and leadership through a barren period for the Demons, with the midfielder voted the club’s best-and-fairest player for the past three years running.

Nathan Jones of Melbourne gets a hand ball away in front of Brad Ebert of Port Adlelaide. Photo: AAP
Nathan Jones is a key figure for the Dees, on and off the field. Photo: AAP

North Melbourne

Todd Goldstein – He’s shouldered the ruck burden pretty much singlehandedly for the past four years, and done a fine job, which is just as well because there’s not much ruck depth behind him at Arden St.

Port Adelaide

Robbie Gray – The talented forward-midfielder finished 19th in last year’s Brownlow Medal count, but those in the know – the AFL coaches – voted him their player of the year.

Richmond

Alex Rance – The Tigers struggled early last season when the tall defender was out injured and he was a key factor in their barnstorming run to the finals. Now they must find a way of re-signing the in-demand free agent.

St Kilda

Jack Steven – The Saints recognised the importance of Steven to their young midfield mix when they signed him to a new five-season deal this year.

Jack Steven of St Kilda is tackled by Mitchell Hallahan of Hawthorn. Photo: AAP
Jack Steven is fundamental in St Kilda’s midfield strategy. Photo: AAP

Sydney

Lance Franklin – Buddy’s brilliance in front of goal is well-documented, but the Swans love his appetite for the contest and willingness to chase and tackle almost as much.

West Coast

Eric Mackenzie – The doomsday scenario has already played out for the Eagles, with MacKenzie gone for the year with a knee injury. Another key defender Mitch Brown also won’t play again in 2015. All this after the retirements of stalwart backmen Darren Glass and Beau Waters.

Western Bulldogs

Marcus Bontempelli – ‘The Bont’ isn’t the best player at the Dogs – yet – but he represents the light at the end of the tunnel for Bulldogs fans impatient for a return to the finals.

Marcus Bontempelli of the Bulldogs kicks the ball away from Dane Swan of the Magpies. Photo: Getty
Marcus Bontempelli is set to star in the Bulldogs’ future. Photo: Getty

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