Former Carlton and Adelaide midfielder Bryce Gibbs has put the acid on multiple players in the lead-up to the 2023 season.
With several players and teams failing to live up to expectations last year for one reason or another, Gibbs has named those he feels most need to get either harder, better, fitter or stronger in 2023 to live up to their potential.
With the idea stemming from the Daft Punk song – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – see who Gibbs has placed in his categories.
“I’ve got the Essendon midfield, they had a pretty poor year by their standards,” Gibbs told SEN SA Breakfast.
“They have a new coach Brad Scott coming in, it’s going to look completely different.
“They need a bit of a cultural shift and I’m putting it on their midfield.
“Some of their best players play in the midfield and they were 17th in contested possessions, 16th in clearances, 18th in tackles, 17th in one percenters and giving away free kicks, they were in the bottom four.
“I’m putting it on the Essendon midfielders as a whole to be harder this year around the ball.”
Jason Horne-Francis and Izak Rankine
“I’ve got two South Australians.”
“Jason Horne-Francis, we know he came under scrutiny last year for his work-rate, especially away from stoppage as we know how ferocious he was in and around the ball.
“There were some question marks on his tank … he’s been really working on that and focusing on that.
“The other one is Izak Rankine, we all know he’s class and what he’s capable of in the forward half, but will he be fit enough to run through the midfield?
“I’m not saying he’s not fit, but as a small forward to play in the midfield and have stints there and be really damaging, can he build his tank to have a real impact in and around the ball for Adelaide this year?
“We will soon find out.”
Mitch McGovern and Orazio Fantasia
“We spoke about this bloke before, Mitch McGovern and how crucial he can be to this Blues line-up.”
“His body let him down with soft tissue injuries, hamstrings, quads, those sorts of things.
“When you’ve got Jacob Weitering and Lewis Young holding down key forwards, Mitch McGovern is an intercept marker and a beautiful field kick … he can be a really key piece for what Carlton are trying to achieve this year.
“Keeping his body fit and healthy will be a real priority for him.
“The other one is Orazio Fantasia from Port, we know his injury struggles over the last couple of years.
“If he can stay healthy, he’s almost like another recruit, he can really buzz around that forward line and put a lot of pressure on.”
Jordan De Goey and Peter Ladhams
“In the better section I’ve got Jordan De Goey, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise.”
“More for his off-field antics and situations he found himself in last year, his performances coming off the back of scrutiny can’t be questioned – because some of the performances during the 2022 season and during finals, he’s as good as it gets.
“He can do a lot of things other players can’t do, so if he can behave himself a little bit more off the field and not have those distractions, that can only take his game to another level.
“The other one I have is Peter Ladhams, who was recruited from the Power to Sydney.
“He had high expectations to play as that second or first key forward to relieve Tom Hickey in the ruck.
“He got suspended multiple times and did some silly things (in 2022), he had some brain fades … he needs to be better in that space.
“If he can sort some of his indiscretions out … he can have an impact for Sydney.”