OPINION: Paddy, Buddy standing in way of Hawks’ ‘threepeat’?

WHEN stockpiling talls in the mid-2000s, Hawthorn was tempted to pick a young Patrick 'Paddy' Ryder.

In the end, the Hawks bypassed the rangy West Australian because of him resembling one they had selected a year earlier, Lance 'Buddy' Franklin.

Neither will be at Hawthorn this season.

Instead they could be the two players that most stand in the way of the Hawks' achieving just the second 'threepeat' in the last 50 years.

The premiers are well-placed to match the effort of the Brisbane Lions 11 seasons ago, or at the very least, contest a fourth-straight grand final.

Age is yet to catch up with Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, and Shaun Burgoyne, while Jordan Lewis, Jarryd Roughead and Grant Birchall remain in the prime of their careers, and Jack Gunston, Brad Hill and Luke Breust are still improving.

Then there's the addition of James Frawley and Jono O'Rourke, and the prospect of livewires Cyril Rioli and Jed Anderson being full fit.

Those two spending the majority of the season in what has been the league's most productive attack is a scary prospect.

Having crossed from Essendon, Ryder, though, presents the last piece of the Port Adelaide premiership puzzle for coach Ken Hinkley - backup ruckman; dangerous marking target in attack; match-winner.

With the class of Robbie Gray, Ollie Wines, Chad Wingard and skipper Travis Boak, the surging Power finished fifth in 2013 and third in 2014, when losing to the Hawks by three points in the preliminary final.

How Sydney responds to last year's 63-point grand final mauling will be interesting.

All-Australian halfback Nick Malceski is gone, Kurt Tippett is still under an injury cloud, and the club was barred from any trading in by the AFL.

But, with Franklin - a clear $4.25 favourite to win a fourth Coleman Medal - up front and superstars through the middle, they will be a threat again.


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