It's a box-fresh season and already there's whispered drama surrounding the final make-up of surfers for R1 at the QuikPro Gold Coast:
Kelly Slater - IN
We've heard it told that Kelly's foot still has some healing to go before he's 100%. I've even heard that he has had another minor surgery recently to clean out the 'debris' of broken/loose bones from the area.
Will these rumours have any impact on your team selections? Would you have had Kelly either way? He's certainly been surfing well enough on his foot to warrant consideration, and we are almost certain that he'll be flying in to Coolangatta International a few hours before R1, but the rest is up to you.
Mick Fanning - IN
Unless you've been living under a rock, you'd have had time to cry yourself dry at the news that White Lightning will be hanging up his contest vest for the last time this year. Mick's status within our sport has already been lauded far and wide this week, but he's not gone yet; Fanning will deliver a whirlwind farewell tour across the east coast of Australia at the first two events before handing the reigns to the next generation.
Julian Wilson - IN (for now)
Julian has been playing his cards very close to his chest in regards to his AC joint injury and subsequent recovery. In an interview with ABC news in Australia, he seemed to imply that he'd be willing to wait out a few events if necessary for full recovery. The article also seemed to suggest that Margies would be a realistic first-event for him, but there were no direct quotes.
With his partner Ashley expecting their first child in around 3 weeks, we're betting he'll likely be a late withdrawal.
Update: Julian is now the proud dad of little Olivia, born just a day or so before the event start date. Do you think he'll surf? We don't.
Mikey Wright - IN
In what can only be described as an act of common sense, Quiksilver have given their event wildcard spot to 2x QuikPro entrant and current QS leader Mikey Wright. He's a great fantasy option, especially in FS where he will be very cheap. The only caveat: his low seed will pit him against the top seeds in every round, as evidenced above in what must be the most stacked heat of R1.
Trials Winner - TBC
It looks like the trials may run tomorrow Australian time (Saturday), so this surfer's identity won't be known until then. There have been a number of high quality surfers named in the trials though, so the winner will be a genuine threat.
Watch this space.
Michael February - OUT (for now)
Already confirmed as Mick Fanning's replacement from Margies onwards, Michael is in Australia (...his QS results haven't been impressive) and will be ready to pounce if Julian's shoulder isn't up for the fight (see above).
If Julian pulls out in time (insert father-to-be joke), then there will be wholesale changes. If he withdraws at the last second, then his replacement could take his seed for R1 only. Man, that sounds worse than intended.
For now, it looks like this:
Courtney Conlogue has withdrawn from the first event of the season after sustaining a fracture in her foot whilst training at the Gold Coast. Young Australian ripper Macy Callaghan has replaced her in the draw and all seeding has been adjusted:
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