WARRNAMBOOL is again tipped to be the hunted in the Hampden league premiership race.
Seven of the league's 10 senior coaches anointed the Blues the team to beat in 2014, tipping the Scott Carter-coached side to make it a rare hat-trick of flags in The Standard's pre-season vox pop.
New Cobden coach Stephen Hammond believes Terang Mortlake, having added forward duo Chris Bant and Sam Moloney to its list, can rise from seventh and win the premiership.
North Warrnambool Eagles coach Bernard Moloney is confident in his team's chances of a breakthrough flag and Carter labelled Portland to jump from sixth and take the top honour after bolstering its midfield in the off season.
Carter said the premiership race was wide open.
He said the Blues weren't the best side in the home and away season last season but proved themselves in the finals series.
"I don't see us as overwhelming favourites at all," he said.
"I think we are in the mix but there are five or six in the mix.
"It's an even draw, everyone plays each other twice - that's the beauty of the new competition."
Carter said Warrnambool, which hosts 2013 wooden spooner South Warrnambool on Sunday, had only mentioned the lure of three straight premierships briefly but it would be something they would address throughout the season.
Eight coaches tipped the Bloods, who appointed Matt Irving as coach in the off season, to be the biggest improvers which was reflected with eight coaches selecting them in their top five.
The Tigers were also heavily backed to make big strides in their second Hampden league season under new coach Jake Myles.
Nine coaches expect Portland to play finals.
Coaches were spilt on whether a forward could kick 100 goals this season.
Those who believed a player could achieve the feat tipped either Camperdown's Dan Casey or Warrnambool's Jason Rowan.
Irving said the task was getting more difficult each season.
"Nowadays 70 goals is like 100 goals," he said.
"It would be a monumental effort if they can but I don't think it will be on the top of the list for full forwards."
For all coaches' predictions, turn to page 36.