The Quiksilver Pro is just around the corner and the cards have already been shuffled. Owen Wright has withdrawn for the first six events of the year with concussion, Bede Durbidge is still recovering from a broken pelvis and Alejo Muniz has withdrawn with a busted knee. With those three out, let’s welcome their replacements.

Adam Melling: With six years worth of tour experience Adam Melling will have no problem slipping back into the jersey. He narrowly missed out on re-qualifying after finishing 23rd in 2015. He will take Owen Wright’s spot in the draw from now until J-Bay where he will be looking to requalify for 2017.

Strenghts: Hailing from Lennox Head he’s no stranger to right-hand points. After an endless summer of swell rest assured he’s sharpened his rail game. One of the fittest surfers on tour, his experience and motivation to requalify are his ammo.

Weaknesses: His best result at Snapper was a ninth in 2013. He hasn’t been out of the doldrums since with a series of 13ths and 25ths. He will want it piping the length of the Superbank to dilute the x-factor of guys like Filipe.

Stu Kennedy: By his own admission Stu believes he should be on the top-flight tour. I remember having a conversation with him last year and he was “rattled” that a former QS competitor had qualified for the CT without ever winning an event. Stu has been on the cusp before and with Bede out of Snapper, and likely a few more events, this year is his best shot at qualifying.

Strengths: It takes some serious mental fortitude to grind it out on the tour for years. He doesn’t mind a fight. If it’s small, junky Snapper he’ll take it all in his stride. Like Melling, he hails from Lennox Head and has had a wave soaked summer. Plus those Kelly/Tomo Firewire’s look lightening fast under his feet and might just tip the judges.

Weaknesses: That he is overawed by the occasion. Despite his lengthy experience on the QS the CT is whole other level. Fail and he will rue it for the rest of his life and quite possibly self-combust with self-loathing.

Sebastian Zietz: The Commissioner’s pick to replace Alejo Muniz. Seabass has way too much style and talent to be marooned on the QS. Like fellow Hawaiian, Dusty Payne, Seabass has had a tendency to lose tight heats. A result at Snapper will be the shot in the arm he needs to get his requalification on track.

Strengths: Shitloads of pure talent and style. Can tube ride, stab a lip or go to the air. There are few chinks in his armour when he delivers the full package.

Weaknesses: The small stuff. Coming off a good winter in Hawaii and sampling Superbank perfection first hand last week Seabass knows how to surf “good waves”. A shitty forecast and expectations of a top eight finish vanish into thin air.

“In 2016, the replacement slots are distributed alternately between the CT and QS in order of the previous year's rankings. The first 2 spots that open up at each event go to the replacement list, beyond that the commissioner's office decides.”