The 2019 season begins on Thursday night time with the normal Richmond versus Carlton fixture on the MCG.
Right here’s how your group is shaping up.
Not because the Tigers gained the flag by 80-plus factors in 1980 was a staff in a greater place to win back-to-back flags than Richmond in 2018 … nevertheless it didn’t.
In response, Richmond let go a bunch of foot troopers like Reece Conca, Brandon Ellis, Sam Lloyd and Anthony Miles and spent massive bucks on Suns ex-captain Tom Lynch. How will he work in Jack Riewoldt’s ahead line?
The Tigers have expertise, a profitable recreation type and a team-first mentality – the holy trinity for profitable flags. It additionally means they haven’t any excuses.
Reigning premiers. Who would have thought that?
However West Coast performed an excellent model of soccer on the proper time and took house the silverware.
The query is: Can it’s the primary non-Victorian aspect to return to again since Brisbane within the early 2000s?
A harder draw will make it troublesome – the Eagles have journeys to Geelong, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Alice Springs to cope with.
However can the dual towers of Josh Kennedy and Jack Darling keep on the park? The identical query goes for the unfortunate Nic Naitanui.
A simple draw final yr and a grand last look. This yr the Pies face the toughest draw on paper, so they’ll have to be on prime of their recreation. Including Dayne Beams to an already packed midfield was a masterstroke.
He’s a goal-kicking midfielder who will complement the expertise of Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom. If they will get Darcy Moore on the park often, then issues are wanting rosy within the big-man stakes.
There’s sufficient expertise on the Magpies to recommend they are going to be thereabouts once more in 2019.
Scott Pendlebury is a Collingwood stalwart. Photograph: Getty
Ladder positions are usually good indicators of the place you’re at as a group – besides Hawthorn’s flattering fourth-placed end in 2018.
The Hawks will not be that good. A softish draw, some fortunate wins and all of a sudden they have been fourth. The very fact they misplaced each finals was a greater reflection of the place they’re at.
Brownlow winner Tom Mitchell taking place for the season is a large blow. They will’t anticipate previous stagers like Jack Gunston, Luke Breust and Jarryd Roughead to go to a different degree.
The excellent news for brand spanking new guys – Tom Scully and Chad Wingard – is that recruits usually play higher footy at Hawthorn.
Transformed defender Tom McDonald is the brand new sheriff on the town. Will T-Mac be the large gun up ahead they dreamt Jesse Hogan can be?
Steven Might from the Suns will add grit down again. The Demons do have a effective crop of younger midfielders in Jack Viney, Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw.
As gifted as they’re, midfield depth is vital in trendy soccer and these guys have to maintain stepping up.
There have been a lot of dangerous finals performances in 2018, however Sydney’s effort took the cake.
For them to enhance to occur, gamers like Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, Aliir Aliir, Ollie Florent, Tom Papley, Will Hayward and Harry Cunningham should produce high-quality soccer week in, week out.
Dependence wants to vary and the strain have to be heaped upon those that have carried the load for therefore lengthy: Kieren Jack, Luke Parker, Jarrad McVeigh and Heath Grundy.
Buddy Franklin is hitting 32 and struggles to get as match as he as soon as was. That’s not nice, given a lot rides on his broad shoulders.
Regardless of letting Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully and Rory Lobb stroll out the door, the Giants nonetheless have expertise in spades.
They may want it to kick into motion early as the primary 4 rounds embrace journeys to Perth and Geelong, and internet hosting Richmond and Melbourne.
That’s a strong begin however when you’ve got Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, Phil Davis, Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield, Jeremy Cameron, Shane Mumford, Heath Shaw and the enigmatic Toby Greene, you’d be very stunned for those who didn’t flip up able to play.
Anticipate the Giants to be up there once more.
The Cats have all of the components to make an exquisite cake, however by some means the combination isn’t fairly proper and it doesn’t end up as tasty appropriately. Particularly in 2018 when Gary Ablett Jr was purported to be the cherry on prime.
We’ll discover out within the robust first seven rounds whether or not Geelong has fastened the recipe. Luke Dahlhaus from the Bulldogs will assist however including a participant like Gary Rohan, who can’t nail down a place, to similars in Cam Guthrie, Scott Selwood, Brandon Parfitt and Nokia Cockatoo-Collins, and you’ve got a bunch of nomads filling holes across the stars.
A settled line-up is a trademark of nice groups and it’s one thing the Cats must be striving for in 2019.
Can Gary Ablett Jr discover type in 2019? Photograph: Getty
The excellent news for Kangaroos followers is that they have addressed one in every of their obtrusive inefficiencies: Some outdoors run. Everyone knows the likes of Ben Cunnington and Jack Ziebell can win the onerous footy however some polish on the surface was badly wanted – therefore the recruiting of Jasper Pittard and Jared Polec from Port Adelaide.
Polec had a break-out season final yr, and the Kangas will want him to enhance even additional contemplating the dollars it took to get him. Aaron Corridor from Gold Coast has monumental expertise, he simply doesn’t use it typically sufficient.
Did they overachieve in 2018 or are they on the rise? Time will inform.
This aspect ought to be higher than it’s. It has the Grey boys, Ollie Wines, Justin Westhoff, Brad Ebert, Travis Boak, Paddy Ryder and others – but it hasn’t gained a finals recreation since 2014.
Is it the coach? Is it the gamers? What about this fabulous ‘profitable historical past and tradition’ we hold listening to about?
That is coach Ken Hinkley’s final probability – chairman David Koch gained’t endure one other season like 2018.
Port doesn’t want extra gamers. It wants a psychologist, larger requirements, unrelenting effort and a team-first mentality.
Do this and a finals berth is an actual probability.
The Bombers haven’t gained a last for 15 years.
Including Dylan Shiel from GWS to a workforce that gained 10 of its final 14 video games ought to be sufficient. Embrace the development of Andrew McGrath, Aaron Francis and Zach Merrett, and finals must be a no brainer.
The AFL is banking on it, after giving them eight Thursday or Friday prime-time slots. The large query is whether or not Joe Daniher can get himself again in type after a 2018 blighted by damage and a setback within the pre-season.
Joe Daniher is vital for the Bombers. Photograph: Getty
If he can, this can permit the Cale Hooker ahead experiment to be lastly put to mattress. The identical goes for enjoying Jake Stringer as a midfielder – he won’t ever be a gun mid. If the coach doesn’t get too artistic the Bombers might be an opportunity.
Hopefully this pre-season has been far happier and we’ll see a return to the Crows of 2017; a workforce that was highly effective via the center, harmful up ahead and stingy down again. In contrast to the mushy and inconsistent mob we noticed final season.
Rory Laird, Matt Crouch occasions two, Rory Sloane, Bryce Gibbs, Eddie Betts, Rory Atkins, Richard Douglas, and Tom Lynch are stars. If Taylor Walker can regain some constant type alongside Josh Jenkins, they’re able to profitable sufficient video games for a top-eight end.
Issues must go horribly fallacious for this aspect to not make finals.
OK, sufficient is sufficient, Bulldogs. The flag hangover has to finish. Luke Beveridge should work some magic this yr as a result of they’ve extra holes of their listing than Swiss cheese. They’re principally evident in the important thing ahead stakes.
As but you possibly can’t depend on Tom Boyd, Josh Schache or Zaine Cordy, and the addition of Sam Lloyd from the Tigers doesn’t fill me with nice confidence. Making an attempt to make defenders like Easton Wooden and Jackson Trengove as forwards failed dismally, so don’t do this once more.
Tom Boyd have to be extra dependable in 2019. Photograph: Getty
If they’re to rebound will probably be led by a midfield chock filled with high quality –gamers coming into what must be the prime of their soccer careers.
Expertise like Tom Liberatore, Mitch Wallis, Jack Macrae, Lachie Hunter, Toby McLean, Caleb Daniel, Josh Dunkley and Marcus Bontempelli. There are some instruments to work with.
In 2018 it was Cam McCarthy and Shane Kersten; in 2019 it’s Jesse Hogan and Rory Lobb. Already that may be a much more promising key ahead duo for Freo.
For a group that has completed within the backside three for factors scored in every of the previous three seasons it had higher properly be an enchancment. If not then it’s one other season of hell for Docker followers.
Hopefully a much more attacking recreation type from under-the-pump coach Ross Lyon will assist issues alongside. At the very least the six-six-six rule will forestall him from beginning with eight defenders.
The large query is which one in every of Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, Darcy Tucker or Bailey Banfield will step up and be Nat Fyfe’s second in cost?
Fairly merely, the Lions are constructing one thing good.
A proportion of 89 and common factors of 83 in 2018 is a superb launching pad for 2019. Positive, they misplaced Dayne Beams, however they picked up Lachie Neale.
The truth that Neale is 25 says the Lions gained that deal. Throw in Jarryd Lyons and Dayne Zorko they usually gained’t have hassle profitable the soccer.
The bookends are set with Harris Andrews at one finish and 21-year-old Eric Hipwood on the different. Cam Rayner shall be a star, as could also be Alex Witherden and Daniel McStay.
The Saints have been disappointing in 2018. Whereas everybody decried their lack of A-grade expertise, I take a look at Jade Gresham, Jack Billings, Blake Acres, Dylan Roberton, Jack Steele, Josh Battle, Paddy McCartin, Tim Membrey, Josh Bruce and Jake Carlisle, in addition to Jack Steven and Sebastian Ross, plus the addition of Dan Hannebery and I see sufficient expertise.
Expertise that wants a extra direct recreation plan, a rise in teamwork and most effort from the primary bounce to the ultimate siren. Persistently give us that and the Saints might be the smoky of 2019.
A beneficial draw will assist, however a loss to the Suns in Spherical 1 will probably be disastrous.
Issues are criminal when each your captains stroll out the door. Alex Sexton might now be the Suns’ greatest participant, but most soccer supporters wouldn’t know him if he popped up of their porridge.
This typifies the Suns’ listing and with the addition of Corey Ellis, Anthony Miles, Jack Hombsch, George Horlin-Smith and Sam Collins from different golf equipment … that’s going to vary.
It’s an fascinating tactic from the Suns: Get C-grade gamers and hope to show them into A-grade gamers.
Stuart Dew had higher be one of the best improvement coach the sport has seen if the Suns are to advance on 2018’s efforts.
The excellent news is that recruits Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius are each weapons and can have an effect of their first season.
A lot rests on the shoulders of two-metre-tall Peter Wright. It’s time he strung some video games collectively and for Jack Martin to point out what a No.1 decide from 2014 can do.
Carlton has not kicked 100 factors in a recreation for two-and-a-half years. Will ex-Magpie Alex Fasolo and ex-Crow Mitch McGovern present the reply?
Who is aware of, however a ahead line with these two, plus Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Jarrod Garlett ought to on the very least trigger some complications.
Nonetheless, a lot will relaxation on the likes of Patrick Cripps, Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer and Kade Simpson.
Matthew Kreuzer was younger as soon as, however is now an skilled chief. Photograph: Getty
They need assistance from the likes of Jacob Weitering, Liam Jones, Caleb Marchbank, Paddy Dow and Alex Silvagni.
There are many C and D-grade gamers at Carlton who have to step up or step off. This consists of the coach Brendon Bolton, who got here in due to his educating talents. This season is examination time, the place you both cross or fail.
Nathan Burke is a former St Kilda captain who performed 323 AFL video games for the Saints, profitable three Trevor Barker Awards as best-and-fairest participant. He was named within the All-Australian staff 4 occasions.
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