The 2017 AFL season is fast approaching. It’s time to have a quick look into all 18 teams and how they’ll fair this season.
The Adelaide Crows have gradually been improving over the past few years. In 2015 they finished in 7th position (13 wins, 8 losses) and last year they were able to ascend to 5th position on the AFL ladder with 16 wins and 6 losses. Despite having the 4th highest percentage (138.33%) behind Sydney, Geelong and GWS in 2016 they recorded they most amount of points for, averaging 112.86 per match. Eddie Betts had a magnificent year booting 75 goals and assisting 24 but it’ll be hard to rely on the small forward to do that once again in 2017.
The Crows are definetly primed for some September action once again in 2017.
The Lions will be eager to bounce back in 2017 after narrowly avoiding the dreaded ‘wooden spoon’ last season. The Lions were the easiest team to score against in 2016, conceding an average of 130.54 points per game. This is definitely something they would have addressed in the off-season, however it’ll take time to fix, especially with a young list.
It’s hard to see them dramatically improving in 2017, Dayne Beams will add more experience and class to the midfield however they still have plenty of issues up forward and down back. The recruitment of Jack Frost (former collingwood player) and Josh Walker (former geelong player) may assist their troubles, however in the end they’ll struggle against quality opposition.
The Blues have a solid midfield consisting of Bryce Gibbs, Marc Murphy, Ed Curnow and young-gun Patrick Cripps. Their weakness however, lies in attack and defence. The departure of Zac Tuohy is significant, however the experienced Kade Simpson as-well as Sam Docherty provide plenty of pace on the rebound. The Blues have placed plenty of confidence in Jacob Weitering, hoping he’ll be able to stand tall against some of the best key position forwards in the competition.
The major let down is in the forward 50, unlike many other clubs they simply don’t have that leading tall forward who has the ability to rip the game apart. In 2016 Matthew Wright was the club’s leading goalscorer with 22 goals, closely followed by Bryce Gibbs (18), Levi Casboult (18), Dennis Armfield (16) and Jed Lamb (13). It’s hard to see much changing in 2017.
The Magpies haven’t played finals since 2013, if they continue this trend it’s hard to see Nathan Buckley remaining at the helm. The departure of Travis Cloke is a significant loss, individuals such as Darcy Moore, Jesse White and even Lachlan Keefe will have to step up in order to fill the void. The Pies have an abundance of quality midfielders such as Scott Pendlebury, Adam Treloar, Steele Sidebottom and Taylor Adams who will provide the forwards with plenty of opportunities, but in the end will it be enough?
Don’t underestimate the Bombers in 2017, they could surprise us all. Their success will depend on the fitness of their returning players. How exactly will the likes of Jobe Watson, Dyson Heppell, Michael Hurley, Brent Stanton and many more cope with missing 12 months of football due to a WADA suspension? If these individuals cannot perform at the highest level the Don’s have another long season ahead of them. I’ve got them finishing in 11th position this season.
The Dockers will be hoping to put 2016 past them and start fresh this season. Nathan Fyfe will return after sitting out last season with a broken leg. Lachie Neale excelled in Fyfe’s absence, the 177 cm midfielder averaged 33.5 disposals in 2016 and led the way for the dockers. Furthermore youngsters such as Connor Blakely stepped up and showed plenty of character during the difficult season. I see them climbing up the ladder in 2017 but they might just fall short of finals contention.
Greater Western Sydney Giants:
Greater Western Sydney are finally starting to feel the effects of all their early round draft picks in 2011. They are a major threat to take out this year’s premiership. On Thursday afternoon all eighteen AFL captains were asked “Which other club is most likely to reach the grand final?”, 14 of the captains responded with GWS. Even the bookies have them as the front-runner ($4.00). Players such as Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio, James Kelly, Toby Greene are developing into consistent contributors and continue to thrive for GWS. They will be a strong unit in 2017.
Geelong have been one of the most dominant sides in the AFL over the past 10 years. They’ve picked up three premierships (2007,2009,2011) and played in nine out of a possible ten finals series during the timeframe. They finished 2nd last season however still have plenty of issues to address. Firstly they are too reliant on their midfield duo of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood. When the game is in the balance they are the only two players who seem to step up. Hopefully players such as Mitch Duncan, Sam Menegola, Cameron Guthrie and Steven Motlop can assist the duo in 2017.
Secondly, Chris Scott has placed emphasis on their ball movement. Throughout the pre-season competition the cats were trying to set themselves up with quick ball movement from the back-half. Zac Tuohy was incredibly impressive during the pre-season competition and I’m sure he’ll have a influential role to play across half back with his electric pace and kicking accuracy.
Gold Coast Suns:
The Gold Coast Suns are the only team in the AFL yet to feature in a finals match. This trend doesn’t look like changing in 2017. The Suns will continue to build experience into the likes of Peter Wright, Jack Martin, Kade Kolodjashnij and Touk Miller. They will benefit immensely by having the likes of Gary Ablett and David Swallow back in the side after overcoming injured plagued seasons in 2016. They’ll no doubt improve on last years performance however don’t expect them to feature in the finals series.
The Hawks have a reputation to uphold. During the off-season they made the ruthless decision to cull Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis in order to welcome Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara to the club. Alistair Clarkson has extremely high expectations of his side and won’t be satisfied until their hold up their 4th Premiership Cup during his reign. Bombing out in last year’s finals series will still be in the back of their minds. They should comfortably make finals.
The Demons haven’t experienced finals football in ten years. Paul Roo’s set up the club for success and handed the reigns over to Simon Goodwin in excellent shape. They key for the Demons in 2017 is consistency. In Round 20 last season they defeated Hawthorn (110-81) then two weeks later they followed it up by losing to a struggling Carlton side (78-58). Players such as Petracca, Harmes, Oliver, Salem, Viney and even Hogan will need to step up in 2017 if the demons are any chance of playing finals.
North Melbourne Kangaroos:
The Roo’s were dominant in the early half of last year until they fell apart, losing ten of their last twelve fixtures. The club made the ruthless decision to let go of seasoned veterans such as Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie and Nick Dal Santo in order to rejuvenate the playing list. Finals should be on the radar, however in reality they’ll most likely fall short.
Port Adelaide Power:
The Power simply never got going in 2016, missing finals for the second year in a row. Their excellent performance in the 2014 season has been overshadowed by a dull 2 years. Ollie Wines is developing into a contested bull and will most likely take his game to the next level in 2017. The inclusion of Patrick Ryder and Angus Monfries will be extremely beneficial. In 2016 Jackson Trengrove was forced to play as the club’s primary ruckman even though it was a unfamiliar role.
Each and every year Richmond fans ride the emotional roller coaster, not knowing what the new year will produce. Will the Tigers bomb out or will they consistently string together some quality games of football. The signing of Dion Prestia and Josh Caddy have no doubt benefited the club, however they need all round performances from their whole playing group. The Tigers were extremely predictable in 2016, always searching for Jack Riewoldt up forward. The full forward slotted 48 goals last season for the Tigers and was followed by Sam Lloyd (35), Tyrone Vickery (26) and Shane Edwards (15). In order to compete with quality opposition the Tigers are going to need more contributors up forward.
St Kilda Saints:
The Saints are rumoured to be in for a big season. The recruitment of Koby Stevens and Jack Steele adds plenty of depth to their midfield and furthermore Nathan Brown offers plenty of experience down back. They’ll also regain Jake Carlislie back from suspension. All of a sudden the saints have a quality line-up on paper, but will they be able to execute? Jack Steven is a workhorse and steps up in desperate times of need, don’t believe me go ahead and watch the final quarter of St Kilda’s R16 encounter with Geelong. If Steven’s relentlessness spreads among the playing group the Saints are a real force to be reckoned with. They’ll play finals for the first time since 2011.
It’s worth noting that the Swan’s haven’t finished outside the top eight since 2009. It’s hard to see that trend changing come 2017. Last season they finished minor premiers and looked set to claim another premiership, until the Bulldogs denied them of it on the big stage. Lance Franklin played 22 consecutive games and booted 81 goals, proving he’s worth the big bucks. The departure of Tom Mitchell won’t worry them, they’ve got plenty of young talent that can flourish. They’ll be firing once again in 2017.
West Coast Eagles:
The Eagles will go into this season without the dynamic pairing of Nic Natanui and Scott Lycett. As a result Adam Simpson will be forced to utilise either Drew Petrie, Nathan Vardy or Jonathan Giles in order to fill the ruck void. The signing of Sam Mitchell is exactly what the club needed. Mitchell will add plenty of poise to the team and will prove vital in close encounters. Joshua Kennedy seems to be ready for another big year, he’ll be a tough man to stop in 2017. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if they don’t make finals.
According to champion data the Bulldogs were the best in the business at winning the ball. They averaged 14 more midfield contested possessions compared to their opposition and 41 more disposals in that zone (#1 in the competition). Their fast paced style off half back saw them expose many clubs last season and ultimately delivered them a well deserved premiership. It’s a tough ask to go back-to-back and i can’t see the doggies doing it. They’ll no doubt stay up there but other clubs such as Geelong, West Coast and Adelaide will seek to emulate their style with more experienced ball users. They’ll feature in September.
Premiers – Greater Western Sydney ($4.00)
Top 8 Finish – Adelaide Crows ($1.50)
Top 8 Finish – St Kilda ($2.35)
Brownlow Medal – Marcus Bontempelli ($8.50)