With the AFL season starting in two days time, it is time to keep the sporting previews flowing here on P&P. I’m going to be looking at the interstate teams from the AFL competition, simply giving a brief introduction to player changes, the player to look out for and a brief summary which includes where they may finish. Lets rip into it, starting with the newest team in the competition.
Gold Coast Suns:
There is no real sense naming new players that could make an impact because the whole team is basically new players ready to make waves in the competition. However, the players they have taken from other teams – Gary Ablett, Nathan Bock, Nathan Krakouer, Jarrad Harbrow, Campbell Brown, Michael Rischitelli and Josh Fraser all have to stand up and be counted for their new team.
The same is said about what player to watch out for, having said that however, David Swallow will be high on everyones radar as the number one draft pick. Karmichael Hunt will also be keenly watched by every AFL lover, everywhere. Also to a lesser extent, every NRL supporter will be watching to see if his transfer to the enemy code is successful.
Most people are putting the Gold Coast towards the bottom of the ladder, however I will be looking at them to make top eight and surprise a number of teams and people.
After a disappointing season last year that started so promisingly for Voss and his charges, the Lions will be looking to make a massive improvement this year. Unfortunately for them, it won’t be happening. The Lions have no standout additions to their list for this year, they actually lost a number of their top players. This in itself will make the year a painful one for Lions supporters.
One player to watch will be Daniel Rich. The 2009 NAB Rising Star winner had a tough season last year as he was pressured a lot more and struggled with being tagged. However, the second year blues that strikes most second year players, is over and look for Rich to regain the form from 2009. As the Lions have lost Sherman, Rischitelli and Brennan to other teams Rich will need to step up and accept a greater workload through the middle of the ground.
Along with lingering injury issues with Jonathon Brown and the aging group of midfield generals, the Lions are once again in for a tough year and will be near the bottom of the ladder. With no Brendan Fevola to kick to in the forward line if Brown is indeed out with injuries, the Lions will struggle to score any sort of meaningful total that could win them a game. This will put added pressure on Brown also when he does get on the field.
Now as the resident Sydney fan I will take as unbiased a view as possible. Which means I will only have them winning the premiership by a modest total, not an outlandish one. The Swans added another couple of recycled players to their list in Andrejs Everitt and Matt Spangher. Everitt will make an immediate impact, possibly slotting into the rotation with the latest injury suffered by Nick Malceski. Spangher may have to prove himself, there is no real position he can slot into or player he can dislodge at the moment to break into the starting lineup.
The man to look for this year for the Swans is Kieran Jack. After a breakout year last year, going from tagger to running midfielder, Jack will be looking to further make a name for himself. He has said that after spending three years as a run-with player, he will attempt to use his inside knowledge against other teams taggers.
Even with Paul Roos exiting stage right and John Longmire taking over his spotlight, the Swans will not be taking a backwards step anytime soon. Longmire will keep things in tune with the way Roos has run the place for the past decade and because of that look for the Swans to finish top eight again this year.
The Crows had a fairly disappointing year last year and will be looking for redemption this season. Notable arrivals are Sam Jacobs from Carlton and Richard Tambling from Richmond. The change in scenery could help Tambling find the form that he only showed glimpses of at the Tigers, however, he will first have to force his way into the main lineup. Jacobs will be in the lineup to begin with as either the main ruckman or shadowing Ivan Maric. Jacobs arrival allows Kurt Tippett to remain in the goalsquare and give the Crows a permenant tall forward they have been lacking. Tippett will find himself lining up next to Taylor Walker who will have a big year this year after the up and down couple he has had so far.
The main man to watch though is Patrick Dangerfield. The Crows have said that each year he has been with them, however this year is the year for the Dangerman to explode. If he can fire on all cylinders, along with other midfielders Scott Thompson, Bernie Vince, Nathan Van Berlo and small forwards Chris Knights, Richard Douglas and co, the Crows will be a tough team to beat.
Having said that, the Crows have lost a number of their club greats, with handfuls of awards each, more than a handful of games and a handful or two of goals. Those losses will hurt them and until the likes of Dangerfield, Otten, Tippett, Talia etc. are stepping up consistently, then the Crows will remain outside the eight, but only just.
This will be another easy preview, as the Power have no notable arrivals on their doorstep. The Power finished down the food chain last season and they will yet again be right down the lower rungs of the ladder.
The man to watch is David Rodan. After suffering injury trouble last season, the ex-Tiger will be looking to find the form he had the season before last. The one just after the Tigers traded him to the Power and Rodan exploded to show them what they were missing out on. With his ability to break through backs and run and bounce the footy, teams will find themselves on the backfoot if he does recapture that form.
As mentioned however, even with a healthy Rodan and a stable Daniel Motlop, the Power will not be troubling too many teams this season. Bottom of the ladder for sure.
West Coast Eagles:
The Eagles didn’t make any key signings during the off season, however I will mention a couple of draft picks – Andrew Gaff and Jack Darling. Gaff is in a way the first pick of the draft if you take out the Gold Coasts picks, this means he should be an outstanding player. He was also given Chris Judds old number so you would think anyone with that number on their back should be able to handle a footy, sure enough, he can! Darling is a ready made player and will make an immediate impact in the Eagles forward line.
The main man for the Eagles is Mark Lecras, the man that kicked 12 goals in a game last season, best and fairest and All-Australian. Lecras wants to work more up the ground and into the midfield, however the Eagles are banking on him remaining in the forward 50 and be their main target. If he can keep kicking the goals and the Eagles can get the ball to him on a platter, the team may then be able to have competitive scores.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Eagles will be finishing down the bottom of the ladder. The only thing that can change that is how well their younger players adapt to the AFL, the ones that have been in the game for a couple of seasons now should be putting their hands up and lighting up Subiaco Oval. Or as it has recently become known as – Patersons Stadium.
Each year the Dockers promise big things, each year the Dockers don’t capitalise on those promises. The main pickup for the Dockers is Jack Anthony from Collingwood. This gives them a target inside the 50 other than Matthew Pavilich.
The Dockers boast the best ruckman in the competition in Aaron Sandilands, one of the games elite in Matthew Pavilich but once you get past those two players, the pickings become rather slim. There are a number of B grade players that are on the brink of become A grades. Players like David Mundy, Paul Duffield and Garrick Ibbotson. Rhys Palmer needs to produce another solid season after his disrupted season last year to truly be consider an A grade player, Michael Barlow is obviously an A grade player too except the amount of time he will miss this season is still unclear.
The player to watch for the Dockers this year will be David Mundy. He had a breakout season last year and will be hoping to continue where he left off. However, he may have made that more difficult for himself after saying in a report that he was in career best form coming off a great pre-season. He would have alerted opposition teams and could face a year of tagging.
The Dockers are one of those teams that can surprise a few people, getting a win against their name when teams least expect it. Due to the relative success over the last couple of seasons most people would expect the Dockers to be thereabouts again. They are fairly unpredictable however, so look for the Dockers to finish either just inside, or just outside, the top eight.
So ends, the summary style preview of the interstate teams in the upcoming AFL season, Josh will be along shortly with his preview of all the Victorian based teams. Good luck to all teams, but more importantly, GO THE SWANS!!
For Victorian team previews, look here – http://penandpaperblog.org/2011/03/23/afl-victorian-teams-preview/