2018 AFL season is fast approaching and while we have a little glimpse with the AFLX and the JLT preseason competition the big show will be here before we know it. before the season kicks off we take a look at each of the clubs and what is to be expected this season the big ins and outs and a predicted ladder finish. In recent years there has been a team that has risen from the pack and staked a claim as one of the best and a team that has been flagged as a favourite but put in a shocker. Last year we saw the rise of Richmond 13th to premiers, Port Adelaide 10t to 5th and Essendon 18th to 7th. The big falls of Hawthorn 3rd to 12th and the premiers Western Bulldogs to 10th which teams will it be this year!
(Positions stated are at end of minor round)
Last year 3rd
This year 3rd
After years of being a “tigers finish 9th” joke, the tigers had the last laugh on grand final day.
Last years premiers rode the wave of momentum from round 9 after losing 4 straight games sitting 7th in the ladder and looking like they could continue to fall and finish 9th again, They went on to lose only 3 more games for the year take out the premiership in very emphatic fashion breaking the Crows backs before kicking away.
The Tigers will remain pretty much unchanged from last year none of the delistings or retirements were of premiership players, but have improved a little with big things expected from Jack Higgins. They gave the ruck department a bit more depth but otherwise the list is as good as it was last year.
Hardwick has been rewarded with a new contract this is great news for both him and the club and gives them a very stable platform for the next couple years going forward with a very settled playing list and a coach who is loved by his players.
The Tigers kick off the season with its game against Carlton, should be a relatively nice way to start the season shake off any premiership hangovers and start the season well. It will be the following two games that will tell us a lot about the 2018 Tigers as they take on the Crows and Hawks in succession before a relatively easy run until mid June when they will play 6 of last years finalists in a row.
Expect another Brownlow type season from the heart of the side Dustin Martin just sit back and enjoy watching him play. Alex Rance will again be the backbone of the side holding down the back six. The brains of the side is Trent Cotchin he runs the team from the middle and is the inspirational captain. The soul of the side would have to be Jack Riewoldt leaves nothing on the ground shows every emotion and is vitally important to the forward structure. the Tigers will again be well serviced by Houli, Castagna, Nankervis, Edwards the list goes on.
things look about as good as it gets in Tigerland and will be fighting it out in the last couple weeks of the season again.
Last year 1st
This year 1st
The Crows looked like it was their premiership year right up until the the first few minutes of the Grand final and then they never looked like getting close, they were dismantled and bullied by the Tigers.
The Crows have made a couple and were forced to make a couple big changes for this season. Jake Lever jumped ship to Melbourne and Charlie Cameron to Brisbane have left sizeable holes in the Crows side more so Lever who was an absolute star in the backline. We saw last season though that the Crows have plenty of depth and players seem to just slot in with ease and do the job required. The big inclusion was that of Bryce Gibbs who still has plenty of good football in him and gives the Crows a bit of extra zing across the ground as Gibbs can swing from the backline to on ball and up forward when needed.
The Crows on paper seemingly have a reasonably easy draw with 12 games at Adelaide oval which should equate to at least 10 wins for them giving them a nice jump on the competition if they split the remaining 12 games it puts them on par for another 16 win season. The Crows draw sees them not play many top 8 sides in a row and if can get some momentum going could go on some long winning runs.
The Crows have arguably the best overall midfield in the competition albeit without the so called big names of the games like Martin or Dangerfield. They proved last year with injuries that their “system” just had players slot in and there was little or o change in output from the team. Look for this trend to continue the team game the Crows play is 2nd to none.
Sloane will again lead the way in the middle but has plenty of support with the Crouch brothers, Gibbs Rory Aitkens, Rory Laird. They will still have one of the most potent forward lines but need the captain Walker to stand up and lead the way.
A team on a mission with revenge on their mind there will be little or nothing stand in their way.
Last year 18th
This year 17th
Long road ahead for the youngest team in the AFL after finishing bottom last year there is not a lot to look forward to in season 2018 it will be a season of learning especially for the rookies on the list.
The Lions has some big movements in the off season losing ball magnet Tom Rockliff to the Power and Josh Schache to the Bulldogs but…. they did recruit well also. Legend of the game Luke Hodge brings immeasurable experience to this young side and Charlie Cameron will add a few high lights and be a valuable goal sneak and part time midfielder.
The Lions have a tough start to the season travelling three times in the first four matches and it doesn’t get too much easier from there. It’s hard to see them winning much more than a few games and the wooden spoon may well be decided by the round 22 game game against fellow Queenslanders the Suns.
It will again be the tale of the two Dayne’s in Brisbane, Zorko and Beams will carry this team on their shoulders. Daniel Rich will need to find some more of that game breaking potential to help these guys out. Martin in the ruck will continue to give the Lions a great use of the ball they just need help everywhere else.
It will be a long bleak winter for the Lions as the look to rebuild nothing less than a 5 year plan is required probably 10 years to get this club back into finals contention.
Looking forward to 2023 and beyond.
Last year 16th
This year 15th
The signs are there just not the the quality and depth of players required to push further up the ladder.
Carlton have made plenty of list changes for this season with 13 players either retiring, delisted or traded out the biggest obviously being Gibbs. The Blues have brought in some handy players but it won’t be enough to propel them up the ladder. It’s a process from here for the Blues and the Club is certainly heading in the right direction under Bolton.
There are plenty of winnable games for the Blues and if they can manage to pull a couple rabbits out of the hat they may just get above the five to six wins predicted for them this year
With Docherty out for the season a lot will be left for Murphy and Cripps to do. Kreuzer will play a big part in the Blues season again but they then fall away very quickly after this.
The future is bright but still a long way to go.
Last year 13th
This year 9th
Collingwood are a bit of an enigma their best is some of the best in the AFL but their worst is just plain horrid.
Not a huge amount of list changes for the Magpies through the off season and they probably didn’t need a lot. They have picked up a couple rookies that look like they will very solid going forward. Time will tell if the recruiting of the past couple years with Wells and Mayne will show any real promise, at this stage it looks like a bust.
The Magpies have a pretty even draw can see them splitting the home games they have against other Melbourne based clubs and should have an edge on visiting teams. The travel doesn’t seem to bother the Magpies to much but they do have a couple very tough away games with a couple winnable ones. The Magpies last year where one of the best contested teams in the league but their efficiency one of the worst plus poor goal kicking they will need a lot of improvement in the skills area to be a consistent threat.
Losing Goldsack for the season and with injury concerns with Elliot already and Ben Reid unreliable there is going to have to be a large natural progression from some of the kids coming through like Moore and Cox.
Not quite make or break season for the Magpies but anything less than a improvement on last year and the knifes will be out.
Last year 7th
This year 10th
Hard to see how they drop down but got lucky with some results last year and expect more improvement out of teams around them.
The Bombers were reasonably active in the trade period and got a couple good pickups. Stringer was one of the bigger names to move and will be interesting to see if he can show his best.
The Bombers have managed to get one of the tougher draws this year and this will also help with their small drop on the ladder. The away games and interstate games are tough and some of the 50/50 games in Melbourne are not favourable.
When you have players like Tipungwuti, Danniher, Heppell and Fantasia there is going to be some excitement and going to be some great highlights. They have a good core of veteran players still and will be tough to beat. Danniher could be the next 100 goal full forward and will take plenty of mark of the year chances.
The Bombers will fly up but won’t be able to maintain it, a exciting yet frustrating year ahead.
Last year 14th
This year 14th
Same old same old from the old Freo, tough at home but class below the chasing pack.
Another pretty active team in the off season with over 12 delistings and trades, will it be enough to see them improve? Sadly no.
The Dockers still have some guns and have enough fire power to win majority of the home games but will be lucky to win an away game they have possibly the toughest away trips to deal with.
Fyfe, Sandilands, the Hill brothers, Mundy and more it’s hard to see how this side isn’t further up the ladder. The house of pain will be in effect against mediocre sides but they still won’t be able to knock off the top sides. There will be weeks when we believe they will be back on track the next shaking your head at how bad.
Buckle yourself in the roller coaster is just hitting the top of the lift.
Last year 2nd
This year 6th
Around the mark again but not as good as everyone thinks.
Anyone that says they got Gary Ablett in over the off season should see a big improve from previous season but they have lost some experience also.
9 games at GMHBA stadium against some of the weaker opposition mark down 7 wins from these 9 games which gives them a fairly good leg up. The flip side is the 13 away games they get and against some pretty stiff opposition especially the few interstate games they have.
Dangerfield, Selwood and Ablett is there a bigger trio in football right now. There will be big expectations down at the cattery this season and the talk of premierships will be high after failing in the Preliminary final last year. No doubt the addition of Ablett helps them but they still seemingly lack a potent enough forward line. Ablett and Dangerfield may spend more time up forward this may help them but will it be enough to propel them past the other big sides.
There will be highlights, Ablett home to finish his career is huge but will be a season that will not live up to expectation.
Last year 17th
This year 18th
It’s going to be a long year….again and for a while yet.
One of the busier teams in the off season with trades and delistings but it hasn’t improved their list at all, lots of draft picks but none of any huge value.
The Commonwealth Games being on the Gold Coast has hurt the Suns big time they will play 6 of their first 7 games in the road and will make the trio to China again to face the Power. They play a home game against Fremantle in Fremantle…. it’s a recipe for disaster. Hard to see them winning more than 4-5 games.
Tom Lynch is one shining light for the Suns and there are a few players that hold their own but there is not the depth required to be competitive for most games. Stuart Dew has possibly the hardest job in AFL, he needs to get this young side back on track and get them playing a good “brand” of football.
Wins are a bonus this season, start from scratch and build this club again.
Great Western Sydney
Last year 4th
This year 2nd
So close yet still so far, but miles ahead of many.
Pretty tame over the odd season but did lose a couple impact players to retirement but have plenty of depth to cover.
The draw for the Giants is pretty stock standard no real great advantage or disadvantage for them this season. Will win majority of the home games and a good spread of the away games setting them up for a solid finals run.
Cameron, Greene, Deledio, Patton, Scully, Kelly and Ward the Giants are stacked on talent across every line. The will be a force again this year and will be kicking themselves with how last season finished expect the collective group to not let the same mistakes happen that did last year. With a side this strong and still very young the natural progression in players should see them push that top couple spots.
How far can they go? the sky is the limit but a few doubts remain.
Last year 12th
This year 8th
The Hawks bounce back
Some big names gone none larger than Hodge and Gibson but otherwise pretty quiet on the trade front.
The Hawks receive one of the kindest draws in the league, 6 interstate teams with home games 3 of them in Tasmania. By virtue of finishing a little lower on the ladder they avoid playing a lot of the top few sides twice.
The Hawks have one of the most potent forward lines and despite losing Hodge and Gibson they have the talent through the mid field with Mitchell and O’Meara (if fit) along with some Rioli, Puopolo and Frawley to sure up the line up. Forgive the start to last season it was one bad game after another but still almost made a push for the top eight. Clarkson is one of if not the best coach in the game today and will drag his players to the level he expects.
Will be tight but a top 8 spot is there for the taking.
Last year 9th
This year 7th
First they where in then out then in and out again just missing the finals by a kick for goal.
Worst kept secret last year was Lever going home to Melbourne a massive inclusion for the Demons, the loss of Watts wont hurt too much he never really got to his peak in Melbourne.
The draw is a mixed bag for the Demons, the two games in the NT even though home games are at a natural venue. They have plenty of winnable games but so many of these could be 50/50. The Demons are a team on the rise and should stay just ahead of the other mid table sides.
Hogan, Gawn, Petracca, Viney all cult figures at the Dee’s, add Lewis, Lever, Oliver and Jones round out a very solid team. Goodwin in his second season in charge would of learnt a lot himself and will have the team focused and they will not want the same lapses this season that cost them last season.
Top 8 spot is theirs if they learnt from past mistakes.
Last year 15th
This year 16th
long road ahead still but are cutting the fat they need.
The Kangas have been brutal in the past couple of seasons in retiring club legends and trading away anyone who may not be there for the next push in a few years.
The Draw is actually reasonably kind to the Kangas but it won’t really matter too much, much like Carlton they fully understand where they are as a club and know there is no quick fix to propel themselves up the ladder.
Big Ben Brown what is there not to love a brilliant mark and kick for goal if him and Waite get there hands on the ball the Roo’s kick enough goals to be around the mark in lots of games. The depth isn’t there just yet but they are building to a better future and know that success is a few years away.
Hang tough Kangas fans the hard calls have been made the worst is behind you the future looks alright.
Last year 5th
This year 5th
Couldn’t beat a top 8 side last year but finished 5th and went out in first round in a slightly controversial final against the Eagles.
The Power didn’t hold back in the trade period recruiting Watts, Motlop and the big fish ball magnet Tom Rockliff. It was a now or never trade period for the Power knowing they are that close to pushing top 4 and a real threat to the finals.
The Draw is pretty kind for them and should win almost all of their home games in Adelaide. If they can split the remaining games or win majority of them then a top 4 spot is up for grabs.
Wingard, the Gray brothers, Ryder, Rockliff, Powell-pepper the list goes on and on, this side is stacked with talent and potential. They recruits add a little more X factor and help strengthen the side from the middle up. Ken Hinkley has the Power playing a fast exciting skilled style of footy that is great to watch. If they can get a couple big wins early momentum will carry them a long way.
Buckle up, Power on, and see how far they can go. The pieces are all there it’s time to put it together.
Last year 11th
This year 12th
Improved but not enough.
Quiet on the trade front and lost two legends in Montagna and Riewoldt.
The draw isn’t wonderful for the Saints but they are a team in for a solid rebuild. Plenty of winnable games but a few very daunting trips also. The Saints showed last year a never say die attitude in many games both home and away and this will help galvanise the side for years to come.
The Saints are ahead of teams like Carlton and North but just below Essendon and Melbourne. You know they will give there all, players like Mav Weller, Seb Ross, Jack Steven know no other way. Hard nose coach and hard nose players they will grind away all game they just need a little to find those polish player now and things will be in the up very soon.
The future looks good just be patient.
Last year 6th
This year 4th
Stormed home last year and will keep the momentum going
Very quiet on the trade front and haven’t lost a lot in retirements natural progression with up and coming future stars hold them in good stead.
The draw is generally kind to the Swans especially with 10 games back at their true home ground the SCG you can almost mark down 8-10 wins right there. There is plenty of other very winnable games if they split their away games they will be sitting right back in the top echelon again.
The Swans have a great mix of youth and veterans and with the powerhouse forward line based around Buddy Franklin and a huge spread of talent through the mid field and a great team defence the Swans are again going to be winning more than they lose. If last year taught us anything losing the first 6 games of the year and storming into the finals first time in the history of the AFL the Swans are still the real deal.
The Swans back to their best from round 1 this year.
Last year 8th
This year 13th
Scraped into the finals last year won’t get the same luxury this year.
Few retirements and delistings and not a lot of incoming, they had a quiet trade period.
12 games at home (one of those Freo home game) should give them a pretty stable start to the season but some of the visiting teams are on the stronger side of the table. They have had some big travel woes in the past and if that continues they will struggle to progress.
Kennedy big chance for another Coleman medal, the couple bandaids they have put on the past couple years with Mitchell and Petrie are retired. There is a bit of class in the lineup but not enough to match it with even a lot of the mid range sides. They will beat up the bottom few sides but with most their home games against the stronger sides it could turn into a long season for the Eagles
Time for a rebuild, can they do it in the fly and not bottom out.
Last year 10th
This year 12th
Came crashing down to earth last season, not going anywhere fast from here.
The dogs made a few moves in the off season and had a few more than handy retirements. The draft picks will be handy going forward.
The draw isn’t great for the Dogs but not the worst either. Plenty of games at the Docklands and you can’t right them off anywhere.
You know what you will get with the Bulldogs, hard nosed, gritty fight to the death never give up. They might not have the class of a few of the other sides but the more than make up for it with determination. There was an air of unrest last year around the Dogs camp and hopefully this has gone now with some of the player movements. They will be pushing a lot of sides but doubt they will have the class to get above the big boys. Will be exciting to watch as always.
Bit of momentum might get them back up and running can’t afford a stop start year again.
Predicted Finish for 2018
There is very little separating the top 6 sides in fact could come down to the final game or two to see who gets that all important top 4 finish.
11th Western Bulldogs
12 Saint Kilda
Much like the top six the next six have very little separating them, those final two top eight spots will be as hotly contested as last year if not hotter!
13th West Coast
16th North Melbourne
18th Gold Coast
Long season ahead for these bottom six sides, some the future looks ok the others it could be a decade of pain.