Predicting the AFL 2019 season felt like a pretty tough job. It feels that way every year, but the league seems really even at the moment.
I think there’s a pretty clear bottom three, and it’s probably the same toward the top where a few stand out, but there seems to be a huge glut of clubs in the middle who could all challenge for a spot in the finals. The poor bottom three should again ensure plenty of wins to go around at the top, making things tight.
So here’s my attempt – pats on the back and sledges are more than welcome…
18th: Gold Coast (17th in 2018 after H&A)
There’s not much to be said of the Suns that hasn’t already been. In any case, Steven May and Tom Lynch said it best: they were captains of the club and chose to walk out. That’s all you need to know about Gold Coast’s prospects.
They scraped together four wins last year, but with more talent and leadership leaving and not being replaced by anybody of note, it should be another tough year.
17th: St Kilda (16th)
I don’t see a bright immediate future for the Saints. For all the talk of the Gold Coast’s woes, St Kilda only finished half a game ahead of them, and there’s not much on their list to be excited about.
Hannebury brings a bit of experience but I think the willingness of Sydney to let him go tells you there might not be a great chance of him regaining his best form.
16th: Carlton (18th)
Predicting a minor improvement ladder-wise for the Blues, if only by virtue of the other two being so bad.
They haven’t lost much, and the list actually looks to be going forward with potentially handy (if not superstar) additions such as McGovern, Fasolo and Setterfield (if he can get his body ticking over).
15th: Western Bulldogs (13th)
I don’t see the Dogs moving a whole lot on the ladder – it just seems like other clubs have strengthened better. The Dogs haven’t added much and have lost some reasonable best 22 players in Adams, Dahlhaus and Roughead.
14th: Hawthorn (4th)
The biggest sliders for mine. I think the top 4 finish by the Hawks last year was a bit of an anomaly, which showed up at finals time.
A lot of key players are ageing, Rioli is a bad loss, and longer-term I’m not sure of the wisdom of trading Burton (though Al Clarkson is certainly more qualified than me). Wingard is potentially a great acquisition – he’d want to be for the price – but the reports on Scully’s body aren’t great. And of course, the reigning Brownlow medallist going down is a huge blow.
13th: Port Adelaide (10th)
Like the Dogs, I don’t see Port progressing a whole lot. Burton is a decent in, but does he offset the loss of best 22ers Wingard, Polec and Pittard? Not even close.
Coach Kenny will need to pull something out of the box for them to play finals and keep Kochie from getting his knickers in a twist.
12th: Sydney (6th)
I did my wins and losses for every round of the season and constructed a ladder, and the Swans probably surprised me the most in terms of where they popped out.
More than anything else, it probably demonstrates how tight the league is and how other clubs can quickly go past you if you’re not improving. They certainly have some promising young players, who need to take another big leap to offset some of the ageing and increasingly fragile stars.
11th: Fremantle (14th)
Really good off-season for the Dockers. Losing Neale sucks, but Lobb and Hogan are fantastic acquisitions who will finally give them the forward targets they’ve been missing for a while – particularly if Hogan can stay on the park.
I think they’re on the up, and of course have a strong home-ground advantage.
10th: Geelong (8th)
I don’t see a lot of improvement in store for Geelong at the moment. Dangerfield and Selwood mean they won’t slip far, as will their home-ground advantage, but I’m not sure there’s a lot to get excited about down the highway.
9th: Adelaide (12th)
Another club that I don’t see moving a whole lot. They’ve lost absolute gun players, basically at a rate of one per year, every year, and always been able to cover it well.
McGovern is at the lower end of these, so I don’t see it being a huge problem. It’s easy to forget that just a year ago, they were coming off a grand final loss. A very underrated midfield will keep them ticking over.
Stay tuned for the top 8…
AFL 2019 is kicking off in late March, and we’ll be offering expert AFL Tips membership again this season.
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