Well, we are finally playing, at least for now. Looks like we are looking at a 17-game season, or 153 games as was outlined today, and how far we get into that will be in the lap of the gods from here. Other changes are we will see shorter quarters, dropping to 16m + time on, which should see quarters of around 25 minutes. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks this is a little advantageous from the AFLPA who have been pushing for shorter game time, but best not worry myself too much about it and just be relieved we’ve got footy to watch.
Looking ahead into the 2020 season, I see a season that is going to be the most competitive on record. I look at the ladder being split into 3 clear sections. The strugglers, the Finals chances, and the top 6.
Starting with the strugglers, I expect the Suns to win at least 6 games, yet finish again on the bottom. However, this won’t be a bad thing as their new rebuild takes shape and Rowell and Anderson get games into them and the future will start to show.
I expect Adelaide to take a great fall in 2020 under new coach Matthew Nicks, though the push to youth will bear fruit as the season progresses. Fremantle will again struggle, taking time under new coach Longmuir to gel and get their game plan right, whilst Sydney will again miss finals but will use the year to blood further youngsters as their older players start to fade. Injuries to Buddy already don’t bode well. These for me are the strugglers
Carlton will improve greatly, with Brett Bolton’s much talked about green shoots finally blooming under David Teague’s guidance. I do think they will win their fair share of games, but ultimately fall short
North and Port are both similar cases, with inconsistency again to hurt their finals changes. I still predict both will win upwards to 9+ wins, so whilst the evenness of the competition will have them finals chances in the later rounds, ultimately a lack of polish will hurt them.
Geelong will go from top to 9th as I think father time will start to bite them a bit this season, as the likes of Selwood, Ablett, Hawkins and Taylor slowing greatly. Melbourne and Essendon will have contrasting seasons, with the Dees showing much improvement, whilst the Dons go slightly backwards, however in a close season, it won’t be enough to see either play finals.
Getting to the top 8, The Saints big recruiting spree will bear the fruit that they wanted and whilst I think they could struggle early as they gel, they’ll make a late run at the finals, pinching 8th spot. The Hawks improvement will come from their twin talls up forward and Mitchell’s return, and you can never write-off a Clarkson-coached side. The Dogs will again make the finals; however, this time they’ll make it past the first week, whilst the Pies will round out the bottom of the 8, with a small form drop off costing them a top 4 position.
The Top 4 will be made up of the Lions at 4, holding their top 4 position due mainly to their home ground advantage. The Giants will finish 3rd, buoyed by their desire to re-write their horrid Grand final performance, whilst their vanquishers that day, Richmond will finish 2nd and be sitting nicely to push for their back to back quest.
Finally, top side will be West Coast, who’ve managed to improve an already imposing midfield with Tim Kelly’s arrival, whilst Josh Kennedy has had an injury free start to the year for the first time for some years, as has Nic Natanui. I think they are well prepared and with them guaranteed 9 games in Perth, I just can’t see how they missed top 4.
I’m going with an all-interstate grand final, with Richmond and the Dogs falling short in the preliminary finals. The Giants will push for redemption, but ultimately fall short against the Eagles who I just think look like the complete side right now.
Of course, no one really knows how the 16m qtr. change will effect teams, we don’t know if the 17 game season will benefit or hinder certain teams and really, we have absolutely no idea if we’ll actually get to the end of this season, based on the way things are going, so let’s just enjoy what we get I guess!
1 -West Coast
2 – Richmond
3 – GWS
4 – Brisbane
5 – Bulldogs
6 – Collingwood
7 – Hawthorn
8 – St Kilda
9 – Geelong
10 – Melbourne
11 – Carlton
12 – Port Adelaide
13 – Essendon
14 – North Melbourne
15 – Sydney
16 – Adelaide
17 – Fremantle
18 – Gold Coast
Grand Final – West Coast v GWS Giants
Premiers – West Coast
Norm Smith – Tim Kelly
Brownlow – Marcus Bontempelli
Coleman – Josh Kennedy
Rising Star – Matt Rowell