STEVIE J: My high 5 groups to observe this AFL season

It’s straightforward to make pre-season predictions on who you suppose is likely to be a premiership contender, who might need sure weaknesses. However you'll be able to by no means be sure what’s going to occur till Spherical 1 will get underway. There are at all times sides that soar up from the underside eight and begin to contend for top-four positions, and also you’ll by no means be too positive what sort of modifications any groups have made till you see them in Spherical 1. So, getting any type of daring prediction right isn’t straightforward – it may well make you look a bit foolish, too. That stated, there are 5 groups I’ve acquired my eye on this 12 months; golf equipment who’ll be proper in premiership competition. Richmond Tigers After successful so many video games final 12 months, it’s no shock Richmond are a robust likelihood of staying proper up on the high of the ladder in 2019. What stands out as an actual power of theirs is how properly they’ve developed a sport plan round their checklist – they play it to a tee. By all studies, they’ve had an injury-free run on the pre-season with near 40 gamers on the monitor. That makes such a distinction; with everybody match, you can begin to hone in on the changes and enhancements you need to make to your sport plan, and so they’ve already acquired an excellent one. After they’ve acquired gamers match and firing, they’ll be damaging. In fact, they’ve managed so as to add an unbelievable participant to their checklist in Tom Lynch. Given he’s been in a position to play to such a excessive degree on the Suns, even once they have been actually struggling, anticipate him to have a superb 12 months with Richmond. Lynch will match properly of their system, as they wish to kick lengthy inside 50 and supply a contest. Jack Riewoldt does that basically properly already, and Lynch will add one other dimension on that entrance, giving them two of the very best key forwards within the sport who go well with their sport plan. In the event that they’re not marking the ball and kicking objectives, they’ll deliver it to the toes of some fairly elusive small forwards, so he’ll slot in properly. The ex-Gold Coast skipper’s arrival is simply another excuse they’ll be the toughest crew to beat this 12 months. (Photograph by Michael Dodge/Getty Photographs) Melbourne Demons Melbourne are one other crew that, with their pure development and growth, are looming as a robust contender. Their actual space of power is in the midst of the bottom; their midfield appears nearly as good as anybody else’s. They’ve acquired Clayton Oliver, Angus Brayshaw, Christian Petracca and Nathan Jones, and Max Gawn, one of many two finest ruckmen within the competitors, to go alongside them. The brand new 6-6-6 beginning place guidelines may give the Demons an enormous benefit, given there’s going to be much more area round centre bounces. Opposition forwards should not going to have the ability to are available in and assist out as a lot, as a result of they’re additional again inside 50, and groups can’t begin with a quantity behind the ball now. That’s important – loads of sides used to throw a spare man in defence immediately in opposition to Melbourne as a result of Gawn provides his midfielders first use. With a bit extra space opening up in the midst of the bottom now, they’re most likely the crew that’s going to get that early discipline place greater than another. On high of their midfield power, Melbourne even have their key positions lined at each ends of the bottom. Their backline is powerful, with Michael Hibberd and now Steven Might, Tom McDonald has changed into a real gun ahead, and there’s some growth to come back from the likes of Bayley Fritsch. They’re only a harmful crew proper throughout the park. (Photograph by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Photographs) Collingwood Magpies Collingwood most likely performed to a degree even they wouldn’t have thought themselves able to final 12 months. They’ll take loads of confidence out of that, and might be setting their sights actually excessive for 2019. Very like Melbourne, the Magpies have an distinctive midfield-ruckman mixture. Brodie Grundy is true up there alongside Gawn as one of many high two ruckmen within the competitors, then you definately’ve acquired Adam Treloar, Taylor Adams and now Dayne Beams working round him. Once more, with extra space in the midst of the bottom because of the rule modifications, they’re going to get nice discipline place from the centre bounce. With a crew that may unfold actually laborious away from the competition, search for them to essentially open up the sport this 12 months. And I’ve stated that with out even mentioning Scott Pendlebury and Steele Sidebottom. I by no means needed to match up in opposition to Sidebottom a lot, however I did spend a little bit of time taking part in on Pendlebury, and for a good interval he was my favorite opposition participant. Along with his skill to seek out targets out of site visitors, you'll be able to’t afford to offer him half a metre. However what’s underrated about him is he’s a very robust two-way runner. He’s damaging when he’s acquired the ball, but additionally accountable to his opponent – that’s precisely the kind of participant you should win huge video games. (AAP Picture/Julian Smith) Sydney Swans Lots of people most likely query the place the Swans will head, given we didn’t decide up too many, or any, high-profile gamers over the low season. However we had three or 4 essential guys lacking for almost all of final 12 months: Sam Reid, Sam Naismith, Callum Mills and Lewis Melican, who’s an underrated participant – he’s going to be a very robust key defender for an extended time period. If we will add these gamers again into the crew, it’s like selecting up 4 new recruits. One different participant who everybody will need to hear about is Lance Franklin. He amazed me final 12 months, understanding what he was going by along with his physique. There’d be instances, late within the week, once we’d be pondering, “Properly, we will’t presumably play him,” after which he’d come out and dominate. He ended up being named All-Australian captain, and it truly is astonishing given the challenges he needed to overcome. Buddy’s coming off a fairly important little bit of surgical procedure post-Christmas, so it’s been a gradual build-up to the season. However he’s able to getting back from a really restricted pre-season and nonetheless taking part in at a really excessive degree, and is progressing properly from his harm. On high of our skilled gamers like Lance, there’s additionally the pure development of youthful gamers who’ve performed loads of footy within the final couple of years to consider, too. The Swans have had nearly 20 gamers make their AFL debut within the final three years, and loads of them already have a good few appearances below their belt – simply take a look at guys like Ben Ronke and Tom McCartin. Then there are some new draftees who're impressing out on the monitor – James Rowbottom and Justin McInerney spring to thoughts there. Lots of people will suppose Sydney have been up for an extended time period and so they’ve acquired to drop down, we predict that there’s nonetheless loads of enchancment left within the checklist, and that our greatest 22 appears nearly as good as most others. (Photograph by Paul Kane/Getty Photographs) GWS Giants The Giants are one other crew which you can’t rule out given the variety of high quality gamers they nonetheless have on their checklist. Everybody’s been speaking concerning the losses they'd in the course of the commerce interval with Tom Scully leaving for Hawthorn and Dylan Shiel heading to Essendon, however they’ve been growing loads of youthful gamers beneath that high tier of expertise. On high of that, they nonetheless have some actual A-graders on their checklist – simply take a look at the likes of Stephen Coniglio, Josh Kelly, Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron and Callan Ward. If they will all keep wholesome, their finest 22 appears simply nearly as good as anybody else’s. In fact, that’s been a problem for GWS just lately – they’ve been smashed by accidents within the final three seasons or so. But when they will maintain their finest crew collectively, and even one thing that carefully resembles that most popular line-up, they’ll be laborious to beat. The Giants’ actual power is their skill to cowl the bottom. They’ve acquired some actually elite runners who, along with having an important tank, are additionally skilful. They’ve at all times been a naturally formidable attacking crew, however because the years have progressed – and there’s little question their teaching employees are driving this actually laborious – they’ve improved the defensive facet of their sport. At some stage, that’s going to get to some extent the place they’ve discovered the suitable stability between either side of their sport, and once they’ve perfected that, they’ll be much more of a drive to be reckoned with. Cease watching and begin experiencing. Samsung’s NEW game-changing QLED 8K TV with by no means earlier than seen depth and element. Friday night time footy has by no means appeared higher. 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