AFL 2013 season preview: Part I

Myles Stedman Roar Guru

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Josh Jenkins of the Crows over Arryn Siposs and Ben McEvoy of the Saints (Slattery Images)

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With the AFL season just an agonising two months away, we take a look at the contenders and pretenders for the 2013 flag, in alphabetical order.

First up are the Adelaide Crows.

Adelaide Crows

The Adelaide Crows are an interesting team to start out with for my 2013 AFL season previews. They were unfortunately on the wrong end of the biggest off-season football scandal, and they lost one of their better players.

However, this is a young team, already one of the best in the AFL, with a great, young coach. They should definitely make some noise in the late finals.

Can they go one better to the MCG on the last Saturday of September?

If anything good is to come out of the Adelaide Crows’ off-season, it’s that they got rid of what could have been some dangerous discord in the locker-room regarding Kurt Tippett.

As good a player as Tippett is, the Crows have both Taylor Walker and Sam Jacobs to fill the void that he leaves. As far as other positives go for the Crows, they have a great young team with exciting players such Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Thompson, Nathan van Berlo.

They also have one of the best young coaches in the league in Brenton Sanderson, who plays a run-and-gun style of game. What’s not to like about the Crows?

On the minus side, they lost Kurt Tippett, to one of their biggest competitors in the league. And they didn’t get anything back.

As big a cancer as Tippett could’ve become, he was still a very good player who provides mismatches wherever he plays. To make matters worse, they did not get any compensation for him.

Despite the scandal Tippett went through, he was still at high demand. If the Crows had’ve had the opportunity to trade Tippett during trade week, they could’ve gotten a few players and/or draft picks and become an even bigger premiership threat. That’s a big chance lost.

Despite the disappointment of losing Tippett for nothing, the Crows are still in a very strong position. They have a good, young team and some of the best players in the league, and a great coaching staff. Nothing should stop the Crows finishing in the top three.

Prediction: 3rd.

Brisbane Lions

The Brisbane Lions had another disappointing year sprinkled with bright spots in 2012. One was the play of young stars such as Jack Redden, James Polkinghorne and Daniel Rich in a year where captain Jonathan Brown was again decimated with injuries.

With not too many off-season moves, and Michael Voss still in the head coaching role, the Brisbane Lions don’t look like they’ll be taking any steps towards the greatness they achieved in the early naughties.

The Lions are a good team – they did add Brent Moloney, who is a good midfielder at his best. They blooded plenty of young cubs with big ceilings this season, such as Dayne Zorko and Josh Green, and did well working them into the core of young future stars.

Next year, everyone is a year older, a year more experienced, a year more developed and has had another pre-season together. Things can only get better from here.

If they can keep Jonathan Brown on the field for most matches this year, they can definitely exceed expectations, and I hope they do.

Unfortunately for Lions fans, the front office is still unwilling to part with Michael Voss, after he has repeatedly proved he needs a superstar-studded lineup to have any chance of competing in the AFL. Yes we love to respect club legends, such as Vossy, but the best for the team needs to always be in mind.

And of course, this Lions club is still young and developing. The Lions need to focus on mixing some more veterans in with their young core, and they have started to do that by bringing in Moloney, but more is needed next year.

If the Lions can gather required veterans to get their team into the finals, they can hopefully send Jonathan Brown out respectably, as lengthy injury time away from the game has certainly shortened his career.

The Brisbane Lions are an encouraging team, as they are close to the bottom of the ladder, but still on the rise. They have plenty of young pieces and a good environment that free-agents will want to come to in future years.

If they develop their young kids whilst Brown is still around, bring in some more vets and send Vossy packing, the Lions can be as good as they make themselves.

Prediction: 13th.

Carlton Blues

The navy Blues certainly had an old, dark year in 2012. They finished off the year being the victims of the Gold Coast Suns’ greatest win ever, and capped off the year by firing Brett Ratten.

However, their off-season was one of the best in the league, bringing in multiple premiership and grand-final coach Mick Malthouse to lead the troops.

Chris Judd has also surrendered the captaincy, signalling the Blues are flying the flag of change. It should be an interesting year for the Blue baggers.

The Blues have everything to be excited about.

Mick Malthouse is one of the all-time coaching greats, and the Blues community will be hoping he can lead them to the promised land that they were supposed to reach a few years ago. It can only be up from now on for the Blues.

The only thing that could be playing on Carlton’s mind is last year’s results. With a virtually unchanged playing squad, they’ll need to pick up the play monstrously from last year if they’re to return to relevancy. Obviously a healthy Marc Murphy will help, but they can’t afford any injuries if they want to hang with much younger, fitter healthier teams.

On the surface, the Blues’ season looks to be a positive one. If they can get everything together, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be contending for a premiership, perhaps for the next few years. They have champion players, a champion coach, and are a champion club looking to return to football relevancy.

But that’s what we all said last season.

Prediction: 6th.

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