Bounce the ball and get on with another season of footy

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Anyone else excited for the start of the AFL Season on Friday night? Its NAB cup time, the precursor to main season start. I can’t wait for football to begin again.

I am totally bemused by the way this ACC debacle has unfolded and couldn’t care less to hear about Buddy’s contract talks anymore.

This pep-tiding, doping, boozing, drink-driving, fixing, fighting, tanking preseason has sure kept the media outlets busy, but I’ve tuned out.

I don’t care for the rest of the rumours or over-stating. It seems to have been blown out of proportion and hopefully we can just get on with watching the footy soon.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to in the 2013 season. I have compiled an outlook for each team, the questions they need to answer and which individuals I think will make a big impact on the competition.

As a disclaimer, I am a Geelong fan, but this article was written with no bias!

Adelaide (4th)

The Crows should continue to improve. Kurt Tippett leaving will not slow them down as their midfield is too strong.

A one-legged duck and “Tex” Walker will kick enough goals for the Crows this year, with the supply they are getting. Walker is my favourite for the Coleman Medal and an injury-free Patrick Dangerfield to be top three in the Brownlow Medal.

I want to see more improvement from Rory Sloane and he could join the elite players of the league.

Brisbane (9th to 12th)

Another mediocre season. Nothing stands out as a defining reason for Brisbane to claim a finals spot. I am looking forward to seeing Jonathan Brown complete a season without being in another on-field train wreck or car accident.

Dayne Zorko is an intriguing player. He burst into their best team midway through last season, polling Brownlow votes late in the year.

Carlton (8th)

Can Mick Malthouse work his magic on a B grade list (Chris Judd and Marc Murphy aside)? Who is going to step up to make Carlton a contender?

I think they will make the finals if they have a healthy list of players to choose from. I am wondering if Malthouse is the key to getting the best out of Andrew Walker and Jarrod Waite. Both need to fulfil their obvious talent.

Collingwood (6th)

Lost Sharrod Wellingham and Chris Dawes gained the big Q-stick. Seems like smart business as he runs all day and will keep Travis Cloke closer to the 50m arc. I think other teams have more improvement in them than Collingwood.

They will be there in September, they are an experienced squad and are too fit to miss the finals. Will Steele Sidebottom continue on from his impressive 2012?

Essendon (9th to 12th)

Will Essendon be able to complete a consistent season? They have four weeks to put this turmoil in pre-season behind them. I would not be putting any hard earned on them making the eight.

It will be too hard this year. I look forward to seeing more of Dyson Heppell in the midfield as he’s a genuine star. Stewart Crameri being fully fit and playing a full season will also have a major impact on Essendon’s finals prospects.

Fremantle (5th)

Both West Australian teams will be stronger and play big roles in this year’s title race. Will Freo realise they need to play Kepler Bradley to provide all over support and decoys for their big men?

Watch for the lethal combination of Stephen Hill and Danyle Pearce, both in combination but also to free each other. The opposition can’t tag them all.

Geelong (7th)

Can they continue their one year on, one year off style of winning premierships? I don’t think so.

Matthew Scarlett is a huge loss to the club. Premiership players are getting older and some have already retired. Will the young players/new recruits be able to top-up the ageing stars?

There are too many questions and I am unsure if Chris Scott can produce the answers. Harry Taylor will dominate as Geelong’s number one defender.

Gold Coast (13th to 15th)

They will win more games than last year. Improvement will progress as long as there are no serious injuries to experienced players.

They need to start with winning half of their home games this season. I see Harley Bennell and Trent “The Cannon” McKenzie as elite players of the future, but I am looking for improvements in their consistency this year.

And put Gary Ablett as your super coach captain again.

GWS (bottom three)

Will they have second-year blues like Gold Coast? I don’t think so. They will challenge in a lot of games but I still doubt they can play four strong quarters each week.

I want to see more from young key forward Jon Patton. Can he live up to the big challenge of being the no.1 gun?

Callan Ward will lead strongly and poll well in the Brownlow Medal. Very happy they re-signed big ruckman Jonathan Giles, he was a standout performer last year.

Hawthorn (3rd)

Since the 1980s, Hawthorn have lacked the year-to-year consistency that current clubs Geelong and Sydney have managed to maintain.

Will their players take the next step and thrive from the GF heartbreak? I’m expecting them to challenge for the premiership again.

With all this talk of Lance Franklin, I want to see the defenders start to dominate. They brought in Brian Lake to strengthen the defence.

If they can’t show this in the big games, Hawthorn needs to be active again in next year’s trade period. Brendan Whitecross is an elite runner and ball user. Look for him to take pressure off senior midfielders and free them up.

Melbourne (13th to 15th)

They can’t keep their best 30 players together. They always seem to be a turnstile at trade period with other teams eagerly waiting to get hold of their players. I expect a handful of victories but not enough to make the finals.

The Demons can do the spectacular, but not consistently. Jack Watts performing well at centre half back is a key to any success they may have.

North Melbourne (9th to 12th)

They progressed last year, but can they sustain consistent victories throughout 2013. They need healthy ruckmen throughout the whole of the season to make the finals.

Who in their current best 22 shows the most shin-boner spirit? I’m looking for Jack Ziebell to step up.

He could be a clone of Adelaide’s Dangerfield if he’s ready to bust the packs regularly. I think the whole AFL community also wants to see Majak Daw playing at a higher level than the VFL.

Port Adelaide (bottom three)

New coach, new team? I doubt it.

If Port Adelaide wants a formula for success, they need to become more consistent and make players challenge each other for positions.

If it takes a couple scuffles on the training track so be it. They also need to continue to fight off interstate recruiters and keep their better players. I look at their list and struggle to find a player who generates positive discussion regularly.

I want to be surprised.

Richmond (9th to 12th)

I see improvement in Richmond, but I still can’t find a place in the top eight for them. They lack depth as a squad. I think they have 17 -18 really good players.

The Tigers of old will be there for us to see once again, just missing the finals. Troy Chaplin is a big recruit.

He will free up Alex Rance to become a dominating defender. Rance will become a great “quarterback” and Richmond will have to show him the money in future contract negotiations. Watch his progression, he will fire in 2013.

St Kilda

Brendon Goddard has gone and senior players will need to hold more of the burden.

For last few years St Kilda has asked for the younger players to step up, but none have become real stars of the competition.

I like the progression of Arryn Sippos and Ahmed Saad.

The little fellas around Stephen Milne will have to contribute a lot of goals for St Kilda to make the eight.

Swans (2nd)

They continue to be most consistent club in the competition. Stability = consistency = results.

They will be there again come the preliminary finals. Hannebery and Kieran Jack will become a dominating force for the Swans.

Lewis Jetta will only get better. I think the other clubs are scared of his speed and skills, with very few players able to tag him.

West Coast (1st)

Key recruit Sharrod Wellingham will strengthen an already strong midfield and provide more outside runners.

I’m looking for West Coast to be at the top come round 22. It’s the big men that have me excited, with Nic Natanui and Jack Darling to explode this season. These two will dominate teams in years to come.

Western Bulldogs (wooden spoon)

I can’t see where any great improvements will come from. The structure has gone. They have no key forwards/defenders of note who will dominate opponents every week. Dalhaus shocked the competition in the first half of last year.

Will he be able to shake the opposition taggers?

One season is a long time and I hope by the end of September 2013 some of the teams above surprise me greatly.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.