The AFL pre-season is coming: NAB Cup preview

The_Wookie Roar Guru

By The_Wookie, The_Wookie is a Roar Guru


25 Have your say

    In just four weeks the wait will be over. Keen followers of the AFL have spent the summer arguing about the usual offseason tripe.

    Memberships, attendances, joining in the weekly code war, whether Richmond will make it, how low GWS will go, whether various players are training the house down, or whether Collingwood will get a free ride.

    Newspapers carry stories of clubs and players that are ready to go at it like a bull in a china shop as they scramble to find news to appease the football loving public in the off season.

    Finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel. We can finally get back to what we want to see – actual football.

    So what I hear you say, it’s the preseason, it means nothing to anyone. I say to you, that you are sorely mistaken.

    The preseason allows us to see players who wouldn’t necessarily get a game when premiership glory is on the line. It can be invaluable for any club in great need of a great start to the season. You can generate quite a bit of positive flow toward the club with a stirring performance.

    This can be particularly useful when looking for members and sponsors. I imagine people who rarely get to see professional sport first hand in smaller cities across the country would be quite fond of the preseason.

    Since 1988 the VFL/AFL have conducted a pre-season competition, which has been over the years mainly based on a knockout format.

    In 2012 clubs are guaranteed four rounds of pre-season matches all over this fair country. This season takes us to the three way matches seen for the first time in last years NAB Cup, followed by a guaranteed two rounds of regular matches played all over the country.

    Say what you like about the NAB Cup and its relevance to the real thing, there’s no doubt that for professional sport locations out in the middle of nowhere, these matches are a godsend.

    In 2012 at least, it has the added bonus of sending out the big Victorian teams (Collingwood, Essendon and Carlton in particular) to places that get very few visits from them.

    NAB Cup Round 1:
    Hawthorn, Richmond and North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium)
    GWS, Bulldogs and Collingwood (Blacktown)
    WEst Coast, Fremantle and Essendon (Pattersons)
    Geelong, St Kilda and Sydney (Etihad Stadium)
    Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne (Metricon)
    Adelaide, Port and Carlton (Aami)

    For those unfamiliar with the triangular format, the competition is basically three matches, one after the other with two short halves and a quick break between matches.

    Clubs can completely change squads between matches if necessary. The matches also feature the nine point super goal for goals kicked from further than 50 metres out.

    Predicting the NAB Cup winners can be fraught with danger. Some clubs take it seriously, some clubs dont. Some clubs go all out (Port make this promise annually) while others are quite blatant in their belief it’s a practice run (see Paul Roos every year ad nauseum), so I’ve elected to give predictions for the first round only.

    Richmond will show up bright eyed and bushy tailed – and will be stomped by Hawthorn. Collingwood will make probably their only trip to Blacktown ever to face GWS. Why Sydney isn’t in this group is beyond me given the AFL have neatly combined all other home state groups.

    Perth people will get to see the Bombers on a rare visit out west, where West Coast will comfortably account for all, and Fremantle’s hopes rest on one man – Aaron Sandilands – being fit.

    Geelong will dominate its group at Etihad. The close ones will be at Metricon, although I expect Brisbane with Merett and Brown back to lay down the law over a still gathering Gold Coast and Melbourne.

    Carlton will head to Adelaide where it should win both matches comfortably.

    NAB Cup round two combines the NAB Cup with matches that used to form the NAB Challenge (for eliminated teams).

    Previously it was losing sides that competed in matches outside of the major metro areas.

    This year matches will be featured at Mandurah, Wangaratta, Alice Springs, as well as a rare AFL match at Bruce Purser Reserve for the Swans. Other matches will be played at traditional season venues at Etihad, Aurora and Metricon.

    NAB Cup round three takes matches to Albury, Victor Harbor, and Ballarat as well as the usual AFL venues at Etihad, Simonds, Patersons and Aami.

    The Carlton v Brisbane match is listed as TBC for some reason, although I’d suggest its likely to be in Victoria. That said, I’ve also heard that its going to Queensland, I guess time will tell.

    Under the new TV deal ALL preseason cup matches are broadcast live on Fox, and will not be shown on FTA for the first time.

    The Grand Final will be simulcast on the Seven Network. Note also that local matches which are usually shown in non victorian states on Free to Air do not get the same protection during the NAB Cup.

    As a further note, Foxtels Footy Channel launches on February 17th with the triangular games between North, Hawthorn and Richmond. The 2012 AFL Premiership Season begins March 18th, 2012.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • Roar Guru

      January 23rd 2012 @ 10:07am
      The Cattery said | January 23rd 2012 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      The more people have whinged about the relevance of a pre-season cup, the more money sponsors have wanted to throw at it.

      But it’s come to have a bit of significance:
      1. it alerts us to the fact that the real season is not too far away;
      2. we get a look at some young rookies who may not be ready for the game proper for a couple more years;
      3. good lead in for teams;
      4. last two seaosons have had a chance to get an early peak at new teams – which is always a special event in its own right; and most importantly,
      5. time to think seriously about our supercoach teams!

    • Roar Guru

      January 23rd 2012 @ 11:26am
      Redb said | January 23rd 2012 @ 11:26am | ! Report

      Its been a fairly quiet off season and with the cricket being so good its great to have a break and really look forward to the new season.

      At this stage I’m not even thinking about the NAB Cup until the 4th test is over. 🙂

    • January 23rd 2012 @ 11:46am
      Veni, Vedi, Sherrin Calcitravi said | January 23rd 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      Expecting Carlton, West Coast and Hawthorn to try to go all out in the NAB this year with reasonably favourable first round opponents and wanting to make strong statements at the start of the year. Collingwood might take a more relaxed approach after peaking too early over last season and stumbling on injuries. Essendon and North Melbourne to take it very seriously as they did last year.

      • Roar Guru

        January 23rd 2012 @ 12:08pm
        The Cattery said | January 23rd 2012 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Collingwood can afford to take it easy!

        • January 23rd 2012 @ 12:20pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | January 23rd 2012 @ 12:20pm | ! Report


          No, they cant.

          Lets assume Collingwood get an easy win against GWS, but the GWS wins contested possessions.

          A whole bunch of other clubs go ‘If you’re hard at Collingwood, they fold, and GWS just beat them for contested possessions” … and then Collingwood hear footsteps.

          • Roar Guru

            January 23rd 2012 @ 3:43pm
            The Cattery said | January 23rd 2012 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

            it took Geelong’s big-bodied 30 year olds to beat the pies in the middle of the park, I don’t think GWS’ kids are able to do the same just yet.

            • January 23rd 2012 @ 4:37pm
              Ian Whitchurch said | January 23rd 2012 @ 4:37pm | ! Report

              If Collingwood take it easy, it could happen.

              Remember, Gold Coast beat Geelong for contested possessions for a half of footy …

              • Roar Guru

                January 23rd 2012 @ 4:53pm
                The Cattery said | January 23rd 2012 @ 4:53pm | ! Report

                I agree that on that occasion Geelong had to snap out of it, but equally, it was a reminder that young players can’t last the distance in that department – admittedly the first round of NAB games are the lightning format, anyway, I’d be very happy if GWS were to catch the pies off guard, but I don’t think there’d be long term repercussions.

              • January 23rd 2012 @ 5:18pm
                Ian Whitchurch said | January 23rd 2012 @ 5:18pm | ! Report


                That half of footy probably did Geelong good in the long run.

    • Roar Guru

      January 23rd 2012 @ 3:00pm
      Lachlan said | January 23rd 2012 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

      The preseason has always been a great way to start the new year. it will always be a part of the fixture. Id like to see the best tams from each state lague possibly included.

      NAB Cup Round 1:
      Hawthorn, Richmond and North Melbourne (Etihad Stadium) – Hawthorn should win both games. Richmond and North will be close.
      GWS, Bulldogs and Collingwood (Blacktown) – Collingwood win both easily. Western Bulldogs will beat GWS easily.
      WEst Coast, Fremantle and Essendon (Pattersons) – I think all 3 matches could go either way.
      Geelong, St Kilda and Sydney (Etihad Stadium) – Geelong should win all matches, but if Sydney play their best team, could go either way. St. Kilda may go close.
      Gold Coast, Brisbane and Melbourne (Metricon) – As well as The Western Australian/Essendon pool, it will be a close one.
      Adelaide, Port and Carlton (Aami) – Carlton should come out victorious in both matches. Adelaide v Port will be close.

      • January 23rd 2012 @ 11:55pm
        Timmuh said | January 23rd 2012 @ 11:55pm | ! Report

        I’m not so sure about giving the best clubs from the state leagues a run, they would get belted. However, rep sides with no AFL listed players allowed might just give a few teams bit of a shake, especially as the AFL side would not be picking their best team and the state sides would be playing on the biggest stage many of the playuers would ever get to. A VFL, SANFL and WAFL side would all be competitive, and maybe a combined NEAFL team – I’d like to fit the TSL in there, but its just too far behind those leagues right now.

        • Roar Guru

          January 24th 2012 @ 8:07am
          The_Wookie said | January 24th 2012 @ 8:07am | ! Report

          They’ve got the Foxtel Cup to cater for that. No AFL club is going to get beaten by a state club these days. Last time I recall it happening was when Morningside beat the Brisbane Bears in a preseason game some years ago. Just before Port entered the AFL, Fremantle played the then premiers here at Football Park and Port never even saw the footy that day – they were annihilated by Freo who were woeful back then I might add – and Port were the SANFL premiers at the time.

          • Roar Guru

            January 24th 2012 @ 8:36am
            The Cattery said | January 24th 2012 @ 8:36am | ! Report

            Morningside beat the Bears???? That’s an amazing bit of trivia. And Freo annihilating the Port Magpies circa 1996 is telling. People seem to forget that it’s a massive gap between the very best 2nd tier team and the worst AFL team.

            Which helps explain why the Suns came out in their very first AFL game last year against Carlton and got walloped by 20 goals, with Carlton barely needing to raise a sweat.

            • January 24th 2012 @ 2:15pm
              Nathan of Perth said | January 24th 2012 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

              Which in turn explains why the State Leagues suffer so much financially. Its not a case of Premier League and Championship, but another couple of Leagues down. Really think that the AFL should try and bolster the second tier and make it more viable…

          • March 19th 2012 @ 1:29am
            Enron said | March 19th 2012 @ 1:29am | ! Report

            Good call.. but I think it would be great to have a round robin format with the top 2 teams from SANFL, WAFL, VFL and a local state team each from QLD, NSW and Tasmania…

            Actually, why dont we play a state of origin carnival in the pre season?? that would get people fired up wouldnt it???

            Vics can have 2 teams, country and metro.. given the Sandropers and Croweaters wouldnt be able to beat a full strength Victorian outfit… ha ha ha 🙂

            Im a Sandgoper myself and recall the floggings we used to get prior to 1977 🙂

    • January 23rd 2012 @ 5:26pm
      Nathan of Perth said | January 23rd 2012 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

      Hosting Essenscum, ready your scarves and jackets…

    • January 24th 2012 @ 9:53pm
      camtherose said | January 24th 2012 @ 9:53pm | ! Report

      The reason the AFL hasn’t scheduled GWS and Sydney together is because they are saving that match-up for the standalone Rd 1 fixture to kick of the season. Which will be an embarrassment to all involved (except Sydney, who will gratefully take the 20 goal win).

      • Roar Guru

        January 24th 2012 @ 10:49pm
        The_Wookie said | January 24th 2012 @ 10:49pm | ! Report

        actually good point forgot about thjat. cheers