AFL 2013 season preview: Part I

Myles Stedman Roar Guru

By Myles Stedman, Myles Stedman is a Roar Guru


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    The Crows face the Saints eager to prove they are legit. (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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    The Crowd Says (54)

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 8:29am
      AllSports said | January 23rd 2013 @ 8:29am | ! Report

      None of these teams will make the eight.

      • Roar Guru

        January 23rd 2013 @ 8:33am
        Redb said | January 23rd 2013 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        I think Adelaide will make the 8. Sure they have lost Tippett but their midfield is improving and I think Walker will relish being the main forward target.

      • February 3rd 2013 @ 9:36am
        vocans said | February 3rd 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        There’s a lot of improvement left in this young team. Remember they went down to the Hawks by only 5pts. Finals experience adds to them. The young backs should be even tougher this year. The competition for a place is enormous and that adds significantly to attitude on the ground, and the options open to the coach. The 8 certainly and should be a flag contender. Top 4 and even no. 1.

    • Roar Pro

      January 23rd 2013 @ 8:32am
      aggregated drupe said | January 23rd 2013 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      The crows will. They have a good coach and a good team and have got rid of Tippett.

    • Roar Guru

      January 23rd 2013 @ 9:08am
      Redb said | January 23rd 2013 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      I think the ladder positions are pretty close to the mark.

      I see Adelaide as 3-5th.
      Lions as high as 9-10th.
      Carlton 5-8th.

      • January 23rd 2013 @ 11:17am
        Matt F said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        I think you’re pretty spot on here Redb.

        Adelaide will be about the same as last year. They’ve got a young list that will improve but a tougher draw, and the loss of Tippet will probably mean they’ll finish around 3-6. Probably 12 months away from have a real crack at the flag.

        Carlton will improve but they’re not a Top 4 side yet. They have some key holes in their list. Mick will get them back on track and they should make the 8 but I can find at least 4 teams better than the Blues at this stage.

        Brisbane will be pushing the Top 8 though they will probably fall a bit short. They showed a lot of improvement last year, particularly in the second half of the year but I think the Top 8 will be just beyond them. They finished four games out of the finals last year and I think they’ll close that to one or two games. They do have arguably the best draw in the competition so that could push them into the finals if everything goes right.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 9:28am
      Bigrig said | January 23rd 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Brisbane will be very hot and cold this year. They just have no forward line. With Browny getting older or concussed every 2nd week they just dont have the firepower.

      • Roar Guru

        January 23rd 2013 @ 3:32pm
        Myles Stedman said | January 23rd 2013 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

        Precisely why they have only garnered a 13/18 on my ladder

    • Roar Guru

      January 23rd 2013 @ 10:15am
      TomC said | January 23rd 2013 @ 10:15am | ! Report

      Getting in early, Myles. I like it.

      I see the Crows as more likely to be a part of a scrap for positions in the bottom half of the eight. Leaving aside their excellent season last year, I don’t think they have the depth or quality of Collingwood, Hawthorn, Sydney and West Coast. Certainly plenty of great young players, and with the likes of Kerridge, Crouch and Lyons to be injected over the next couple of seasons, there’s more to come. However, I think they played near the very top of their ability in 2012, with the benefit of a good draw, and they’ll probably level off a bit in 2013. Not enough depth in the key positions, and probably still short one or two damaging midfielders.

      I don’t know if 2012 was a particularly disappointing year for Brisbane. I don’t think many people expected them to win ten games at the start of the season. 2013 will reveal a lot about how much can be expected from the current crop of players. Young players like Green, Polec, Karnezis, Beams, Banfield, Lisle, McKeever, Harwood, Lester and Golby have all shown glimpses of their talent, but need to step up and become regular contributors. If that happens, then the Lions could push up toward the top eight, but on the flip side if they get a couple of key injuries (particularly amongst the talls) then they could find themselves floundering in the bottom four again. 13th is probably a safe, conservative guess of where they’ll finish, but anywhere between 7th and 16th wouldn’t surprise.

      Bit confused by the description of James Polkinghorne as a ‘young star’. I see him as a fringe player who hasn’t really capitalised on his early promise. Has some footy smarts but doesn’t get enough of the ball.

      Like you, I see a few reasons to be bullish about the Blues. Squad consistency is usually a good thing, and hopefully it can lead to consistency on the field, which was their biggest problem in 2012. We shouldn’t forget that their best last season was as good as anyone. Mick Malthouse has a history of getting the absolute most out of his players, and while I think it’s likely to take him a few years to build the team he wants, he’ll have some kind of immediate impact. There are still a few list issues to work through, particularly with the talls, but I’d agree that 6th is around about the mark.

      • Roar Guru

        January 23rd 2013 @ 3:35pm
        Myles Stedman said | January 23rd 2013 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

        Thanks for your comment, TomC.

        I agree with most of what you have to say. However, I hardly see Polkinghorne as a fringe player. Yes he has a ton of footy smarts, and he is a skilled player, he certainly doesn’t get enough ball, but I think he has potential to be a fixture in Brisbane’s best 22, probably off the bench in years to come, but still a very viable player.

    • January 23rd 2013 @ 11:07am
      LK said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:07am | ! Report

      You say “things can only get better” for the Lions, then pencil them into 13th, which is exactly where they finished last year. Last year they finished on ten wins, up from six in 2011 (I think!). They have traded in decent players to fill gaps on their list and I think they can improve on 2012. The Lions have a relatively easy draw with double up games against the Doggies, Suns, Dees, North and home games against the Giants and Saints. They are a big chance to play finals in my opinion.

      • January 23rd 2013 @ 11:21am
        Matt F said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        They are a bit low but I’m not sure if they’re a finals team just yet, though you’re right about the draw. It’s arguably the best in the competition.

        While they had ten wins, the benchmark for the top 8 has changed. 12 wins no longer does it. You need at least 13 and the Roos won 14 last year to finish 8th. They improved a lot last year but often teams near the bottom rise to mid-table very quickly. Getting from that 10th-13th ranking into the top 8 is a lot tougher. They could make finals if absolutely everything goes right but I think they’ll finish 1-2 games short. They’re definitely on the right track though.

        They could finish anywhere from 7-12 but I think they will end up around 9 or 10

        • January 23rd 2013 @ 2:20pm
          LK said | January 23rd 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

          That’s a fair enough reply. However, it isn’t unprecedented for a team to come from the lower part of the table to the top 8 or higher. For example, look at the Swans in 2009-10, Eagles 2010-11 or Crows 2011-12, all these teams went from 12th or lower to 5th or higher in a season. In fact WCE went from wooden spooners to top 4. How many people tipped them to make such large improvements? I’m not certain the Lions are going to be that team this year, but they seem to be underrated.

          • Roar Guru

            January 23rd 2013 @ 2:32pm
            Redb said | January 23rd 2013 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            The Lions weakness has to be their forward line, Jono Brown God love him is losing his pace (not to mention his face), who is going to kick their goals?

            • Roar Guru

              January 23rd 2013 @ 3:38pm
              Myles Stedman said | January 23rd 2013 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

              Redb, I think Cornelius has the potential to. He’s a good strong marking forward who leads well, and can only thrive under the tutelage of Jono. Will be interesting to see how the Lions handle him.

              • Roar Guru

                January 23rd 2013 @ 4:54pm
                TomC said | January 23rd 2013 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

                The problem for Cornelius is he doesn’t really fit into a conventional forward mould. He’s not big enough or physical enough to be a crash-and-bash tall forward, he’s not agile enough to be a leading full-forward, and he doesn’t have the endurance or all-round-game to be a flanker. He can find some space and take a mark, but that’s about it really.

                He’s the kind of forward who dominates at reserves level but has limited upside in the seniors, similar to Mitch Morton.

                I’d like to see Jordan Lisle get more of a chance for the Lions this season.

      • Roar Guru

        January 23rd 2013 @ 11:22am
        TomC said | January 23rd 2013 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Four wins for the Lion in 2011.

        Good post, Matt.

      • January 25th 2013 @ 5:37pm
        Dan said | January 25th 2013 @ 5:37pm | ! Report

        Last year the Lions won 8 games against the bottom 5 sides, with 2 good(close) wins against top 5 sides. However they got slapped around by the majority of the comp, and while they’re heading in the right direction, they wont get the need 13-14 wins to make finals.
        Also not sure how the Lions could consider a North double up easy.