With the AFL fixture having been released, our attention moves towards next season.
Here is my prediction for how the ladder will take shape after the home-and-away season in 2017.
1. Greater Western Sydney Giants
A young side who defied the odds in 2016 by making it to the top four, the Giants were brought down by the Bulldogs in their preliminary final. However, the Giants will go one better and finish at the top of the ladder in 2017.
2. Hawthorn Hawks
The Hawks went out in straight sets this year, but will be back to their best in 2017 and will provide plenty of class. However, a preliminary final exit is also predicted.
3. Sydney Swans
Coming off the back of an amazing season 2016 that finished with a disappointing result in the grand final, the Swans will still create an all-NSW grand final.
4. Western Bulldogs
The Bulldogs made history by winning the premiership from seventh this year. However, the Dogs are another young side and are too unpredictable to place for a top two finish. Yet, they will still have another great year.
5. Geelong Cats
The Cats had a strong 2016 with Patrick Dangerfield winning the Brownlow Medal. Chris Scott’s side will follow up with another great season in 2017.
6. St Kilda Saints
The Saints will transform into a wonderful side next year with a lot of impressive young talent. Yet, I do predict an elimination final exit for Alan Richardson’s team.
7. Fremantle Dockers
Having recruited Cam McCarthy, Joel Hamling, Shane Kersten and Bradley Hill over the trade period, it will be impossible for the Dockers to have another bad season. They will be back as a feared team.
8. Adelaide Crows
Despite fears the Crows would miss the top eight in 2016, the Crows produced a wonderful season. Yet, they will only scrape into the eight in 2017.
9. North Melbourne Kangaroos
After losing Daniel Wells, Nick Dal Santo, Drew Petrie and Brent Harvey, things will get tough for the Kangaroos next year, and they will drop out of the top eight.
10. West Coast Eagles
With an ACL injury ruling Nic Natanui out for the majority of the year, the Eagles will be unable to be at their best despite recruiting Sam Mitchell.
11. Melbourne Demons
Though the Demons have put together a stronger list, they will finish off with another disappointing season.
12. Port Adelaide Power
The Power are very hard to place on the ladder and will have another season that fails to meet expectations. Their key players will be unable to take them back to the finals in 2017.
13. Richmond Tigers
The Tigers have nothing to be excited about and their players will fail to step up next year.
14. Collingwood Magpies
Despite having caused a few upsets during 2016, the Pies will continue to struggle to find their rhythm in 2017.
15. Essendon Bombers
With the majority of the banned players having returned, the Bombers will nonetheless still be unable to be at their best.
16. Gold Coast Suns
The Suns are difficult to place, but they will still be unable to lift in 2017 with the loss of Jaeger O’Meara.
17. Carlton Blues
The Blues will produce another disappointing season, yet will manage to avoid their fifth wooden spoon since 2002.
18. Brisbane Lions
There’s no chance of the Lions placing high on the ladder, as they will continue to struggle to find a new level, remaining easy beats.