Geelong superstar and AFLPA president Patrick Dangerfield isn’t convinced that 16-minute quarters will be here to stay when the AFL competition finally resumes.
Last season, Patrick Dangerfield went from being a top-five player in the AFL to winning the game’s highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal. Not only did he win it comfortably, edging out Luke Parker by nine votes, his 35 votes beat Dane Swan’s record of 34.
His season was highlighted by performances against Hawthorn, the Bulldogs and North Melbourne, where he gathered 43, 48 and 37 disposals respectively, along with four goals over the three games.
He then took his game to another level, leading Geelong to a win over the Hawks in their qualifying final, before starring in the Cats’ comprehensive preliminary final loss to Sydney.
You could reel off stats all day from his incredible season, but the point is that in 2016, Dangerfield was extremely good.
So can he continue his rise in the 2017 season?
There are no signs to suggest that he will start to decline in any way. He is still only 26 years old and has missed just one game over the last three seasons.
But just ask former Brownlow medal winners Nathan Fyfe and Gary Ablett – the body can fail you at any time.
The biggest issue with Dangerfield is the style that he plays. His explosiveness at the contest and willingness to dive after the footy in the trenches takes a toll on his body week in and week out.
He does have protection in the form of Joel Selwood and Mitch Duncan, meaning teams cannot solely focus on stopping him at all times.
But after the loss to Sydney, Dangerfield looked exhausted, having carried the team on his back throughout the season.
He is, however, one of those hybrid midfielders who can play effectively in the forward line for extended periods of time. This is how his first coach in Adelaide, Neil Craig, used him often to preserve his body as his career progressed.
Aside from the occasional stint in the forward line, Geelong hasn’t used him as a full forward out of the goal square regularly. As much as it is an opportunity for him to have a rest from the rigorous demands of playing on the ball, his blend of pace, athletic ability and strength make him a nightmare for defenders.
To expect Dangerfield to replicate his 2016 season is unrealistic.
He very well could, but anything close to what he produced last year would probably see him win another Brownlow Medal and cement himself as the league’s best.
My prediction for Dangerfield in 2017 is that, if healthy, he will continue to dominate the game, winning a Brownlow Medal and a Coaches Association award. Don’t be surprised if he kicks 25 goals either.