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Seven questions to come from AFL Round 12

Bombers head coach John Worsfold. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Media/Getty Images)
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11th June, 2018
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Last weekend, Gary Ablett again made us look silly, proving that he indeed still has it, the goal review system took a nosedive in terms of its popularity, and the latest premiership contender confirmed that they are indeed the real deal.

As always, a lot of questions come from a big week of footy.

1. Which player can Richmond least afford to be without?
With Dustin Martin missing his first game since Round 22, 2014, how would the Tigers fare without one of their genuine superstars? Alex Rance, Jack Riewoldt and Trent Cotchin are stars too, but simply cannot do what they do without Martin at the coal face.

While Anthony Miles got plenty of the ball in his first game back, he is No Martin with his ball use, and Riewoldt seemingly had to do most of the work up forward, with Josh Caddy being deployed to the ruck.

Premiership teams are built around stars and role players, but which one can they ill afford to lose for an extended period?

2. What selection dilemmas will Geelong have?
While the Cats got the job done again at Kardinia Park, the dilemma this team faces is what does their best team look like?

Experienced players Lachie Henderson, Harry Taylor and Cam Guthrie all came back with limited game time in the VFL, while there were plenty of other AFL-listed contributors at the lower level involved in the 100-point win. Meanwhile, there are young kids performing too well to warrant being dropped.

Jack Henry and Tom Stewart are shoring up their places in the backline, Jordan Cunico has found his place on the wing and half forward flank with his run, carry and poise, while Lachie Fogarty is a star. Jamaine Jones had a quiet week, but is continuing to play his role as a small forward.

The battle for spots at the Cattery is well and truly on.

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3. How do you solve a problem like the Gold Coast?
The plight of this team should be a major issue on the agenda at AFL House.

Big names have all moved on to greener pastures and the Suns risk another mass exodus of players at season’s end, with captain Tom Lynch looking like the first domino to fall.

There is pressure on the AFL to help, but ultimately the club needs to help itself. It is easier said than done but they need to get the right people in the back office before trying to entice players.

It starts with getting their current group to compete.

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4. Are we sold on the Swans yet?
As scintillating as they were on Saturday night, in particular their first quarter, the Saints were awful. You’d almost take points off the Swans for not finishing the job and turning on a 100-point win.

Sydney sit comfortably in the top four, but in the next few weeks face West Coast at home, then the bye, followed by a trip to Etihad to face Richmond, before gearing up to face Geelong at home on a Thursday night.

It doesn’t get any easier after that either, especially since their home record this year hasn’t been as formidable as it has in previous years.

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While I’ll still back this team to make the finals, they remain a ‘watch this space’.

5. When will it click for Essendon?
While the Bombers got the points in Brisbane, John Worsfold won’t rate the win as memorable. It was yet another one of those ‘what if’ days for the Lions, as the Dons just could not kill them off.

We see the youth amd recruits Essendon have brought in, who are starting to collectively hit their straps, and we see the established stars who work hard week in week out, but when will it all click?

While there is still a lot of footy to be played this year, the finals remain only a slight possibility.

6. Where does Fremantle’s group of youngsters rank?
Ross Lyon has finally given in and played his kids, and they are giving fans a big glimpse to the future.

They have top liners in Andy Brayshaw and Adam Cerra, along with Griffin Logue – their first pick from last year.

Brennan Cox, Mitch Crowden along with other draftees Stefan Giro, Ryan Nyhuis, Luke Ryan and Bailey Banfield have spent time in the seniors, while Darcy Tucker, Ed Langdon and Connor Blakley have all improved significantly over the past 12 months as regular members in their best 22.

Alex Pearce is finally getting a clean run at it with his body and playing some brilliant footy, likewise Sean Darcy has battled injury but showed plenty last year.

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Hopefully Fremantle have their next young group ready to grow and rise up together.

7. Is 13 the magic number?
Last year, the Tigers jumped from 13th the year before, playing bold, exciting footy. This year, the Pies are doing exactly that.

From the word go they were all over Melbourne and stamped themselves as contenders.

Its been a long and painful build for Collingwood supporters, but they are seeing the results of building their list, backing them in and recruiting smartly.

With a favourable stretch of games after the bye (Carlton, Gold Coast and Essendon), sitting pretty in the top six, this exciting Magpies team are becoming a joy to watch, with quite possibly the most mobile and unpredictable young forward line in the competition.

It wasn’t too long ago this team couldn’t hit a target, yet now have goalkickers coming from everywhere.

The Magpie army is cheering loudly and proudly again.