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Opinion

What do the AFL clubs want for Christmas, and what does the new year hold? Part two

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Roar Guru
18th December, 2019
30
1249 Reads

It’s Part 2 of this week’s Christmas-themed articles, this time seeing what footy’s fictional Father Christmas could have in store for the remainder of the clubs not covered in Monday’s piece.

In this edition we have the premiers, a couple of former heavyweights that missed out on finals in 2019 and a couple of teams that could be rising into the premiership mix again next year.

Hawthorn
For Christmas the Hawks would love an injury-free preseason. Tom Mitchell’s return naturally bolsters the side, while keeping the likes of Jaeger O’Meara and Jarman Impey among others healthy would be a priority.

Their new year prospects are full of cautious optimism. The Hawks dropped from their usual lofty standards by missing finals in 2017 and 2019 but look among the strongest of the non-finals sides headed into this year. I’d tip them to be close to if not in the finals mix by next August.

Alastair Clarkson

(Cameron Spencer/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Melbourne
For Christmas the Demons would like to not repeat 2019. It’s as simple as that.

Their new year prospects are surely better than 2019, although it remains to be seen which of either Melbourne’s successful 2018 season or last year was the outlier. I’d personally be surprised if they replicated their bottom-three finish, although anything can happen, and Melbourne are among the league’s least-trustworthy outfits.

North Melbourne
For Christmas the Kangaroos are hoping their mammoth off-field transition in terms of personnel translate into a suite of stronger on-field performances.

Their new year prospects seem decent. Like the to-be-discussed Port Adelaide and Sydney, the Kangas strike me as a club that just seems average. Finals are a possibility, but I’m more inclined to consider North finishing in the 10-14 range.

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Port Adelaide
For Christmas Port Adelaide would like their upcoming 150th anniversary year to be, well, successful. Their first four weeks will tell the story: the Suns, a showdown, North and the Eagles await. None – not even early-season Gold Coast – can or should be taken for granted. Fremantle know this all too well, especially regarding the Suns.

Their new year prospects could very quickly spell the end to Ken Hinkley’s reign as senior coach depending on how their fortunes proceed. The Power didn’t excite in the trade period, but their strong youth is key for the inconsistent club. Who really knows how Port will go, though?

Ken Hinkley

(Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

Richmond
For Christmas they’re kinda mimicking ‘that guy’ who doesn’t need anything because they’ve already got everything. But injuries are one thing that affected the Tigers last year, so they’d be hoping to be blessed with a healthier year, even though they have proved they’re formidable even when walking wounded.

Their new year prospects are, predictably, superb. They’ve got two premierships under their belt in the last three years, and one can only assume they’re gunning for a third next year.

St Kilda
For Christmas St Kilda would be hoping their massive new arrivals, including and especially Brad Hill, make an immediate impact on a team that has been stifled by mediocracy for a few years now. Nothing major, then.

Their new year prospects seem, if you’re an optimist, pretty good. But optimism and St Kilda are antithetical at the best of times. I wrote in October that they were finals chances, and I stand by that, but St Kilda are accustomed to lower placings, and that also wouldn’t surprise.

Sydney
For Christmas the Swans would like to (eventually) get their man, Joe Danniher. And keep Tom Papley. Of course we’re a while away from next year’s trade period, but given the inevitable media circus that is going to occur next season, the Swans will want to be praying both work in their favour.

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Their new year prospects are middling. The Swans’ fortunes are difficult to pin down. I can’t see the New South Welshmen challenging the finals pack, but I’m doubtful they’ll slump to a super low finish. A middling ladder position seems appropriate. I’m looking forward to seeing Buddy Franklin back at full strength though.

West Coast
For Christmas West Coast would like to avoid annoying little surprises like the Willie Rioli saga. Whilst trying not to be disparaging to the embattled Rioli, no club need that rubbish.

Their new year prospects are really good. The Eagles were among the best teams of 2019 other than a costly loss to Hawthorn and their inability to go back to back. Their trade period was quiet except for the mammoth addition of Tim Kelly. They’re still a superb team – I feel a tinge of jealously saying that, to be honest – and one expects them to be right up the top of the standings next year.

Western Bulldogs
For Christmas the Bulldogs have already kind of got their wish with the appointment of Marcus Bontempelli as Easton Wood’s successor as captain. Just in time, as the Dogs push for a more likely premiership to complement 2016’s miracle.

Their new year prospects are, borrowing a line from the Eagles, “really good”. The Bulldogs had very nice trade period, and with a team rapidly growing in maturity and talent they appear primed to make a strong impact on the finals mix. I’ve been told by a fair few people last year that I was regularly underrating the Dogs. I say this not to appease them but because I mean it: I reckon they’re a top six – even top four – competitor next year.

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