Last year’s predictions had mixed results.
Brent Daniels set the finals series on fire with some crucial goals and assists, and Jake Waterman played finals for the premiers. Ben Long had a solid season, Will Brodie struggled, while Ed Vickers-Willis succumbed to injury.
As we swing into the new year, it’s time to look forward to 2020.
Looking at the statistics, you might wonder how Bailey sealed a best 22 spot in a top-four team. However, watching the finals in 2019, it was evident why. Bailey has a ferocious attack on the footy despite his slender frame, with pace and skills to match. Look out for him dashing down the wing in 2020.
Going into his third year, Ridley should get the opportunity to assert himself in the Bombers’ side. The tall halfback is a beautiful kick of the footy, which is exactly what Essendon need to provide balance with the pace of Conor McKenna and Adam Saad. With another AFL pre-season completed, Ridley also has the height (192cm) to be a strong intercept marker.
The lanky forward has wonderful athleticism, and now has two solid years of AFL footy under his belt. When Marshall was promoted to the Port side in Round 20 to play alongside the returning Charlie Dixon, he kicked seven goals in four games. With Dixon taking the monster defenders away from Marshall in 2020, expect that goal-per-game average to become a more consistent pattern.
One of the few shining lights in what was a terrible Gold Coast season, Ballard found his role as an intercepting defender. When he puts some bulk on a skinny frame, Ballard has the skill and poise to be a brilliant all-round defender, both in the air and rebounding off halfback.
Another interceptor who showed strong signs in 2019, and another Irishman who looks to have become accustomed to the skills of AFL with ease. Following in the footsteps of Tadhg Kennelly, Pearce Hanley and Zach Tuohy, in 2019 Conor McKenna and Mark O’Connor overcame early career jitters to become dedicated kickers off halfback. O’Riordan has the talent to continue this positive trend.