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Opinion

The players set for big seasons from the biggest three clubs

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7th June, 2020
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Richmond’s Punt Road Oval and Collingwood’s Olympic Park footy looked better than Carlton’s Prince’s Park footy, although good signs were shown by the developing Blues side.

Collingwood played an intra-club game under lights last Thursday while Richmond had theirs earlier that day. It was a big day for players wanting to push their case for a spot in the senior side as well as for the clubs to get their match play in order.

It was similar the day before for Carlton, who went through match simulation with a number of players performing strongly.

To start, I will look at Collingwood.

Brodie Grundy and Jordan de Goey played like they were a class above in the intra-club hit-out between the black-and-white jerseys.

Grundy was taking contested marks, gathering ground balls as cleanly as his fellow midfielders and going forward and impacting the scoreboard. In more regular training sessions, he has also looked fit, agile and skilful, setting him up for a big year as the Pies number one ruck.

If there’s ever a time for a ruckman to win a Brownlow medal, it is now. Despite Grundy moving around the ground more and more like a midfielder, back him in for a massive season.

Brodie Grundy kicks the football

(AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

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Jordan de Goey was Collingwood’s next big prospect for season 2020. With the extra time to develop his body and get himself right over the isolation period, De Goey looks primed for a big year, when he could go to the top level as a midfield forward and match the likes of Dustin Martin. He had numerous scoring involvements in Collingwood’s intra-club last Thursday, which would give him great confidence heading into Round 2.

Jeremy Howe has been the pick of the Collingwood defenders with his marking ability and skills being shown on the field. Physically he is also looking primed, evident in the way he is running and completing the testing drills. Howe seems to be loving his time at the Pies as well with his positivity and enjoyment showcased at training.

Others to look out for this season at the Pies are Darcy Moore and Steele Sidebottom, who have looked good on the training track.

Next up is Carlton. Carlton have several players looking good for the season, although the depth of their best 22 is their biggest worry. The biggest difference in Carlton’s training compared to Collingwood’s and Richmond’s was their ball movement, which was slow due to skill errors.

Glimpses of good footy were put on show at Prince’s Park, however, which should give them confidence for some good improvement in 2020.

Jacob Weitering was the stand-out and Carlton fans can expect to see more of what they saw in Round 1, when he kept Tom Lynch goalless. In last Wednesday’s big-match simulation hit-out before the upcoming round, Wietering was the most impressive player on the field, taking several contested marks in the back half of the ground.

Alongside him was Sam Petrevski-Seton, who also had a strong influence on the game, playing through the back line and midfield. He is certainly another player Carlton fans can expect to have a strong season and become a long-term star of the club. Petrevski-Seton is only 22 years of age and has a strong foundation to go on and have a good AFL career.

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Sam Petrevski-Seton AFL Carlton Blues 2017

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Carlton captain Patrick Cripps looks as determined as ever this season to lead the club to a big season. In one of Carlton’s match simulation hit-outs over the season break, Cripps turned to both ends of the field in the late stages of the game, imploring his teammates to win the game. In his most recent press conference he mentioned how he wants to play finals footy and “it’s just time for our actions to do the talking”. Look out for a big year from Cripps.

Carlton fans will be excited to see Sam Docherty back again in Round 2. The star defender has continued to showcase his quality at training and looks unaffected from being out of the game with two consecutive knee reconstructions since 2017. Docherty will be a great addition to the side and will lift the Blues in 2020.

Levi Casboult has been impressive in the forward line during Carlton’s match play. He kicked multiple goals in their match simulation last Wednesday and has been their biggest target up forward along with Harry McKay. Expect these two to provide strong options going forward for Carlton this season.

Other players to look out for are Liam Jones, Mitch McGovern, Sam Walsh and Michael Gibbons, who have impressed on the training track.

Lastly I will look at premiership favourites Richmond.

Across the board Richmond look good on the training track. It is difficult to spot too many differences between them and Collingwood and I wouldn’t be surprised if West Coast fall into this category as well.

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The premiership is certainly up for grabs in 2020.

First up for Richmond is Toby Nankervis, who looks as fierce as ever to become a top ruckman of the competition in 2020. He is moving well around the field, executing his skills, winning ruck taps and taking contested marks. Richmond fans can have high hopes for him in 2020.

Defender David Astbury is the pick of the defenders for Richmond. He looks in great condition physically and is holding his skills to a high standard on the training track. Expect him to have a solid season for the Tigers. The team can rely on him.

Despite the recent injury scare, the extra training time for Dustin Martin would have helped him in getting his body primed for the season. He could go to another level this year and win a second Brownlow medal but the question is whether the hunger is still there for him and the Tigers this year.

Martin and his team look just as determined as Collingwood on the training track so there is no doubt they’ll be a challenge for opposition sides this year. Martin has spent a fair bit of time in the forward line at training so expect him to impact the scoreboard.

Shai Bolton did some spectacular things during Richmond’s match simulation last week. He has developed into a good player for Richmond over the years and could become a top player in the competition as a small forward this season. His smarts in the forward half and around goal could even push him into Coleman Medal contention after kicking three goals in Round 1. The new, fast-paced game style in the shorter quarters will also suit him. At the age of 21, he could have a big career ahead of him.

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Other players that fans should expect to do well for the Tigers in 2020 are Dion Prestia, Jason Castagna and Shane Edwards, who look in good shape and have trained strongly.

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