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Opinion

Each club's state of affairs before the AFL restart: Part 6

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Roar Guru
10th June, 2020
1

Here’s how the Sydney Swans, West Coast Eagles and Western Bulldogs are shaping up ahead of the restart.

Sydney Swans

The five most talented players
5. Lance Franklin kicked the third most goals for the Sydney Swans in 2019. Franklin did that having played just ten games, with an average 2.7 goals per game. He’ll hopefully be back towards finals time in 2020, as he is currently unavailable due to a hamstring injury.
4. Dane Rampe has the capability to play his role for the team. Rampe is a player that predominantly plays to his optimum level.
3. Luke Parker has heaps of talent as shown in Round 1 of 2020 where he was outstanding.
2. Isaac Heeney displayed how much quality he has in Round 1 of 2020 against Adelaide where he kicked four goals. He is a match-winner.
1. Tom Papley showed the enormity of his talent in the State of Origin bushfire relief game when he kicked five goals. Papley was the Sydney Swans’ leading goal-kicker in the 2019 season.

Tom Papley

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Honourable mention
Oliver Florent has the capability of being a highly regarded player if he performs to his potential.

Most adaptable player
The Sydney Swans are spoilt for choice in this department. There’s a lot of players that can rotate through the midfield or on a wing, or a position up forward. Oliver Florent can play on a wing or in the forward line. So can Isaac Heeney. The most versatile player would have to be Jordan Dawson, who can play in the midfield on a half forward flank or even a halfback flank if needed.

Who needs to lift?
Harry Cunningham and Nick Blakey need to prove that they deserve to be a permanent part of the Sydney Swans’ best 22.

What has to alter?
Nick Blakey should play in defence as he would create plenty of run out of defence. Aliir Aliir should be the second ruckman, whenever Sam Naismith needs a rest. Aliir should play predominantly as a forward that plays a defensive forward role by stopping the opposition’s best running defender.

West Coast Eagles

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The five most talented players
5. Brad Sheppard is a player that has the ability to be in the 2020 AFL All Australian team.
4. Luke Shuey is a player with immense talent. Shuey will be pivotal to the West Coast Eagles’ fortunes in 2020, with regards to where they finish on the AFL ladder.
3. Tim Kelly was in the AFL All Australian team for 2019 on a wing. That says it all as far as how capable Kelly is. He will prove to be a valuable acquisition for the West Coast Eagles.
2. Jeremy McGovern is possibly the key defender with the most ability in the competition.
1. Andrew Gaff is arguably the most talented player in the competition as he has the potential to be regarded as one of the best players in the game. Gaff deserved to be in the 2019 AFL Australian team.

Honourable mentions
Nic Naitanui is a player with natural talent, but it’s difficult for him to display that talent as he is injury prone. Dom Sheed has the capability to kick goals. Sheed displayed this in Round 1 when he not only won plenty of the ball, he kicked two goals.

Most adaptable player
Jeremy McGovern can play centre halfback or up forward if needed.

Who needs to lift?
Jack Redden needs to be more consistent, while Josh Kennedy needs to prove that he still belongs at the top level.

What has to alter?
Based on Round 1, not much. Mind you, their opposition in Melbourne failed to turn up. West Coast only won the game by 27 points, when they should have won by more. For one, Andrew Gaff should start in the centre of the ground and play there all the time instead of predominantly on a wing. Nathan Vardy should come into the team as a second ruckman and a key forward as he would be an asset to any team. Nic Naitanui should play less game time in order to prevent him from missing games through injury.

Nic Naitanui

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs

The five most talented players
5. Josh Bruce is a player that can be an asset for the Western Bulldogs if he can play at his optimum level in 2020.
4. Josh Dunkley is a player that was selected in the 2019 AFL All Australian squad of 40.
3. Lachie Hunter is a player who has immense talent. He is suspended for the next four games, but will show how talented he is for the remainder of the 2020 when he is back playing footy.
2. Jack Macrae was named in the 2019 AFL All Australian on the interchange for a reason: because he is extremely talented. Macrae stood up when the majority of the rest of the Western Bulldogs team were deplorable in the Western Bulldogs’ Round 1 game against Collingwood.
1. Marcus Bontempelli is widely regarded as the most talented player in the Western Bulldogs team.

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Honourable mention
Patrick Lipinski deserves to be in the Western Bulldogs’ best 22 every round. Lipinski is a player that’s capable of becoming a permanent part of the midfield.

Most adaptable player
Calab Daniel can play in the midfield or off a halfback flank, wherever he is needed.

Who needs to lift?
Josh Bruce needs to improve as the Western Bulldogs need him fit and firing. Alex Keath, Zaine Cordy and Easton Wood have to better their performance in Round 1 of 2020 as they were obliterated by Collingwood. Bailey Dale’s display against Collingwood was unacceptable. So was Sam Lloyd’s paltry effort.

What has to alter?
The team selection needs a bit of a tweak if Round 1 of 2020 was any indication.

Aaron Naughton should play in defence.

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Mitch Wallis should be a permanent part of the Western Bulldogs’ midfield.

Jackson Trengove should be the second ruckman to give Tim English a rest.

The Western Bulldogs should consider a number of other changes. Even putting Josh Bruce in defence from time to time wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Alex Keath should play as centre half forward, while Josh Schache should play up forward in every game that he is fit and available for.

Tory Dickson should also be in the Western Bulldogs’ best 22 along with Ryan Gardner, Ed Richards, Toby McLean and last but not least Patrick Lipinski.

When Taylor Duryea is fit and available, he should play in defence, which would allow Caleb Daniel and Hayden Crozier to be on the wing.

The Western Bulldogs need to get the ball in the hands of Matthew Suckling as often as possible.

When Lachie Hunter returns from suspension, he should be in the middle of the ground instead of Marcus Bontempelli and not on a wing. Hunter would benefit from playing in the midfield.

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Jack Macrae should be made co-captain with Marcus Bontempelli as Macrae is humble and a good role model to the other players.