Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans expects the club to contend for a first ever AFL finals appearance next season as he weighs up the future of coach Stuart Dew.
The 2020 AFL season has only a month still to go: the finals.
There’s always a player who looks awful in the home-and-away season but stands up and delivers come finals time. This is the one player from each finals team who is going to exceed exceptions.
Port Adelaide: Peter Ladhams
An underrated player for Port for a while, Ladhams will go under the radar this year’s final series. He can turn a game Port’s way with his high-marking presence and ruck work, not to mention his amazing clearance rate for a ruckman, averaging two clearances a game.
Furthermore, he’ll be Port’s plan B for the forward line if Charlie Dixon is shut down, as Ladhams is a proven forward with an underrated ruck craft to boot. So watch how Ladhams goes in his first finals series. He could cause a stir in opposition coaches boxes.
Brisbane: Jarryd Lyons
This very underrated midfielder and the ex-Sun has proven his worth and will be someone to keep an eye in the finals series if the Lions go deep. Lyons has averaged 21 touches and five clearances a game, which is Patrick Dangerfield territory. Lyons was impressive in last year’s finals, kicking one goal and having over 50 touches in last year’s finals. If he does the same thing this year, he could help the Lions get back to premiership glory.
Richmond: Jason Castagna
Now, I bet you’re thinking: ‘Why Castagna?’. Well, have you forgotten he’s a proven finals specialist for the reigning premiers? He contributing over 25 goals over three finals appearances and should have kicked five in last year’s grand final. He’s a proven finals beast and a sneaky chance to upstage Richmond’s tall forwards. You just watch this Friday night.
Geelong: Zach Tuohy
The ever-reliable Tuohy is an excellent backman and a proven player, but at finals time he will rise to the next level. He has proven it at both Carlton and now Geelong as the general in the halfback line. Just watch as he racks up touch after touch. Furthermore, Tuohy is a proven goalscorer with ice in his veins, scoring clutch majors. Port’s coaching staff need a plan for Tuohy, not Patrick Dangerfield, this week if they want to win.
West Coast: Andrew Gaff
Gaff’s another star midfielder who excelled in the regular season but has limited finals appearances under his belt. Watch him now – he’ll make up for the lost time in 2018 and 2019 and will give the other clubs some great pressure. He averages 24 touches a game and knows how to kick a goal, with five to his name this year, but he could get on a roll during finals time.
Moreover, Gaff can turn it on, so watch how he’ll go in the finals – there’s a chance he’ll lead the charge for the Eagles to be there on the last day in October.
St Kilda: Nick Coffield
The young backman is heavily underrated, but you should look out for him — he’s excelled against all teams as someone who has shut down big forwards. If he gets the go-ahead this week, more than likely he’ll shut down the Dogs forward line.
He averages six marks a season and 15 touches, which is excellent for a backman, and he was almost in All Australian form at one stage this season. Watch this kid have a go at the big time and show his whole worth. Coffield is key to the Saints marching to the grand final.
Western Bulldogs: Josh Dunkley
A goal sneak, Dunkley will surprise most pandits in the finals series. Dunkley is a proven goalscorer who racks up touches, averaging 18 touches a game. He’s also an elite tackler, with six tackles a game, which is perfect for the Dogs game plan for hard and tough footy. Furthermore, he was influential in 2016, so if he sparks that again, he’ll be key to the Dogs pushing deep into the campaign.
Collingwood: Will Hoskin-Elliott
Hoskin-Elliott goes under the radar as a forward for the Pies, but now it’s finals time, he’ll give effort and surprise us. He leads the club in goal assists and has ten goals to his name this season, but he knows how to kick a bag if Jordan de Goey or Mason Cox don’t fire. Furthermore, he’s crucial to the Pies make-up in their forward structure so could surprise a few this finals series.
These are the players who could surprise us this finals series. What do you think, footy fans? Are there other players we should be watching?