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Opinion

Each AFL team's burning question for season 2021

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Roar Guru
15th March, 2021
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Without questions being asked, there isn’t any way of evolving and adapting to improve. No team is perfect, so here’s an interesting exercise: what’s the burning question for each AFL team in season 2021?

Adelaide Crows: Will Matthew Nicks make it as a coach?
The Crows only won three games in season 2020. Hopefully, it works out, because they would be aiming to have a better season than season 2020.

They showed some promising signs late in the season, but in season 2021 it’s crunch time. Let’s hope Matthew Nicks is the man to steady the ship.

Brisbane Lions: What impact will the addition of Joe Daniher and the Stefan Martin trade have?
Joe Daniher will take the pressure off Eric Hipwood. The biggest issue is whether Daniher will stay injury-free and he may have to be rested. The loss of Martin will mean that Daniher will most probably play as a second ruck. The pressure will be on Oscar McInerney, too, as he will be the No. 1 ruckman for the Lions in season 2021.

Carlton Blues: Is it worth re-signing Patrick Cripps?
Patrick Cripps finished ninth in the Blues best and fairest in season 2020. The question isn’t whether he is a player worth re-signing based on his ability.

He should get offers from other teams, but whether Carlton matches those offers or trade him puts them in a difficult predicament; it’s a tough decision given he has a leadership position, but there’s no sentiment in decision-making in sport.

Patrick Cripps

Patrick Cripps (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Collingwood Magpies: How big a loss will Tom Phillips and Adam Treloar turn out to be?
The fact that Collingwood traded two quality midfielders may come back to haunt them. There was also the loss of Jaidyn Stephenson to North Melbourne Kangaroos, who could’ve played on the wing and up forward in season 2021.

Essendon Bombers: Will the succession plan work?
There was a succession plan put in place where John Worsfold sat on the boundary line, with Ben Rutten sitting in the box, in season 2020. The pressure should be on the club as a whole as their choice of a succession plan was a fairly unique one.

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It appeared to be a smooth transition, but the pressure is on in season 2021 for Rutten to have them competing for a top-eight spot.

Fremantle Dockers: Will the Dockers make the top-eight?
The Dockers need to make the finals in season 2021. Their fans have been starved of finals since 2015, everyone a part of the football club should be hungry for success. They need to improve on their last few years.

From adversity comes strength, but the AFL is of a high standard, so they’ll have to improve on season 2020 to play finals in season 2021.

Geelong Cats: Do the Cats need to move the magnets around?
The fact of the matter is that Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield have always been quality players, but should Sam Menegola be thrown into the midfield, along with Mitch Duncan and Shaun Higgins, he can even pinch-hit in the middle of the ground.

Gold Coast Suns: Are the Gold Coast Suns worthy of being a part of the AFL?
Without a doubt, they have plenty to offer and they have a coach in Stuart Dew who has the potential to become a good coach. They need to start winning and playing finals – it’s as simple as that.

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In order to grow their brand, they need some success. They have players with plenty of potential, but they have never played finals in their history!

Greater Western Sydney Giants: Do they rely on too few to get the job done?
They need to prove that they can win without the likes of Lachie Whitfield having an impact. In the ruck, they recruited Braydon Preuss to be their No. 1 ruckman, but unfortunately, will be without him. Their stocks are low.

Lachie Whitfield of the GWS Giants carries the ball.

Lachie Whitfield. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Nick Haynes can’t do everything in defence, with the absence of Lachie Whitfield for the first part of the season. They will have a different look to their forward line with Jeremy Cameron leaving to the Cats. The likes of Tim Taranto need other players to play their role as he works extremely hard.

Hawthorn Hawks: What mode are the Hawks in – are they regenerating or aiming to play finals?
The Hawks have recruited Kyle Hartigan from the Crows and Tom Phillips from the Magpies. Those two recruits perhaps vindicate that they are looking to play finals as they are two players in the prime of their respective careers.

Melbourne Demons: Was it worth recruiting Ben Brown and does Max Gawn need some help in the ruck?
There’s no doubt that recruiting Ben Brown was probably the wrong move. First of all, he is injured. Second of all, they should’ve recruited someone who was cheaper.

There’s no doubt that Max Gawn needs someone to give him a rest, because the Demons can’t afford him to be injured.

Max Gawn of the Demons celebrates a goal

Max Gawn (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

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North Melbourne Kangaroos: Will they be pushing for the wooden spoon again?
First of all, they may need a change of captain as Jack Ziebell shouldn’t be the player to lead them forward, as he was extremely injury prone in season 2020, playing just eight games. Do they have the cattle to build a good culture?

It’s not all about winning for them, they need to prove that the likes of Nick Larkey can live up to their potential.

Port Adelaide Power: Was signing Ken Hinkley the right decision?
The re-signing of Ken Hinkley must have been based on where the Power finished on the ladder in season 2020. There are still questions to be asked.

They have made the top-eight in four of the eight seasons that Hinkley has been coach of their team. He has a winning record of 57.87 per cent, which is a respectable figure.

Richmond Tigers: Have the Tigers done enough to regenerate?
The Tigers may think they are a chance of winning the premiership in season 2021 if their potential best 22 is anything to go by. There’s no doubt that they don’t have any players who will bring youthful exuberance to be a pivotal part of their best 22.

They can’t have the likes of Jayden Short and Dustin Martin bail them out as they did in the 2020 grand final. The likes of Dylan Grimes, Trent Cotchin and Jack Riewoldt should be rested in order for the team to play to its optimum level.

St Kilda Saints: Will Brett Ratten be the best coach never to coach a premiership?
There’s no doubt that Ratten did a good job in getting the Saints into the finals and they defeated the Western Bulldogs in a tight game in their first final in a long time in season 2020, but can they give Ratten the Premiership that he deserves?

It’s not all about winning premierships, but it seems to be the be-all and end-all as far as coaches and players are judged in footy, from what warrants determining whether someone or a team is successful or not.

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Sydney Swans: Will the Swans deliver on their potential?
They have so many players who are young, with plenty of potential. They also have players in the prime of their career – the likes of Tom Papley.

Sydney have some good utility players, with the likes of Harry Cunningham, Jordan Dawson and Callum Mills capable of playing different roles. They appear a team with a good blend of youth and experience.

West Coast Eagles: Should the Eagles be contenders?
The Eagles lost to the Magpies in the first final of season 2020. They need to be more ruthless and they will be looking to work on their deficiencies. A lot of their defensive level revolves around Jeremy McGovern being fit.

At the other end of the field, Josh Kennedy is coming towards the end of his career. The question has to be asked: are they capable of getting back into Premiership contention?

Western Bulldogs: Win, lose or draw, is Luke Beveridge’s system the best to watch?
They are a team that’s never scared to take risks and attack. They have incredible depth in their midfield and play an attractive style of football.

Whether that will transfer into them being regarded as contenders is irrelevant – they play some outstanding football and could become everyone’s second favourite team!

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