Richmond’s match against Adelaide at the MCG has been moved to Sydney as the AFL scrambles to deal with a looming lockdown in Victoria.
As the season kicks off next week, let’s take a look at five key factors for the Crows and Cats game.
The nearly 31 year old superstar Pat Dangerfield will be looking to kick off his season with a bang.
A long summer endured for him which began with a grand final loss, where he finished with an underwhelming 12 disposals and a goal, disappearing after halftime as Richmond swarmed to victory.
Questions will be asked of the champ, especially entering the twilight of his career, his last few seasons have been great, but how long can he keep at that level for?
Is a 2016 Brownlow season on the cards? Can he and Joel Selwood lead Geelong to a flag before the window shuts? Will has ageing body have an significant impact on his explosive pace and strength?
Out of contract and close to retirement while his club embarks on a rebuild with younger forwards waiting in the wings, Taylor Walker is near 31 years of age.
After a disappointing season last year, individually and for his club, he will be looking to show some signs during this game.
He kicked 15 goals with a 17-game season and shortened quarters, and bagged three against rival Port Adelaide in the AAMI Community Series Match, but hasn’t been at his best for a few season now.
A fit and firing Tex will go a long way to shaping Adelaide’s 2021.
The Crows’ response to last year
The Adelaide Crows had a historic season on 2020, winning their first ever wooden spoon and losing thirteen in a row before winning their first game, against Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval.
They finished with three wins total. In uncharted territory for the club, how the younger players and administration steer the ship will determine the future.
Matthew Nicks, Tim Silvers and others will all have a part to play in turning the tide, along with the assistance of the playing group. A core group of experienced players will have to mentor the next generation back to premiership contention.
Can Geelong bounce back from losing grand final?
The Cats entered the 2020 grand final in great form but were beaten by an outstanding Richmond. Leading at halftime and feeling confident, a resilient Tigers outfit, lead by finals champion Dustin Martin, clawed their way back and won convincingly, creating a classic football dynasty.
More often than not, teams that lose a grand final don’t particularly do well for the next seasons, most struggling to recapture the essence that got them there. How Geelong respond is key, and getting an early win will go a long way.
With Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor retired, and Joel Selwood, Pat Dangerfield and Tom Hawkins winding down, Geelong could either enter a competitive rebuild, finishing around the mark or just below as they make their way back up, or the deep scars from the grand final loss will linger for years to come, wasting away near the bottom.
In recent years, Geelong have done very well at topping up and being in finals consecutively, but 2021 may be the outlier.
The prize recruit from the Giants, Geelong sold a piece of their future, giving away three first round picks to get him down to Simmonds Stadium.
They will be looking for the investment to pay dividends. The two-time All Australian and Coleman Medallist will be determined to be at his best.
Almost 28 and entering the prime of his career, he will be given the keys to the forward fifty as Hawkins will likely enter his last year or two, and the Cats will be hoping for him to provide scoring power and presence up forward.
We know he can be a gun for Geelong, and expectations have been placed on him, being such a talent. How he delivers this season is unknown, but a multiple goal, and teen level disposal game this week will have him in great stride, and could absolutely catapult his form from the start, carrying through the season.