AFL season 2015 Predictions: parts iv-vi

The continuation from Parts i-iii – here are the rest of my 2015 AFL predictions – check out www.sportsmash.com.au for more.

2015 predictions – Part IV

‘Why’d ya have to go and do it, Allen?’ This was the overwhelming sentiment of every Geelong supporter after his departure. There are still many unanswered questions on the issue but it appears Allen is content to leave us shrouded in mystery. His addition to the Lions’ list, along with Dayne Beams, illustrates that football karma is very much alive and well. Football karma seemed to hit the Bulldogs the hardest after their brutal sacking of Brendan McCarthy did nothing to alleviate Griffen and Cooney’s grievances with the club. They are one of several clubs who simply will not and cannot play finals this season.

Alternatively, Brisbane is a year away from a season that might return them to September. They’ve had some dark years since their horrible decision to recruit Brendan Fevola maimed their club to the point of near civil war. Rome was not built in a day, though it crumbled in an instance. That’s a pretty fair summation of the situation that sits on their doorstep. I remember a former colleague of mine declared that Brisbane was practically unbeatable in 2009 after 4 rounds. They imploded and became a basket case. That is why I am so cautious as to anoint the resurrection of this once great club. They’ve recruited two stars, don’t get me wrong and they join Rockcliff, Redden and Aish in a dangerous midfield, however they still have major deficiencies that need immediate attention. The return of Rich and Leuenberger is pivotal, however who is going to kick their goals with the great J Brown’s departure? Michael Close and Jonathan Freeman are both very young, but Brisbane desperately requires rapid development from both to threaten. A year away. Watch out for Tom Cutler. 12th.

Allen Christensen. Is he one of the two key recruits that will see Brisbane jump into finals calculations this season?

Heading down to the city of churches where much of the population are aghast at the fact that the bloody working class boys from Alberton are soaring whilst the Camry Crows can barely hold onto their best players. Patrick Dangerfield will leave if they don’t show vast improvement, and although I doubt Rory Sloane would do the same, you never know. Sanderson was forced out on the back of Mark Ricciuto’s frustration at the stagnating development of the club. Taylor Walker as captain is an inspired choice and along with the blossoming Brodie Smith and the two Crouch lads, there are some good signs. Star defender Daniel Talia was right to call on a greater contribution from the young players at the club when you look at their list. It doesn’t run deep enough once you get past the top 6 to 8. Minus Sloane, Dangerfield and Betts, where are the game changers? 13th.

Will he stay or will he go?

After Liberatore went down, I altered my predictions quite dramatically. I know one man doesn’t maketh the team, but the kid is a potential Brownlow medalist. He is that good. So alike Eric McKenzie and the Eagles, I’ve pushed the Bulldogs into bottom 4 territory. I believe that this will be the year that Greater Western Sydney will escape the clutches of the bottom 4 and win 8 games. A fit Jeremy Cameron, a rejuvenated Ryan Griffen and another year of experience into the gifted midfield quartet of Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio, Lachie Whitfield and Josh Kelly sees them in reasonable stead. The improvement has to come from the kids, and they’ve got talent to burn. This is why the recruitment of Griffen is so crucial. He’s an out and out star of the game and a former captain, albeit reluctantly. There is no doubt that GWS have a great bunch of kids, but a number of them, including Toby Greene and Devon Smith lack discipline. Great players and good leaders will help GWS run out more games and upsets will occur.

Ladder thus far:

Port Adelaide
Sydney
Hawthorn
Geelong
Kangaroos
Gold Coast
Fremantle
Collingwood

——————————-

West Coast
Richmond
Essendon* (pending ASADA bans)
Brisbane
Adelaide
Greater Western Sydney

2015 Predictions – Part V 

There are figures in the game that never seem to disappear. The appointment of Kevin Sheedy in the nonsensical ‘Godfather’ role at Essendon has left me convinced that both:

  1. Essendon has lost the plot completely and,
  2. Kevin Sheedy will never die, he’ll only rest in his coffin until another new club starts up or Essendon has another disturbing run with one of those bewildering substances.

The other figure that will seemingly never depart is the great Michael Malthouse. We all know the story; Malthouse is a three-time premiership coach-cum-grumpy old man. I am asserting that Mick’s 31st year at the helm will be his last. No disrespect to the great man though, he’s emerged from adversity before at Collingwood and West Coast, however there’s something about Carlton that is unsettling. 21 players have been turned over or traded since the end of 2013 and yet it still seems that the master tactician is out of answers.

Kristian Jaksch will be an invaluable recruit, and Liam Jones has also been added to fill their key position requirements, however where is the stability and the structure? Andrejs Everitt came 7th in their best and fairest, Casboult still couldn’t hit a barnyard door from twenty metres and Chris Judd is not the superstar he once was. I fear Dale Thomas might be in the same boat too, however I’ve heard he has had a very strong preseason. Will Henderson be the flip player that Waite became in the peak of his career? It hurt Waite’s career progression and for someone as capable of Henderson, he really needs stability. Kruezer has gone down again and apparently Matthew Watson is now a key forward? Weird times at Princes’ Park. We all know how good Murphy, Gibbs, Judd and Simpson are, but I don’t have a lot of faith in the second and third tiers. 15th.

Gun recruit Dale Thomas needs to recapture his 2010/11 form for Carlton to be a finals chance.

As I previously mentioned, Liberatore’s knee injury is devastating for a club looking for a fresh start. The Western Bulldogs have lost a wealth of experience in the departure of Adam Cooney, Ryan Griffen and silver fox Daniel Giansiracusa. However, losing their future captain and best and fairest winner in the NAB Cup is arguably more heart wrenching for new coach Luke Beveridge and the perennially unlucky Bulldogs. Nonetheless, hope springs eternal and Tom Boyd has arrived, a move that has left most of the competition wondering whether he can live up to the massive pressure… and massive price tag. I like the Bulldogs’ list. Macrae is exceptional, Luke Dahlhaus is an enigma and Bontempelli is a freak, but the problem is that in losing their experience and leadership, the gap between their youth and their veterans is wide. They’ll be an exciting team to watch, but I think they’ll finish 16th.

The second coming of Libba will have to rest for another year. On the verge of entering the top tier of players in the competition, Liberatore’s knee injury is devastating for Bulldogs’ fans.

Now we come to the final two. Melbourne and St Kilda. Melbourne is still a long way off and Roos knows it. He’s got some decent cattle. Dom Tyson is quality and they’ve had another good draft, but they are so young and some of their recruiting from other clubs is interesting. A front runner from Carlton by the name of Jeffery Garlett brings in a 30 goal a season small forward but he is a frustrating player to watch when the team is losing. Don’t get me started on the Prince Lumumba. If he concentrates on his footy and forgets that Melbourne is the most right-wing club in the competition, he might be a decent asset. The most exciting debut since Jack Watts was thrown to the wolves for ticket sales is that of Jesse Hogan. I hope he gives the Dees something to cheer about because otherwise it all looks pretty bleak.

Rising cult hero Jesse Hogan. Is he the second coming of Schwarz (minus the knee injuries) or the second coming of Watts?

St Kilda is rebuilding and it will be an arduous task for Alan Richardson, Matt Finnis and the team. It is in the results of the best and fairest that the most telling and damning fact comes to light. Nick Riewoldt won his 6th Trevor Barker Award (and deservedly so) and Lenny Hayes, who played on one leg for most of his final year, came 2nd. They have invested heavily in youth and with four rookie elevations occurring and the drafting of Paddy McCartin at pick one suggests they’ve placed finding a strong replacement for Nick Riewoldt at a premium. St Kilda has been in this position before where they wallow in the bottom 4 for years and years before catapulting up the ladder. It is going to be another long stay at the bottom due to Lyon’s reckless win-at-all-costs mantra and a long losing culture.

2015 Ladder prediction:

Port Adelaide

Sydney

Hawthorn

Geelong

Kangaroos

Gold Coast

Fremantle

Collingwood

————————————

West Coast

Richmond

Essendon* (pending ASADA investigation results)

Brisbane

Adelaide

Greater Western Sydney

Carlton

Western Bulldogs

Melbourne

St Kilda

2015 Predictions – Part VI 

Premiership?

Port Adelaide. Hawthorn and Port Adelaide will play off in a classic. The reason I cannot tip Hawthorn for the premiership is that three in a row is nigh on impossible. Port Adelaide is ready to lift the cup and although Sydney and Hawthorn are both supremely gifted football sides, Port’s excellence and X-factor are too strong for me to ignore.

Touch it.

Brownlow Medal?

Nathan Fyfe. Fyfe is an electric dynamo. He is ferocious in the contest, uses the ball well and is extremely dangerous in the air. He is the complete footballer and after his ineligibility probably cost him the Charlie last year, he will make amends and win by two votes over Dyson Heppell, Gary Ablett Jnr, Robbie Gray and perennial top 5 finisher, Joel Selwood. 

Rising Star?

We won’t hear the end of this matter if Issac Heeney does what won’t surprise many and figures in the calculations, however I’m going to look back on history at how the Rising Stars have crafted their way to the award. Last season Lewis Taylor did on the back of 22 weeks of extremely solid, workmanlike football. The Rising Stars, as expected, usually have a football ready body from the word go. We’ve seen it in Dyson Heppell, Jaegar O’Meara and Daniel Rich in recent years and as far back as inaugural winner Nathan Buckley and Ben Cousins in the past. That’s why this year I suspect Jesse Hogan will poll strongly. Using the same logic, Matthew Crouch and Nakia Cockatoo are genuine chances, however the latter is still very raw. After considering all of these genuine contenders, I have been moved by the preseason whispers about Nathan Freeman (COLL) and believe he has the size, speed and capability to win this year’s award.

Nathan Freeman: 2015 Rising Star?

Big improvers?

Cameron Guthrie (GEEL), Reece Conca (RICH), Matt Taberner (FREO), Jesse Lonergan (GCS) and Jimmy ‘The Toump’ Toumpas (MELB).

Biggest headline?

After more than two years of speculation, James Hird is finally sacked as coach of the Essendon Football Club and we can all put this ridiculous saga behind us. Unfortunately for the Bombers, they need to put this behind them and wipe the slate clean. Hird made a grave error and although it is far from black and white in regard to legality, he was the coach during a period when they made a choice that has been deemed to be reckless and potentially illegal.

Unfortunately for those who enjoy a lager from the footy, alcohol prices will stay consistent with those seen in Switzerland… at half the strength. 

Biggest Barnacle?

After writing this article, probably me in precisely 25 weeks time. If Gold Coast doesn’t make the finals, the Gold Coast hierarchy might be reassessing their dramatic decision to axe Guy McKenna. My hope of the rules committee acknowledging that the sub rule is blatantly going against every positive development the game has made in the past 50 years will be shot down yet again by those sitting in their comfy chairs as they attempt to justify the dollars coming into their bank account.

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