THERE’S only one premiership to be won every season and barring something historically insane I don’t think Gold Coast will hoist the cup in 2019. That doesn’t mean the Suns and the other 16 clubs who fall short of a flag can’t get something meaningful out of the new AFL season though. So premiership aside, how can your club be a winner in 2019?
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In 2019 Adelaide needs to: Re-establish a dominant attack
ONE of the trademarks of the 2017 Adelaide Crows was their potent attack and ability to score big point totals. After averaging a league-best 109.7 points a contest that year, Adelaide came crashing back to mediocrity in 2018, scoring just over 88 points a game. If they want to return to the top-8 it starts and ends with their skipper, Taylor Walker who only managed 14 games and 26 majors last year, his worst output in five years. With Eddie Betts not getting any younger and Mitch McGovern opting to join Carlton the pressure will be on Tex to stand up and kick 40-50 goals.
In 2019 Brisbane needs to: Turn ‘The Gabba’ into a fortress
BRISBANE is the sexy pick for turnaround team in 2019, after a promising campaign last year. While five wins doesn’t scream ‘up and comer’ the Lions took a step forward in 2018 and if they want to keep trending upwards, they need to make their home ground one that other clubs dread playing at. Last season Brisbane was just 2-9 at ‘The Gabba’ and if they can bring that win-loss number close to 50% then naturally they will climb up the ladder.
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In 2019 Carlton needs to: Stop the bleeding
IT starts by kicking a winning score, but Carlton can’t afford to suffer another season of heavy losses. Of their 20 L’s last year, nine of them were by 50 points or more and three of those were by triple figures. While a bunch of individuals stood out last year, a unified response will be necessary for the Navy Blues, who can’t afford to let a 20-30 point loss be compounded and turn ugly. If the blowouts continue there’s a real possibility that it’ll cost Brendon Bolton his job.
In 2019 Collingwood needs to: Turn Darcy Moore into a key defender
WITH a somewhat surprising run to the Grand Final last season, Collingwood’s real 2019 goal will be to go one step further. To achieve that, they’ll need to unearth another key defender after missing out on the Steven May sweepstakes. The likes of Lynden Dunn and Tyson Goldsack can’t be relied upon to stop some of the competition’s best forwards, but after battling injury issues the versatile Darcy Moore can help solve their conundrum. Buckley did a great job of getting the Pies to by into a team orientated defensive structure last season, but Moore could be the final cog in a flag winning squad if everything goes right.
In 2019 Essendon needs to: Win a final
IN my eyes a top-4 finish is well within reach for the Bombers, but the last thing you want to do is start thinking about a double chance in January. With just four lacklustre finals appearances in the last 15 season (0 wins), the time for Essendon to make their surge is now. Qualifying for the finals would be nice for a team who has struggled on and off the field in recent years, but if they really want to make 2019 worthwhile, they’ve got to find a way to win in September.
In 2019 Fremantle needs to: Get Nat Fyfe’s body right
WHILE all eyes will be on Jesse Hogan and his presence in front of the sticks, Fremantle’s success this year will hinge on Fyfe’s availability. Some of his absences are through suspensions, but the fact that Fyfe has never managed to play a full slate of footy in his nine pro seasons is alarming. The absence of Lachie Neale will be softened by the likes of Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Bailey Banfield taking another step in their development, but Freo needs their captain on the park to provide the grunt in their engine room.
In 2019 Geelong needs to: Get help from the middle-tier
ANYONE with two eyes can clearly see the crème de la crème of Geelong’s list is on their last legs. With the exception of Patrick Dangerfield (who already has 232 games of knocks and bruises under his belt), most of the Cats’ stars are in their 30’s and in the twilight of their careers. Therefore, if the finals and ultimately a premiership is going to be achieved in Geelong, then their second-tier talent will have to step up and deliver. That includes offseason additions Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus, who along with the likes of Cam Guthrie, Sam Menegola and Mark Blicavs must perform for the Cats to reach their 2019 ceiling.
Gold Coast Suns
In 2019 Gold Coast needs to: Build a winning culture
THE good news about hitting rock-bottom is there’s only one way to go. After a brutal offseason in which the Suns’ list was gutted, hopes aren’t high for the club’s win-loss record in 2019. However, something they can achieve in the next calendar year is instilling a culture at the club that will see them turn things around. It’s easier said than done, with some clubs battling to capture that ‘winning attitude’ for decades. However, now the proud owners of some electrifying young talent, Stuart Dew and his men can put a blueprint in place this season that will see them become a powerhouse in the years to come.
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Greater Western Sydney
In 2019 GWS needs to: Avoid the injury bug
IT sounds obvious and impossible to overcome, but a few key injuries could very quickly derail the Giants’ season. While a lack of able bodies has been a problem in the past it could become a disaster for their flag aspirations if injuries strike, especially after losing the likes Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully, Will Setterfield and Rory Lobb. They still have depth across the board, but nowhere nearly as much as they have in years past, which makes the health of their stars more important than ever. Now would be the perfect time for a Brownlow worthy season from Josh Kelly as well, just saying.
In 2019 Hawthorn needs to: Turn Chad Wingard into Cyril Rioli 2.0
THE football community seems to be divided over what position Chad Wingard should play for Hawthorn after making the jump in the offseason. Personally, I think Wingard is one of the rare versatile talents who can be plugged in wherever you may need him, much like retired former Hawk Cyril Rioli. Wingard’s presence in front of the sticks would be a nice addition, but letting him loose to roam around on a wing/half-forward line like Rioli in the past could be the best way to utilise the Hawks new weapon.
In 2019 Melbourne needs to: Finish in the top-4
THIS is the year that Melbourne can finally put it all together and I consider them as a genuine premiership contender. They nailed the offseason by adding some experience to their backline in Kade Kolodjashnij and Steven May, albeit while losing Jesse Hogan up forward. However, the growth of Sam Wiederman leaves some to believe they’ll overcome Hogan’s absence and push toward the top of the table. After making a preliminary final last season, the Demons are more than capable of securing a home prelim this season and potentially end their fans (and Nathan Jones’) long time suffering.
North Melbourne Kangaroos
In 2019 North Melbourne needs to: Finally land a big fish
AFTER missing out on the signatures of Dustin Martin and Andrew Gaff in recent seasons, North Melbourne has got to find a way to secure a superstar. No disrespect to the rest of their list, especially after some solid offseason moves, but the Roos could push their way into premiership contention by signing a big free agent next summer. It starts with a good audition on the field and considering the depth at North, they should produce another 10-ish win season. David Swallow or Stephen Coniglio would be nice consolation prizes, but let’s be honest it’s Josh Kelly or bust for North, who should offer a god-like deal that Kelly can’t turn his back on.
Port Adelaide Power
In 2019 Port Adelaide needs to: Get more out of their 2018 recruits
THERE might not be a club under pressure more than the Power next season. The big splashy 2018 additions were meant to help turn the clubs’ fortunes around, but instead, most of them were a severe disappointment. Steven Motlop was inconsistent, Tom Rockliff looked like a shell of himself and Jack Watts failed to fire, which led to him being dumped in the second half of the year to the reserves. Another busy trade period saw Jared Polec, Jaspar Pittard and Chad Wingard all depart, which means if there is any hope for Ken Hinkley and Port, their previous investments need to start paying off.
In 2019 Richmond needs to: Maintain their high-octane style of play
A manic Richmond attack based around their small forwards impacting the game was a key tactic that saw the Tigers claim the 2017 premiership. While such an aggressive, fast-paced style of play is hard to sustain over multiple seasons, if Richmond manages to do so there’s no reason why they can’t win another flag. The addition of Tom Lynch and (arguably) a career-year from Jack Riewoldt adds another string to their already impressive bow. If they can find a way to trap their ball inside 50 and generate multiple entries, the other 17 teams might be doomed.
St Kilda Saints
In 2019 St Kilda needs to: Save Alan Richardson
THIS is a make or break season for Alan Richardson. Period. Since missing out on the finals by percentage points in 2016, St Kilda has been trending downwards, with no end to their despair in sight. This might sound bleak, but I don’t see a bunch of match-winning talent on their roster, which means Richo faces a daunting task in 2019. I hope he proves me wrong and instead of slumping into the bottom-4, pushes the Saints up the ladder with a healthy Dan Hannebery and Max King looking like the new Nick Riewoldt. I’m not buying it though.
In 2019 Sydney needs to: Lean on youth to keep their streak alive
WITH the likes of Jarrad McVeigh and Kieran Jack close to bowing out, Sydney’s youth holds the key to their 2019 success. Annoyingly, the Swans are geniuses when it comes to finding impactful young players, with Will Hayward, Aliir Aliir, George Hewett, Callum Mills and Isaac Heeney all now crucial members of Sydney’s best 22. Leaning on their youth and inexperience could put their streak of nine consecutive seasons finishing inside the top-8 in jeopardy. Should their youngster’s fire though, Sydney can push that streak into double digits.
West Coast Eagles
In 2019 West Coast needs to: Find Josh Kennedy’s successor
IN my eyes further injuries to Josh Kennedy would be the one disaster that could halt the reigning premiers. Sure, Liam Ryan and Willie Rioli are agile threats in front of the sticks and Jack Darling is capable of kicking a bag, but Kennedy is a talent of a whole other breed. There’s every chance that Jake Waterman, Josh Brander and/or Oscar Allen put their hands up as the key forward of the future, which would allow Darling to roam around up the ground where he excelled earlier in the 2018 season. If that happens there’s no reason why West Coast can’t build a dynasty over the next five years, but Kennedy isn’t getting any younger and neither is his body.
In 2019 the Western Bulldogs need to: Unleash Marcus Bontempelli
AT the age of just 23, Marcus Bontempelli could hang his boots up with more accolades than most players achieve over a 15-year career. However, a player with such game-changing ability still seems capable of more and there’s no reason why the Bont can’t one day become the best player in the game. We saw Patrick Cripps explode in 2018 and Bontempelli can put his hat in the Brownlow ring if he is let off the chain this year. For that to happen, the Bulldogs will need support from Jason Johannisen, Mitch Wallis, Caleb Daniel and new recruits Sam Lloyd and Taylor Duryea. If they can all pull their weight, forcing opponents to stay accountable for their man, the skies the limit in 2019 for Bontempelli.
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