THE lead up to the AFL Draft can be a slow process. The trade period is in the rear vision mirror and teams are making minor list moves to keep hardcore fans interested. In the lead up to the annual player selection period and with plenty of mysteries that still need solving, I scoured the net to find a pressing question for each club during the month of November.
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Adelaide Crows – Will they appoint a new football manager?
AN eyebrow-raising offseason continues to baffle those outside the four walls at West Lakes with a number of key personnel from the front office and the playing group departing. Adelaide CEO Andrew Fagan has said they don’t feel any rush to fill the vacant and crucial position of football manager and there’s a real chance that the Crows don’t appoint someone until after the draft. It would be wise to slot someone into the role as soon as possible, but that ‘soon as possible’ might not eventuate until the last month of 2019.
Brisbane Lions – With Matt Eagles and Archie Smith gone, will the Lions target tall-timber in the Draft?
MOVING on from Matt Eagles is understandable, but delisting Archie Smith particularly surprised me. Brisbane has just three players now who stand over two metres tall with AFL experience in Oscar McInerney, Eric Hipwood and Harris Andrew. That trio is a pretty good group to have, but you wonder if the Lions will chase some other tall-timber to strengthen their depth across the list. Raw big men Sam De Koning, Luke Jackson and/or Callum Jamieson could be in the mix for one of Brisbane’s first draft picks.
Carlton Blues – Will Sam Docherty get the green light?
ALL signs point to Sam Docherty making a highly-anticipated return from consecutive ACL tears next season. The Blues co-captain hasn’t played an AFL game since 2017 and after dropping 4-6kgs of upper body weight, Doc has his sights set on playing during the pre-season this year. He and one of Carlton’s physios are heading to Philadelphia to see world-renowned knee specialist Bill Knowles as he clears the final few hurdles in his rehab. The Blues built some momentum with the second half of their 2019 season and getting a healthy Docherty back into the mix would be another huge bonus to aid the club’s climb up the ladder.
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Collingwood Magpies – Should they swallow their pride and just re-sign Brodie Grundy?
IT would make sense to pay the best ruckman in the league (sorry Max) a large sum of money to keep him at your club, right? The dollar amount of Brodie Grundy’s new contract doesn’t seem to be the issue holding up an extension, with the Collingwood giant and his camp not too pleased with the proposed length of the deal. After watching Tom Lynch last year and Stephen Coniglio just a few months ago sign seven-year extensions, that’s exactly what Grundy desires, however, the Pies are only willing to offer a three-year contract at this stage. It would be in Collingwood’s best interest to up the ante and meet the big man’s demands. Will they pony up and give Grundy what he wants?
Essendon Bombers – How long will Joe Daniher’s botched trade dictate the headlines?
12 months from now it seems like we’ll be looking at Joe Daniher in Swans colours, but for the 2020 season at least he’ll remain a Bomber. After a challenging trade period in which Essendon fought hard to keep the key forward in red and black, they’re now faced with the prospect of an awkward situation between Daniher and the club. It appears like Daniher’s failed trade request will be ‘water under the bridge’ for both parties as they try to stay professional and hit the ground running in the pre-season. Before too long we’ll know if the cloud hanging over Daniher and his future with the Bombers will drench their season or if some sunlight will manage to peep through.
Fremantle Dockers – How will Justin Longmuir fill out the rest of his staff?
JUSTIN Longmuir’s presence as the new head coach for the Dockers is set to breath fresh life into the purple army. Along with Simon Garlick, Fremantle is preparing for the next chapter in the clubs history, but there are still T’s to cross and I’s to dot. Josh Carr has already been named as a new member of Longmuir’s staff, with the future of other assistants such as David Hale and Anthony Rock still murky. With the draft fast approaching Longmuir and Freo may choose to stick with a large bulk of their current coaches, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was still a staffing change or two up their sleeve.
Geelong Cats – Was dumping Lachie Henderson the right call?
PLAYING in just 54 games over a four-year span, including just 13 in the last two seasons all but sealed Lachie Henderson’s fate. His delisting was further fueled by Geelong successfully landing Josh Jenkins in the trade period and the development Jake Kolodjashnij showed in 2019, missing just one game all year. The former Lion and Blue in Henderson could still garner interest from a fourth AFL club in an effort to continue his career, but I still think keeping him for at least some depth on their list was the way to go for Geelong, especially with Harry Taylor on his last legs.
Gold Coast Suns – Surely they won’t split up Rowell and Anderson; right?
IN a word, no. There’s clear daylight between the top-2 prospects in this year’s draft and the rest of the pack with Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson near certainties to hear their names called first on November 27 in that order. The Oakleigh Chargers duo has grown up together, achieved plenty of footballing success together and now, appear set to be drafted by the Suns together. It would take a godfather type of offer for Gold Coast to part ways with either pick No. 1 or No. 2 and unless that happens you can assure Rowell and Anderson will be the first two picks.
Greater Western Sydney – When will the Tom Greene bid come?
TRADING up to become the proud owners of the 6th overall pick was a smart move on multiple fronts from GWS. With budding academy prospect, Tom Greene set to hear his name called early on draft night, loading up on ammunition will allow the Giants to match any bid for the promising midfielder. There’s a chance that someone who pries pick No. 3 from Melbourne’s hand makes a play for Greene and if that’s the case GWS will need to sacrifice pick No. 6 and something else that adds up to the equivalent of pick No. 37. Given their slew of selection in later rounds, the Giants are poised to handle whatever is thrown their way and still get their man.
Hawthorn Hawks – Will Tom Mitchell be the same?
HAWTHORN’S ball magnet Tom Mitchell is another gun returning from injury that will be under the watchful eye of fans until the ball is bounced to start the 2020 season. Mitchell plans to be ready for Round 1 and after breaking his leg last preseason he’ll surely take a light approach into this year’s tune-up. After averaging an insane 35.8 touches in his Brownlow winning season back in 2018, Mitchell should be back to his ball-winning best and fight the other elite mid’s in the game for the league’s highest individual honour once again.
Melbourne Demons – Who wants pick No. 3 and/or No. 8?
IT’S no secret that Melbourne is open to moving either of their top-10 selections, even though they only acquired one of them a few short weeks ago. With Rowell and Anderson near certainties to go 1st and 2nd, the real action begins at pick No. 3, giving the Demons a lot of power when the draft does roll around. There is plenty to like about the prospects slotted in that top-10 bracket, with Hayden Young, Cody Weightman, Caleb Serong, Lachie Ash, Luke Jackson, Brodie Kemp and Sam Flanders all promising young talents that could become part of a championship nucleus at Melbourne.
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North Melbourne Kangaroos – Is anything happening at North?
I put a decent amount of thought into all 18 of these questions for each club, trying to create a combination of draft implications, player movement, admin changes and other factors to keep them interesting. There is nothing interesting happening with North. They could generate some headlines by taking a chance on a delisted free-agent, but with a few picks in the 20’s followed by a few others inside the top-50, there’s not much buzz coming out of Arden St right now. Landing Aiden Bonar from the Giants is viewed by fans as a win, but if that’s the best headline the Roos generate in the offseason it’s hard to see them improving on their 2019 finish.
Port Adelaide Power – Can they land Jackson Mead cheaply?
WITHOUT too much trouble Port seem set to land the son of their inaugural best and fairest winner in this years draft. Back in 1997, Darren Mead was the first B&F recipient for the Power before going on to feature in 122 games and the club is hoping his son Jackson can replicate his father’s success. Officially nominating Jackson as a father-son selection doesn’t guarantee Mead landing at Alberton, but it gives Port Adelaide the power to match any bid for the versatile youngster. A best-case scenario would see Mead last all the way until their third pick at No. 29, but they’re well-positioned to sacrifice later selections and get their guy if his name is called earlier.
Richmond Tigers – Has the party stopped on Swan St?
APART from Dustin Martin’s car still residing at the MCG, there hasn’t been a lot of chatter about the Richmond football club. Most of the players would have finished partying after their second flag in three years, but there are probably some still nursing a hangover or soaking up sun in another hemisphere. They deserve time to relax and enjoy this moment and with their list in great knick there’s no reason why the Tigers can’t be one of the last team’s standing again next season.
St Kilda Saints – Is it worth re-entering the top-50?
I’M not ready to anoint St Kilda as a finals team following their publicly acclaimed trade period. They deserve credit for landing all five of the players they had their sights on, but they had to sacrifice a hell of a lot to get there. The Saints’ first pick in the 2019 draft now won’t come until 51 with 76 and 82 the only other selections they currently own. Having shelled out their future 2nd, 3rd and 4th round selections already, there isn’t a lot St Kilda can do if a player they like slides into the 30’s/40’s on draft night, but there are worse problems to have.
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Sydney Swans – Is Harley Bennell worth the risk?
WITH every day that passes Harley Bennell’s chances of receiving an AFL lifeline only seems to be increasing. Up to six clubs are reportedly interested in the ex-Docker and Sun, with Sydney entrenched in the mix for Bennell’s services. We know the upside the 27-year old possess and if his body is playing nice, there’s a world where Bennell could return to the player that showed so much promise earlier in his football career. If it was my club I’d want to make sure due diligence unfolds before considering Bennell, with that valuable list spot one they can’t afford to waste.
West Coast Eagles – Will we learn Willie Rioli’s fate?
TECHNICALLY speaking Willie Rioli hasn’t been charged for his indiscretions late last season and there is still some hope that he’ll escape a serious ban. Rioli is under investigation by ASADA for allegedly tampering with a urine sample and replacing it with a sports drink. Two weeks later he was target-tested again before West Coast’s final against the Bombers and tests came back positive to cannabis. If the Eagles’ livewire small forward can avoid a suspension or ban it will only further enhance the club’s credentials as a powerhouse in the competition and I can guarantee you, the fans, board members and the rest of the playing group will have their fingers crossed for Willie.
Western Bulldogs – After fighting so hard to keep pick No. 13 how will they use it?
THE Bulldogs were one of the big winners during the trade period, successfully landing Alex Keath AND Josh Bruce without having to part ways with their first-round pick. The 13th overall selection gives the Dogs a chance to find another young contributor to compliment the rest of their list, a list that I think is one of the most well-built across the entire league. Now the question that remains is who will they target with their top-15 pick? Trent Rivers or Will Gould could be a nice addition for their defense while Cody Weightman boosting their small forward firepower is another appealing option.
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