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Quick 2019 preview

by Penny Dredfell; added 13 March 2019

I hate doing predictions at the start of the season; so I won’t do a detailed one as such. But I will answer a few questions and give a few things for readers to ponder.

Send questions to:
tipping@longggey.com
I may not be able to answer all of them

Mario Marinara of Lygon Street asks: are the Hawks gone now that Tom Mitchell looks gone for the season… go Blues!!

Mario – thanks for the question; I wrote last year that the Hawks snuck up into the top 4 on the back of some narrow wins (good on them for getting over the line in those games) as well as other clubs falling away due to injuries later in the season. The AFL prospectus has put together a good summary when discussing North Melbourne. The Hawks had the 5th least injuries last year (behind Brisbane least, then Richmond, Port and Melbourne). So the 4th spot on the ladder flattered them a touch and then they went out of the finals in straight sets. Clarko was talking about being good in a couple of years (2020 and 2021 was my take). So I hadn’t thought of them as a 2019 premiership threat even with Mitchell playing. Now they are worse off; however, they seem to be building reasonably well and I would tip them to be midfield somewhere. If you had nightmares about the three-peat, you should sleep easy this year.

End of year thoughts:
I am interested in Adelaide and Richmond this year from a technical viewpoint. The Tigers were magnificent late in 2017 and defeated the Crows by 8 goals in the grand final. This game is the link between the teams. The Tigers broke a 37 year drought in winning the flag. They began 2018 brilliantly and looked the team to beat all year. But they faltered in the prelim against the Pies – virtually being gone at half time! Their pattern was very similar to Geelong (breaking a 44 year premiership drought) 10 years earlier. Due to the similarities in both clubs, I tipped the Tigers to definitely NOT win the flag on 19 July last year (and the Eagles for premiers – even though I wimped out of that tip many weeks later in grand final week). It wasn’t just breaking the long grand final drought that was similar; they also both won their grand finals by big margins; this leads to either a down year or disappointing final series (google longggey and grand final big win a sin for further details); the Cats looked unstoppable in 2008, but were overrun in the second half on 2008 grand final day against Hawthorn; they then won the 2009 flag; I expect the Tigers to be right up there again with a huge chance to win the 2019 flag.

Another snippet from ancient history on Richmond. The Tigers had won back to back flags in 1973/74 and then recruited John Pitura from lowly South Melbourne (later to become Sydney Swans). He was a star, but the Tigers sent Brian Roberts, Graham Teasdale and Francis Jackson back the other way as part of the deal. The move was not welcomed by the players and the Swans did better out of the deal – including a Brownlow for Teasdale. The Tigers were considered favourites for the flag in 1975 but lost the prelim to the Roos (who went on to win their first ever flag).

Now we have Tom Lynch coming from the lowly Suns to be a Tiger. Will it have the same negative effect on Richmond? I don’t think so. This time the players (as far as we know) are pleased with the deal and even allegedly took part in the planning of it. Some fringe players departed at the end of 2018, but it doesn’t match the 1974/75 list of three departees (I just invented a new word!).

I am keen on the Tigers to be a cert for the top 4.

Now on to the Crows. They looked like winning the flag all through the 2017 season but, of course, lost to the Tigers in the big one. The loss was a kick in the guts for the club. Then came the infamous pre-season training camp leading into the 2018 season. At that camp, the Richmond theme song was played to them heaps as they trained. What it seemed to do was to focus them on Richmond, rather than the 2018 season as a whole (in my opinion).

The Crows opened their 2018 season with a narrow away loss to the Bombers, then hosted the Tigers for the grand final rematch. A six goal win had the locals excited, but it all went downhill thereafter and they finished the season 12th. The fact that the Richmond game came early in the season had mixed blessings. It was extra good to get “revenge”, but bad because the club was not able to take that momentum through the year. The club later admitted that the training camp was flawed in multiple facets. Injuries played their part as well; they finished 5th unluckiest of the 2018 injury ladder.

Jump in the time machine again way back to 1980/81/82. The Pies beat the Cats in back to back prelims in 1980 and 1981. The Geelong club was incensed after the 1981 loss. They were extremely confident that they were going to win that one. In 1982, round 1 saw the two teams face off. It seemed as though the entire off season for the Cats revolved around revenge. They managed to beat the Pies by 88 points at Waverley (in what was supposed to be a 50/50 game) and imagined a flag was nigh. But, just like Adelaide in 2018, the season headed southward from then on and they finished 9th in a then 12 team comp. The coach got sacked and the Cats missed the finals for most of the decade.

I expect the Crows to come out of it all better than the Cats did way back then. The club managed to gather everything together for the 2019 season and they are way better off in terms of injuries. I am also tipping the Crows for the top four.

That doesn’t leave much room for the others up the top. Let me eliminate teams and see who is left. The Suns not only had the worst travel schedule EVER last year, but then lost key players and now have multiple injuries as well. They should win the spoon, barring a horror year for some other club. They are finally on the right track administratively, it seems, but patience will be required.

Other teams not to make finals in 2019 (in no special order): Dogs, Blues, Saints, Dockers, Lions. That is the bottom 6 from last year and I don’t see any of them playing finals this year. Maybe the Saints could be the best improvers from this lot.

I reckon the Eagles, Dees and Pies can fight it out for the other top two spots, with the Cats and Giants also making the finals. That leave one spot for the group of Swans, Hawks, Power, Roos and Bombers. I’ll tip the Swans (with injuries to talls at present) to fall out with the Roos and Hawks to fight it out for 8th… I’ll give it to the Hawks by a whisker.

I have avoided putting together a ladder because it is a waste of effort and I will leave it to the journos to make themselves look silly. I only really feel confident about Richmond and Adelaide.

Another question that came in. Stressed out Sienna from South Sydney asks: I want a good work-out for my arms, but I hate going to gym…also I keep breaking the case of my phone….and maybe I talk too long on it. Can you help?

Well, stressed out Sienna from South Sydney, I can solve all your problems in one go. My uncle has some old 1980s type mobile phones. Some people called them “bricks”, but that is a ridiculous title! In reality, they were much heavier than that. Anyway, uncle takes them and uses them to make protective covers for modern phones. I’ll put you in contact with him. With one of these covers, your phone will be secure and unbreakable; next, lifting this monstrosity will help strengthen your right arm…and pretty soon you’ll change to the left arm out of necessity. And you won’t talk for too long either – with the case being so heavy. Glad to have helped you there.


Let’s have a look at the injury quotient for each team. I assign 4 for a Dusty Martin type player, 3 for the next level, 2 for the honest toilers, 1 for the fringe players and 0 for the others (project players or those who will only get a game when there is nobody left).  
I am counting up the numbers for those players likely to be missing round 1 (including suspended players). 
Then the next comment refers to how badly underdone  the team is as a whole.  Some players are coming off an  injury and listed as likely, so they won’t be in the injury  quotient number.  

But they will be accounted for in the   underdone (UD) number after.  The higher the number, the worse for the team

Adelaide 7 UD 7
Brisbane 7 UD 2
Carlton 12 UD 1
Collingwood 15 UD 10
Essendon 5 UD 10
Fremantle 20 UD 5
Geelong 10 UD 3
Gold Coast 12 UD 1
GWS 8 UD 5
Hawthorn 14 UD 3
Melbourne 14 UD 5
North Melbourne 17 UD 2
Port Adelaide 12 UD 2
Richmond 9 UD 5
St Kilda 16 UD 2
Sydney 8 UD 7
West Coast 5 UD 5
Western Bulldogs 10 UD 0

The current injury quotient plus UD can be added together for a good guide for round 1. So the teams who have had the worst lead-in to the opener are

Pies 25
Dockers 25
followed by
Roos & Dees both 19
Saints 18
Hawks 17

Best off:
Lions 9
Dogs & Eagles 10

These numbers do not take into account how many weeks players may be missing. Tommy Mitchell is missing round 1, but probably the entire season as well. And while the Dogs appear to be one of the better off teams leading in round 1, they won’t be seeing Boyd, Picken, Johannisen, Jong Webb and (Bailey) Dale for some time.


Coaching & other off field changes; I got this from looking at the club websites; not sure I have them all done correctly:


Adelaide:
In: Marty Mattner (assistant coach)
Out: Tate Kaesler (assistant coach); chief physio Rohan Hattotuwa departed after a disagreement over the club’s high performance program; Josh Francou (assistant coach)

Brisbane: same

Carlton:
Out: Tim Clarke to the Suns

Colliingwood: same

Essendon:
In: Ben Rutten (asst coach) from Richmond

Geelong: same

Gold Coast Suns:
In: Tate Kaesler from Adelaide
Josh Francou (Head of Development & Integration/Midfield Coach)
Andrew Swallow (Specialist Coach)
Josh Drumond from the Roos (Defensive coach)
Tim Clarke from Carlton (Development Coach)

The administration is also much better placed now under the watchful eye of the AFL

GWS Giants
In: Matthew Nicks
Out: Dean Brogan, Brett Montgomery

Hawthorn:
In: Sam Mitchell from the Eagles (Assistant Coach)
Out: Brett Ratten

North Melbourne:
In: Aaron Greaves from Port Adelaide (Head of Player Development)
Rhyce Shaw (Defence Coach)
Brendan Whitecross from Hawthorn / Box Hill playing list (Development Coach)
Out: Josh Drumond

Port Adelaide:
In: Jarrad Schofield from Subiaco (Midfield Coach)
Brett Montgomery from various including work for GWS (Defence Coach)
Dean Brogan from GWS (Ruck Coach)
Out: Matthew Nicks, Aaron Greaves; Brendon Lade

Richmond:
In: Adam Kingsley from St Kilda (Assistant Coach, Midfield/stoppage)
Out: Ben Rutten (asst) to Essendon

St Kilda
In: Brett Ratten from Hawthorn (Assistant Coach)
Brendon Lade (Senior Assistant Coach)
Jake Batchelor from Frankston (Assistant Coach)
also need to say the they got recently retired Melbourne Storm legend Billy Slater (Part Time Mentoring)
Out: Adam Kingsley

Sydney Swans
In: Lloyd Perris (development coach)
Out: Rhyce Shaw

West Coast Eagles
In: Matt Rosa (Stoppage & Structure)
Out: Sam Mitchell

Western Bulldogs: same


Added 20 March 2019
“You cannot win a Grand Slam in the first week, but you can lose it”.
Tams won’t win a flag in the first 7 weeks, but they be be so far back that it becomes a huge challenge.
I’ll have a quick squiz at the early rounds for each team:

Adelaide (aiming for top 4):
HAW
SYD away
GEE
NOR away
GCS
STK away
FRE
This looks like a juicy start for the Crows; I’ll give them 5 or 6 wins in that streak; nicely set up for finals

Brisbane (aiming for finals or close to them)
WCE
NOR away
POR
ESS away
COL
GCS away
SYD
A good challenge for the Lions; home games against good to very good teams and a small chance to win 1-2 away games; they’ll be UP for the clash against the Suns and would be favourites there. With a much shorter injury list than the Roos, they would see that as a winnable game

Carlton (aiming for more wins in 2018)
RIC
POR away
SYD
GCS away
WBD
HAW in Tas
NOR
The Blues will be long odds in the first 2 weeks and would then fancy their chances in weeks 3-5 to get 1, maybe 2 wins

Collingwood (only a flag will do)
GEE
RIC
WCE
WBD
BRI away
ESS
POR
The Magpies play three x 2018 finalists first up and this will be a challenge, given their off season injuries; they should be able to bank at least 3 wins in rounds 4 – 7; the round 3 grand final rematch will be huge

Essendon (looking at finals action)
GWS away
STK
MEL
BRI
NOR
COL
GEE
The Bombers should be clear favourites to beat the Saints and Lions; the other 5 games will provide them with a challenge

Fremantle (aiming to improve in 2019)
NOR
GCS away
STK
WCE
GWS in Canberra
WBD
ADE away
After a horror off season, the Dockers would hope to get at least 1 win in the first three weeks

Geelong (aiming for top 4)
COL
MEL
ADE away
GWS
HAW
WCE
ESS
The Cats have the toughest start to the season of them all; 3 wins would be okay as it gets easier after that; maybe catching the Pies and Dees at a good time and would need to win one of those

Gold Coast (hoping to not go winless)
STK away
FRE
WBD away
CAR
ADE away
BRI
WCE away
The Suns just desperately need a win after only registering 1 victory (a monstrous upset versus Swans away in round 18) since round 5 last year. They have some good chances early. Catching the injured Dockers at a good time

Greater Western Sydney (aiming for top 4)
ESS
WCE away
RIC
GEE away
FRE in Canberra
SYD away
STK in Canberra
The Giants are looking good early and will be favourites in 5 matches; the away games in Perth and Geelong will be a challenge

Hawthorn (aiming for finals)
ADE away
WBD
NOR
STK
GEE
CAR in Tassie
MEL
The Hawks start with a toughie, have Geelong and Melbourne as significant challenges in the 7 week block, but will probably be favoured to win the rest; the Roos match looks like a ripper as they are similarly placed in terms of external expectations

Melbourne (aiming for a top 4 finish)
POR
GEE
ESS
SYD away
STK
RIC
HAW
The Dees have an even spread of difficulty in these 7 weeks and would be looking to be at least 5-2

North Melbourne (aiming for finals)
FRE away
BRI
HAW
ADE
ESS
POR away
CAR
Every game is a winnable one for the Roos – beginning with a 50/50 game in Perth; the 4 week block from rounds 3-6 might sort them out – they would need to win at least 2 to stay in touch

Port Adelaide (aiming for finals, even though virtually everyone has written them off)
MEL away
CAR
BRI away
RIC
WCE away
NOR
COL away
The Power has a tough early draw – with the Blues the only “gimme” game on paper. They would be looking to pinch wins against the Lions and Roos to stay within striking distance; they play a few teams with injury concerns in this block

Richmond (aiming for a flag)
CAR
COL
GWS away
POR away
SYD
MEL
WBD
The Tigers appear to have a couple of easy kills as well as some tough assignments in this block. They would hope for 5 wins at least to set themselves up for top 4; they catch the Pies with a few injuries and would be favoured to win that one

St Kilda (aiming for more wins than the absolute shocker of 2018)
GCS
ESS
FRE away
HAW
MEL
ADE
GWS in Canberra
The Saints begin with a “must win” game and could, at a pinch, start the year 3-0; it gets harder after that

Sydney (aiming for yet another finals appearance)
WBD away
ADE
CAR away
MEL
RIC away
GWS
BRI away
The Swans have a tricky start to the season, playing higher ranked teams at home and lower ranked ones away; they would need to be 4-3 after 7 to be happy

West Coast
BRI away
GWS
COL away
FRE
POR
GEE away
GCS
The Eagles would fancy their chances of winning all their Perth games early – with the Giants being the most difficult opponent; their away game performances will shape their early season

Western Bulldogs
SYD
HAW
GCS
COL
CAR
FRE away
RIC
The Dogs have a relatively friend draw early on and will expect 3 wins – and hope for 4 in this 7 week block