It’s hard to see there being much in the NAB Cup, but for some sides the pre-season is more important than others….

Fox Footy
I’m sure they’ll do an astounding job. But it starts now, fellas. You’ve got all the rights, now you’ve gotta use them.

Greater Western Sydney
There’s two reasons here. Firstly, one wonders whether they’ll attract the crowds. The three-way tie in 2011 attracted 9,447 fans. If they want to start 2012 well, they’ll want the same. However, it’s also crucial to note that Gold Coast defeated Sydney in their three-way game in 2011, and GWS must surely look at the Bulldogs game as a chance to do the same.

Nathan Buckley
The game at Blacktown will also be the first chance for the wider footballing world to take a look at how the new coaching team at the Pies performs. Collingwood won the NAB Cup in 2011, and used it to set up their season-long domination of everyone but Geelong. Bucks will surely look to do the same.

Brendan McCartney
And so we also get a look at the rejuvenated coaching of the Western Bulldogs. McCartney is that rare example of a coach without playing experience at the top level, and it will be interesting to see if he will seek to have one more crack with the near-rebuilding Bulldogs list or try to reload for a few years’ time.

While the pre-season competition is generally derided as being a useless, nothing competition that noone really cares about, the reality is far different as an exercise for who is going to challenge – since 2000, only one team (Carlton in 2005) has won and proceeded to miss the finals, with most of the teams making the Top 4. Thus, Hawthorn will want to perform deep into this competition to truly confirm their credentials as challengers.

Ross Lyon
Going to the final of the NAB Cup is not out of the question for Fremantle here. They have a relatively easy draw – West Coast for a half, Essendon for a half, Richmond and Port Adelaide. This is his chance to make Freo’s underperforming list peak, win some silverware, get some love flowing and give 2012 a serious chance. And he’s being paid handsomely to do so.

Rookies and last-chance players

Now’s your chance, guys. If you want to be a contender for a place, here’s your time to shine.

Everyone who loves their footy
Thank goodness it’s back.

Disagree? Leave Zac a comment below!