Preview Season 2022 - Us and Them

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Leon

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Dust has settled on Season 2021 and we have our new draftees.

After a good season this year that ultimately ended in disappointment in the Grand Final, these are, for me, the questions looking ahead:


1. Can we contend again?

Simple answer to this is yes.

The majority of the team are in their prime and we spent most of 2021 in the top 2 before a form slump saw us slip out of Top 4 right when we didn’t want to.

Of players that were potential first 22, we have lost Lipinski (talented but a fringe player) and Wood (very good defender and club legend but probably the right call to retire)


2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of our team?

Midfield - obviously a big strength. Nothing at all wrong our midfield. Top quality.

Defence - Our half backs (Daniel, Dale, Duryea) are top notch, and we also have other options to play there like Johannisen, Richards.

Alex Keath is a gun key defender, but it’s our second defenders that are a cause for concern.

Cordy is a reasonable defender but can have his days when he is very well beaten.

I have Gardiner a level below Cordy - he can be solid, but I’m a log way from sold on him.

Losing Easton - although probably the right call from him - also means one less option for a 2nd defender.

I don’t confess to having seen a lot of Tim O’Brien, but he seems a good pick up and replacement for Easton.

We also saw Schache play in defence at times late in the year and do pretty well, so maybe Keath as the number one defender and O’Brien and Schache as the second and third?

Forward Line - Not worried about it as long as they stay healthy. Naughton is great, Weightman is a an excellent small forward, and hopefully we get Bruce back in reasonable time. There’s also supporting acts like Hannan, Jamarra, Treloar, JJ and English that contribute well up forward.

Ruck - For me it’s the weakness and a glaring one. I like Stef Martin and think he did well this year but he is 36 and injury prone as we saw this year.

Sweet did well this year in his limited games, but is young and would need to step up significantly.

English is a good player for mine - he cops it on here, but I’d prefer to have him in the side. His ruck work leaves a lot to be desired though - he gets dominated by the likes of Gawn, Nic Nat, Goldstein and Grundy

We also drafted Sam Darcy, but not sure putting this sort of expectation on him in his first year is warranted.

The good news is that our midfield are so good they still manage to win clearances without having us having a dominant ruck.

Do we keep backing our midfield to get it done, or do we need one of our rucks to step up?


3. The other teams. Who are the other contenders?

The very nature of the competition means that while the other good sides this year (Melbourne, Port, Brisbane, Geelong) are likely to be good again in 2022, there is usually a bolter that comes from outside the 8 to challenge.

Melbourne themselves won the flag this year after being average in 2020z


Adelaide - A long way off it. Rebuilding.

Brisbane - Think they’ll be good again, but their finals record is suspect. Maybe they can make good next year after a couple of year’s of disappointment?

Carlton - I don’t really rate them, but with a new coach and with a lot of heat on in them in recent years, they could be the bolter I mentioned above. But i think they’re just not up to it.

Collingwood - Could be a chance to be a bolter with the new coach as a bounce, but I doubt it.

Essendon - If I had to pick a bolter right now, I’d choose them, Richmond or West Coast.

Fremantle - Nope. Not good enough. Need more time.

Geelong - It will be the same old for them. Good home and away, no good in finals.

Gold Coast - Will be sh*t, yet again. They have serious problems.

GWS - For me they are the hardest side to predict. I’m leaning towards thinking they had their chance in 2016-19.

But they made finals this year and won one, so they have to be a chance.

Not having Greene for 6 matches will be costly though.

Hawthorn - List not good enough. New coach but highly unlikely for finals.

Melbourne - I only see them not being a contender if they have injuries and/or a premiership hangover.

Whilst they undoubtedly overwhelmed us in the GF, we were one of only four sides to beat them this year.

Norf - Nope. Long way off it.

Port Adelaide - I think they are a good side, their PF effort against us notwithstanding. But they’ve been similar to Geelong the past few year (minus an average player age of 200 million) in that they just can’t get it done in the finals.

But they have the quality to at least finish top 4 again.

Richmond - Very much a chance to be a bolter, and very much a chance their window has closed.

What if Dusty returns to his best? If he does then they should easy be back amongst it.

Sydney Swans - Was very impressed with them this year and they were unlucky in the finals.

Probably have them in bottom half of the 8.

West Coast Eagles - Was disappointed with them this season, after our cracking match against them in Round 2, I was certain they’d be a contender this year, but they were well disappointing.

But they have shown before they can bounce back, and with hone ground advantage, plus Kennedy, Darling, Nic Nat and Shuey, think they‘re a good chance to be a threat.




So in summary:

1. I think there’s every reason to think we’ll be a contender.

2. I have some concerns over our 2nd and 3rd defenders.

3. I’m mainly concerned about our rucks, and hope that one of the players mentioned in my summary can become a consistent and good ruckman.

4. I think Melbourne, Brisbane and Port will still be good nest year, and a potential new threat/challenger could come from about 6-7 different sides.


Feel free to argue my points or add your own! :)
 
Last edited:

Flags_In_The_Bag

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Dust has settled on Season 2021 and we have our new draftees.

After a good season this year that ultimately ended in disappointment in the Grand Final, these are, for me, the questions looking ahead:


1. Can we contend again?

Simple answer to this is yes.

The majority of the team are in their prime and we spent most of 2021 in the top 2 before a form slump saw us slip out of Top 4 right when we didn’t want to.

Of players that were potential first 22, we have lost Lipinski (talented but a fringe player) and Wood (very good defender and club legend but probably the right call to retire)


2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of our team?

Midfield - obviously a big strength. Nothing at all wrong our midfield. Top quality.

Defence - Our half backs (Daniel, Dale, Duryea) are top notch, and we also have other options to play there like Johannisen, Richards.

Alex Keath is a gun key defender, but it’s our second defenders that are a cause for concern.

Cordy is a reasonable defender but can have his days when he is very well beaten.

I have Gardiner a level below Cordy - he can be solid, but I’m a log way from sold on him.

Losing Easton - although probably the right call from him - also means one less option for a 2nd defender.

I don’t confess to having seen a lot of Tim O’Brien, but he seems a good pick up and replacement for Easton.

We also saw Schache play in defence at times late in the year and do pretty well, so maybe Keath as the number one defender and O’Brien and Schache as the second and third?

Forward Line - Not worried about it as long as they stay healthy. Naughton is great, Weightman is a an excellent small forward, and hopefully we get Bruce back in reasonable time. There’s also supporting acts like Hannan, Treloar, JJ and English that contribute well up forward.

Ruck - For me it’s the weakness and a glaring one. I like Stef Martin and think he did well this year but he is 36 and injury prone as we saw this year.

Sweet did well this year in his limited games, but is young and would need to step up significantly.

English is a good player for mine - he cops it on here, but I’d prefer to have him in the side. His ruck work leaves a lot to be desired though - he gets dominated by the likes of Gawn, Nic Nat, Goldstein and Grundy

We also drafted Sam Darcy, but not sure putting this sort of expectation on him in his first year is warranted.

The good news is that our midfield are so good they still manage to win clearances without having us having a dominant ruck.

Do we keep backing our midfield to get it done, or do we need one of our rucks to step up?


3. The other teams. Who are the other contenders?

The very nature of the competition means that while the other good sides this year (Melbourne, Port, Brisbane, Geelong) are likely to be good again in 2022, there is usually a bolter that comes from outside the 8 to challenge.

Melbourne themselves won the flag this year after being average in 2020z


Adelaide - A long way off it. Rebuilding.

Brisbane - Think they’ll be good again, but their finals record is suspect. Maybe they can make good next year after a couple of year’s of disappointment?

Carlton - I don’t really rate them, but with a new coach and with a lot of heat on in them in recent years, they could be the bolter I mentioned above. But i think they’re just not up to it.

Collingwood - Could be a chance to be a bolter with the new coach as a bounce, but I doubt it.

Essendon - If I had to pick a bolter right now, I’d choose them, Richmond or West Coast.

Fremantle - Nope. Not good enough. Need more time.

Geelong - It will be the same old for them. Good home and away, no good in finals.

Gold Coast - Will be sh*t, yet again. They have serious problems.

GWS - For me they are the hardest side to predict. I’m leaning towards thinking they had their chance in 2016-19.

But they made finals this year and won one, so they have to be a chance.

Not having Greene for 6 matches will be costly though.

Hawthorn - List not good enough. New coach but highly unlikely for finals.

Melbourne - I only see them not being a contender if they have injuries and/or a premiership hangover.

Whilst they undoubtedly overwhelmed us in the GF, we were one of only four sides to beat them this year.

Norf - Nope. Long way off it.

Port Adelaide - I think they are a good side, their PF effort against us notwithstanding. But they’ve been similar to Geelong the past few year (minus an average player age of 200 million) in that they just can’t get it done in the finals.

But they have the quality to at least finish top 4 again.

Richmond - Very much a chance to be a bolter, and very much a chance their window has closed.

What if Dusty returns to his best? If he does then they should easy be back amongst it.

Sydney Swans - Was very impressed with them this year and they were unlucky in the finals.

Probably have them in bottom half of the 8.

West Coast Eagles - Was disappointed with them this season, after our cracking match against them in Round 2, I was certain they’d be a contender this year, but they were well disappointing.

But they have shown before they can bounce back, and with hone ground advantage, plus Kennedy, Darling, Nic Nat and Shuey, think they‘re a good chance to be a threat.




So in summary:

1. I think there’s every reason to think we’ll be a contender.

2. I have some concerns over our 2nd and 3rd defenders.

3. I’m mainly concerned about our rucks, and hope that one of the players mentioned in my summary can become a consistent and good ruckman.

4. I think Melbourne, Brisbane and Port will still be good nest year, and a potential new threat/challenger could come from about 6-7 different sides.


Feel free to argue my points or add your own! :)
You mentioned our forward line with Hannan and JJ without mentioning JUH
 

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Dry Rot

My hat is better than yours
Feb 21, 2002
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Leon,

How are you mate?

Sorry to tell you this, but a lot of guys on the main AFL board reckon that Norf will be big improvers in 2022.

Don't shoot the messenger or fire bomb my home - somebody tried to do that last night.
 

Dry Rot

My hat is better than yours
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And FWIW somehow I apparently received a Giants membership because I simply purchased a ticket to one of their home finals vs the Dogs.

So now I am getting membership renewal emails from these ****s!

If this is how they count members, they must have 118.
 

X_box_X

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We're primed to give the premiership a very serious challenge in 2022. If we maintain a relatively healthy list, we're absolutely going to be in the premiership race up to our eyeballs.

We've been coming for a few years now.

In the final third of 2019, we were arguably playing as well as the top two or three teams. It ended horribly in an Elimination Final belting, but I put that down to a lack of maturity. We still had ten premiership players in that match, but we lacked some mongrel. We didn't know how to respond to being bullied, and having an opponent use those tactics against was completely foreign to us.

Similar in 2020, the final third of the season saw us playing good enough footy to be top four or five. We won five of our last six before finals, and the one game we lost resulted in the Grand Finalists overcome a seven goal deficit to defeat us, definitely helped by the fact we lost two players early on to injury. In the Elimination Final against the Saints, we were out coached and never looked like winners, yet somehow we almost did pinch it. Our last four losses prior to the Saints match were against the top four, losing narrowly to Geelong, and being competitive in away losses against Brisbane and Port. It was only Richmond in that period who belted us, and that was at a time we weren't playing like finalists anyway.

We don't need to mention 2021 too much, other than to say we were a top two team for most of the year, and at times we could have laid claim to being the best team in the league, especially when we beat Melbourne in round 18 to return to the top of the ladder.

Our list is in better shape now than it ever has been. With that considered, knowing the footy we have played at times throughout the past three seasons, a top four finish is a bare minimum. That depends on whether we can maintain a relatively healthy list, and whether we're hungry enough to go again. These last two years have been tough to deal with. The mental strain of being a professional AFL player has been well documented in the past. Some of them deal with the mental side of the game better than others. The last two years has added another dynamic to that. I just hope the players on our list are mentally up for the challenge.
 

Dogs_r_barking

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What we showed in 2021 was that 2016 was no fluke. If we finish top four, I have no doubt we will be there at the business end again.

I agree on Leon’s assessment, but I think the Swans are going to be the bolter. Richmond have gone back to the draft sensibly, so it won’t happen overnight with them, and Dusty looks in poor shape after his serious injury. I hope Melbourne keeps on celebrating and doing their tour de triumphe, it’s a good distraction from preseason, which our boys are already tackling.
 

Testekill

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It also all comes down to a bit of luck; the wheels were starting to come off late in the season and we had some players that were clearly physically done for the year. Bounce back better and we can challenge again.
 

Northernsoul74

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It also all comes down to a bit of luck; the wheels were starting to come off late in the season and we had some players that were clearly physically done for the year. Bounce back better and we can challenge again.
The bye/non bye didn’t help plus better management of loads across the year is required.
 

Leon

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Leon,

How are you mate?

Sorry to tell you this, but a lot of guys on the main AFL board reckon that Norf will be big improvers in 2022.

Don't shoot the messenger or fire bomb my home - somebody tried to do that last night.



Ah yes, the main board.

Lots of well informed, reasonable people over there.

I am very well thank you by the way and hope you are too :)
 

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weltschmerz

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There are three guys I want to see take big steps. If Sweet, Schache, and JUH can step up this year, we can win the premiership.

Sweet is a decent tap ruck. If he can take the taps, take a few marks, flatten a bloke when he has to, and run out the game, he can be a premiership ruckman within the year. That's all within his capability.

Schache I reckon can be the CHB we need. He was firing on all cylinders before he broke his sacrum and then had to step in for Bruce. Even as a defensive forward, we saw he can make big guys accountable.

JUH is coming in hungry. If he can kick 30+ we're in business.
 

dogwatch

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I still have flashbacks to the last 10 minutes of the third quarter of the Grand Final.

Who or what is responsible for that (apart from Melbourne's awesome trio of midfielders) and what are we going to do to make sure it never happens again?

If we don't have an answer to that we will not be any better than second best. But maybe a few rungs below that.
 

TedDougChris

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I still have flashbacks to the last 10 minutes of the third quarter of the Grand Final.

Who or what is responsible for that (apart from Melbourne's awesome trio of midfielders) and what are we going to do to make sure it never happens again?

If we don't have an answer to that we will not be any better than second best. But maybe a few rungs below that.

From a slightly simplified perspective, there were three tactical issues that need resolving for next season:

1) Ruck - how do we get more competitive in there - both at the centre bounce and around the ground.
2) 2nd KPD - who is it, give them game time and develop the backups and systems needed to support. I suspect it's Gardner first up, but what if he gets injured ??
3) Stopping run on from the middle. It happened a few times last year - we have too good a midfield to let it continue. So how do we stop it if it happens again ? Train the guys until the get it right.

All of these are in the coaches hands, not the players (at least until implementation on game day).
 

hutchy31

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Every team has weaknesses, I feel like ours are more glaring than most and you've called them out - ruck and KPD depth. I think we could ideally have more competition at small forward and wing but that's picking nits. The flip side of that is it's been a pretty good list build aside from the two obvious areas, and if English had developed as a solo ruck, Collins/Cordy/Young had stepped up as a second KPD or even if Naughton hadn't turned out to be more valuable at KPF those would've looked a lot better so it's difficult to blame list management too much. Our midfield group is comfortably in the top few in the comp (and probably the best for depth). We have some excellent talent at half back, Dale and Williams took a step up last year and we've got some developing stars in the forward line (Naughton, JUH, Weightman).

The issue is that while we can cover most of the time for the KPD issue in open play - our defensive numbers were generally excellent last year - the ruck was exposed often. It's an enormous weakness from centre that you can't hide because of 6-6-6. Then the lack of a quality second KPD/another good one-on-one defender can also come into play because if the ball is coming in quick from the ruck we're exposed down back as there's only so much you can do and there's minimal help from the midfield.

The feeling of inevitability during periods of the Essendon game when they were walking it out of there consistently was difficult to take, Hawthorn towelled us up in a similar way for periods, and this culminated in the GF which was brutal to watch. The last few minutes of the third quarter was, well, I'm not sure of the words. The problem is we're relying on natural improvement from English and/or Sweet - I'm not a fan of English in there, Martin can't do much across a season at this stage, and Sweet has barely been played. If I'm being kind, it's a puzzling decision to go in with only those three for next year so we'll see what happens. Good rucks aren't readily available, but an injury to any of those three (which would have to be expected) leaves us woefully thin.

I can't see us missing finals without multiple injuries to key players, there aren't enough good teams in the comp for that to happen. My guess is we finish around 3-6 depending on health/fitness, are still exposed in those key areas in some big games but in others we'll be able to overcome it.

As for them:
  • Melbourne obvious threats, but they'd need a charmed run with injury again. Any two of their top five or six players missing for any stretch of the season and they'll come back to the pack (as most teams would).
  • I personally think Port and Geelong will drop slightly - maybe not out of finals, but to the bottom half of the eight.
  • Brisbane have quality in every line so would expect them to contend for top four again, and Richmond might jump back up for a last hurrah for their premiership core.
  • GWS with a good injury run are dark horses for me, would not surprise me to see them top four.
  • Sydney will slide for me before then establishing as a finals team for the following 3-4 years.
  • Potential bolters would be Freo, Carlton, Saints but all have significant question marks.
Given a good injury run I'd expect us to be in a group with Melbourne, Brisbane, GWS and possibly Richmond competing for top four.
 

Dry Rot

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I still have flashbacks to the last 10 minutes of the third quarter of the Grand Final.

Who or what is responsible for that (apart from Melbourne's awesome trio of midfielders) and what are we going to do to make sure it never happens again?

If we don't have an answer to that we will not be any better than second best. But maybe a few rungs below that.

I have a strong feeing that we will have an answer to that from our new midfield coach who has worked with Ross Lyon.

A bloke who can cast a stern, fresh, defensive eye on our allegedly star midfield may well be our best recruit this year.
 

Lex22

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In terms of other sides:

I don’t see either of Port, Geelong or Brisbane improving greatly. Should all be in the top eight still, but I think we should go past all three and comfortably.

Sydney, WC the bolters and maybe Freo. I don’t think they’re that far off as it stands. All three can make finals.

I think Essendon regress slightly next season and come again in a few years. A lot went right for them this year. They’re mid range, throw St Kilda in that same bracket.

Carlton, Gold Coast, not sure. Both could be at least mid range and neither should be terrible on paper. Hard teams to assess.

GWS a big chance if they can get any luck with injuries, depth questionable against top handful of teams.

Adelaide are rebuilding, as are North. Hawks and Pies, both lists rubbish and both could easily finish bottom 4.

Melbourne obviously top seed, but again, everything played out perfectly this year. Does that happen again? Hangover?

Tigers I don’t see as a big bolter, albeit they can make the 8. Just don’t see how their guns all find their best footy again now most are over 30 and/or getting injury prone.

Ruck our glaring weakness, as I feel we compensate well in other seemingly thin areas (KPD/Small FWD).

For mine, you give Sweet first crack at it for a month with English the 2nd ruck. Stef the back-up and if he’s the first option, we need to manage him better early in the year.

If he got through 12-13 games and was fit for finals, I think we’d all take that now.

I’m assuming we’re just banking on the mid season draft if one goes down early? Like we had no depth in that area with Young on the list and Bruce fit for pinch-hitting if need be.

Thats my only concern with the state of the list.
 
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Northernsoul74

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I think people are forgetting we only just beat Brisbane in a 50/50 game. There is more improvement to come from them. Melbourne, Brisbane and us should be a level above the rest. I expect Richmond to bounce back as well.
 

BulldogMuscle

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I have a strong feeing that we will have an answer to that from our new midfield coach who has worked with Ross Lyon.

A bloke who can cast a stern, fresh, defensive eye on our allegedly star midfield may well be our best recruit this year.

This, I agree with. For everybody we picked up this off season, a new midfield coach with new ideas might just be the biggest boon to the side.
 

LondonBulldog

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Whilst we have a strong midfield we looked second rate when the best team in the competition got going. That won't happened every years, that sort of run on yet its an area we still can look at.
Ruck - We have put faith in Sweet and English. If Martin is playing I'd be disappointed he should move to backup now for the team to progress. Can Sweet and English step up to the level required? Its a big ask.
Midfield and rotations - Its Libba's time to transition to 50/50 forward / middle. Body needs a rest and will preserve him for when needed. Dunks needs more time in the middle. Personally I would start Macrae on the wing. Dees showed the future of the centre square and its strength and power running. Dunks, Bont, Treloar and other changing with those attributes.
Wings - I would move Hunter to half forward. Its Richards time to shine.
Key backs - Keath and Shache. Put faith in Schache give him first crack at CHB from round 1. Cordy is backup.
Running defenders - All year we had an even spread Daniel, Dale, Williams. In the GF 2 went into there shell and left too much to Daniel who eventually was swamped. You can't run all your defence through 1 player.
Players to get excited about JUH the obvious one, yet watch for Buka, I love the way he competes and think he is the one to take Woody's spot.
 

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