2024 Onfield Expectations

Been checking out comparisons of player list in terms of average age, games, goals etc first against our 2000 player list and then more recently against the 2020 list. I did this initially to try and measure up the quality of the current list against the list for our last premiership.
Some striking similarities between 2024 and 2000:
Players with 100+ games: both the years have 13
Players with 50 to 100 games: 2024 has 11 while 2000 had 9
Players already with AA final team selection: both the years have 5 (Note: by the end of 2000 there were 2 more added - Fletcher & Hardwick)
Average Player Age: 2024 is 24.6 (ranked 11th) while 2000 was 24.0 (ranked 3rd) - Teams seem to be getting older!
The area that became glaringly different (accepting this is subjective), was when I endeavoured to identify the no. of players from each of these years I would rate as A+++ level. In 2000 I identified at least FIVE (Mercuri, Hird, Long, Lloyd and Fletcher) while for 2024 I could not find any who have as yet reached this level (Zach Merrett close but still not there).
I asked myself the other question which was are there any other current players who could genuinely step up to AA selection next year? The tentative answer was Langford and Redman.
The question this left for me was: How many A+++ players are needed for a team to win a premiership? Can it be achieved without this elite level and solely based on elite team strategy and performance? If not, where and when are our A+++ player group coming from?


Currently on the list Shiel, Stringer, Merrett, Parish, Goldstein are all former AA players.

Redman and Ridley are both good enough to make the next step.
maybe even McGrath as a back pocket.

2000 - AA Hardick, Fletcher, Hird, Lloyd - pretty elite bunch

2024 equivelant AA - Redman, McKay/Ridley, Nick Martin, Langford
Langford would need to kick 50 again plus lead assists to be a good chance.

Yep, they were the five already having made AA

Our players are so bad that our coaching and selection decisions are our strength? :crazy_face:

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Eagles 2018 team was the last that won the premiership that didn’t have the standout stars in my view. They were very even and had a lot of very good players with only a few AA’s. Kennedy, Hurn, McGovern.

Lots of our players haven’t achieved their potential as yet. And hopefully will soon.

We could surprise in the next couple of years.


I can’t see us losing a game


Whilst it’s a good indicator that we have (previously) representative players in AA team it probably needs to be remembered that at least Goldstein, Stringer and Shiel are unlikely to get back to the level that resulted in their prior selection.

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Just don’t embarrass yourselves!

Have you spoken to your optometrist about that?

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Don’t put expectations on this team, they don’t like it.


I think it’s also about having a deep group of reliable senior players. Got to have 15 or so players that are established.

Due to age, form and injuries, we just don’t have that many players you can rely on most weeks. A lot of our top players are just too inconsistent and unreliable, like Draper and Stringer

Just for final comparison in looking at where we were in 2020:
Players with 100+ games was 10
Players with 50 to 100 games was 11
Players making AA up to then was 7
Av. player age was 24 (ranked 11th) - think we need to stop using the “very young list” card!!

When I look at average games played it shows that in 2000 it was 59.1 (ranked 6th) 2020 it was 57.2 (14th) and at the start of 2024 will be 77.3 (6th)

The only difference between our 2000 team and our 2024 team is that the 2000 team was awesome, full of awesome players with the AFLs most awesome coach.

But I do expect this list to go somewhere upwards.


They don’t need to make the AA side, but for us to have somewhat success they all need to be contributing as senior players.

We are not going to get 4 debutants as AA this year.
maybe more realistic would be Redman, Merrett, Langford
and one of Martin, Parish, Ridley to make the squad or at least be in contention to make the squad.

Don’t be a steaming pile of ■■■■


Based on team selection last year (desperately playing underdone players instead of kids) and how we have approached the offseason list management (multiple middle aged to old starting 22 players recruited), Bradford has loaded up for a finals win.

So that is what I will judge as the pass mark.

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We’ve gone from ranked 15th for experience to 6th, so I can only assume we’ll go from 11th on the ladder to 2nd. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works.


Start beating the big boys!
Geelong, Collingwood, Brisbane etc


I really do think that the game has changed since 2000 so much that the way a team is built is different.
That 2000 team was built largely off the 1993 premiership and generational players that we got through traditional pathways (non draft related).
We had a competitive advantage at the time and took full advantage of it. Once that advantage was gone and drafting became more professional we struggled to keep up.

I do think that the 2000 game against the Bulldogs showed the league that a dominant team can be taken down as long as a team follows a defensive first setup. And that gameplan is what has slowly evolved into what we see now. Players who are capable to implement relative complex defensive structures. Seeing the Eagles come up with their defensive ‘web’, to the Richmond ‘blue collar’ style (which mimicked the Sydney style) to the Melbourne ‘midfield zone’ the game has never been so defensive. Also the pattern of scoring since 200 has changed. Back then it was more about kicking to leading targets, pack marks, etc. Now it’s more about getting it forward, trapping it in there and forcing the opposition into a mistake that you can capitalise off. There just isn’t time and space to perfect ‘forward craft’ and movement.
There is also a different requirement on the player. Back then, Lloyd would barely leave the forward 50. Now 2MP runs as long as midfielders did back then. Due to the cap on interchange, players are having to be trained specifically for distance and burst running. Not only that, but the time limit on scoring shots and the way defences force teams wider has been a driver (in my opinion) of why goal kicking accuracy is at an all time low. Players have to learn (and train) how to react under pressure, tiredness and duress. That is something that is tough to train.
I also think the resources of clubs have changed quite a bit in that time. Specialist goal kickers, tacklers, etc were more common back then, but now it’s up to the individual to seek that training away from the group.

I think the way the game has gone, you do not need an A+++ level player to win a premiership. You need 30 committed and coachable players. Sydney is a great example of not having too many A+++ players in the past 20 years, yet they’ve made 6 grand finals and won 2 across that period. Goodes and Franklin are the only A+++ players they had and you’d argue Franklin wasn’t the A+++ player he was during his time at Hawthorn.
For me, the mentality of the playing group is the most important thing. You need 30 players who understand that with success comes lots of failure. I’m not saying that North or West Coast are a monty for a premiership because they have been ■■■■ for a while (or us for that matter), but there will come a point where the opposition takes you seriously and you still struggle to break through. That builds resilience in the playing group. An example is the Port team that beat Brisbane in 2004. The two years before that, they finished top of the ladder and got smashed on Prelim Final day in both years.

I don’t think we have that resilience in our playing group. At least, it’s very hard to see it (this past year we only got 15 rounds of it). But as I’ve posted before, you wouldn’t have seen it in the Bulldogs in 2016, Richmond in 2017, West Coast in 2018, Melbourne in 2021 nor the Geelong team in 2022 after their decade of finals failures.