Trade period is over, draft picks are settled, so it’s time for a predictions thread.
Where will we finish? Can we contend for a flag straight away or just sneak into the 8? Who else will rise and fall?
For me, I have said consistently on these boards that the addition of Shiel should have the effect of accelerating us into flag contention in 2019. I stand by that statement. The midfield will be more formidable with him in it, and the continued improvement of Parish, Langford and McGrath should mean that we are running a serious midfield unit by finals time.
Our most important players next year are probably Daniher and Fantasia. If the two of them stay on the park for 18+ games, that’s 100 goals we’ll have that we didn’t have last year. If they can’t get fit though, then the chances of us being serious contenders with a makeshift forward line are probably pretty slim.
The area of the field I’m most concerned about is the defence. Hooker I think will be 30 when the next season starts, and him and Hurley will need to rediscover their skills as lockdown defenders. With Gleeson and Francis being interceptors and Saad and McKenna the rebounding defenders, we will need Hurley and Hooker to lock down on the oppositions best forwards and be accountable.
As for the finals, I think we will see a changing of the guard next year, with Hawthorn, Geelong, Sydney and GWS to drop out of the 8. There are plenty of young teams knocking on the door.
Next years final 8:
- West Coast
- North Melbourne
And yes, if you think I did this list deliberately to get a Coll/Ess final in the first week you would be right…