WHAT does you AFL club have in store for you next season? How will they measure up? What changes have they in mind? GEOFF POULTER has gazed deeply into his crystal ball, sought expert advice from soothsayers and issued these firm predictions:
ADELAIDE: Will take steps to try to widen their ground. The Crows noticed the difference on the MCG in September when the broader arena (141 m compared to 123) suited the Tigers.
BRISBANE: Will we discover whether veteran Luke Hodge is keeping a young player out of the side to the same degree as he feared he would at Hawthorn?
CARLTON: After seven wins and then six wins in the past two seasons we will anxiously see whether the coach, in his third season, can equal Percy Jones’ sole-season tally of 17 wins in 1980 which still didn’t save him from the axe.
COLLINGWOOD: The Pies again will get about 10 games out of injury-stricken veteran Daniel Wells – but they will be high quality games.
ESSENDON: The group that is cloning the Tasmanian Tiger could be asked to try to produce 22 of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, the competition’s super-quick excitement machine.
GEELONG: Could Nathan Ablett also bob up again down at Kardinia Park. It’s too late for next year so we need the re-introduction of a mid-season draft.
HAWTHORN: Perhaps it will place Isaac Smith in the back pocket, to reduce the chances of him missing match-deciding shots near or after the siren.
MELBOURNE: Will the Demons receive a retrospective award for the selection move of 2009 when tall Paul Johnson was placed on Richmond’s Nathan Brown? We’re sure someone will defend it.
NORTH MELBOURNE: Will they replicate the stunning move near the end of 2016 by clearing three of their best four or five players – and cut Robbie Tarrant, Ben Brown and Shaun Higgins/Jack Ziebell. Perish the thought!
ST KILDA: They will make man buns compulsory.
SYDNEY SWANS: Will call for a retrospective probe into why they didn’t get a single free kick in the second or third quarters of the 2016 Grand Final.
GOLD COAST: From now on will be called the Sun (singular) because there is only one.
PORT ADELAIDE: Will make David Koch coach after his critical comments in last year’s finals. Ken Hinkley can go on to Sunrise.
FREMANTLE: Will extend Ross Lyon’s contract until 2030.
WEST COAST: Will have to develop a new game style now it will be playing on a much wider ground.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY: Will try to fulfil Mike Fitzpatrick’s prediction from February 2015 that it will become one of the “great” clubs of the AFL.
WESTERN BULLDOGS: Will reward the genius who installed a black curtain in the club cafeteria to prevent anybody spying on one of its closed training sessions.
RICHMOND: Will try to learn from the Footscray experience and guard against a premiership hangover; reduced hunger; being committed to new players; suffering injuries and the rest of the competition doing their homework on the secret to the Tigers success.
Author: Geoff Poulter
GEOFF POULTER, 69, has spent 51 years in sports media. He was the last Melbourne Herald chief football writer. CV: Sports oracle, author, historian, impersonator, raconteur, poet, quiz whiz, philosopher, song-writer, intellectual scholar – and still employable!