ARE THE Demons genuine contenders for a top finish in 2018? GEOFF HARRIS reviews the season ahead and tips a top two finish for the long-suffering Demons fans:
- GWS: The Giants’ time is here. Incredible depth of talent. Have had a couple of tastes of finals footy, and the disappointment it can bring. Most of the Giants are coming into their prime.
- Melbourne: Have assembled a terrific list that is ready to kick on. Heartbreak of missing out on finals at the death last year should drive the Demons a long way this season.
- Western Bulldogs: Luke Beveridge is the next best coach to Alistair Clarkson and will have the Bulldogs back on track after last year’s premiership ‘hangover’, in which they still won 11 games.
- Sydney: Always thereabouts and keep unearthing outstanding young talent. Just can’t afford to get behind the eight-ball again early in the season.
- Essendon: Provided the Bombers play Joe Daniher as a centre-half-forward rather than near the goal square they could give it a shake. Perhaps need to unearth another quality midfielder.
- Port Adelaide: So much depends on Charlie Dickson, but if he fires consistently they will be in the hunt. Recruits, especially Jack Watts, may just top the Power off.
- Adelaide: Big question mark over the Crows, especially captain Taylor Walker, after last year’s grand final failure. Coach Don Pyke has a lot to work with but perhaps needs to be more daring.
- Hawthorn: Have the best coach of the era and the essence of a good list. Perhaps the complete rebuild will take another year, but advanced enough already to climb back into the eight.
- Richmond: Terrific achievement last year, but too much to believe they can have as good a run with injuries and maintain the hunger to repeat. Back to ninth, Tigers.
- Geelong: Bringing home now injury-prone 33-year-old old favourite son Gary Ablett is not the recipe to overcome the shortcomings exposed in finals in recent years.
- West Coast: Have a gun at either end in Kennedy and McGovern, but there’s something missing at the Eagles – and it repeatedly shows up away from home.
- Carlton: Excellent youth could take the Blues a long way this year. Perhaps a bit early to play finals, but maybe eight to 10 wins if injuries are kind to them.
- St Kilda: Lack class and consistency. Need to start getting big things from Paddy McCartin, defence needs to hold up under pressure, and second-tier midfielders have to step up.
- North Melbourne: Took a couple of steps back to go forward and, like Carlton, youth could take the Kangaroos places, but likely to take time. Big test for Brad Scott to make it happen.
- Brisbane: After the horror years, an abundance of talent now – especially in key positions. Luke Hodge a handy “general” in the short term, but ultimately Lions will have to stand on their own feet.
- Collingwood: High-risk season for Magpies. Any success depends heavily on Mason Cox taking marks and kicking goals and the Darcy Moore experiment working in defence. Hard to see.
- Gold Coast: Suns have the excitement of a new coach with excellent credentials but, while there is plenty of talent on the list, they’re starting from too far back to do too much soon.
- Fremantle: Too reliant on Nat Fyfe having a season like he did in 2015. Aaron Sandilands and Michael Johnson getting on and not enough emerging talent. Huge challenge for Ross Lyon.
Brownlow Medal: Josh Kelly (GWS)
Author: Geoff Harris
Motor racing – of all sorts – and Australian Football are the sporting passions, even obsessions, of GEOFF HARRIS, the journo known to family, friends and Sun News-Pictorial, Herald Sun and sportshounds.com.au colleagues as Harry.