The AFL premiership window is wide open for several clubs, with many suitors holding a strong argument for why they will end 2020 in glory.
The reigning premiers remain favourites to do it all again in 2020. After a dominant 2019 campaign, Damian Hardwick’s side will likely start right where they left off, featuring as the league’s most envied club.
Astonishingly, the Tigers just lost one of the best defenders of the 21st century in Alex Rance and are still likely to sit atop the podium come September this year. Richmond managed to claim the bragging rights last season with Rance sidelined for the whole season, so it’s looking just as difficult to see how they could possibly trip up in 2020.
If the superstar forward pair of Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt hadn’t been perfected in year one, then expect even more damage to opponents defences this season. The Tigers haven’t welcomed many big names this offseason – not that they need to – but expect Grand Final fan-favourite Marlion Pickett to be the clubs ‘recruit’ of the year.
Tigers fans will be licking their lips with 14 games being played at the MCG – add another few away wins and they already have one hand on a minor premiership. If the Tigers finish in the top two, then there’s no stopping what will be a walk into the Grand Final once again as this dynasty continues to blossom.
All eyes are now back on the Eagles. Following their successful 2018 season, West Coast stuttered in their premiership defence, finishing outside the top four and damaging their back-to-back chances before September.
However, with key figures missing from their finals push and the addition of silky star onballer Tim Kelly from Geelong, the Eagles are the league’s best bet to halt the Tigers push for consecutive flags.
Adam Simpson and his side will be hopeful of starting the season on the right foot, with only two of their first nine matches coming against finals sides from last season in Geelong and Richmond.
The key for the Eagles’ premiership hopes is maintaining fitness. With Nic Naitanui and Josh Kennedy constantly under injury clouds, the West Coast medical team may hold one of the sides most important roles this year.
Expect the boys from out west to be right back up in contention this year, with convincing wins away from home hoping to end any fluctuation in form.
Agonisingly close. The Pies have faced the toughest battles mentally in the league across the last 24 months. The narrow defeat to West Coast in 2018 certainly left them emotionally torn, while the preliminary final defeat to Greater Western Sydney last year added salt to those wounds.
The list is strong, the coach is smart and the fans are fierce…so what’s stopping the Pies from winning their first flag in a decade? For Nathan Buckley, motivation shouldn’t be hard. The leaders and star power he has at his disposal should see his team reach the final four for the third year in a row.
Collingwood’s offseason was more focused on rebuilding and retention rather than acquisition. A youthful list that showed a promising future, with all players looking to have bought into what their coach is offering.
A full season from Jaidyn Stephenson, a fit and firing Jordan De Goey and a reinvigorated Darcy Moore could just be the connection that sparks this new movement. For all the latest footy betting odds click here.
Seven of the Pies’ last nine matches will be at the MCG, with the club hoping that by then they can mirror Richmond’s ability to turn the home of football into a fortress.
A strong finals campaign beckons for the Pies, their biggest test will be the mental fight.
Greater Western Sydney
The side with the most to prove. While they took one step further in 2019, the Giants were embarrassed on the league’s biggest day of the year. But perhaps they have plenty to learn from it.
Their Grand Final high was short-lived, with the Tigers running riot from the second quarter onwards, but the Giants may have gotten just enough of the taste to be hungry for more.
The ‘Ferrari’ that is the Giants playing list is now entering a new era with leadership changes and new challenges. While this growing group of star players has been diluted year after year, they have managed to hold onto a majority of skilled stars with room to improve.
For the 2020 season, the Giants will be eyeing off their round seven clash with the Tigers at the MCG. Not only would a victory over the flag favourites have that sweet taste of redemption, but would prove to many that there is no more need for this club to fear games at the venue. The Giants only have three opportunities to play at the ‘G, with the other two fixtures against The Demons and Hawks.
Expect a fiery start to the season for the Giants – with a number of tough opponents in their opening two months of footy – a good record early could spell success.