The 2009 AFL Premiership Season Preview

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The 2009 AFL Premiership Season Preview
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

This weekend marks the start of the new AFL season.  The cream of the Aussie Rules footballing community begin their quest for the Holy Grail, the 2009 Premiership Cup.  Will Hawthorn return to the glory days of the late 80's and repeat as premiers or will Geelong reclaim what they believe Hawthorn stole from them.  Or will we see the rise of a new contender to challenge the dominance of the Hawks and the Cats.

I will try to shed some light on who has the goods and who is just kidding themselves that they have a shot at even making the Top 8.  Also some tips for you Dream Teamers out there.

ADELAIDE CROWS

Coach Neil Craig has always been able to put together a team that is capable of making the Top 8 but always seems to lack the missing pieces to make them a title contender.  This year seems no different.  The team is made up of a bunch of eager youngsters and 4-6 year players and a few remaining remnants of the premiership glory days of the late 90's. 

These battle weary soldiers like Simon Goodwin and Andrew McLeod have always shouldered a much bigger load than they perhaps should.  The mid career players that have come through are either cruising along and just getting by or have failed miserably.  Some of the players that may have been able to make a difference such as Brett Burton have found themselves consistently on the sidelines due to injury.

Do Adelaide have a game plan that will maximise the skills of the horses they have at their disposal?  I believe they do but it will not be enough to challenge for a top 4 spot.  My prediction is that they finish around 8th or 9th.

Dream Team Watch

Simon Goodwin - Mid/Fwd - $395,300 - The old man of the Crows continues to bear the burden of being a superstar and carry the team at times.  He still has all the skills although he is a little slower but moving him to halfback as has been suggested might give him a new lease of life.

Bernie Vince - Mid - $335,700 - A young midfielder who might just be able to reach the next level this year.  Look for a big improvement on his average.

Brent Reilly - Mid - $284,000 - An injury plagued career has come to the crossroads.  A fit Reilly might be able to become a good mid to low priced earner for you.

Jared Petrenko - Def - $86,600 - A future star in the making.  He has all the tools to make an impact right away.  A perfect bench rider and cash cow.

Taylor Walker - Fwd - $86,600 - Had a great year in the SANFL last season and looks like a candidate to help cure Adelaide's goal scoring woes.  Another good bench choice.

 

BRISBANE LIONS

The dominant team of the early 2000's is but a distant memory but as Metallica once sang, the memory remains.  Former champion Lions player Michael Voss has taken over as coach.  Will this bring about immediate change and a return to the glory days?  They have a midfield that has the potential to return to the top ranks with young star Brad Dalziell and new boy Daniel Rich joining the likes of a still brilliant Simon Black and future leaders Michael Rischitelli and Jed Adcock.

Is it a viable proposition for them to return to the finals this year?  Probably not but they will be moving forward and they have the luxury of one of the most devastating forward duos in the game, Johnathan Brown and Daniel Bradshaw.  At any time these two can change a game in a heartbeat.  Given some solid midfield service the Lions might just be a contender for the finals and will definitely cause some of the top teams some trouble.

My prediction is 9th or 10th.

Dream Team Watch

Bradd Dalziell - Mid - $420,300 - Can he reproduce the form he showed in the last half of last season to justify his high price?  I think the rest of the teams may have caught on to his antics and will look to stifle his effect.  Maybe wait and see if he copes with the added pressure.

Michael Rischitelli - Mid - $345,200 - Some might say he is a Rischi pick (gosh I'm funny) but I think this might be his year to take his game to the next level.  Time to slot him in as a mid-ranger.

Daniel Bradshaw - Fwd - $337,900 - This guy is a star and for this price you would be mad not to consider him.  He will have the odd quiet week but when he fires he is 120pt range.

Daniel Rich - Mid - $126,600 - A lot of the hype has centered around this bloke and if he can be half as good as everyone reckons then he will be an awesome addition to your bench.  If you want to start him however be very careful as Rookies always have their bad days.

 

CARLTON BLUES

The Blues are a definite team on the rise.  They have a good core of experience mixed with some exciting future and current young stars.  They have what could arguably be the best midfield in the comp (Geelong would argue).  With guys like Judd, Murphy, Stevens and Gibbs they have the goods to feed forwards like Fevola and Betts.  My big concerns are whether their defence is good enough and does Brett Ratten have enough ideas to combat the more experienced coaches and their game plans.

They have a very exciting team on paper but can they take the next step and produce the results to get a decent finals berth?  Only time will tell but it will be an interesting year for them.  My prediction 6th to 9th.

Dream Team Watch

Bryce Gibbs - Mid - $387,300 - This kid is a future star but the question is can he elevate himself out of the "tagger" role and into a complete midfield dominator?  I think this might be his year to make a real name for himself.

Kade Simpson - Mid - $355,600 - The forgotten man of the Blues midfield is one name you should remember.  He has excellent aerobic capacity and due to his running mates often leaves him free of a direct opponent.  Could be a big improver.

Bret Thornton - Def - $282,600 - Last year he started off like a house on fire before being slowed by injury.  Can he be the hard running backman that Carlton so desperately need?  Possibly, and this is the year to prove it.

Chris Yarran - Fwd - $130,600 - There has been a lot of talk about this exciting young talent but I fear that he may be a year too early for Dream Team glory.  He may find himself in and out of the team and will not be the Cyril Rioli of this season.

 

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES

A team with serious ideas about joining the top 2.  They have all the bases covered in terms of personnel and a coach in Mick Malthouse who has been there and done that.  Another team with serious midfield guns including Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury and a running backline that moves the ball quickly and with precision. 

They have a forward line that has so many weapons that kicking a winning score will rarely be a problem.  If they continue their rise and improvement they may just manage to rattle the cage of Hawthorn and Geelong.  Prediction, 3rd.

Dream Team Watch

Dane Swan - Mid -  $455,000 - If you don't want to pay top dollar for the Geelong midfield then you would do a lot worse than getting this guy.  He is a point scoring machine and with some help arriving in numbers in midfield will only continue to make him a DT legend.

Dale Thomas Fwd $325,200 - Will this be the year that Daisy finally breaks the shackles and fulfills his obvious talent.  A role further upfield might be the spark that makes his average rise to a healthy level.

Heath Shaw Def $363,300 - Heater, Heater, Heater, what are we going to do with you?  Last year your best was sensational but at your worst you couldn't match Presti's score.  Hopefully he has worked on how to break a tag over the off-season.

Dayne Beams Mid $86,600 - Along with fellow first year player Steele Sidebottom, Beams has all the talent in the world.  He looks like Dane Swan and hopefully he will produce like him too.  A good bench pick.

 

ESSENDON BOMBERS

A team spinning its wheels.  They have some good young talent coming in but some excellent talent going out.  This pretty much leaves them where they are, going nowhere.  If Lloyd and Lucas are not fit and firing then they are dead in the water.  They have a serviceable midfield but it is never going to set the world on fire.

They have recruited a good utility in Hayden Skipworth.  He might provide some much needed scoring but may end up being a Mr Fix-it.  Prediction 12th - 14th.

Dream Team Watch

Andrew Lovett Fwd / Mid $337,700 - Coach Matthew Knights recently put the hard word on this guy to put up or shut up.  If he responds positively then he might be a bolter.

Hayden Skipworth Mid / Fwd $196,600 - The talk of the DT town.  If he produces half of his potential he will be worth it but having had one shot at the big time already he may just not be able to make it.  It will be a matter of time to see if he has what it takes.

Scott Lucas Fwd $222,800 - On his day he is a match winner and one of the best leading forwards.  He has become injury prone but if he can get one more good year out of his body then he might be worth the risk.

Courtenay Dempsey Def $201,900 - A talent that cannot be denied...except by his body.  If he can get one good solid year going then he just might become a running halfback that will get you heaps of points.

 

FREMANTLE DOCKERS

Another team seemingly going nowhere.  They have some good young talent coming through but apart from Matthew Pavlich they have no-one to really teach them and to help them develop as a unit.  The team may suffer for a few more years yet until they get some stability and experience.  Prediction 15th-16th.

Dream Team Watch

Matthew Pavlich Fwd $440,000 - What can you say about this bloke?  He is the heart and soul of the club and always produces big numbers.

Stephen Hill Def / Mid $142,600 - Hard to say why he got such a high price tag to begin with but he will be straight in the team and looks likely to make an impact.

Byron Schammer Mid $320,500 - Along with Rhys Palmer he is the best thing going in the midfield for Freo.  Look for his numbers to rise now he has some help.

Daniel Gilmore Mid / Ruc $300,500 - This is my tip for the breakout star of Freo.  He has a good engine and can work all around the ground.

 

GEELONG CATS

Was last year a success or a failure?  They ran through the season with relative ease losing one game and then tripped over the last hurdle to lose the premiership to Hawthorn.  But on the plus side they pretty much have the same team they did last year and they have the added hunger of last years missed opportunity.

Their midfield is second to none and they have a forward structure that causes all sorts of problems for teams.  They also have one of the best defences in the league.  So basically I am saying this is an awesome team that will return to dominance.  Prediction 1st.

Dream Team Watch

Jimmy Bartel Mid $501,800, Gary Ablett Mid $495,700, Joel Corey Mid $485,100 - Are they too expensive?  Yes.  Are they worth it?  Yes.  The real question is how many to get.  My choice would be one...any of them and then spread the wealth.

Joel Selwood Mid $404,000 - This kid is good.  Really good and with all his mates in the midfield has the chance to make A B C wish they were that good.  Maybe I am overstating him but who cares, get on him.

Paul Chapman Fwd $410,600 - Is he over all his injury worries and will he give us 22 weeks of Chappy goodness?  Only time will tell but I am banking on it.

 

HAWTHORN HAWKS

The Hawks shocked the world (well Australia anyway) when they defeated the indestructible Cats in the Grand Final.  It would seem that Alistair Clarkson had come up with the ultimate remedy to the virus that was Geelong.  But are they really that good or were they just riding a wave of Shane Crawford induced sentiment all the way to glory?

This season we will see if guys like Chance Bateman, Brad Sewell and Clinton Young among others can back up their seasons from last year with another big effort to support stars like Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell.  But the one real shining star is forward Lance "Buddy" Franklin.  He elevated his game to superstar status and made all opposition coaches rethink their strategies on how to stop him.

If the Hawks can recreate last years end of year form for a whole season then they just might win the regular season.  Prediction 2nd.

Dream Team Watch

Luke Hodge Mid / Def $428,800 - He is a prototype midfielder, strong, quick, fearless and excellent skills.  His decision making is matched by few.  Get this guy and make him captain.

Jarryd Roughead Fwd $352,500 - Robin to Franklin's Batman he could be the number one forward at many clubs.  He has his down games but for the most part he is a great producer.

Cameron Stokes Fwd $232,400 - This is a weird pick but I think that he might just have a Rioli type year this season.  Maybe even better.

 

MELBOURNE DEMONS

What can I say about Melbourne that won't be disheartening and down right mean?  Not much really.  They have some slowly developing talent and some ageing stars but the immediate future looks very grim indeed.  They need to improve faster than Usain Bolt can run.

But what can they do in the meantime to at least make this season bearable to their fans.  Well for starters they can stop giving up massive first half leads and also stop giving up the leads that they get themselves.  Seriously this team was Jeckyll and Hyde last year...in the same game.  Prediction 15th - 16th

Dream Team Watch

Brock McLean Mid $383,200 - One of the few shining lights in the team.  He has the ability to make the players around him better.  Will be a good earner.

Aaron Davey Fwd $294,300 - Can Davey move into midfield and become a consistent ball winner?  We all know how much talent he has, is it about time they unleash it full time?

Jack Grimes Def $186,400 - Was going to be the young star they needed until a back injury has curtailed his pre-season.  Might be one to keep in mind for later on in the season.

Lynden Dunn Mid $237,900 - One of the guys who has been in the mix for a few years now.  Needs to step up now if Melbourne are to go forward.

 

NORTH MELBOURNE

The Kangaroos have been a bit of a yo-yo team of late.  Just when you think they are about to drop to the bottom they bounce back up and perform well.  Then they have another dip for a year but they keep fighting their way into finals contention.

They have just the right mix of youth and experience but maybe not enough genuine quality to win it all.  They seem to possess a spirit, a shinboner spirit if you will, that allows them to squeeze all they can out of themselves but still they just can't crack the big one.  This year will be no different but they will be entertaining.  Prediction 6th-9th.

Dream Team Watch

Daniel Wells Mid $368,700 - Will this be the year he goes from one quarter wonder to all round superstar?  I sure hope so.

Liam Anthony Mid $86,600 - Has been a revelation since being picked up as a mature age recruit.  But Laidley has a weird thing with rookies and he might get one or two games in a row before being rested.

Hamish McIntosh Ruc $296,600 - Looking to rediscover his form from 2007 after an injury plagued season last year.  Might just be the breakout ruckman of the comp.

Jack Ziebell Fwd / Mid $118,600 - Looks like a future star.  Might struggle for playing time early but if the season goes south then he will be in like a shot.

 

PORT ADELAIDE

A season that was so near yet so far.  A failed pre-season conspired to make them unable to run out games effectively and they lost many games they should have won if not for fourth quarter fadeouts.  They have rectified this with a new fitness co-ordinator and hopefully they can rise back up into the top 8 where their talent deems they should be.

With a fully fit Chad Cornes and a reworked mid-field they should have no trouble matching wits with the top teams.  I could even see this team in the top 4.  Prediction 4th-6th.

Dream Team Watch

Peter Burgoyne Mid / Def $377,200 - Has been moved back into midfield and with the revamped team should come loads of points.

Chad Cornes Mid / Def $379,500 - After an injury plagued season he should return to his best.  He is an absolute gun.

Nathan Krakouer Fwd $189,300 - Despite being listed as a forward he looks set for a halfback running gig.  He may need to bulk up a bit more to be a star but he will still be good value.

Brett Ebert Fwd $253,100 - Can he be a high scorer?  Yes if he works hard.  Will he?  Well if the new gameplan is anything to go by then he will have to work hard or he will be out.

 

RICHMOND TIGERS

Richmond during the off-season either pulled off the greatest recruiting coup in years or bought themselves a massive headache.  If memberships are anything to go by then the fans think things are looking up at Tigerland.

Ben Cousins has turned from outcast leper to club saviour.  He has wandered into a club on the rise and looking for the missing piece to take them to the next level.  With Brett Deledio, Richo and Nathan Brown among others they have a team that has a shot at making a few waves in september.  If things go according to plan expect them to be around the mark for a run at the title.  Prediction 5th-7th.

Dream Team Watch

Ben Cousins Mid $364,000 - I know he has been out for two years but seriously if anyone thinks he is not worth this amount of money and won't perform then you are crazy.  Get him now!

Daniel Jackson Mid $318,300 - With the addition of Cousins there is scope for another mid to step up and be a star.  I think this guy could be the one.

Andrew Raines Def $188,100 - Another bloke who has suffered through injuries looking for a fresh start and hoping to regain a permanent spot in the side.  If he fulfills his talent he become untradeable.

Nathan Foley Mid $332,400 - Another one who will benefit greatly from the presence of Cousins.  At his best he is a running machine and when those little legs are pumping he is hard to catch.

 

ST KILDA SAINTS

The Sainters have had all the talent in the world for years now and have always just fallen a few steps short.  Will anything change this year.  Unfortunately not.  They are another one of the teams that have nearly all the pieces except for one or two and no-one can put their finger on what they are.

They have an excellent running backline, some awesome midfielders and dominant forwards.  Their one downfall is their ruck division.   They are at once old and brokendown as well as young and untried.  Is this the missing link.  Should someone go out and steal David Hille from Essendon?  They do need something or else this will be another season of false hope.  Prediction 5th - 8th.

Dream Team Watch

Brendon Goddard Def $398,400 - A gun ready to become the highest scoring backman in this caper.

Jarryn Geary Def $192,100 - Could slot in to one of the vacant spots down back but also can plug holes elsewhere.  Could be a nice little earner.

Ben McEvoy Ruc $142,000 - At some stage in the season The Saints are going to have to give this kid a go when King and Gardiner go down.  Maybe sooner rather than later would be a good time to get him in the side.

Leigh Fisher Def $162,700 - After a very disappointing season he has apparently trained the house down and could play in  a variety of different positions.  Might not play from the start but will get in the team very soon.

 

SYDNEY SWANS

A team in transition.  They have always been a very good defensive team and Paul Roos has a very structured system but the game is changing and maybe the Swans don't have the horses to roll with the punches...well maybe Barry Hall can.

Are the youngsters coming into the midfield ready to take next step and be able to stand up to the great midfields of Geelong and Carlton?  And is the forward line capable of kicking a winning score, especially if Hall gets suspended or injured.  Sydney is a team that throws up a lot of questions and answers very few.  I think their slide down the ladder will continue.  Prediction 9th - 12th.

Dream Team Watch

Adam Goodes Mid $359,200 -  Is this the year he shocks us all and starts playing like the champion we know he is right from round1?

Nick Malceski Def $298,800 - Another coming back from injury and trying to return to his best.  I just hope the knee they sticky taped and glued back together holds up.

Craig Bird Mid $233,500 - Had a nice solid first up season and now needs to continue his development and become a real midfield runner.

Mike Pyke Ruc $75,300 - I just like this guys story.  An accomplished Rugby player for the Canadian national team he gave up his position with a club in France to give Aussie Rules a go.  He is an awesome athlete who has picked up the game very quickly.  He has impressed the staff enough to be elevated from the rookie list on to the main list.  Hopefully he gets better and gets some good game time.  Good luck mate.

 

WEST COAST EAGLES

Just four short years ago this was a powerhouse of the league.  A few scandals and departures later and the Eagles are down the bottom with no sign of a ladder or a rope to drag themselves back up with.  The core group of players they recruited to drive the Eagles bus for the next ten years have mostly gone.  Only Dean Cox and Daniel Kerr have remained from the engine room and have struggled to keep the team afloat.

There have been some new blood that has brought with it some hope.  Matt Priddis, Chris Masten and Sam Butler give hope that the once mighty Eagles midfield shall rise again.  If full forward Quinten Lynch can continue the form he showed late last season at least the Eagles will have a viable goal scoring option.  Prediction 12th - 14th.

Dream Team Watch

Sam Butler Mid $216,500 - A young kid with a big future.  Needs to get some consistency behind him but looks like he can help the midfield return to.....goodish.

Daniel Kerr Mid $339,200 - Needs to pull his head in and realise he is now the main man and has to be on the ground and not sitting out due to stupidity.  If he can return to his best, he is a gun.

Dean Cox Ruc $473,200 - Quite simply if you want the best ruckman in the game then he is it.

Mitchell Brown Fwd $86,600 - A rookie who looks like he can fill a number of roles.  Will be a good cash cow.

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS

This is a team that snuck up on people a little last year.  How did such a young team get so good so fast?  I guess the real question is can they back it up.  With reigning Brownlow Medalist Adam Cooney and ball magnet Daniel Cross running the show and evergreen Brad Johnson still the focal point of a forward line that is improving with every game they have a shot at another run at the trophy.

The one thing they lacked in the finals was a killer edge.  If they can turn from Bulldogs into Pit Bull Terriers when it matters most they might just have a chance to end their premiership drought.  Prediction 3rd - 5th.

Dream Team Watch

Shaun Higgins Fwd / Mid $211,900 - Had a shocking ankle injury at the start of last season and has spent all this time trying to recuperate and then regain his spot.  He will return to where he was and continue his improvement.

Callan Ward Mid $181,900 - A young guy with a big future who needs to find his place in the lineup.  When he does, look out.

Robert Murphy Fwd $395,100 - Has had a stop start career due to injuries but when he is on fire there is not too many half forwards better.

Lindsay Gilbee Def $342,700 - DT consistency is an issue because he sometimes has to sacrifice his game for the good of the team.  But when he is allowed to run, he is a point scoring machine.

 

Well there you have it.  You can agree or disagree with my assessments of both the teams and the DT players.  This will be a great season and I can't wait for the first game to start.  Richmond v Carlton.  Judd v Cousins.  What a way to start.

Good luck to your team this year.

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