2021 – A New AFL Season beckons, so what will change?

Welcome to my new site focused on all things AFL.

With 2021 now with us, we can focus on what will be maybe the most even AFL season ever.

Like the last few years, which teams could truly emerge from the bottom tier such as Port Adelaide & Brisbane most recently or even Richmond & the Western Bulldogs in previous years.

Let’s start with the serious contenders. On the surface it appears the 2021 AFL Premiership winner will come from one of four teams: Richmond, Geelong, Brisbane & Port Adelaide.

These 4 teams all have the most legitimate claims:

Richmond: Likely will be favoured by extended quarters. A deep list with players that missed out on last years Premiership such as Caddy / Stack/ Jack Ross/ Dow / the yet to debut Collier Dawkins & Jake Aarts alongside 4-5 others.

Geelong: Added class that perhaps was lacking in 2020 with Jeremey Cameron from GWS, the evergreen & sublime Shaun Higgins & the supremely talented triple premiership Hawk, Isaac Smith. Surely they will be there again.

And added to that is the mastery of coach Chris Scott, has rebuilt a team like no one else in the last 10 years, and appears destined to continue. Maybe 2021 is the year Paddy Dangerfield can claim that elusive flag.

Port Adelaide. Hard as nails in 2020 and valiant against the Tigers all the way to the line. Great young stars on everyline and more to come in. sod recruiting with Alir Alir a genuine talent and Fantasia if he can recapture his best form.

A Potent midfield with Boak, Rockcliffe, Wines, Butters & Co. No reason this new age Port side cant play in this years decider.

And Brisbane, perhaps the disappointment of 2020 bowing out as they did. Will Daniher be the answer? More likely players such as McLuggage, Berry & Raynor will need to reach new heights for Brisbane to elevate in 2021. All 3 are capable and their continued natural progression will be vital for the Lions to roar again.

The draw makes it slightly harder for Brisbane & Port genuinely playing all the main contenders and emerging teams twice in 2021. They escaped this luxury in 2020, and as a result maybe 15 wins beckons as the benchmark for both in 2021.

So who will emerge in 2021?

The most talented young lists are clear to see. As much as every team may feel they have the next generation of young starts there are 4 clubs that head this list:

  1. Carlton. Blessed with talent & by adding Saad & Williams, the Blues have what it takes. If Curnow can get on the park, then look out! The Blues can give 2021 a shake. The list simply warrants this now.
  2. St Kilda. Super young talent, and Ratten has learned so much from his first stint as an AFL Coach. Hunter Clark will turn 22 years old when the season commences & looks a genuine midfield star. He was a threat to the Tiges in last years semi at Metricon.

Loved his attack on the ball and clean hands and alongside Jack Steele, a fit Dan Hannebery and co, the Saints can rise. Expect more from Brad Hill, and how much will Crouch toughen them up. No excuses, time to rise.

  1. And Gold Coast, talent everywhere now on this list. Maybe need another 12 months to develop but don’t be surprised to see the Suns emerge.
  2. Sydney. Need Heeney, Mills, Florent, Blakey all having big years, but Horse has a plan, and its coming together. Ran the Cats to a goal at end of 2020 and have added well in last 2 drafts.

The Best of the Rest:

West Coast, GWS, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne head the list. All have claims, but all have a lot to prove in 2021.

The Pies are a wait and see. Maybe 12 months are needed for younger players to support Sidebottom, Pendlebury, DeGoey & Elliott. Loved Josh Daicos year and can’t wait to see Nick Daicos in action in 2022. Smart decisions at draft table will pay off.

Which leaves a pool of clubs with more to do to make a 2021 a success. Freo is on the right track but maybe a year or two too early. But we expect every team to be competitive in 2021.

For me, it will be a fascinating year to see how teams re adjust after 2020 & whether they are “ready” to go again.

And here’s 12 young players were looking forward to seeing more of in 2021:

  1. Matt Rowell                        Gold Coast
  2. Hunter Clark                       St Kilda
  3. Clayton Oliver                    Melbourne
  4. Jarrod Berry                        Brisbane
  5. Zak Butters                         Port Adelaide
  6. Izak Rankine                       Gold Coast
  7. Liam Baker                          Richmond
  8. Reilly O’Brien                     Adelaide
  9. Josh Daicos                         Collingwood
  10. Adam Cerra                        Fremantle
  11. Tarryn Thomas                  North Melbourne
  12. Logan McDonald               Sydney

We can’t wait, bring on 2021.

Darren Herft & AFL Football Writers

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