Sun, Mar 19, 10:34am by Head Editor
In the last of our six club by club previews, we look at last season’s cellar dwellers, Fremantle, Brisbane Lions and Essendon who finished with just ten wins between them in 2016.
The less said about last season the better if you have any affiliation with the Fremantle Football Club, their fall from grace was drastic and one that not many saw coming.
They went from minor premiers in 2015, winning 17 of their 22 home and away games, to just four wins last season. There were a couple of crippling injuries to their two most important players – Aaron Sandilands and Nat Fyfe, but it was an inexcusable effort from the club.
This season will be different. The two players I just mentioned are back and firing and they’ve bought in a quartet of homesick West Aussies – Cam McCarthy (GWS), Joel Hamling (Western Bulldogs), Brad Hill (Hawthorn) and Shane Kersten (Geelong).
I have them climbing up the ladder to 11th, they can challenge for finals if Nat Fyfe stays fit and the new recruits can deliver now that they are in the comforts of their home state. The $9 for Fyfe to win his second Brownlow Medal in three years could also be value if he can return to his form of 2015.
Freo’s draw is always hard, playing out of Western Australia and this year is no different, they’ve been hit with the fifth hardest, having to play 2016 finalists Geelong, West Coast and North Melbourne twice.
Ins: Cam McCarthy (GWS Giants), Brad Hill (Hawthorn), Shane Kersten (Geelong), Joel Hamling (Western Bulldogs), Sean Darcy, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Taylin Duman, Luke Strnadica (draft)
Outs: Chris Mayne (Collingwood), Matthew Pavlich (retired), Michael Barlow, Alex Silvagni, Clancee Pearce, Tendai Mzungu, Matt de Boer, Anthony Morabito, Jack Hannath, Tanner Smith, Sean Hurley (delisted)
Predicted finish after Round 23: 11th
Premiership Odds $18: Our Odds: $26
The mighty Lions were anything but mighty last season, Justin Leppitsch gave his players licence to attack in a bid to play an attacking style of play and that worked, they scored the second-most points of any team in the bottom six, there was only one problem, they conceded 500 points more than any other team in the competition.
This season, there is no Justin Leppitsch to call the shots, with former Hawthorn-assistant Chris Fagan installed as the new coach.
Fagan will no doubt be focusing on defence and making the Lions a much harder team to score against. There is of course talent on this list, with former-Pie Dayne Beams handed the captaincy ahead of ball-magnet Tom Rockliff.
The club also snagged Hugh McClugagge with pick three, the goal-kicking midfielder has the potential to be elite with considering him the best prospect in the draft.
Their draw is rated the 11th hardest, playing Gold Coast, Essendon, Richmond, Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide twice. It’s a rebuilding year for the Lions and while they should be more competitive, they’ll still be in the bottom two.
They are favourite for the wooden spoon/ least wins at $2.35.
Ins: Jack Frost (Collingwood), Jake Barrett (GWS Giants), Matt Eagles (‘The Recruit’), Hugh McCluggage, Jarrod Berry, Alex Witherden, Cedric Cox, Jacob Allison, Corey Lyons, Mitchell Hinge, Oscar McInerney, Blake Grewar (draft)
Outs: Pearce Hanley (Gold Coast), Daniel Merrett, Trent West, Jaden McGrath (retired), Josh Green, Jackson Paine, Billy Evans, Hugh Beasley, Josh Watts, Josh McGuinness (delisted)
Predicted finish after Round 23: 17th
Premiership Odds $501: Our Odds: $101
Essendon supporters can let out a huge sigh of relief on Saturday 25th of March, when the “Banned Bombers” run out onto the MCG to face Hawthorn. There will be tens of thousands of the Bombers’ faithful there to cheer them on but the big question is also the most difficult one to answer.
How will Dyson Heppell, Jobe Watson, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley, Travis Colyer, Heath Hocking, David Myers, Ben Howlett, Brent Stanton and Tom Bellchambers fare after missing 12 months off footy due to their WADA suspension?
Well, firstly, it’s important to remember that these players were on the list that only managed three more wins in 2015 than the top-up team did last year. Obviously, there were extreme circumstances surrounding that season though, when the news broke of the drug saga.
There is no doubt that the Bombers will be better this season with the return of their stars, and they unearthed a couple of gems last season in Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett, but let’s keep the champagne on ice.
Their draw is the fifth easiest, playing fellow cellar dwellers Carlton and Brisbane twice, while the only 2016 finalist they meet twice is Adelaide.
Ins: Josh Green (Brisbane), James Stewart (GWS Giants), Andrew McGrath, Jordan Ridley, Josh Begley, Kobe Mutch, Dylan Clarke, Sam Draper (draft)
Outs: Michael Hibberd (Melbourne), Tayte Pears (retired), Courtenay Dempsey, Ryan Crowley, Nathan Grima, Mark Jamar, Sam Grimley, Sam Michael, James Polkinghorne, Jonathon Simpkin, James Gwilt, Jason Ashby, Shaun Edwards, Tom Wallis, Nick Kommer, Will Hams, Gach Nyuon (delisted)
Predicted finish after Round 23: 16th
Premiership Odds $23: Our Odds: $67
Stay tuned as we continue our club by club previews on www.australiangambling.lv in the lead up to the AFL season.
AFL Premiership (Sportsbet):
Greater Western Sydney $4.50
Western Bulldogs $5.50
West Coast $9
St Kilda $26
Port Adelaide $34
Gold Coast $41
North Melbourne $67
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