Sun, Mar 12, 12:02pm by Head Editor
In the third of our six club by club previews, we look at the two clubs who lost in the first week of the finals last season, West Coast and North Melbourne, and St Kilda, who missed out on the September action by percentage only.
The Eagles were one of the most active clubs during the trade period, as the pressure builds on coach Adam Simpson after the West Australian powerhouse failed at the first hurdle in the finals last season.
Coming into the side is a trio of more-than-handy recruits in the form of Sam Mitchell from Hawthorn, Nathan Vardy from Geelong and Drew Petrie from North Melbourne.
Vardy’s acquisition could be vital given that ruckman Nick Naitanui is likely to miss most, if not all, of the season.
The Eagles got the reputation of flat-track bullies last campaign following losses to fellow finalists Hawthorn, Sydney, Geelong, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide, along with Collingwood. They were knocked out in the elimination final by the eventual premiers.
Jeremy McGovern and Luke Shuey and are in the prime of their careers and are $4.50 and $7 respectively for All-Australian honours, they’ll have a big role to play this season. The $1.40 for them to make the eight looks safe.
Their draw is rated the tenth hardest in the league, having to play Western Bulldogs, GWS, St Kilda, Port Adelaide and Fremantle twice.
I can’t see the Eagles challenging for a Premiership this season, but they’ll be a part of the finals action.
Ins: Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn), Nathan Vardy (Geelong), Drew Petrie (Rookie Pick 29/North Melbourne), Daniel Venables (Pick 13), Josh Rotham (Pick 37), Willie Rioli (Pick 52), Jake Waterman (Pick 77), Thomas Gorter (Rookie Pick 12), Fraser McInnes (Rookie Pick 44)
Outs: Damien Cavka (Retired), Xavier Ellis (Retired), Patrick McGinnity (Retired), Kane Lucas (Retired), Jamie Bennell (Delisted), Brant Colledge (Delisted), Alec Waterman (Delisted), Corey Adamson (Delisted), Mitch Brown (Delisted)
Predicted finish after Round 23: 7th
Premiership Odds: $9 Our Odds: $13
North Melbourne have been the whipping boys of the AFL this summer, with most pundits predicting that they’ll slide out of the finals and into the bottom four.
It’s easy to see why, given that 1337 games of experience walked out of the club last year with Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo all delisted.
Making things easier for North is that they have the easiest draw of any side in the league, playing just one finalist twice, the Western Bulldogs.
While I am a subscriber to the theory that the Kangas will “slide”, it will not be as dramatic as the experts think, they still have plenty of talent on the list. Heading that list of talent is Mason Wood, who is now North’s “poster boy” as the club transitions from the win-now mentality to playing for the future.
Ben Brown will play alongside Wood in the forward line, while new skipper Jack Ziebell, Ben Cunnington and Andrew Swallow make up a midfield that will play at the feet of 2015 All-Australian Todd Goldstein, who holds it all together.
Ins: Paul Ahern (traded from GWS), Majak Daw (upgraded from rookie list), Nathan Hrovat (traded from Western Bulldogs), Brayden Preuss (upgraded from rookie list), Marley Willams (traded from Collingwood).
Outs: Aaron Black (traded to Geelong), Nick Dal Santo (delisted), Michael Firrito (retired), Brent Harvey (retired), Robin Nahas (delisted), Brad McKenzie (delisted), Drew Petrie (delisted), Farren Ray (retired), Joel Tippett (delisted), Daniel Wells (Unrestricted Free Agent to Collingwood).
Predicted finish after Round 23: 10th
Premiership Odds: $67 Our Odds: $23
The Saints have been touted as a ‘bolter’ in 2017, on the back of a trade period in which they undoubtedly came out on top, picking up Koby Stevens and Jack Steele along with defender Nathan Brown as a free agent.
In the forward line, the trio of Josh Bruce, Tim Membrey and Paddy McCartin combine for a triple-threat, that could be a nightmare for defenders.
In the middle of the ground, Jack Steven is a star, he averaged 28 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, five inside 50s and a disposal efficiency percentage of 70 in 2016.
Their defence could be an issue, relying heavily on Sean Dempster and Sam Gilbert but will be helped by the return of Jake Carlisle, from a 12-month ASADA ban.
Coming off a 9th-placed finish last season, they play Sydney and West Coast twice, they’ll be racking up the frequent flyer points with two interstate trips to Perth and Adelaide. Two of those come late in the season, Round 18 (Sydney) and Round 19 (Port Adelaide), when you’d expect them to be in the finals-mix.
I have the Saints remaining just outside the finals in ninth which is paying $1.50 with Sportsbet.
Ins: Nathan Brown (Restricted Free Agent from Collingwood), Jason Holmes (upgraded from rookie list), Jack Steele (traded from GWS Giants), Koby Stevens (traded from Western Bulldogs).
Outs: Tom Curren (delisted), Luke Delaney (delisted), Sam Fisher (retired), Tom Lee (delisted), Brodie Murdoch (delisted), Brenton Payne (delisted), Josh Saunders (delisted), Cameron Shenton (delisted), Eli Templeton (delisted).
Predicted finish after Round 23: 9th
Premiership Odds $26: Our Odds: $23
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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