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AFL Season 2012 Preview – A Giant Year Awaits

It has been 5 and a half months since Geelong defied all the odds to be crowned 2011 AFL Premiers, and the excitement and build up for a season has never been bigger than this. Season 2012 will be the biggest yet, with the competition welcoming in it’s 18th club, the Greater Western Sydney Giants, and whilst the boys in orange & charcoal are unlikely to be challenging for the premiership themselves, there are likely to be more genuine premiership contenders than ever before.

The story of 2011 was undoubtedly the Geelong Cats. Having lost their best player and coach, the Cats were written off as too old and too slow. They defied all odds and won their 3rd flag in 5 years. It would only be an absolute fool to write off the boys from Kardinia Park again this season. The side who stole the 2008 premiership off that great Geelong outfit, Hawthorn, went within a kick of making  the grand final last season, and with the likes of Lance Franklin, Sam Mitchell, Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli and a host of other bona fide and up & coming stars, they will again be there at the business end of the season.

Another side who will be right there when the premiership is decided is Collingwood, who as much as it pains me to say it, have probably been the best side of the past two seasons. The Black & White Army has a steely resolve about them this season, and whilst their succession plan from 2 years ago has backfired somewhat and ended up getting rid of the number 1 coach in the game, the promotion of favourite son Nathan Buckley to head coach brings an added sense of excitement & anticipation.

The Magpies recent success has been watched with a degree of envy by their traditional rivals, the Carlton Blues, but as their slogan of recent years has suggested, they’re coming. Any team with a midfield boasting the likes of Judd, Murphy, Gibbs, Simpson & Kreuzer is going to be unbelievably tough to match up on.

Along with these 4 Victorian powerhouses, I think there are 2 interstate teams which, if all things go well, will be there come September. 2011 saw the West Coast Eagles soar from wooden spooners to 3rd place, and they have a young side which has the ability to again push for a top 4 spot. The loss of Mark LeCras and Mark Nicoski for a vast majority of the season is a huge blow, but the rise and rise of the likes of Naitanui, Priddis & Kennedy ensure they will be very tough to beat, especially at home. Patersons Stadium is a fortress.

The other interstate side who is primed for a challenge is the club who is perennially overlooked by all the experts, but 13 finals appearances in the past 16 years doesn’t lie. The Sydney Swans have bucked the trend of recent years, refusing to bottom out and somehow finding a way to remain finals contenders. Clever trading and prudent draft selections has the Swans ready for a tilt at the flag. If Adam Goodes was playing for a Victorian club, he’d be considered amongst the best players in the game (being the fastest player ever to 300 games, 4 All-Australian selections, 3 Best & Fairests, 2 Brownlow medals, Rising Star winner and a Premiership Medallion can’t be wrong!), and when he’s up and going, there isn’t a player in the competition who can match him for size, athleticism, power & talent. Like the Weagles, the Swans have turned their home ground at the SCG into a fortress and will be looking to continue that this season.

As we sit here on the eve of the 2012 season, the sense of excitement is palpable. Bring on the footy, and what promises to be the biggest and best season in the 154 year history of the game.

Click here to watch the 2012 AFL Season Opener.

 

James’ Predicted Ladder

  1. Hawthorn
  2. Collingwood
  3. Geelong
  4. Carlton
  5. Sydney
  6. West Coast
  7. Adelaide
  8. St. Kilda
  9. Richmond
  10. Fremantle
  11. Essendon
  12. Melbourne
  13. North Melbourne
  14. Western Bulldogs
  15. Brisbane
  16. Port Adelaide
  17. Gold Coast
  18. Greater Western Sydney

 

 

Where do you think your side will finish in 2012? Sound off in the comments below.

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