With the season hopefully under a week away, I thought I would do the tricky task of compiling my top eight before a ball has even been kicked.
1. GWS Giants
After making it to the big dance last year despite have a pretty ordinary run with injuries with Callan Ward and Stephen Coniglio the biggest stars to miss, I expect them to be around the mark again. They have gun midfielders everywhere, Jeremy Cameron leads a potent forward line and Phil Davis marshals the defence, so look for the Giants to go one better in 2020
2. West Coast
They already had a very talented side last year and now you throw a fully fit Nic Naitanui and Tim Kelly, who they finally landed from Geelong, into their 22 and this is a very settled side. On every line there are match-winners, from Jeremy McGovern to Josh Kennedy. This is a serious football side. Finishing top two is crucial and good luck to anyone who has to travel over to WA in September.
One of the contenders for sure. They have a settled line-up, Tom Lynch gets another pre-season under his belt, and feel-good story Marlion Pickett also has another year in the system. This side has all the makings of going back to back. They are a team dripping with talent. They have a playing structure that is difficult to break down. Look out for the Tigers in 2020.
Any of these four could be put anywhere and you could make a case for them to be among the best. The Pies are as talented as any side in the comp and are a lock to make finals. They have match-winners everywhere but the lack of a tall key forward will hurt them this year. Is Mason Cox the answer? Probably not.
They are the side that crept up on the competition last year to finish second before crashing out of the finals in straight sets. Look for the young Lions to consolidate their status as a genuine contender this year. With a good mix of youth and experience, they are a match for anyone. Winning all home games is crucial but I see them in September to have another chance to tell the competition they are here to stay.
6. Western Bulldogs
They finished last year on fire before laying an egg against the Giants. This young group of pups led by Marcus Bontempelli can match it with any side on their day. Having a midfield the envy of most teams and a solid forward line with Aaron Naughton and new addition Josh Bruce, the Doggies are set to make waves this year.
Probably a surprise for some people, but the Marsh Community Series provided little to convince me about them heading into the season. With Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs and Tom Hawkins they will always have a chance in most games but I just don’t see them as the home-and-away force they were last year. Still, you cannot write them off and they could be somewhat of a smoky this year.
8. Port Adelaide
I had ten to 12 teams I could of easily put in my eight with a doubt, but with the off-season noise from Ken Hinkley about finals being a lock this year, his side will need to deliver. They have the talent but consistency is what’s needed from Port this year. Led by skipper Tom Jonas and a fully fit Charlie Dixon, this could be the year the Power make it back to September.
Honourable mentions: Hawthorn, North Melbourne, Essendon, St Kilda
You could make an argument as to why any one of these sides can make the eight and I would have a hard time disagreeing with you. There are ten to 12 teams that all have a legitimate chance to make the top eight this year – that’s just how even the competiton is.
I just hope we still get to see how it ultimately unfolds.
Read more: theroar.com.au