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2023 AFL Season Preview

The 2023 AFL season is finally upon us. All 18 teams have their eyes on one prize, but which clubs are the most likely to achieve it?

Photo source: Flickr

Adelaide Crows- 2022 finish: 14th

The announcement of Jordan Dawson as captain allows for a fresh start for Matthew Nicks's outfit. In Nick's fourth season as coach, he has recruited Izak Rankine giving them what they have been missing in the mid-forward role.

An impressive pre-season performance against the Eagles from youngsters Luke Pedlar and Harry Schoenberg has raised expectations from locals this year. Are they too slow in the midfield with the likes of Laird, Berry, Schoenberg and Keays? Will their defence stack up against the top teams? These are the burning questions.

Pass mark: 8+ wins

Brisbane Lions- 2022 finish: 6th

The Lions come into 2023 looking like a formidable side with father-son selections Will Ashcroft and Jaspa Fletcher continuing to impress both on and off the training ground. Dan McStay has departed to Collingwood, his replacement is Jack Gunston who knows how to play well in big finals. The season for the Lions starts in September, but will their defensive structure and pressure be able to stand up when it counts?

Pass mark: Preliminary Final

Carlton- 2022 finish: 9th

After heartbreakingly missing out last season the Blues will be looking to bounce back and play in finals for the first time since 2013. Carlton's inner core of players such as All-Australian Charlie Curnow, Harry Mckay and Brownlow medal winner Patrick Cripps will lead from the front but whether or not their 18-22nd selected players will as well is yet to be seen.

Questions such as will their depth hold up in finals? How will they cope if they lose in the contested ball? Can they improve their turnover game? These queries are just some of what will be asked of them throughout the year.

Pass mark: Finals

Collingwood- 2022 finish: 4th

The Pies play a sustainable high-pressure game, moving the ball forward at all costs. It is a style that is hard to play against and is exciting for fans. Will they be able to win those close games like they did last year? Ultimately it will decide if they make the top 4.

Pass mark: Finals

Essendon- 2022 finish: 15th

The sacking of Coach Ben Rutten at the end of last season left a sour taste in their fans’ mouths regarding how the club dealt with scandals off the ground. New coach Brad Scott will hope for their actions on matchday to do the talking.

Essendon has a bright future with young guns such as Nic Cox, Archie Perkins and new draftee Elijah Tsatas who are the beacon of hope that Bombers fans have to break their hoodoo of not winning a final since 2004. They seem to have a lack of leadership and some selfish players who only care about their stat sheet at the end of a game, further increasing the gap between themselves and the top 8.

The ability to defend one on one and ball movement is a real issue for Brad Scott which needs to be addressed by the whole playing group if they want a solid season.

Pass mark: 6+ wins

Fremantle- 2022 finish: 5th

The Dockers have developed an excellent defensive brand of football that gave them a first finals appearance in Justin Longmuir’s tenure as coach. Nat Fyfe relinquishing the captaincy to defender Alex Pearce gives him the freedom to potentially have a big season as a hybrid forward kicking 30+ goals for the year.

Pass mark- Finals

Geelong- 2022 finish: Premiers

The Cats come into this year as favourites and they deserve to be. Joel Selwood’s retirement will hurt, though newly appointed captain Patrick Dangerfield is the right man to take them forward. The only thing stopping them from getting back-to-back flags is hunger and injuries.

Pass mark- Grand Final

Gold coast- 2022 finish: 12th

The Suns seem to be in eternal purgatory coming into this year which means trouble for Stuart Dew in his sixth season at the helm. Practice match performances have been disappointing for a team looking to break out this year to make finals for the first time. Their team is too inexperienced to threaten for finals, and needs Ben King coming back from an ACL to perform immaculately for them to have a chance.

Pass mark: Finals

GWS- 2022 finish: 16th

A new era begins for the Giants with new coach Adam Kingsley and Captain Toby Greene which should give the boys from West Sydney an attacking edge. The highly credentialed Kingsley will change the way they play to a more high-pressure, contested team. This is in contrast to the slow, uncontested and poor defence team that the Giants were when under Leon Cameron.

Pass mark: 8+ wins

Hawthorn- 2022 finish: 13th Negative talk surrounds the Hawks this year given the loss of experienced players such as Jack Gunston and Tom Mitchell. The loss of Gunston will hurt their young forward line however, Mitchell was not great last year, and it seemed to be past his best playing more forward.

Pass mark: 6+ wins

Melbourne 2022 finish: 2nd The Dees are primed to contend again for the cup after a strong pre-season showing with two victories against the Saints and Tigers. The midfielders Oliver and Petracca look to be running on top of the ground and the proposition of Gawn and Grundy is a lethal one.

Pass Mark: Preliminary Final

North Melbourne 2022 finish: 18th The Roos have a long journey ahead of them but the appointment of the highly successful Alistair Clarkson gives fans hope that they are on the right track. The start of the season without defender Ben Mckay due to bone stress in his foot will be difficult. Former Docker Griffin Logue is a decent pickup and gives them good depth down back.

Pass mark: 5+ wins

Port Adelaide 2022 finish: 11th The Power has a big season awaiting them as coach Ken Hinkley is coming into the last year of his contract. Their defence lacks height as they have no defender over 194 cm leaving them vulnerable to taller opposition. Ken Hinkley will need a grand final place to solidify his position at the top.

Pass mark: Preliminary final

Richmond 2022 finish: 7th The Tigers are poised this year to go deep into finals with the smart acquisitions of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper strengthening an already impressive squad. Their defence is their strongest asset, but their forward line could raise some concerns if Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt are not able to keep their bodies fit for the long season.

Pass mark: Finals

St.Kilda 2022 finish: 10th The football world was shocked when Brett Ratten was axed days before last year's draft. The Saints list consists of overpaid B graders and the offices are full of board members who are looking after their jobs. The beginning of the season will be tough without star forward Max King, this may force Ross Lyon to go small in the forward line.

Pass mark: Finals

Sydney 2022 finish: 3rd Throughout history, there are many occasions of Grand Final losing teams missing the finals the following season. This will not be the Swans. The average age of the Swans list being 24 (equal 13th oldest in the competition) will have plenty of additional upsides. The Swans are a premiership threat again in 2023.

Pass mark: Semi-Final

West Coast Eagles 2022 finish: 17th It was a disastrous season for the Eagles last year and one they wish to forget. They looked slow, lacked physical aggression and their ball movement was slow as their best players looked past their peak. Practise game results show no sign of changing fortunes at Lathlain Park.

Pass mark: 6+ wins

Western Bulldogs 2022 finish: 8th The Bulldogs looked primed to contend for a flag after a disappointing elimination exit last season. With Liam Jones back at Whitten Oval, Footscray will have a much better-functioning backline which has previously been its weakest link. Rory Lobb's recruitment makes a scary proposition for opposition defenders in 2023.

Pass mark: Top 4


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