Richmond v Carlton (MCG) 7.20pm All times AEST
Ahhhh, the traditional start to the season. Why does it have to be this game though?
Well, most traditions aren’t that positive actually. Take sexism or The Footy Show (kind of the same thing) or no AFL on Good Friday.
All traditions but completely unhelpful in modern society, much like this game.
Starting the season with this is like serving guests pond water upon arrival.
Luckily, to spice things up, Richmond have organised Daryl Braithwaite to sing his 1990 hit ‘Horses’ while four horses trot around the boundary.
It’s like some bad fever dream come to life. Imagine someone new to AFL tuning in and watching that and then seeing Richmond play Carlton. That’s a potential fan we’ve lost for life.
Carlton fans go into this game with two big positives, Jacob Weitering will make his debut and Dale Thomas is suspended.
Anyway, Richmond will win despite almost all their players being injured because Carlton don’t have AFL players.
Melbourne v Greater Western Sydney (MCG) 1.40pm
Former Melbourne coach Paul Roos thinks these two sides will square off in a Grand Final within the next three years.
Personally, I’d just like to see Melbourne win two regular season games in a row before I start penciling them in for the ultimate glory. After all, that hasn’t happened since Rounds 13 and 14 in 2011.
Theoretically, they could both achieve this but living up to expectations isn’t something these two clubs have exactly nailed in recent times.
The Giants haven’t been helped in this one by Jeremy Cameron getting suspended for a month, Cam McCarthy being on indefinite leave and Chris Dawes being injured.
Weirdly, I think the Dees can win here but I’m on a high after the meaningless preseason and I’m sure Melbourne will have crushed my positive feelings by round two.
Gold Coast v Essendon (MS) 4.35pm
The side formerly known as Essendon, is now basically a couple of blokes who no one else wanted, Brendon Goddard and Joe Daniher.
Their performance on the field should now be about as good as their performances in court.
Dennis Cometti even came out and said the Bombers should not play the Anzac Day clash this year, which really upset Goddard. So bring that up a lot.
The Suns have been nothing but a basket case since joining the league; amazing considering the overly generous draft concessions and assistance they received early on.
Apparently, Rodney Eade has addressed the cultural issues but really, in footy only winning fixes culture. Winning covers up your bad culture and makes it seem a virtue.
Injuries to Jaeger O’Meara and David Swallow don’t exactly bode well for the Suns, especially as Gary Ablett is probably about to get injured.
Successful sporting teams on the Gold Coast don’t occur in nature, only in the labs of sporting administrators and the Suns seem to be following that path.
Still, they’ll beat Essendon because pretty much everyone will.
Sydney v Collingwood (SCG) 7.25pm
There’s a lot of people getting behind Collingwood this season, which is strange considering they possess an attack built around Travis Cloke and Jesse White.
Jamie Elliott is injured so that means they lack anyone who can both mark and kick for goal. Pies fans will be yelling out ‘Darcy Moore!’ at this stage but that’s a lot of pressure to put on a second year player.
Still, Buckley has had five years to get rid of a team that won Grand Finals and mold a new won that finished a dizzying twelfth last year, so they obviously know what they’re doing down there.
Sydney had more than a few problems last season and still finished fourth, yet they’re being written off this season. I actually think they’re better than people are predicting and will win this one.
North Melbourne v Adelaide (ES) 7.25pm
So Adelaide appointed Don Pyke as their new coach at the end of the year. Don’t worry, I didn’t realise either.
The Crows go into this season without the services of Patrick Dangerfield whose trade to Geelong also slipped quietly under the radar.
It’s a big loss and you’d have to think the Crows will take a hit as a result. The question really is how much? I tend to think a bit before heading back up in a season or two. I remind you though, I’m an idiot.
North Melbourne cop a lot of grief for a side that’s gone to two Preliminary Finals in a row.
The fact they’ve done it from sixth and eighth might explain why there not taken more seriously, oh and having Brad Scott as coach.
Can the Roos improve this year? I don’t think they can but that would make me wrong three season in a row.
The Kangaroos here for me.
Western Bulldogs v Fremantle (ES) 1.10pm
Fremantle lacked goals last year, not in the sense of some god awful self help ideology but actual goals on the field.
It’s obvious they needed a key forward to assist an ageing Matthew Pavlich, so they went out and got Harley Bennell. Close I guess.
Harley had some substance abuse issues while at the Gold Coast so Perth should be a much safer environment with its wonderful track record.
The Bulldogs surprised everyone but me last season (if you go back and read my old posts that I recently edited, you’ll see that’s completely true).
Can the Bulldogs do it again? I’d like to think so, they were probably the most exciting team last year and their young talent should only get better.
Plus, they get Tom Liberatore back this year, that’s like recruiting a new star midfielder.
The only downside the Doggies have is Tom Boyd will take up 97 per cent of their salary cap for the next century while playing in the VFL.
I’m going to tip the Bulldogs here, mainly because it’s at the stadium Eddie (rightly) wants to raze to the ground.
Port Adelaide v St Kilda (AO) 3.20pm
So in 2015 all the experts tipped the Power to win the Premiership or go close. They finished ninth.
This year, those same experts say Port are back. I’m a bit more suspicious.
They drafted wine lover Charlie Dixon which should help but he’s had an interrupted pre-season and they’ve lost Paddy Ryder and Angus Monfries because of the recent unpleasantness.
St Kilda did something even sillier in the offseason, they recruited Jake Carlisle. A bad move on paper and an even worse one in real life.
It’s a real shame as Alan Richardson had the Saints moving in the right direction. They were developing the kids, competing week-in-week-out and dwarf burnings were at historic lows.
It makes you wonder how the footy department though Jake was the answer. Jake is never the answer.
Port to win here.
West Coast v Brisbane (S) 7.40pm
Last year was a shocker for the Lions. First, the were told they couldn’t have real lions on the field before the game and then they suffered a terrible run of injuries.
I thought they would improve this year on better health alone and then Dayne Beams went down with a knee injury that will see him out for who knows how long.
West Coast were not exactly immune from injury last year with their entire defence being wiped out (at least it felt that way).
The praise heaped on Adam Simpson for the ‘web’ defence may actually have just been a result of the club having no defenders left, as Hawthorn highlighted in the Grand Final.
I think the Eagles are going to only get better and will even appear in the Victorian media once or twice this season.
Eagles to win this one easily.
Geelong v Hawthorn (MCG) 3.20pm
So Patrick Dangerfield has arrived to fix everything for Geelong, so they should be Premiers this year. At least that was my take out from reading the media over the summer. No pressure then Patrick.
It seems strange to me this view though, given he played for Adelaide last season and they didn’t win the Premiership.
Is it possible you need more than one good player to win a Premiership? What a crazy idea.
Still, Geelong are going to be better, I just don’t think Patrick fixes all their issues, which were rather alarmingly apparent last season.
Hawthorn’s biggest rival this year is time. Can their older players hold up? One thing team sports repeatedly teaches us is that when the end comes, it comes fast.
It could be about to happen to the Hawks but I don’t think we’re that lucky. Clarkson doesn’t let standards drop. He seems angrier and hungrier with each passing season.
Hawks should win this one and I don’t even care. Footy is back and everything is perfect again.