2013 AFL predictions

Written By Unknown on Kamis, 03 Januari 2013 | 14.43

If Andrew Carrazzo can combine father duties of his triplets with leadership, he could be the next Carlton captain. Picture: Michael Klein Source: Herald Sun

THE NAB Cup is just 43 days away and we're into the New Year. Time to shelve the countdowns and look to the future as we make 12 bold predictions about the 2013 AFL season.

We've broken them down into three categories - those likely to happen, those which could happen and a few longer shots. And yes, there's even some SuperCoach advice at the end.

Did Sam Landsberger get it right? Have your say below


House of Pain to return

WILL we see a visiting side sing the song at Patersons Stadium this year? Doubt it. Rewind just three years and 11 out of 21 times clubs boarded planes out of Perth with the four points in the bag. Not anymore. West Coast effectively boasts Jamie Cripps, Sharrod Wellingham, Mark LeCras, Mark Nicoski and Josh Kennedy as new recruits, while the Dockers finished 2012 full of steam with Ross Lyon's defensive mechanisms coming to the fore. Barring catastrophe, most experts say you can just about pencil the Eagles in as a top-four outfit and the Dockers aren't far behind. If that's the case we may as well cross out PS and scribble HoP on our 2013 fixtures.

Sides to cop two trips to Perth: Essendon, Richmond, North Melbourne, Adelaide

North Melbourne failed to live up to its big expectations against an undermanned West Coast at Patersons Stadium. Source: Getty Images

Match review panel to frustrate

MARK Twain got it wrong; the three certainties in life are death, taxes and inconsistency by the match review panel. One issue you can bank on surfacing this year again is the frustration fans, players and clubs will share at some decisions handed down.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Jack Ziebell of the Kangaroos shoulder charges Aaron Joseph of the Blues during the AFL Rd 16 game between North Melbourne and Carlton at Etihad Stadium on July 13, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images) Source: Herald Sun

Buddy Franklin's contract circus

BUDDY Franklin could become the Travis Cloke of 2013. The megastar Hawthorn forward is out of contract and certain to field a mountain of interest. There is little doubt Franklin will stay at the Hawks, but until he puts pen to paper, expect every meeting manager Liam Pickering holds to spark public interest. Pickering has already gone on record as saying Franklin won't leave Hawthorn, but the onus is now on both parties to get the deal done before it creates a circus. Hopefully for Hawthorn's sake that comes before Round 1, when it will be desperate to break the Kennett curse.

Lance Franklin kicks a goal for Hawthorn. Source: Herald Sun

Mick's baptism of fire

MICK Malthouse was quick to question Nathan Buckley's game plan after Collingwood's 1-2 start last year, and it looks like he could have some similar criticism fired his way early this year. The Blues' opening month reads Richmond, Collingwood, Geelong and West Coast in Perth. Yuck. Should Carlton go down to the bullish Tiger army in Round 1 it will be a hellish start for Mick. And it took half the season last year for Fremantle to click under Ross Lyon. How quickly can the Blues adapt to Mick's style?

Mick Malthouse,Carlton coach, Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: Herald Sun


Carrazzo to captain Carlton

IF the bookies framed a market you'd suspect Marc Murphy would be favourite to take over from Chris Judd. But the way it's shaping, the man known as "Carrots" will lead the old, dark navy Blues this season. And while that would shock most, internally Carrazzo is held in high regard for his natural leadership despite his low profile. The Blues won't make a call until after the NAB Cup, where Carrazzo, Murphy and Kade Simpson will be given chances to excel in the role, but the mail as it stands is the 29-year-old is in pole, assuming he can couple the role with father duties to his triplets. And Mick Malthouse has never been one to simply appoint a superstar player as skipper, electing Nick Maxwell at the Pies and John Worsfold in his West Coast days.

Andrew Carrazzo at Carlton training. Picture: George Salpigtidis Source: Herald Sun

Rotation policy to creep into footy

CRICKET Australia copped heat for its controversial rotation policy, but is this the year it really takes off in the AFL? High performance managers and conditioning coaches are booming right now, with several poached from rival clubs at the end of last season. Couple that with the substitute rule, more irrelevant matches than ever before and the likelihood of an interchange cap in 2014 and the rotation policy is seemingly on an upward trend. A glance at the average age of rookie draftees shows clubs now have replacements on their mind – expect Ben Hudson to pull on the black and white stripes when Darren Jolly gets sore and perhaps the same for Orren Stephenson at Richmond should big Ivan Maric need a spell. Chris Scott kept his Cats fresh in shrewd fashion in 2011 on their way to another flag, while expect an array of superstars to give the trip to Skoda Stadium a miss this year with "general soreness".

The Sydney Swans bench looks on during an AFL match against Melbourne. Picture: Phil Hillyard Source: The Advertiser

Kurt Tippett will fire from the get-go

MOVING the hysteria of the salary-cap rorting and draft-tampering scandals to one side for a moment and focus on Kurt Tippett's preliminary final. Big stage. Big crowd. Big four-goal performance. The man did everything but drag the Crows into an unlikely Grand Final and will straighten up Sydney's forward line with aplomb. Tippett cost the Swans zilch, turns 26 in May and is ready to come into his prime. Slot him next to a developing Sam Reid, Adam Goodes and let draftee Tim Membrey lead up the ground and it could be a devastating forward mix for the premiers. It won't take long for us to remember just why Adelaide tried so hard to keep him. Hard to believe names such as Mitchell Thorp, James Sellar, Daniel O'Keefe, Tom Hislop, Brad Howard and Nathan Djerrkura were plucked before Tippett in the 2006 draft.

Former Adelaide Crow Kurt Tippett in a Sydney Swans jumper for the first time after his first training session with his new club. Picture: Phil Hillyard Source: The Daily Telegraph

Tiger Time

FINALLY, the wait is over. Richmond's long-suffering army of fans will see September action this year. The signatures of Troy Chaplin and Chris Knights, the natural progression of their throng of talented youth and the return of Ty Vickery and a fair fixture means there are no excuses this year. Richmond threw away its top-eight hopes with a trio of consecutive last-gasp defeats last year and botched several chances early to topple finals-bound sides. Maturity should eradicate such brain fades and there will be enough chances to post the 13 wins needed to play in September.

Richmond's Brett Deledio, right, celebrates a goal with Dustin Martin in the Tigers' demolition job on Hawthorn at the MCG. Picture: Michael Dodge Source: AdelaideNow


Saints to have their worst season since 2002

ST KILDA is the slider of 2013. The Saints won 12 games under Scott Watters last year but it's hard to see them replicating that feat, and they could have their worst season since the Malcolm Blight debacle a decade ago. Brendon Goddard is gone and the likes of Lenny Hayes, Nick Riewoldt, Leigh Montagna, Nick Dal Santo, and co aren't getting any younger. The gulf in the Saints list is similar to the Dogs, who were exposed in 2012 for that reason. The fixture looks OK, so that should help secure a handful of wins, but it could be a while until the core group of talented teenagers the Saints are starting to assemble clicks. Tom Lee and Tom Hickey are raw but come with high hopes, and while the Saints are on the right track long term, you just get the feeling there could be a stack of pain to bear first.

A dejected looking Saints side leaves the ground after losing the round seven AFL match between the St Kilda Saints and the Carlton Blues at Etihad Stadium on May 9, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images

James Hird's honeymoon will expire

IT'S time for James Hird to deliver. He's entering his third year with a 50-50 win-loss ratio and one embarrassing finals appearance. The Dons fell off the map last season as injuries mounted to monumental levels. But the Round 10 loss to Melbourne and the showings against Richmond, a depleted North Melbourne and Carlton late in the season were sub-standard. With Brendon Goddard onboard, a fit list and the Brownlow medallist (Jobe Watson) leading the way, the Dons must march into the top eight. If not expect Hird to feel some heat for the first time in the coaching chair. Essendon can't afford to peter out like it has in the second half of the past two seasons.

Essendon coach James Hird talks with Mark McVeigh. Picture: Colleen Petch Source: Herald Sun

Dylan Shiel the next big thing

NAT Fyfe is too obvious, Joe Daniher isn't ready and Lachie Whitfield is too young and raw. So let's go Dylan Shiel. Some at the Giants are tipping the strongly-built midfielder to win the club's first Brownlow medal. And while that won't happen this year, Shiel is a special talent and expect that to shine through quickly. He crept onto GWS's list in subtle fashion – secured as one of the 17-year-old priority selections sans the fanfare that accompanies a prized draft ranking. Shiel's TAC Cup coach, Graeme Yeats, said at the time Shiel could have gone No. 1 if he wasn't seized a year early. This is a powerful midfielder with pace and excellent skills. Some scouts say he is the next Chris Judd in the making. If he stays fit in 2013, keep an eye on him. You won't be disappointed.

Carlton vs GWS at Etihad Stadium. Dylan Shiel clears from defence Picture: Michael Klein Source: Herald Sun

Giants to leapfrog the Suns

THIS is a long-shot, but with a friendly draw and a slice of luck (and no second-year blues), it's a red-hot chance. It's early, but it looks the Giants have the Suns beat in their handpicked array of 17-year-olds. Names like Jeremy Cameron, Adam Treloar and Dylan Shiel have serious potential. Shiel's been mentioned already, Treloar is one of the finest teenage playmakers in the land, while Wayne Carey reckons Cameron could wind up the best forward in the game. Compare that to Gold Coast's dozen, including Taylor Hine, Josh Toy and Alex Keath (who have all departed), and it smacks of a nice, early boost. It's a free hit for the Giants this year… they're expected to claim a second wooden spoon before Leon Cameron steps in. Pinch a win against the Suns, Dogs, Dees and Port and avoid the bottom rung and it's a big win. And if they do, Guy McKenna must be under the pump. After all, the prez wants a flag by 2015…

GWS stars Tom Scully and Adam Treloar celebrate the Giants emphatic victory over Gold Coast. Picture: Kym Smith Source: The Daily Telegraph

And finally… SuperCoach steals

I CAN'T sign off without some SuperCoach chat and when the competition opens on February 1 (mark that down in your diary) sign up, log in and select Jack Viney. He's cheap ($109,500) and good enough to command a place in your starting side. Viney has been monstering pre-season training and showed in the VFL last year he's ready to mix it with men. Jaeger O'Meara is the other midfield lock, while Ben Jacobs as a defender looks a shrewd selection. I'm loving Pies rookie Sam Dwyer and Swans bargain Tim Membrey as bench options up forward, while he's been hyped before, but it does finally appear as if this is Shaun Higgins' year. The Dogs say he is flying and, not to put the mozz on him, but if his body holds up he'll be in my Round 1 side. Good luck!

Western Bulldogs vs Nth Melbourne an Etihad Stadium. Shaun Higgins fires as a handball as he is tackled by Michael Firrito Picture: Michael Klein Source: Herald Sun

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