Our AFL experts Niall Seewang, Jake Michaels and Matt Walsh dissect all of the main talking points ahead of Round 17.
Should the Suns get a priority pick?
NS: Yes. One pick won't fix their issues -- even if it is a No. 1 selection -- and while their start-up concessions came to nothing, drafting the most talent possible can only help. My idea would be to give them a priority pick but with the caveat that it must be traded for a player or players. Gold Coast need elite, mature talent to deliver immediate results and also establish a strong culture - trading the No. 1 pick for a readymade, elite talent is a much better option than selecting an 18-year-old who might walk as soon as their initial two-year deal ends.
JM: You could give the Suns five priority picks, but I still don't think it solves the glaring issue with this football club - retention. Let's be honest, nobody wants to play for Gold Coast right now, or when they had talent for that matter, and you can' just keep handing priority picks over and expect miracles to happen. The AFL should never have invested the time, money and resources into the Suns. Move the club to Tassie, I say.
MW: They're going to need a lot more than a priority pick if they're to start competing with the rest of the competition. Can the AFL wave a magic wand that sends Nat Fyfe, Tom Hawkins and Alex Rance to the Suns? Retaining and attracting mature talent is their issue, not picks or kids, and unless something changes to make the move north more attractive, they're going to wallow in the lower reaches of the ladder. But yes, give them pick No. 2.
Should the Cats host a final at GMHBA Stadium?
NS: You know what? I think they should. The AFL won't allow it because it doesn't want to lock out thousands of supporters, but why shouldn't they be rewarded with home ground advantage if they're good enough? It'd be ridiculously unfair if Geelong was forced to 'host', for example, Richmond at the Tigers' home ground despite being the higher seed - like what happened in 2017 when the Cats finished second on the ladder to the Tigers' third but played the qualifying final at the MCG in front of a rabid Tiger Army.
JM: I know this will be controversial, but I actually think they should host a final in Geelong. GMHBA Stadium is Geelong's home ground and it seems criminal that they could end up finishing top and playing fourth-placed Collingwood at the MCG, the Magpies' home ground! You could argue it isn't fair to all of the teams that share a stadium, but why should the Cats miss out on a true home final just because they don't?
MW: The AFL would never allow it, but they should host all their home finals (except any Grand Final) in Geelong. So what that fans are locked out? Big deal, buy a membership that has guaranteed access to finals tickets. Small, full stadiums with atmosphere beats 46,000 at the MCG any day, and now the AFL has locked in the 'G for the 'granny' until we're all old and senile, the least they can do is give home finals to teams who have a home ground.
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Is Robbie Gray Port Adelaide's GOAT?
NS: Close, but no cigar for Robbie in this debate. Warren Tredrea is my pick as Port's greatest ever. I do admit bias towards valuing key forwards over midfielders (or medium forwards in Gray's case) but for close to a decade, Tredrea was one of the AFL's best and most inspirational big men. One flag, four All Australian selections, four John Cahill Medals and an Australian Football Hall of Fame nomination is hard to go past. Sorry, Robbie.
JM: You've got to be very careful about calling an active player the GOAT of anything, but Gray has now proven he's the greatest Port Adelaide player of all time. Seriously, how many players in history have had the ability to kick five goals in a game and then get 35 disposals in the midfield the following week? Gray is top 10 at the club for games played, second for goals kicked and has now won a record five Showdown medals. Oh, and he averages more goal assists per game than any player in history! Elite.
MW: He's got some stiff competition in the form of Tredrea, Cornes (x2), and Wanganeen, but gee whiz, Gray makes a compelling case. He's a big-game player who has now won five Showdown medals. The joy he brings Port fans, whether he plays as a permanent forward, permanent midfielder or a hybrid of both, is testament to his commitment to the craft. He might not be a premiership player or a Brownlow winner, but he is firming as Port Adelaide's GOAT.
What's your greatest concern in footy right now?
NS: Congestion. I still have huge concerns about the rolling mauls that follow the ball for the majority of AFL games. The 6-6-6 rule has helped open the field up after goals but as soon as the ball is bounced, some 14 or 15 players from each side converge around the ball and follow it around like junior footy. It's awful to look at. I don't know what the answer is but if I was in Gill's seat, this would be my No. 1 focus.
JM: Until the AFL completely overhauls the score review system and how it's used, I'm always going to be uncomfortable. We say this all the time but just imagine if a howler of a review, or lack of review, costs a team a premiership. It would just be unforgivable. Right now, I'm not convinced the system is up to scratch and I dread seeing it in use during a Grand Final.
MW: I really hope the AFL and umpires don't get rid of the bounce. They've already stripped it back from bouncing at all stoppages to only doing so after goals, and the unpredictability of the bounce is a minor but iconic part of the game. Maybe if umpires were full-time employees, they would have more time to practice bouncing - as well as adjudicating the game to the best of their abilities.