Our AFL experts Niall Seewang, Jake Michaels and Matt Walsh dissect all of the main talking points heading into a massive season of footy.
Should the AFL introduce a preseason trade period?
NS: The AFL has done a great job in freeing up player movement in recent years but I'm not sure a preseason trade period is necessary. Savvy clubs are able to sign ready-made players via the preseason supplemental selection period, while there is also the midseason draft. I don't think an extra mechanism is needed.
JM: I'm with Niall on this one, it's just not necessary. I know everyone wants to have 365-day-per-year AFL drama, but we just don't need a trade period at this time of the season. There's ample room for clubs to pick up players, so spend this time of year preparing for the season ahead.
MW: Imagine this: a team, for instance the Bombers, short on ruck depth launches a coup for someone like Tom Hickey, and they've decided to pay slight overs to ensure they're competitive at that position in the early part of the year. Or perhaps a fringe player, who is no doubt "flying" attracts interest from another club, and his current side can cover the loss while adding a draft pick to their swag. I like it, but likely the AFLPA won't.
Which preseason cliche is the worst?
NS: "So-and-so is keen for more midfield time." Every summer, we hear of players 'flying' on the track and pushing their claims to spend more time in the midfield and for some reason they, their clubs and the media think those ambitions are newsworthy. Plus, not everyone has to play midfield minutes, right? Specialist forwards and defenders are important, too.
JM: What about "Lance Franklin is in the best form of his life." Buddy has been a superstar of the game, but let's not kid ourselves, he's now on the decline and his stats and ageing body is backing that. Spare us the hype, Sydney. At least for one year!
MW: "This is my first full preseason." The way footy players carry on, no one has had a full preseason, ever. In fact, I'm pretty sure there are players out there who say this every year just to mess with the media and fans. Get it in the bin.
Which team will make the biggest jump this year?
NS: I certainly don't trust them after their horrific 2019, but surely Melbourne will bounce back in some fashion after tumbling to 17th last year. The pressure is on Simon Goodwin's men to rebound strongly, and there's enough talent on the list to push for finals. Even if they fall just short, I can see them jumping six or eight rungs on the ladder.
JM: I'm convinced West Coast is finishing the season on top of the ladder, which means they will be moving up four spots from where they finished the home and away season in 2019. Honestly, I don't really see anyone jumping more than that, with the exception of maybe Melbourne if, like Niall says, they can put a dreadful 2019 behind them.
MW: Can we really see Sydney finishing in the lower reaches of the ladder for a second straight season? The way that club does business, and they way it builds its list, is reflective of an organisation which cannot let interest -- and therefore crowd number, membership sales and money -- wane. The list has talent, and the Swans really should be threatening for a top eight finish in 2020.