Our experts debate all the hot topics and burning questions ahead of Round 4.
Is Adelaide now the favourite for the wooden spoon?
Jake Michaels: No disrespect to Gold Coast, who are going great guns, but any side who loses to them by nine goals is destined for a lowly ladder finish. The Crows have been dire in 2020, with losses to Sydney, Port and now the Suns, and it's hard to see where the improvement is coming from. Sorry, but I don't buy into all of this 'talent'. I'm not going to lock them in for the spoon just yet but they certainly are the frontrunners ... if you can call it that!
Matt Walsh: Given the way they've played in the last two weeks, they just might be. The Crows look to have regressed from last season, while teams that finished in the lower reaches of the ladder -- like Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Carlton and Fremantle -- all look to be playing better football than in 2019. There are many issues at West Lakes, and not all are on the field...
Jesse Robinson: From what we've seen from the Crows this season, they probably are the favourites for the spoon, but for this season in particular there is no such thing as a sure thing. Things can change so rapidly, as we witnessed over the weekend with Essendon. With matches getting shifted, shorter recovery time between games and the fact that the Crows may play in front of a large portion of their fans are all moving parts that could reshape the season quickly. I wouldn't lock the Crows, or any team for that matter, into the spoon just yet.
When should the AFL reschedule the Essendon-Melbourne clash?
JM: Why rush? The last thing the AFL would want to do is reschedule the game and then have to reschedule it again if/when another player tests positive to COVID-19. We're only three rounds into the season, so there's plenty of time down the track to find a slot for this game - most likely something midweek. But for now, please pump the breaks.
MW: Given these teams have experience dealing with 'shorter weeks' (the Bombers play Anzac Day and the Dees on Anzac Eve), a Wednesday evening in the next fixture cycle (whenever that is announced!) isn't a bad shout. The AFL could do both clubs a favour by scheduling them on the Friday night/Saturday afternoon the round prior, and on the later Sunday slots the round after, as well.
JR: The AFL implemented shorter quarters and a floating fixture for this very reason, to allow them flexibility and ease of scheduling. We don't know what the schedule looks like for the rest of the season, or even where matches will be played, so it's hard to say when it should be played. I have faith in the AFL to manage the schedule effectively to avoid a negative impact on the rest of the competition.
Just how viable is a WA hub?
JM: I don't see it as any less viable than a Queensland hub. The reality is if COVID-19 cases rise in Victoria, games are going to need to be played outside the state. So, why not in Western Australia? But again, let's see how this plays out. The situation continues to change daily and predicting what may or may not work a month down the track is dangerous.
MW: I think the AFL has a couple of weeks up its sleeve before it needs to make a decision on this. The Swans and Giants could both be fixtured to play the Dockers and Eagles before any Victorian sides are required to quarantine in Perth for two weeks to play a couple of games. A lot can change in a week, let alone three of four. Keep the options open, but there's no need to announce anything now.
JR: With WA announcing they could fill stadiums up to 50 percent capacity, I'm all for it. Sport is for the fans, so take the sport to where the fans are. It's no good playing three games at the MCG every weekend when they could be played in front of fans in Perth, Adelaide or Brisbane. It would be a great reward for the interstate members to see their favourite team a couple of times in a month, rather than the usual once a year.
Do the Suns deserve a Friday night slot?
JM: Absolutely! It's sad that in 10 years the Suns have not had a SINGLE Friday night game. Based on what we've seen over the last two weeks, with dominant wins over West Coast and Adelaide, it's time the AFL gave them one. After all, if the AFL is serious about growing the Suns, the least it can do is offer them one chance every decade to play on a Friday night.
MW: While the Suns and Lions have the hot hand, give the Q-Clash a Friday night slot. There'll be fans in the stands and genuine interest from cities further south ... it's just what the AFL wants in terms of greater exposure to the game in non-traditional areas. It's a no-brainer, really.
JR: If there was ever a time to try something new, it's season 2020. Give the Suns and budding superstar Matt Rowell a chance to shine on a Friday night, expose our local and international audiences to the surging Suns and if the first three rounds are anything to go by, we may actually have an entertaining Friday night clash, perhaps with real crowd noise.