The 2021 AFL season is well and truly underway, and our experts tackle some of the burning questions ahead of Round 6.
Should David Teague coach out the year at Carlton?
Rohan Connolly: Of course he should. And I don't really understand why anyone would suggest otherwise, mainly because Carlton's list isn't drastically under-performing. The Blues are about where their talent dictates they should be. They're competitive enough but their skill level is poor. Under Teague, they've at least tried to generate a more positive style of play. Fair enough if they decide he should carry the can for the list they've put together, but a mid-season sacking and a temporary appointment just serves no purpose at all.
Jake Michaels: I'm not a huge fan of sacking a coach midway through a season, and let's be honest, Teague hasn't been at the Blues that long. I tend to agree with Rohan, Carlton's about where I expected them to be. Those who were predicting a top four finish for the navy blue had rocks in their head. I can't see the club cutting ties with Teague this year, even if the Blues miss out on finals, which is looking quite likely.
Matt Walsh: I disagree with Jake about the Blues' expectations - it had to be finals. The three-year massive rebuild they undertook ended three years ago, yet they're still a bottom 10 team? Where is the youth they invested in? Where's Liam Stocker? David Cuningham? Matt Owies? Sam Philp? Why invest in youth if you're persevering with Levi Casboult, Marc Murphy playing in no man's land, and Ed Curnow? If Teague changes his mindset and embraces youth I say 'YES', or his stay at Carlton may be short-lived.
Jarryd Barca: Of course he should, There's ample talent at his disposal and we're five rounds into a season. The Blues at their best have shown how exciting they can be, but there's no doubting they need a harder edge - something Teague needs to instil in his side sooner rather than later. Even if they end up missing finals, I'm not sure what getting rid of him would achieve.
Is Anzac Day Eve now a better spectacle than Anzac Day?
RC: It certainly will be this year. In fact, there's no comparison, really, second on the ladder up against the reigning premier, currently fifth, in one corner, and in the other 14th versus 16th, both combatants a miserable 1-4. The Anzac Day games are about a lot more than just current status, though. That first epic draw in 1995 between the Bombers and Pies, James Hird, Dane Swan, David Zaharakis are all instantly memorable. I'm not sure Richmond vs. Melbourne is at that level. Not yet, anyway.
JM: Let's get real, Anzac Day, specifically Collingwood vs. Essendon ,is the biggest game on the AFL calendar, outside of finals. This question is only being posed because of how poorly both clubs are performing early in 2021, plus the fact we've got the high-flying Demons and Tigers playing the night before. Anzac Day will always be the better spectacle, and so it should be.
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MW: I think irrespective of which teams play, the night before Anzac Day has quickly become as good, but maybe not better, a spectacle as the day itself. The night game, with the eternal flame flickering, the crowd involvement with lights in the stands, and the pregame ceremony are all as haunting and engrossing as just about all that happens the following day. We're lucky to have two wonderful commemorations on the one weekend.
JB: Not even close. When it comes to the history behind the Essendon-Collingwood clash, and some of their past epic battles, there's no bigger event in the AFL's home and away calendar. This year, we may well and truly be in for an eyesore with both sides slumbering at 1-4 -- not to mention Melbourne vs. Richmond is going to be a beauty -- but still, nothing compares to Anzac Day.
Is Bulldogs-Giants the AFL's best rivalry of the last five years?
RC: You might argue that in terms of enmity between the two clubs and some controversial incidents in games, but in terms of pure football, I'd still have the Geelong-Hawthorn rivalry ahead on points. Yes, that 2016 preliminary final was a classic, but six games between the Giants and Dogs since have produced an average margin of 45 points, and four games decided by around 50 points or more. The Cats and Hawks continue to churn out classics and that's still No.1 for me.
JM: I'm glad we're not saying 'modern day rivalry' because I don't think it's quite there yet, but I'm pretty comfortable in saying Bulldogs-GWS is just about the best rivalry in the sport right now. Ever since that epic preliminary final in 2016, both clubs seem to get up for this fixture, and even though every game hasn't been a nailbiter, there have certainly been plenty of storylines to watch for and be engrossed in. I can't wait for Friday!
MW: They might not be two world-beaters of the last five years, but the Swans and Bombers have played out some cracking encounters in recent years. The Gary Rohan mark in 2017, this year's thriller, the post-gate game with Rampe in 2019 ... even going back further, the Goodes kick after the siren in 2011, Courtney Dempsey playing on in 2012 - the list keeps going!
JB: The 2016 preliminary final was without doubt the beginning of a heated chapter when it comes to AFL rivalries. For neutral fans, there is an entertaining spite between these clubs and although it might be new-age, it compares to Collingwood-Carlton, Hawthorn-Essendon and Adelaide's Showdown, based on the relative success and finals encounters the Giants and Dogs have had in the past five years.
Will Patrick Dangerfield still be a top five player by the end of 2021?
RC: Yes. Why the doubts? The guy has played just two games in 2021. In the first, he was clearly the Cats' best in a disappointing loss to Adelaide. And while he was far from that in Sunday's win over North Melbourne, he nonetheless still managed 22 disposals in his first outing for a month. At 31, he's hardly football pensioner age, and since winning the Brownlow Medal five years ago, his numbers have remained very steady. I don't see a downturn in his output looming at all.
JM: I'm not so sure, Rohan. As much as I still believe Danger can dominate a game as much as anyone else in the competition, I don't reckon we're going to be seeing it on such a consistent basis from here on out. Chris Scott has played Danger out of position for four years now, and I truly feel we've been robbed of watching him in the guts during his prime years. Would anyone really be surprised if Dusty, Fyfe, Bont and Petracca were all considered 'better' by the end of the season? I don't think so. Maybe he sneaks in at No. 5!
MW: I think he will. He's a proud man, a talented footballer and a competitive beast. He'll want to play his best footy in 2021 and some part of me thinks deep down he'd secretly love to cause a stir in footy circles and be the next Corey McKernan ... that is, poll the most votes on Brownlow night despite his suspension.
JB: There's every chance he won't be, but I can't find a reason as to how or why. I'm sure clubs still put serious time and effort into figuring out ways they can curtail the 2016 Brownlow Medal winner, and it's for a reason... He wasn't fantastic against the Kangas after one month out, but I don't imagine it will be too long until we see him bursting out of the middle, using his strength up forward and winning games off his own boot.