Our Aussie Correspondent and former Aussie Rules legend Damien Opolski lines up the 2014 season which as just started. Get betting now and make a little down under this year
Well sports fans if there’s one thing the Polsk knows about it’s Aussie Rules and the 2014 season kicked off this week. The Polsk played a number of positions in his time – he was a celebrated Left Right Out before playing his final seasons at Half Full on The Fence.
Aussie Rules is the biggest code in Australia. In 2013 7,000,000 attended games, with seven minor round games attracting crowds of more than 80,000. The Grand Final, in which the Victorian team Hawthorn defeated Fremantle (from Western Australia), attracted 100,000 spectators.
And so to 2014. Who do we place our hard earned on? Coz, that’s pretty much all that matters pop-pickers.
Normally the previous year’s Grand Finalists head up the betting, but the Polsk is tipping last year’s premiership team Hawthorn to take a bit of a slide. Firstly – they have been around the mark for a few years now and have some ageing bodies, and secondly, their superstar Buddy Franklin has upped camp and moved to Sydney. Players are distributed throughout the AFL teams via a yearly draft – same as the American system – which means that in terms of talent teams are pretty evenly matched. So much of it comes down to hunger. The most successful teams of recent years – Geelong and Hawthorn – have both been up for a few years now, and you wonder if they will be lacking a couple of percent in the hunger stakes, which is more than enough to see them tumble.
Fremantle were a surprise packet last year. Pundits have been suggesting for the last few years that they would be the ‘next big thing’ but they were continual under achievers. Late last year, under new coach Ross Lyon, they found the ‘on switch’ and played an exhilarating brand of pressure football that took them all the way to their first premiership decider – only to fall 15 points short of a clinical and experienced Hawthorn team still smarting from their loss to Sydney in 2012.
Every year starts with an even premiership table and high hopes. New players, new coaches and new game plans. But when the Polsk casts his expert eye over proceedings he doesn’t see too many teams vastly improving. He doesn’t see any Cinderella stories. Instead, those who have been around the mark should stay around the mark, and those who have been at the top probably won’t tumble too far.
Here’s his quick analysis of the top 8 for 2014 – plus Richmond who always finish 9th.
|1||Sydney||Won in 2012. Have recruited the comps biggest star -Buddy Franklin. Opposition will have 10 players marking him each week so the rest of them can run amok. 9-2|
|2||Fremantle||Big improvers last year. Will have the hunger. Go close again. Play a hard tacking ‘in yer face’ type of game. Most annoying team in the comp. 3-1|
|3||Collingwood||Always around the mark. Have the largest following and most moolah: worth 5 goals each week. Can’t stand them but they are a very honest mob.|
|4||Hawthorn||Have been around the mark for last 5-6 years for 2 flags. Have lost Buddy and maybe some of the hunger – 3-1|
|5||Geelong||As per Hawthorn. Have won 3 flags in last 7 years and keep on presenting. Getting into a transition phase now as older players are moved out. Have some great young players and will be around the mark again.9-1|
|6||Adelaide||My team – but not sure why I bother. A pack of duds. Useless and hopeless. Chokers. Too many blokes who are exactly the same as their other blokes. Did I ever tell you about the time the police caught Stephen Wundke and I jumping the fence at ½ time at an Adelaide game? They made us go back in and watch the second half. 22-1|
|7||Western Bulldogs||Could be on a bit of an upswing. Haven’t won the comp since 1950 ish but showed a few signs late last year. If they can get their peckers up early they could surprise. Will be huge odds to make the finals. Can’t win the comp – they never do. 100-1|
|8||Gold Coast||The new boys – this will be their third season. Did well last year and could surprise at big odds. Have got God playing for them in the shape of Gary Ablett. That can’t be a bad thing.33-1|
|9||Richmond||Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKeEIlHzD5M 20-1|