By Liam Melrose and Ollie Nash
Melbourne have entrenched themselves in the premiership race after starting the season 8-0. Photo: AFL Photos
The premiership race is wide open
Usually after eight rounds you’ve got a clear premiership favourite. However, in 2021 the race is wide open. You could make a claim for just about every team in the top eight right now, some obviously more likely than others, but looking at the ladder going into round nine there’s a number of clubs in the mix. Melbourne are an obvious one sitting atop the ladder undefeated, while the Bulldogs sit 7-1. The Power who are incredibly tough to beat in Adelaide sit third and then we have four teams at 5-3 being Geelong, Brisbane, Sydney and West Coast. We then have Richmond in eighth who know how to put it all together at the right time. If the season continues the way it has it’s going to come down to who peaks in September, because right now the race is wide open and anyone could win it. It might just be the most exciting year yet.
Eddie McGuire needs to let this one slide
Eddie was asked the question about Port Adelaide wearing the prison bar jumper, which isn’t his fault, because he’ll be asked about all issues regarding Collingwood even without being president. However, he then proceeds to say, “no, nothing from me Jon (Ralph),” and then comments anyway! He calls out the size of Power president David Kochs’ nose, mentions the manufacturing of the prison bar jumpers and how that breaks a contract they signed and says it’s a shot at the AFL. Ed, you’re not the president anymore, you don’t have to answer the question. Say ‘nothing from me,’ as you did, and leave it at that. The whole argument is idiotic, however, I think most people agree McGuire is coming out the worst.
Carlton's Harry McKay is in career best form as he leads the league in goal kicking with 30 goals in eight games. Photo: Getty Images
The Coleman Race
I’ve spoken of the premiership race, well the Coleman medal race is just as exciting. The key forwards are back! Going into 2021 if I told you the top five goal kickers after eight rounds included Harry Mckay, Taylor Walker, Josh Bruce, Ben King and Matt Taberner you would’ve told me I was on another planet. However, these forwards have turned it on, and they deserve to be our current top five. McKay has developed a lot more rapidly than we probably expected, at 204cm and 105kg he is arguably the most powerful forward in the competition right now. Walker has had an incredible start to 2021, in particular his first three games of the season, while Bruce is reaping the rewards of the Bulldogs incredible midfield depth. King is continuing to grow in front of our eyes as the Suns continue to develop, while Taberner is quietly one of the most underrated forwards in the league, having kicked at least two goals or more in every game this season. I’m tipping Harry McKay to take the chocolates but the race is wide open!
I have to admit, it was pretty funny seeing what Rhylee Wests’ parents shared Facebook account commented online during the week. Whether it was father Soctt or Mother Lindie, I’m not sure, however, it was great to see the human side to the AFL. We’ve all been there, getting home after a game and sooking to your parents about others getting more of a go than you etc. Usually, your parents don’t hold back in backing you up. To see it in such a public forum was funny, but they were right. A player bides his time in the VFL, is elevated for a week and immediately dropped. I’ve never understood managing a player like that. I see no positive in it. Confidence is shot and getting used to the speed and physicality of the game is impossible. If you’re going to pick them, give them two weeks at the absolute minimum, three weeks is ideal. Leave them in the VFL longer if required, but then when you pick them, leave them in, get them comfortable and see how they develop without the stress and worry of being dropped the following week.
Adam Saad hasn't lived up to expectations across his first few games with the Blues. Photo: Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens
What did Carlton expect with Adam Saad
Adam Saad has copped some hate this week and it’s warranted. My question to Carlton is, what did you expect? He’s a fine AFL player and will play 250 plus games if his career continues as it has to this point. However, he’s always been just a handy player, he was never going to be the final piece to a side, as Carlton thought he may be. He’s reportedly earning $650,000 a year over five years, which was a terrible when they did it and is proving terrible now. He averages 17 disposals and 3.7 rebound 50s per game over his career. He averaged a career best 4.5 rebound 50s in 2020, great, it was still only 17th best in the league and there were six key defenders that averaged more. Essendon fans booed him when Carlton played the Bombers and I remember asking why? Is he a player worth booing? He’s a half-back flanker that has a few highlight plays running through the middle of the ground a year and that’s really it. As I said, a very fine AFL player and is only young so can get better. However, I have never read into the hype though and I’m not surprised by his mediocre form to start the season.
Suns miss huge chance to shine
Gold Coast were in the box seat to string three straight wins together and find themselves on the cusp of the top eight. They led St Kilda 51-36 going into the final quarter, before being outscored 27-3, letting a huge opportunity slip. The game was in the balance throughout, however, at home you would’ve expected the Suns to hold on in this one. If Gold Coast are going to play finals in 2021 these are the games they have to finish off, especially at home.
Cover Photo: Port Adelaide Football Club