QAFL fixture unveiled ahead of 2021 season

A stand-alone marquee game on the Easter long weekend will launch the 2021 Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition, with Noosa hosting Wilston Grange at Rococo Oval on April 3rd.

The Tigers’ claws will be out from the get-go, the newly promoted club eager to show their might against the other premier men’s clubs in South East Queensland.

Queensland State Leagues Competition Manager, Matt Bialkowski, said 2021 would see 11 teams vie for the Premiership in what was shaping up to be the biggest year yet for the state’s top competition.

“It’s a great achievement for Noosa to be elevated into the QAFL after coming off the back of consecutive Division 1 Hart Sport Cup Grand Finals in 2019 and 2020,” he said.

“With the QAFL now expanding to 11 teams, it’s going to be very exciting to see the depth of our competition with such a significant geographical spread of our clubs from Noosa to Palm Beach Currumbin.”

“I’m thrilled today to unveil the 2021 fixture, as we countdown to the first bounce of the season on April 3.”  

The 2021 season also sees the inclusion of the Redland-Victoria Point Sharks into the QAFL; a merger between the Victoria Point Sharks and Redland Bombers, having competed in the NEAFL since 2011.

The newly formed team will be in action at home in round two hosting Surfers Paradise.

Round 2 will see the 2020 Colts Premiers Palm Beach Currumbin raise their Premiership Flag at their first home game taking on Morningside. While at Hickey Park, Wilston Grange will welcome Maroochydore in five back-to-back State League competition games, including three QAFL and two QAFLW matches.

Morningside seniors and reserves will unveil their 2020 Premiership Flags in round three at home, with the Panthers hosting the Broadbeach Cats in a 2020 grand final rematch.

Traditional rivalry games will be played on ANZAC Round to commemorate ANZAC Day. The blockbuster matches will see Surfers Paradise host Labrador, and Wilson Grange at home to Morningside. While further north, it’ll be a battle of the Sunshine Coast, with Maroochydore taking on Noosa in a twilight game.

Broadbeach will face Surfers Paradise in round five Sunday fixture on the May long weekend.

Round seven will mark Pride Round with all South East Queensland clubs encouraged to join in the celebrations.

Sir Doug Nicholls Round will be celebrated across two weekend; rounds nine and 10. 

Mr Bialkowski said marquee matches and themed rounds would make for some fantastic footy in 2021.

“With the largest makeup of the QAFL competition that we’ve seen in recent years, our 11 teams will compete over an 18 game home and away season,” he said.

“The finals structure will see the top 6 competing over 4 weekends, culminating in a grand final on Sept 18th.”

“The profile of the QAFL continues to rise and we want to encourage people to come along to the games and support their local clubs.”

“But if you can’t get to the match, you can still catch all of the action. All QAFL games are recorded and uploaded to the QAFL Vimeo page for the public to view, and one ‘match of the round’ is live streamed every week in the QAFL.”



Download 2021 fixture here 

*Please note; times and venues are subject to change.

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Ticketmaster delays as fans flock for first taste of footy in a year

St Kilda tweeted: “Apologies to members who are having trouble booking tickets, it appears the influx of people on Ticketmaster’s site is causing issues.

“Members have a priority window until 3pm, so please keep trying while we look into this further.”

Ticketmaster has been contacted for comment.

Ticketmaster responded to fans who were complaining on Twitter.

“Please make sure you are following the link provided by your club to access the pre-sale. As this is a popular event, tickets are sold as long as seats are available, and sometimes they go very quickly. We suggest you keep trying the website during this sale,” it said.

”When a popular event goes on sale there are literally thousands of customers simultaneously attempting to purchase tickets across all distribution channels.”

Collingwood said that as of about 1.15pm on Monday the game with Richmond had not sold out, and advised fans to keep trying for tickets

The AAMI Community Series begins on Thursday, March 4 at Marvel Stadium when Carlton play St Kilda.

Collingwood then play Richmond at Marvel on Friday night. Marvel Stadium will have 50 per cent capacity but limits for GMHBA Stadium and Arden Street Oval are yet to be announced.

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Legendary sport broadcaster Bruce McAvaney steps away from AFL commentary

Bruce McAvaney has stepped away from AFL commentary ahead of the 2021 season, but the highly respected broadcaster intends to continue his career.

McAvaney, 67, announced his decision less than three weeks out from the first round of the AFL premiership.

He said a desire to reduce his workload was largely behind the move.

“I’m going to miss it enormously,” McAvaney told the Seven Network.

“I just visualise when Richmond and Carlton run out there in round one, and the ball is bounced, I’m going to climb a wall somewhere.

The Adelaide-based McAvaney will continue to be a member of Seven’s horse racing broadcast team and will be a part of the network’s coverage of the Tokyo Olympics later this year if they go ahead as planned.

He said he was not considering retirement just yet.

“It’s just a new phase, where I cut back slightly,” McAvaney said.

“Anything I’m asked to do at Seven I’m going to do with the same enthusiasm and same commitment.”

McAvaney’s decision, announced on Sunday afternoon, was met with praise for his career on Twitter.


According to the Seven Network, McAvaney has called more than 1,000 AFL matches, including 20 grand finals.

He joined Seven’s AFL commentary team ahead of the 1990 season after coming across from Network 10.

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Indigenous footy coverage again on the brink

Funding is again being sought to help prop up the AFL’s Indigenous radio service amid concerns black voices will be drowned out if the coverage cannot be saved.

The National Indigenous Radio Service, which says it has a reach of 700,000 people, has provided a pathway for Indigenous former players to enter the media, calling AFL matches since the 1990s.

Former Essendon player Nathan Lovett-MurrayCredit:Pat Scala

But the service’s football operation has been heavily reliant on funding from government, sponsors and the league, living a precarious existence in which it has several times been said to be on the brink of being discontinued.

That is again the case heading into 2021, with former Essendon player and now St Kilda development coach Nathan Lovett-Murray, a member of the NIRS commentary team, expressing his concerns about the coverage’s future on Sunday.

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Adelaide vs St Kilda Tips, Odds and Teams – AFLW 2021

Norwood Oval will play host to Sunday”s
Round 5 AFLW game between Adelaide and
St Kilda. The game kicks off at 1:10 pm with Adelaide heading into the game as favourites with the bookmakers. Continue reading for our in-depth preview of the Adelaide vs.
St Kilda
game and give you our free tips and bets.

When: Sunday February 28, 2021 at 1:10 pm

Where: Norwood Oval

Bet 💰: Bet On This Match

Adelaide vs St Kilda Odds

Adelaide vs St Kilda Preview

If you’re contemplating a Same Game Multi or backing some of the player markets for this game, you have to consider Erin Phillips.

Yet again the two-time AFLW MVP winner reminded everyone why at this stage of the League’s short history – she is the GOAT.

Phillips kicked four goals, including the sealer last weekend against Brisbane.

She was in beast-mode going inside 50, 21 disposals, eight marks and also managed four clearances.

Yet again, it’s worth pointing out that Phillips had to stop playing footy at age 13 and didn’t play a proper match for a further 18 years.

Just imagine had AFLW been a thing 20 years earlier, but we’re glad we’ve got her now.

Footy is a team game, but Phillips can and will win games off her own boot and her Crows teammates just lift when she’s on the field.

St Kilda are very much the underdog in this game, the Saints had a terrific 29 point win over Geelong last week and recorded their highest-ever AFLW score.

The prospect of watching Phillips on one end and the Caitlin Greiser is a tantalising prospect.

However, the Crows should be simply far too good for St Kilda and I’ll take them at the 25+ points.

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Adelaide vs St Kilda Tip

We’re tipping Adelaide to win at $1.16 odds.

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Report into Tasmania AFL expansion bid must be done ‘within months’

“Now I’ve again impressed upon Mr McLachlan the need for that to occur. I have to say that I felt this morning that Gill was listening. We had a very constructive discussion.

“I think it would reasonable to say that I have impressed upon Mr McLachlan that I would much prefer one of the independent firms, preferably one of the big four. I would have concerns if it were someone that was hand-picked that had a long association with the AFL. I think both for the AFL’s comfort and for the Tasmanian government’s comfort a truly independent report would be the best way forward.“

The AFL did not wish to comment on the latest discussions but reinforced last week’s statement by saying the report would not be finished until later in the year or early 2022 “when the AFL hopes to have a clearer picture of its own financial position and that of the wider AFL community”.

The league and Tasmanian officials will continue to negotiate their next steps over the weekend, with Gutwein saying he expected to give a public update on Monday.

Matthew Richardson poses in a rare Tasmania jumper.Credit: Vince Caligiuri

Gutwein said he had also been in contact with Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett and North Melbourne counterpart Ben Buckley, the two clubs awaiting confirmation on whether their lucrative deals to play home-away-from-home matches in the Apple Isle from beyond 2021 will continue.

“I have impressed upon them the need we have to ensure we can get clarity at the earliest opportunity and, in terms of that independent consultant’s report, I am not moving from my position that I believe that can be done in a matter of months. It doesn’t need a further 12 months,” Gutwein said.

Kennett said on Friday Gutwein’s proposed time frame suited the Hawks.


“As long we get it by June, July, we can manage that. It’s just that these are very difficult times for people to try and make new investments in sporting bodies, so it will be interesting to see what comes of it,” Kennett said.

“As I have always said, I would hate for Tasmania not to have AFL football in one form or the other and, hopefully, we will arrive at a landing place that suits everyone.”

The Tasmanian government won’t renegotiate with the Hawks or Kangaroos until the league provides clarity on a pathway and timeline towards establishing a standalone team. This could yet mean there are no AFL games in Tasmania in 2022.

The Tasmanian taskforce report, published last February, projected gross revenues for its new club of $42.5 million, “bettering the average of similar sized clubs of North Melbourne, GWS, Brisbane, Gold Coast and St Kilda”.

The report expected membership of 38,400, an average match-day attendance of 18,400 and predicted the club would add an extra $19 million onto the AFL’s broadcast rights deal.

Kennett raised eyebrows this month when he said the Hawks had not ruled out the possibility of moving to Tasmania.

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Scores, Gold Coast Suns vs Brisbane Lions practice match, Joe Daniher stats, Eric Hipwood, Cam Rayner

Young gun Lion Cameron Rayner believes opposition defenders will struggle to curtail new forward pairing Joe Daniher and Eric Hipwood in 2021 following their impressive scratch match performances.

In their first outing against an AFL rival team since Daniher joined the club from Essendon, Hipwood and Daniher caused chaos as they put the Gold Coast Suns’ defence under siege during Brisbane’s 47-point win at Metricon Stadium.

Hipwood and Daniher pounced on an under-strength Suns backline, booting four goals each as they gave Lions fans a glimpse of their 2021 potential, both individually and as a duo.

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Daniher, who’s taken part in every Brisbane pre-season session after three injury-riddled years at Essendon, was particularly eye-catching with 4.3 from eight shots on goal

The two tall goalkickers rotated between full-forward and centre half-forward, with Hipwood’s pass to Daniher inside 50 in the second quarter – which led to Daniher’s third goal – a noteworthy moment from a clinical Lions team performance.

Speaking to the club’s website post-game, Rayner said it was hard not to be excited about what Hipwood and Daniher could achieve in 2021.

“It’s pretty good. To have those two to kick to, it’s a bit of a bailout option and they’ve worked really hard to work together really well and get that chemistry,” Rayner told Lions Media.

“When you see Eric at the top of the 60 roll and kick it to Joey, you feel for some of those defenders.

“Joey’s an extraordinary player, we’re very lucky to have him and hopefully he goes well.”

Joe Daniher kicked four goals. Picture: Albert PerezSource: Getty Images

Rayner, himself, was one of the Lions’ best players as he continued to spend more minutes on the ball. The No. 1 pick was explosive around stoppages – he had the first centre clearance of the game that led to Daniher’s first major – and snuck forward to kick a goal himself.

“It was a pretty good start,” Rayner said of the opening play, which also involved Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale.

“I’ve been a bit more in there this year, working on my midfield game still with that ability to go forward.

“There’s been progression and I’m enjoying being in there and hopefully that can continue to be a good season.”

Unaware Lion denied goal | 01:20

The Lions, who finished in the top four and made a preliminary final last year, are widely predicted to challenge for the flag again in 2021.

They’ll face the Suns again on Monday March 8 in the AAMI Community Series.

“The boys are working well together, which is good,” Rayner said.

“We’re just trying to get that chemistry going into the season now.”

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Joe Daniher comes alive as Brisbane Lions overshadow Gold Coast Suns

The Suns were also without key defender Sam Collins, who will return next week, meaning Charlie Ballard had the unenviable job on Daniher for most of the match.

Suns’ midfielder Matt Rowell played a half as he plots a return from a shoulder injury with Will Brodie showing he is a chance to step up this season as an inside midfielder as the Suns matched the strong Lions team for most of the final three quarters.

Adelaide suffered a major blow when scans confirmed that exciting midfielder Wayne Milera had suffered a suspected patella tendon rupture against Port Adelaide and would require surgery.

Milera, who signed a five-year deal last year to tie him to the Crows until 2025, has played just two games since having experienced a foot injury in 2020. This serious injury will keep the 23-year-old sidelined for a significant period this season.

Port Adelaide had a better time winning the match easily with Aliir Aliir and Orazio Fantasia solid in their first appearance in Port colours. Fantasia kicked two goals in quick succession late in the second quarter to take some confidence into the new year and Aliir was impressive as an intercept mark in defence. Connor Rozee showed he could still perform well as he overcomes an ongoing foot issue.

Unfortunately Todd Marshall copped a heavy knock which may see him miss next week’s community series re-match under the game’s new concussion protocols if he is deemed to have suffered concussion while Kane Farrell was limping with a potential leg injury after being tackled late in the match.

Giants’ recruit Jesse Hogan’s injury troubles have continued, with the Greater Western Sydney recruit set to miss their AFL season-opening clash against St Kilda due to a quad strain suffered at training.

Emerging Sun Izak Rankine.Credit:Getty Images

His absence is a blow for the Giants who have already had a horror run with injuries in the pre-season with ruckman Braydon Preuss and defender Adam Kennedy needing shoulder reconstructions, All-Australian Lachie Whitfield trying to overcome a bruised kidney and Brent Daniels suffering a hamstring injury.

Hogan will be out for three to four weeks as he looks to rebuild his career on a one-year deal at his third club after stints at Melbourne and Fremantle.

The Swans are uncertain when champion forward Lance Franklin will play again as he continues to suffer soft tissue problems that stopped him from playing a game last season but he is moving closer to joining in full training. They were without midfielders Harry Cunningham and George Hewett, and defender Dane Rampe against the Giants.

Fremantle easily defeated West Coast in Perth with Docker Nat Fyfe playing a half and a rolled ankle to Eagles’ Zac Langdon the only injury issue.

Meanwhile the Blues are confident forward Harry McKay will be available to play against St Kilda on Thursday night after rolling his ankle late in Carlton’s practice match last week.

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Your club’s best 22 heading into the 2021 season

The 2021 season is right around the corner, with teams now gearing up through practice matches.

The fringes of teams are being sorted and players are pushing their case for a Round 1 berth.

With that in mind, what is your side’s best 22 and strongest team on paper, long-term injuries aside?

We have gone through all 18 teams and picked out what their best grouping looks like, leaving out those on the shelf with long-term injuries like Charlie Curnow, James Sicily, Michael Hurley and more.

Those with less significant injuries, even if they’re in doubt for the start of the season, have been included.

We have also picked out players on the brink of the team, who could push in and replace those who are unavailable.

FB: Luke Brown / Daniel Talia / Jake Kelly
HB: Tom Doedee / Fischer McAsey / Lachlan Sholl
C: Brodie Smith / Matt Crouch / Wayne Milera
HF: Shane McAdam / Taylor Walker / Tom Lynch
FF: James Rowe / Elliott Himmelberg / Darcy Fogarty
FOL: Reilly O’Brien / Rory Sloane / Rory Laird
INT: Riley Thilthorpe / Harry Schoenberg / Ben Keays / Jackson Hately

On the brink: Billy Frampton, David MacKay, Paul Seedsman, Ned McHenry, Mitch Hinge, Andrew McPherson, Will Hamill, Lachlan Murphy, Sam Berry, Luke Pedlar

There are plenty of positions up for grabs at Adelaide.

The key forward spots will be intriguing with Billy Frampton and no.2 draft pick Riley Thilthorpe set to push Taylor Walker, Darcy Fogarty and Elliott Himmelberg. The small forward slot is also not settled with draftee James Rowe putting his name in the mix.

It is expected that Rory Laird will become a permanent midfielder which offers chances to Lachlan Sholl and Wayne Milera off half-back and/or wing. New midfielder Jackson Hately will be pressing for a starting berth while Harry Schoenberg has impressed during pre-season.

You could make a case for a handful in the on the brink category which indicates that it will be a tough job for Matthew Nicks to settle on his best 22 with plenty of variables and a few unknowns.

Andrew Slevison


Brisbane club banner

FB: Callum Ah Chee / Harris Andrews / Brandon Starcevich
HB: Ryan Lester / Jack Payne / Daniel Rich
C: Hugh McCluggage / Jarryd Lyons / Zac Bailey
HF: Cam Rayner / Eric Hipwood / Dayne Zorko
FF: Charlie Cameron / Joe Daniher / Lincoln McCarthy
FOL: Oscar McInerney / Lachie Neale / Jarrod Berry
INT: Nakia Cockatoo / Mitch Robinson / Grant Birchall / Darcy Gardiner

On the brink: Daniel McStay, Cam Ellis-Yolmen, Noah Answerth, Archie Smith, Tom Fullarton, Marcus Adams

Looking at the expected Lions 22 one can see why they’re a leading premiership contender. Their best side was already one of the league’s most talented, but it has been bettered again with the addition of Joe Daniher and Nakia Cockatoo.

Daniher adds another dimension to the forward line alongside Eric Hipwood and as a result Daniel McStay misses out. If Chris Fagan opts for a three-pronged tall attack, one of Mitch Robinson or Grant Birchall would be the unlucky omission.

After a strong pre-season Jack Payne looks set to make a key defensive post his own and should line up ahead of Darcy Gardiner in 2021, with the latter dealing with a knee injury. Blake Coleman is the draftee most likely to make an appearance early in the season, with his electric pace and goal sense providing the Lions with another talented small forward option.

The six Lions on the brink are also all sturdy contributors when called upon at AFL level, providing a solid level of depth again this season.

Lachlan Geleit


Carlton club banner

FB: Lachie Plowman / Jacob Weitering / Sam Petrevski-Seton
HB: Adam Saad / Liam Jones / Sam Docherty
C: Ed Curnow / Sam Walsh / Will Setterfield
HF: Jack Martin / Mitch McGovern / Marc Murphy
FF: Zac Fisher / Harry McKay / Levi Casboult
FOL: Tom De Koning / Patrick Cripps / Zac Williams
INT: Caleb Marchbank / Tom Williamson / Paddy Dow / Jack Newnes

On the brink: Eddie Betts, David Cuningham, Jack Silvagni, Nic Newman, Michael Gibbons, Marc Pittonet, Lachlan Fogarty, Matt Cottrell

Injured: Charlie Curnow, Nic Newman

The Blues have a few holes they need to plug, with Charlie Curnow obviously on the shelf long-term, while Mitch McGovern, Tom De Koning and Caleb Marchbank deal with minor injuries that may see them miss Round 1. This should open the door for Marc Pittonet in the ruck, while Levi Casboult and Harry McKay will carry the key forward load.

Carlton found balance in defence without Caleb Marchbank or Nic Newman last year and the addition of Adam Saad next to Sam Docherty and Sam Petrevski-Seton gives them all the rebound they’ll likely need.

Expect Sam Walsh and Zac Williams to push predominantly on-ball next to Patrick Cripps, likely meaning we see Ed Curnow and Will Setterfield spending more time on the wings. Tom Williamson has impressed over pre-season and could also spend time on the wings this year. He and Jack Newnes are likely battling for one spot at this stage.

The big question for the Blues is where their goals come from, aside from McKay and Casboult. Zac Fisher has made the permanent shift inside 50, but otherwise they will likely be reliant on midfield contributions.

Nic Negrepontis


Collingwood club banner

FB: Brayden Maynard / Jordan Roughead / Isaac Quaynor
HB: Jeremy Howe / Darcy Moore / Jack Crisp
C: Josh Daicos / Taylor Adams / Steele Sidebottom
HF: Jordan De Goey / Brody Mihocek / Will Kelly
FF: Will Hoskin-Elliott / Mason Cox / Jamie Elliott
FOL: Brodie Grundy / Scott Pendlebury / Brayden Sier
INT: John Noble / Tyler Brown / Levi Greenwood / Oliver Henry

On the brink: Callum Brown, Jack Madgen, Chris Mayne, Finlay Macrae, Darcy Cameron, Jay Rantall, Josh Thomas

The biggest question for the Pies’ Round 1 side will be how much youth do they blood?

A salary cap debacle saw the club shed best 22 regulars Adam Treloar, Tom Phillips and Jaidyn Stephenson last off-season, but a strong draft haul has somewhat softened that blow.

Oliver Henry looks set for an early debut after impressing in a recent intra-club match, while inexperienced midfielder Tyler Brown should go past his brother Callum as a regular in Nathan Buckley’s side.

The defence again looks like one of the competition’s best, particularly with the return of Jeremy Howe, but it’s the forward line that the Pies will want to tinker with. Will Kelly should be a certain starter after making his debut in 2020 and the Pies will be hoping Jordan De Goey flourishes into the mid-forward dynamo they have long hoped he’d become.

Levi Greenwood bought himself a spot in the side after a crucial performance on Tim Kelly in the Pies’ elimination final win over West Coast and Brayden Sier should finally find a solid place in the engine room.

Lachlan Geleit

Essendon club banner

FB: Nick Hind / Aaron Francis / Jordan Ridley
HB: Dyson Heppell / Cale Hooker / Patrick Ambrose
C: Kyle Langford / Dylan Shiel / Jye Caldwell
HF: Jayden Laverde / Harry Jones / Devon Smith
FF: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti / Peter Wright / Jake Stringer
FOL: Sam Draper / Zach Merrett / Andrew McGrath
INT: Will Snelling / Brayden Ham / Darcy Parish / Nik Cox

On the brink: Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, James Stewart, Zach Reid, Tom Cutler, Ned Cahill, Archie Perkins

Injured: Michael Hurley

It’s a new era at Essendon in 2021 and that’s reflected in what shapes as a vastly different best 22 without the likes of Adam Saad, Joe Daniher and Orazio Fantasia at the club.

Nick Hind is expected to fill Saad’s role and play early, while reigning best and fairest winner Jordan Ridley forms a key part of the back six which will welcome Dyson Heppell this year.

Further up the field, Kyle Langford will be looking to continue his improvement of late, while Jye Caldwell was impressive in the side’s scratch match against Carlton on Thursday and is likely to play.

Top-10 draft picks Nik Cox and Archie Perkins are well in the frame to make their debuts in Round 1 as well.

How the side shapes up in the forward line is probably of most interest, with Harry Jones and Peter Wright set to play early on.

Laurence Rosen

Fremantle club banner

FB: Luke Ryan / Brennan Cox / Griffin Logue
HB: Nathan Wilson / Alex Pearce / Hayden Young
C: Adam Cerra / Nathan Fyfe / Darcy Tucker
HF: Michael Walters / Rory Lobb / David Mundy
FF: Sam Sturt / Matt Taberner / Lachlan Schultz
FOL: Sean Darcy / Andrew Brayshaw / Caleb Serong
INT: Liam Henry / Blake Acres / Reece Conca / James Aish

On the brink: Joel Hamling, Connor Blakely, Stephen Hill, Ethan Hughes, Mitch Crowden, Travis Colyer, Luke Valente

The biggest question for the Dockers heading into 2021 is how they structure up defensively. They performed admirably last year without first-choice starters Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling. Luke Ryan stepped up and played tall, while Brennan Cox emerged and Griffin Logue showed signs. The five can’t all play together and we have Hamling missing out for the time being, though that may change with practice match form.

Their midfield is relatively settled, though expect Nathan Fyfe to spend more time inside 50 as Adam Cerra pushes into the middle more frequently. Their forward line relies on a healthy Matt Taberner, but they have a plethora of small forward options to choose from. They’ll be hoping Liam Henry can grab one of those spots this year. Sam Sturt also impressed early in the year and should slot back into their best side.

Nic Negrepontis


Geelong club banner

FB: Jake Kolodjashnij / Mark Blicavs / Jack Henry
HB: Mark O’Connor / Lachie Henderson / Tom Stewart
C: Isaac Smith / Joel Selwood / Cam Guthrie
HF: Shaun Higgins, / Jeremy Cameron / Luke Dahlhaus
FF: Brandan Parfitt / Tom Hawkins / Gary Rohan
FOL: Rhys Stanley / Mitch Duncan / Patrick Dangerfield
INT: Zach Tuohy / Sam Menegola / Gryan Miers / Jordan Clark

On the brink: Sam Simpson, Tom Atkins, Esava Ratugolea, Josh Jenkins, Charlie Constable, Brad Close

Geelong is one of the most fascinating stories heading into the new season and on paper they have one of the strongest sides.

Their three new boom recruits in Shaun Higgins, Jeremy Cameron and Isaac Smith will all play in the opening round, while there’s also plenty of competition in midfield with the likes of Joel Selwood, Cam Guthrie and Patrick Dangerfield still fit and firing.

Geelong’s depth is highlighted by Esava Ratugolea having to fight for his spot in 2021. Anything less than a premiership will be deemed somewhat of a disappointment for the star-studded side.

Laurence Rosen


Gold Coast club banner

FB: Connor Budarick / Sam Collins / Charlie Ballard
HB: Jack Bowes / Jack Lukosius / Oleg Markov
C: Noah Anderson / Hugh Greenwood / Lachie Weller
HF: Alex Sexton / Ben King / Ben Ainsworth
FF: Izak Rankine / Sam Day / Wil Powell
FOL: Jarrod Witts / David Swallow / Matt Rowell
INT: Brandon Ellis / Rory Atkins / Touk Miller / Jarrod Harbrow

On the brink: Elijah Hollands, Alex Davies, Sam Flanders, Sean Lemmens, Darcy Macpherson, Jack Hombsch, Zac Smith, Brayden Fiorini

Injured: Rory Thompson

Gold Coast’s batch of youngsters – particularly through the midfield – makes them an interesting watch this season.

Much is expected of fit-again Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson who headline the Suns’ engine room along with battle-hardened duo David Swallow and Hugh Greenwood.

The Suns acquired Rory Atkins and Oleg Markov to round out their list with some mature heads and are expected to slot straight into Gold Coast’s preferred side.

Jack Lukosius and Ben King will continue to develop as the club’s two key emerging bookends, but first-round draft Elijah Hollands is still recovering from an ACL injury and will miss the start of the season.

Alex Zaia

GWS Giants club banner

FB: Lachlan Ash / Phil Davis / Sam Taylor
HB: Nick Haynes / Lachie Keeffe / Lachie Whitfield
C: Josh Kelly / Stephen Coniglio / Harry Perryman
HF: Jeremy Finlayson / Harry Himmelberg / Toby Greene
F: Brent Daniels / Jesse Hogan / Jake Riccardi
FOL: Shane Mumford / Jacob Hopper / Tim Taranto
INT: Matt De Boer / Tom Green / Callan Ward / Daniel Lloyd

On the brink: Ian Hill, Tanner Bruhn, Sam Reid, Isaac Cumming, Connor Idun, Matthew Flynn

Injured: Braydon Preuss, Adam Kennedy

The biggest hole to fill for the Giants from 2020 is that of Jeremy Cameron, whose absence provides a gaping fissure in the forward line.

The obvious choice is Jesse Hogan but he is no certainty to successfully step into the chasm. He is now at this third club and after an interrupted last few years, will require assistance from Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson.

The Giants will also have to cope without Zac Williams and Aidan Corr, while developing midfielders Jye Caldwell and Jackson Hately, and small forward Zac Langdon are also out the door.

Expect Tom Green to be a constant presence in midfield while running defender Lachlan Ash should be afforded more opportunities. The back six will be boosted by the return of Sam Taylor.

Braydon Preuss was set to take on the primary ruck duties but shoulder surgery has scuppered those plans so Shane Mumford will be back in the role with the untried Matthew Flynn next in line.

The Giants side, on paper, looks in decent shape but is there enough depth?

Andrew Slevison


Hawthorn club banner

FB: Blake Hardwick / Kyle Hartigan / Jarman Impey
HB: Shaun Burgoyne / Jack Scrimshaw / Sam Frost
C: Tom Phillips / Tom Mitchell / Will Day
HF: Chad Wingard / Tim O’Brien / Dylan Moore
FF: Jack Gunston / Mitchell Lewis / Luke Breust
FOL: Ben McEvoy / Jaeger O’Meara / James Worpel
INT: Jon Ceglar / Connor Downie / Daniel Howe / Liam Shiels

On the brink: Changkuoth Jiath, James Cousins, Jacob Koschitzke, Denver Grainger-Barrass, Damon Greaves, Tyler Brockman, Oliver Hanrahan

Injuries: James Sicily

Jack Gunston certainly won’t be there for the start of the season, James Sicily might not get out there at all in 2021, Jack Scrimshaw has been pretty much ruled out for the season opener, and Tom Mitchell and Chad Wingard also might not make it to the start line, so the round one team won’t resemble this whatsoever.

The back six is actually quite solid and gives Alastair Clarkson a bit to work with, but it is forward of centre where the Hawks lack x-factor and consistent scoring power. Pretty much all those fringe players listed might play in the season opener against the Bombers and that’s exciting for Hawks fans because they’re the future. Brockman might be the smokey – he shapes as the electric small forward the Hawks have been crying out for.

Ash Browne

Melbourne club banner

FB: Michael Hibberd / Steven May / Tom McDonald
HB: Christian Salem / Jake Lever / Jay Lockhart
C: Ed Langdon / Jack Viney / Angus Brayshaw
HF: Jake Melksham / Sam Weideman / Bayley Fritsch
FF: Luke Jackson / Ben Brown / Kysaiah Pickett
FOL: Max Gawn / Christian Petracca / Clayton Oliver
INT: James Harmes / Trent Rivers / Adam Tomlinson / Nathan Jones

On the brink: Toby Bedford, Joel Smith, Charlie Spargo, Aaron Vandenberg, Oskar Baker, Harrison Petty

Simon Goodwin has an early-season headache, having to find a replacement for both new recruit Ben Brown and the developing Sam Weideman, who will miss the early part of the 2021 season through injuries.

That scenario will likely see Tom McDonald play in the forward line, with second-year tall Luke Jackson also tipped to spend more time up forward as well.

Outside of their forward injury troubles, Melbourne’s side is fairly settled heading into a crucial season where all the pressure is on them to perform after an underwhelming 2020.

Laurence Rosen


North Melbourne club banner

FB: Jack Ziebell / Robbie Tarrant / Aidan Corr
HB: Luke McDonald / Ben McKay / Shaun Atley
C: Jared Polec / Ben Cunnington / Trent Dumont
HF: Aaron Hall / Cam Zurhaar / Jaidyn Stephenson
FF: Tarryn Thomas / Nick Larkey / Curtis Taylor
FOL: Todd Goldstein / Luke Davies-Uniacke / Jy Simpkin
INT: Jed Anderson / Josh Walker / Will Phillips / Lachie Young

On the brink: Atu Bosenavulagi, Aiden Bonar, Bailey Scott, Jack Mahony, Tristan Xerri, Flynn Perez, Kyron Hayden

North Melbourne will be sweating over Todd Goldstein’s health – it’s fair to say they cannot afford to lose him on the eve of the season. Goldstein suffered a heavy knock in the intra club over the weekend. He will be the key to a midfield built around Ben Cunnington and youngsters.

Jy Simpkin emerged as a star last year and they’ll be hoping Luke Davies-Uniacke can follow suit this year. Top draft pick Will Phillips will also get every opportunity.

Nick Larkey will be the focal point up forward, with Cam Zurhaar, Tarryn Thomas and Jaidyn Stephenson providing a fascinating combination around him. That set up will give headaches to opposition sides match-up wise and could turn games on their heads.

Captain Jack Ziebell is set to move into defence this year next to veterans Robbie Tarrant, Shaun Atley and Luke McDonald. McDonald had an outstanding year across half-back and pushing through the midfield. Aidan Corr joins from GWS and should slot in as the third tall next to Ben McKay or Josh Walker.

Nic Negrepontis

Port Adelaide club banner

FB: Tom Clurey / Tom Jonas / Trent McKenzie
HB: Darcy Byrne-Jones / Aliir Aliir / Hamish Hartlett
C: Karl Amon / Ollie Wines / Xavier Duursma
HF: Connor Rozee / Todd Marshall / Zak Butters
FF: Robbie Gray / Charlie Dixon / Orazio Fantasia
FOL: Scott Lycett / Travis Boak / Tom Rockliff
INT: Dan Houston / Ryan Burton / Sam Powell-Pepper / Peter Ladhams

On the brink: Mitch Georgiades, Kane Farrell, Steven Motlop, Riley Bonner, Williem Drew, Sam Mayes, Lachlan Jones, Boyd Woodcock, Jarrod Lienert

Port Adelaide look strong on paper with Aliir Aliir and Orazio Fantasia definite starters in their best 22.

Aliir addresses the Power’s need for additional height in defence while Fantasia adds to an already exciting small forward bridge that includes Robbie Gray, Zak Butters and Connor Rozee.

It’s a settled side that contains a nice blend of youth and experience with quality across every line – especially down the spine of the team.

Todd Marshall should get first crack at centre-half forward, but fellow young gun Mitch Georgiades is breathing down his neck after impressing in his debut season.

Next Generation Academy acquisition Lachlan Jones will push for an early-season debut fresh off a full year in the SANFL for Woodville-West Torrens.

The Power have a clean bill of health approaching the 2021 season.

Alex Zaia


Richmond club banner

FB: Dylan Grimes / David Astbury / Nick Vlastuin
HB: Jayden Short / Noah Balta / Bachar Houli
C: Kamdyn McIntosh / Dustin Martin / Marlion Pickett
HF: Shane Edwards / Jack Riewoldt / Kane Lambert
FF: Jason Castagna / Tom Lynch / Shai Bolton
FOL: Toby Nankervis / Trent Cotchin / Dion Prestia
INT: Liam Baker / Daniel Rioli / Jack Graham / Nathan Broad

On the brink: Jake Aarts, Josh Caddy, Jack Ross, Thomson Dow, Mabior Chol, Patrick Naish, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Callum Coleman-Jones

Injured: Ivan Soldo

It is a tricky task to break up a premiership side on paper, even if that particular team has never played together again.

However, all things going well, the Tigers could achieve a first by having the same 22 run out early in the 2021 season, provided Dion Prestia and Bachar Houli overcome soft tissue injuries.

While there is plenty of depth at Tigerland, it’s difficult to pin down exactly who will push through.

Jake Aarts was unlucky to miss the bulk of the finals series and subsequent flag and will be intent on breaking into Damien Hardwick’s side again. Young midfield trio Thomson Dow, Patrick Naish and Riley Collier-Dawkins will all be pushing for selection and there are a few fringe players like Josh Caddy, Jack Ross and Mabior Chol constantly on the brink.

There is plenty of quality underneath the back-to-back champions which will make Hardwick’s job tough.

Andrew Slevison


St Kilda club banner

FB: Callum Wilkie, Dougal Howard, Jimmy Webster
HB: Ben Long, Jake Carlisle, Nick Coffield
C: Brad Hill, Jack Steele, Hunter Clark
HF: Jack Higgins, Tim Membrey, Jack Billings
FF: Dan Butler Max King, Rowan Marshall
FOL: Paddy Ryder, Brad Crouch, Zak Jones
INT: Dan Hannebery, Josh Battle, Jack Sinclair, Jade Gresham

On the brink: Seb Ross, Jack Lonie, James Frawley, Luke Dunstan, Dean Kent, Shaun McKernan, Mason Wood, Jack Bytel

Injured: Ben Paton, Jarryn Geary

St Kilda bolstered its list with five new names over the off-season.

Brad Crouch (suspended for the first two rounds) and Jack Higgins go straight into the 22 while James Frawley, Shaun McKernan and Mason Wood provide solid key position cover.

McKernan could come in for Rowan Marshall who will miss the early part of the year with a foot injury.

Ben Paton’s broken leg opens the door for Jimmy Webster to return and expect Hunter Clark to push into the midfield after playing mostly across half-back last season.

Dan Hannebery, Josh Battle, Jack Sinclair and Jade Gresham make up a strong Saints bench.

The club’s new-found depth means the likes of Seb Ross, Jack Lonie, Dean Kent, Luke Dunstan and co-captain Jarryn Geary miss out on selection.

Alex Zaia

Sydney club banner

FB: Jake Lloyd, Dane Rampe, Callum Mills
HB: Braeden Campbell, Tom McCartin, Lewis Melican
C: Nick Blakey, Josh Kennedy, Jordan Dawson
HF: Isaac Heeney, Lance Franklin, Will Hayward
FF: Tom Papley, Sam Reid, Justin McInerney
FOL: Tom Hickey, Luke Parker, Ollie Florent
INT: Harry Cunningham, George Hewett, James Rowbottom, Dylan Stephens

On the brink: Logan McDonald, Hayden McLean, Callum Sinclair, Will Gould, Robbie Fox, Harry Wicks

Swans recruit Braeden Campbell looks set to be a certain starter in John Longmire’s Round 1 side after an impressive first pre-season. Expect the early pick to settle in at half back and utilise his elite kicking before making an expected move into the midfield.

The club will also be praying for a return of key forward Lance Franklin. But it appears likely that one of Hayden McLean or Callum Sinclair will start in the 34-year-old’s place while he recovers from another injury setback, as young tall Logan McDonald takes time to develop in the reserves.

Tom Hickey comes in as the first-choice ruckman ahead of Sam Naismith and should be a consistent member of the 22, while Will Gould should begin to cement himself in the back six.

Lachlan Geleit


West Coast club banner

FB: Jackson Nelson, Jeremy McGovern, Tom Cole
HB: Shannon Hurn, Tom Barrass, Brad Sheppard
C: Dom Sheed, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff
HF: Jack Petruccelle, Jack Darling, Liam Ryan
FF: Jamie Cripps, Josh Kennedy, Oscar Allen
FOL: Nic Naitanui, Tim Kelly, Elliot Yeo
INT: Jake Waterman, Zac Langdon, Jack Redden, Liam Duggan

*On the brink: Jarrod Brander, Alex Witherden, Xavier O’Neill, Bailey Williams, Brayden Ainsworth, Josh Rotham, Jarrod Cameron, Brendon Ah Chee, Jamaine Jones

The Eagles were forced to scrabble around the bottom of their midfield barrel in 2020, with Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo and Jack Redden all missing multiple matches. In response, coach Adam Simpson has moved premiership defender Liam Duggan up the ground and early reports are glowing.

Four-time All-Australian defender Jeremy McGovern similarly negotiated injury; Josh Rotham stepped in to effect and will push for more certainty. Former Lion Alex Witherden will contend for the half back slot vacated by Duggan.

West Coast will be prepared to wrap Josh Kennedy in cotton wool if need be, with Oscar Allen primed to elevate his game and Jake Waterman demonstrating aerial promise in a high half forward role.

The challenge for Simpson will be to incorporate Witherden, Rotham, Jarrod Brander and Bailey Williams into one of the competition’s older teams without squandering the window of contention afforded by Shuey, McGovern, Tim Kelly and Nic Naitanui’s gifts.

Nathan John

Western Bulldogs banner

FB: Easton Wood, Alex Keath, Hayden Crozier
HB: Caleb Daniel, Zaine Cordy, Bailey Williams
C: Jason Johannisen, Marcus Bontempelli, Lachie Hunter
HF: Rhylee West, Josh Bruce, Laitham Vandermeer
FF: Mitch Wallis, Aaron Naughton, Mitch Hannan
FOL: Stefan Martin, Bailey Smith, Josh Dunkley
INT: Adam Treloar, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore, Tim English

*On the brink: Taylor Duryea, Cody Weightman, Ed Richards, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Patrick Lipinski, Lachie McNeil, Bailey Dale, Ryan Gardner

The depth in the midfield at Whitten Oval is near-unprecedented, and Adam Treloar will add more of the combustion Bailey Smith introduced two years ago. Injuries will test that depth and Luke Beveridge has never shied from positional rotations, so balance is unlikely to be an issue. Ruck recruit Stefan Martin and incumbent Tim English appeared to have already built some chemistry in Wednesday’s practice match against Hawthorn.

The forward line looks more like a forward line; Mitch Wallis’ goalkicking chops are now firmly established, the Aaron Naughton experiment appears set to extend into a third season, and Mitch Hannan fulfils the need for an experienced pest despite his 190cm stature. The players who make up the balance will indicate how Beveridge intends the line to function.

Queries around the height of the backline remain, but Alex Keath and Zaine Cordy can skewer opposition thrusts if the Dogs’ midfield can deliver territory dominance and minimise corridor turnovers. Jason Johannisen will drop back as the seventh defender after centre-bounces, while making the best of the stand rule to launch his team forward.

The coach loves to throw a newbie into the fury early, so watch out for Lachie McNeil.

Nathan John

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Peter Jess, AFL concussion advocate, fighting the war against the AFL on head injuries, CTE, concussion for past AFL/VFL players

Jess has assumed a role as the public face of a quest for what he sees as justice for the legions of past players who he claims have been let down by the AFL’s handling of concussion. It has become his raison d’etre. Concerned about the impact of CTE, he lodged a complaint with Worksafe, while his long-threatened legal action against the league and a push for a $2 billion concussion redress fund among his highest-profile ideas.

Jess’ view is that this will save the game, rather than imperil it, because it will quarantine the issue of concussion, similar to what has taken place in the US.

AFL player agent and concussion advocate Peter Jess.Credit:Chris Hopkins

For the league and to a lesser extent the AFL Players’ Association, he is antagonist-in-chief, questioning every move in the realm of head injuries to footballers and accusing the league of being negligent and ignoring what he claims is incontrovertible scientific proof about the dangers of playing the game.

His detractors struggle to get their heads around his media-driven approach. But Jess says the proof is clearly in the pudding, pointing to the AFL’s changes to its game-day concussion protocols and increase in mandatory days off between games following a concussion.

“I actually generate change,” says Jess.


“I’m very strategic, I’m outcome-driven. It was generated by myriad research papers and clinical evidence presented to the AFL which gave an overwhelming outcome that returning to play under 30 days put the playing cohort at risk. No one has challenged that science or medical evidence.

“I am the AFL’s leading player advocate. I make administrators accountable to the players and the public.”

Standing up for causes is nothing new for Jess. In 1966, as a 15-year-old schoolboy at Highett High, he organised a 500-student sit-down to protest the Vietnam War.

Having studied at Caulfield Tech, Jess turned his hand to accounting. His primary occupation remains as an accountant, with the walls of his Essendon office adorned with personalised sporting paraphernalia from greats including Usain Bolt, Pele and Azumah Nelson.

In 1980, Jess began acting for his first footballer client. It was his cousin, Richmond premiership player Jim Jess. These were relatively primitive days, but word got around of the job Peter had done for Jim, and soon Peter started acting for a host of top players in the 1980s and ’90s, dealing with Warwick Capper and famously taking care of Nicky Winmar, leading to a heated television exchange with Molly Meldrum in 1993 over Winmar’s contract dispute with St Kilda.

Former Carlton player and ex-stage government minister Justin Madden.

Former Carlton player and ex-stage government minister Justin Madden.

Another of those was Justin Madden, who went on to become a 300-gamer, dual premiership player at Carlton and a state Labor MP.

“The clubs found him fairly confronting because he was very upfront in looking after the interests of his players, and he’s maintained that over his professional career,” Madden said this week of Jess.


Greg Miller, the veteran former football administrator, said negotiating with Jess was a nightmare.

The two fell out several times but always patched things up eventually, with the two teaming up to run a football clinic in Argentina.

“He’s one of the strangest, differentest, brilliant men in the world I’ve ever met.”

Jess is these days much better known for his concussion advocacy but he is similarly proud of the reform he helped drive in the early years.

“When I started, professional sportsmen had no superannuation, no long-service leave, no holiday pay, very limited insurance, no access to continued learning, no access to a whole range of subsidiary services,” Jess said.

He would delve into other sports, becoming involved in soccer through Carlton soccer club and playing an advisory role in the founding of Melbourne Victory, and athletics where he worked closely with Cathy Freeman.

It was Peter Jess who handed Cathy Freeman the flag for this iconic Commonwealth Games moment in 1994.

It was Peter Jess who handed Cathy Freeman the flag for this iconic Commonwealth Games moment in 1994.Credit:Craig Golding

But during his time working with Freeman and her former coach and partner Nic Bideau, Jess played a significant role, handing Freeman the Aboriginal flag in which she draped herself after winning Commonwealth Games gold in Victoria, Canada in 1994.

Bideau and Jess remain close.


“He’s a very unusual person. He’s a go-getter, he goes after things. It’s hard to figure out sometimes what drives him, what motivates him,” said Bideau.

“I would say he’s almost never motivated by the money.

“He also fights for Indigenous people.”

Jess says his head injury obsession stems from a couple of key episodes in his life.

The first came in 1971 when he lost the sight in his left eye in a car crash also involving Jim Jess.

Then in 2006 he was knocked off his motor scooter by a car in Melbourne’s CBD. He fractured three vertebrae in his neck, four in his back, broke nine ribs, suffered a punctured lung and a broken jaw and was unconscious for 20 minutes.

It led to years of cognitive therapy as he dealt with the lingering effects of that incident.

Then in around 2009 he started to see a string of his former player clients complain of major health and social issues. Jess started searching for answers as to whether their head knocks sustained while playing had contributed to their conditions. He looked at what was happening in the US with concussion in the NFL and saw parallels.


“It wasn’t won in the courts, it was won with public opinion,” Jess said of the NFL’s concussion settlement.

Jess may not be a scientist or a doctor, but he undertakes enormous chunks of research into head injuries.

“I’m happy to debate the science with anyone who can debate the factual evidence,” Jess says to that.

“I’ve got three post-graduate degrees, so I understand research and I understand the interpretation of data.”

While Madden sneaked him onto the MCG after the 1995 grand final, one of the other striking things about Jess is he is not really a football lover or even a sports lover. This shapes the way he comes at the discussion about the future of footy.


“I like the concept of sport, I like the concept of competitiveness, what I am saying is is that we need to create new paradigms for sport, skills-based, not collisions-based, for both men’s and women’s,” he says.

In the wake of CTE diagnoses for Polly Farmer, Danny Frawley and Shane Tuck, plus the AFL’s recent changes to its concussion guidelines, it is clear that the issue of head injuries in football is not going away any time soon.

Certainly not while Jess, 70, is punching on.


’He’ll fight the 1000-year war as he says,” said fellow agent Liam Pickering.

“He’s always been a players’ man. People can see him as hard work.

“He’s not doing it for the money. He’s doing it because he believes in the case and the cause.

“I know the AFL are probably sick to death of him, and the PA probably as well but you need voices like him in the game.”

Another long-time AFL player agent said Jess could be annoying. But that same agent also said that Jess’ lack of concern for what others say or think of him could be viewed admirably.

Jess says his long-mooted concussion legal action has been made much harder because of Australia’s Medical Records Act which he compares to those of a despotic regime.

But he keeps taking on the authorities, prepared to talk the talk and walk the walk.

“The fact is this, the guys I work for know that I am absolutely driven to help them, in whatever way I can,” Jess said.

“I’m a great friend, but I’m a horrible enemy.”

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