The most dramatic team makeovers are done, with 33 AFL players switching clubs during the trade period and free agency.
That’s one and a half teams worth of stars – and while the draft and delisted free agency will mean more changes, we now have a good sense of how teams will look in 2021.
Foxfooty.com.au predicts your club’s best 22 for next season.
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B: Luke Brown, Daniel Talia, Tom Doedee
HB: Andrew McPherson, Fisher McAsey, Brodie Smith
C: Will Hamill, Rory Sloane, Wayne Milera
HF: Jackson Hately, Darcy Fogarty, Tom Lynch
F: Shane McAdam, Elliot Himmelberg, Chayce Jones
FOLL: Reilly O’Brien, Matt Crouch, Rory Laird
I/C: Lachie Sholl, Ben Keays, Jake Kelly, Taylor Walker
In: Jackson Hately
Out: Bryce Gibbs, Riley Knight, Patrick Wilson, Ayce Taylor, Rory Atkins, Brad Crouch, Kyle Hartigan, Jordan Gallucci, Myles Poholke, Ben Crocker
We say: 2020 was year zero for the rebuild. This will be year one, and the Crows right now are the least experienced list in the AFL by a country mile, with 16 players with less than 25 games of experience. Jackson Hately will join the club via the pre-season draft, after they refused to pay more than Pick 40 for the 2018 first-round pick from GWS. He wants more time as an inside midfielder but will he have to rotate forward early on? Tyson Stengle will serve a four-match ban at the start of the season but is in the forward mix.
B: Darcy Gardiner, Jack Payne, Grant Birchall
HB: Daniel Rich, Harris Andrews, Brandon Starcevich
C: Hugh McCluggage, Lachie Neale, Mitch Robinson
HF: Cam Rayner, Joe Daniher, Dayne Zorko
F: Charlie Cameron, Eric Hipwood, Daniel McStay
FOLL: Oscar McInerney, Jarryd Lyons, Jarrod Berry
I/C: Lincoln McCarthy, Zac Bailey, Nakia Cockatoo, Callum Ah Chee
In: Joe Daniher, Nakia Cockatoo
Out: Allen Christensen, Matt Eagles, Corey Lyons, Jacob Allison, Sam Skinner, Toby Wooller, Stefan Martin, Alex Witherden
We say: You didn’t see it because of the lack of NEAFL footy in 2020, but this is a deep, deep squad. The back six is particularly tough. We liked what we saw from young Jack Payne, but if Marcus Adams is fit – he’s had a horror run with injury while at the club – he might start. Then you’ve got guys like Noah Answerth, Callum Ah Chee, Ryan Lester and Kaidean Coleman all in the mix, so you can understand why they let Alex Witherden go. Joe Daniher definitely plays from Round 1 if fit and Nakia Cockatoo probably should, pushing preliminary final team member Cam Ellis-Yolmen out. Stef Martin left having been told the Lions were likely to play just one ruck next year, so Eric Hipwood and Daniher will assist Oscar McInerney.
B: Caleb Marchbank, Liam Jones, Lachie Plowman
HB: Adam Saad, Jacob Weitering, Sam Docherty
C: Sam Petrevski-Seton, Sam Walsh, Jack Newnes
HF: Jack Martin, Charlie Curnow, Marc Murphy
F: Eddie Betts, Harry McKay, Michael Gibbons
FOLL: Tom De Koning, Patrick Cripps, Zac Williams
I/C: Will Setterfiield, Ed Curnow, Mitch McGovern, Tom Williamson
In: Zac Williams, Adam Saad, Lachie Fogarty
Out: Hugh Goddard, Matthew Kreuzer, Darcy Lang, Finbar O’Dwyer, Ben Silvagni, Kade Simpson
We say: This is a tricky squad with quite a few young players who could or should get a game in Round 1 – and it would probably be better for the Blues’ long-term future if they did. However since taking over as coach David Teague has favoured experience. They recruited two gun halfbacks but we’re expecting both Adam Saad and Zac Williams to spend more time in the midfield in navy blue. We know Williams can do it and Saad wants to prove he can. If Charlie Curnow is fit for Round 1 he plays but that’s no sure thing – they should replace him with Levi Casboult if he has another setback. Nic Newman has a case for a spot in defence if he’s fit though it’s a pretty strong back six as it is. We think Eddie Betts starts early in the season but Lachie Fogarty or one of the many young small forward options at Ikon Park replaces him by the end.
B: Brayden Maynard, Jordan Roughead, Jeremy Howe
HB: Jack Crisp, Darcy Moore, Isaac Quaynor
C: Josh Daicos, Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom
HF: Jamie Elliott, Brody Mihocek, Will Hoskin-Elliott
F: Jordan De Goey, Mason Cox, Josh Thomas
FOLL: Brodie Grundy, Taylor Adams, Brayden Sier
I/C: John Noble, Levi Greenwood, Will Kelly, Chris Mayne
Out: Adam Treloar, Jaidyn Stephenson, Tom Phillips, Atu Bosenavulagi, Ben Reid
We say: That ‘Nil’ doesn’t look great, does it? The Magpies have had a bit of midfield depth for a few seasons now, so you can kind of understand them being willing to lose Treloar – if only it had been handled and presented better. Likewise Phillips had been pushed out of his wing spot by Josh Daicos. But that depth has gone now and if they have another run of injuries, they’ll be in strife – and remember, this is a team that only just snuck into the eight this past season. At this point we prefer Jordan De Goey as a forward, especially after they failed to recruit one in the trade period, so Brayden Sier starts in the midfield. Jack Madgen, Chris Mayne, Trey Ruscoe and the Brown boys are in the mix for this 22 as well, and they can get quite a bit younger than the side we’ve named. Expect that to happen if the kids have big pre-seasons or if the season starts poorly.
B: Mason Redman, Cale Hooker, Patrick Ambrose
HB: Jordan Ridley, Michael Hurley, Nick Hind
C: Zach Merrett, Dyson Heppell, Andrew McGrath
HF: Jake Stringer, Peter Wright, Will Snelling
F: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, James Stewart, Darcy Parish
FOLL: Sam Draper, Devon Smith, Dylan Shiel
I/C: Aaron Francis, Kyle Langford, Jye Caldwell, David Zaharakis
In: Peter Wright, Jye Caldwell, Nick Hind
Out: Joe Daniher, Adam Saad, Orazio Fantasia, Conor McKenna, Tom Bellchambers, Shaun McKernan, Mitch Hiberd, Kobe Mutch, Josh Begley, Noah Gown
We say: The Bombers have added some more class in the midfield mix with Jye Caldwell crossing from the Giants, with the 2018 first round pick set to explode with greater opportunity. There are still some questions over the forward line, with talls Cale Hooker and James Stewart far from being certainties in the club’s 22 for Round 1. Essendon needs the best out of Peter Wright, with the former Sun likely to be a key target close to goal after Joe Daniher departed. Nick Hind’s extra speed will fill the hole left by Adam Saad, while it’ll be up to a number of other Bombers to find the spark Orazio Fantasia often brought to the club. With currently three picks inside the top 10, Essendon could well find a way to land a tall or bring in more star power in the attacking half.
B: Reece Conca, Joel Hamling, Griffin Logue
HB: Luke Ryan, Alex Pearce, Nathan Wilson
C: Blake Acres, Caleb Serong, Adam Cerra
HF: Liam Henry, Matt Taberner, Michael Walters
F: Sam Sturt, Rory Lobb, Nat Fyfe
FOLL: Sean Darcy, Andrew Brayshaw, Darcy Tucker
I/C: David Mundy, Lachie Schultz, James Aish, Brennan Cox
Out: Isiah Butters, Jason Carter, Hugh Dixon, Jesse Hogan, Brandon Matera, Cam McCarthy, Tom North, Dillon O’Reilly, Jarvis Pina
We say: The Dockers haven’t brought anyone in this off-season, which is a bit odd given you’d think this would be the time to bolster a growing list with mature talent – just like St Kilda did last year. Perhaps they’re making space for a raid in 2021. Having said that they’ve got some talent to come into this side, with Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling hoping to return in defence, plus guys like Hayden Young and Griffin Logue. Could Nat Fyfe become a forward-mid? With David Mundy sticking around for one more year and Adam Cerra, Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong only getting better, there’s arguably enough midfield depth to afford Fyfe to move – plus the forward line needs it.
B: Jack Henry, Lachie Henderson, Jake Kolodjashnij
HB: Zach Tuohy, Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart
C: Mitch Duncan, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola
HF: Luke Dahlhaus, Jeremy Cameron, Shaun Higgins
F: Gary Rohan, Tom Hawkins, Sam Simpson
FOLL: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Cam Guthrie
I/C: Jed Bews, Brandan Parfitt, Gryan Miers, Isaac Smith
In: Jeremy Cameron, Isaac Smith, Shaun Higgins
Out: Gary Ablett, Nakia Cockatoo, Lachie Fogarty, Jacob Kennerley, James Parsons, Blake Schlensog, Harry Taylor
We say: The Cats were a pretty settled side by the end of last season, and their three inclusions all deserve a spot in the 22. Jeremy Cameron gives Tom Hawkins a partner in crime and allows Patrick Dangerfield to spend more time in the midfield, and Shaun Higgins replaces Gary Ablett. Meanwhile Isaac Smith might not be a starting wingman with guns Mitch Duncan and Sam Menegola in the side but he surely plays. They didn’t actually find a Harry Taylor replacement, though there are high hopes for 2019 draftee Sam De Koning. Round 1 might be too early for a like-for-like swap, so we’ve gone with Lachie Henderson and Mark Blicavs as FB and CHB, though Chris Scott obviously loves using Blicavs around the ground. Esava Ratugolea stayed to fight for his spot but the Cats are already pretty tall – Jordan Clark did the same thing but we have him and Mark O’Connor as very unlucky to miss. We’re unclear whether Jack Steven will be at the club next year but there’s a fair argument he wouldn’t make this 22.
GOLD COAST SUNS
B: Jarrod Harbrow, Sam Collins, Jack Bowes
HB: Charlie Ballard, Jack Lukosius, Oleg Markov
C: Brandon Ellis, Touk Miller, Lachie Weller
HF: Hugh Greenwood, Ben King, Ben Ainsworth
F: Izak Rankine, Sam Day, Alex Sexton
FOLL: Jarrod Witts, David Swallow, Matt Rowell
I/C: Noah Anderson, Rory Atkins, Connor Budarick, Wil Powell
In: Rory Atkins, Oleg Markov
Out: Pearce Hanley, Anthony Miles, George Horlin-Smith, Corey Ellis, Josh Schoenfeld, Mitch Riordan, Sam Fletcher, Jesse Joyce, Jacob Dawson, Jacob Heron, Peter Wright
We say: The Suns have put together a strong list full of youngsters and will add some experience with Rory Atkins and Oleg Markov staking claims for best 22 spots. Markov’s speed off half back will be important, complementing the strong group of interceptors inside defensive 50. Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson will again take a step forward with another pre-season, while the club will welcome Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey to the club as automatic selections via the club’s catchment zone.
B: Sam Taylor, Phil Davis, Adam Kennedy
HB: Lachie Whitfield, Nick Haynes, Lachie Ash
C: Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper, Harry Perryman
HF: Harry Himmelberg, Jake Riccardi, Matt de Boer
F: Toby Greene, Jeremy Finlayson, Brent Daniels
FOLL: Braydon Preuss, Stephen Coniglio, Tim Taranto
I/C: Jesse Hogan, Tom Green, Callan Ward, Daniel Lloyd
In: Jesse Hogan, Braydon Preuss
Out: Sam Jacobs, Heath Shaw, Tom Sheridan, Zac Williams, Aidan Corr, Zac Langdon, Jeremy Cameron, Jye Caldwell
We say: The Giants on paper still have a reasonable core group with Coniglio, Taranto and Kelly in the midfield group. It’s hard to say any team can ‘afford’ to lose players like Zac Williams and Jeremy Cameron, but they’ve certainly got depth in their old roles. Braydon Preuss will slot straight in as a ruck, while a big pre-season from Jesse Hogan should see him push for selection in the 22. Expect more from youngsters Lachie Ash and Jake Riccardi, while a stronger defensive unit should be complemented by Lachie Whitfield.
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B: Sam Frost, Kyle Hartigan, Blake Hardwick
HB: Jack Scrimshaw, Ben McEvoy, Jarman Impey
C: Tom Phillips, Tom Mitchell, Tom Scully
HF: Chad Wingard, Jack Gunston, Shaun Burgoyne
F: Mitch Lewis, Jon Patton, Luke Breust
FOLL: Jon Ceglar, James Worpel, Jaeger O’Meara
I/C: Liam Shiels, Will Day, Tim O’Brien, James Cousins
In: Kyle Hartigan, Tom Phillips
Out: Ben Stratton, Paul Puopolo, Conor Glass, Ricky Henderson, Darren Minchington, Jackson Ross, Will Golds, James Frawley, Isaac Smith
We say: The Hawks used an AFL-high 40 players this past season – tied with Collingwood (due to injuries) and the Bulldogs (due to Luke Beveridge doing Luke Beveridge things) – so the youth movement is finally getting underway. Five stalwarts are gone (Stratton, Puopolo, Henderson, Frawley and Smith) and James Sicily likely won’t play much if at all in 2021, so it’s whether Alastair Clarkson goes full rebuild and plays the kids, or opts for the remaining veterans. Their two recruits slot straight in, Hartigan as a much-needed defender and Phillips back in his natural wing spot replacing Henderson to create what we’re calling the Tom line. We have Ceglar in the ruck allowing McEvoy to be deployed flexibly.
B: Michael Hibberd, Steven May, Jay Lockhart
HB: Trent Rivers, Jake Lever, Adam Tomlinson
C: Christian Salem, Angus Brayshaw, Ed Langdon
HF: Bayley Fritsch, Sam Weideman, James Harmes
F: Kysaiah Pickett, Ben Brown, Jake Melksham
FOLL: Max Gawn, Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca
I/C: Jack Viney, Luke Jackson, Jayden Hunt, Charlie Spargo
In: Ben Brown
Out: Kyle Dunkley, Corey Wagner, Josh Wagner, Harley Bennell, Mitch Hannan, Braydon Preuss
We say: With just the one recruit so far this off-season, Melbourne’s major change for 2021 is in the forward line, where Brown partners with Weideman and Jackson as the three talls, with Jackson supporting Gawn in the ruck. It means there’s no room for Tom McDonald unless he switches into defence – though we’re not sure who he pushes out there – or someone gets hurt. Petracca stays on-ball after a stellar 2020 though if he ends up kicking more than a goal a game, it would go a long way to the Demons playing finals, and you could argue Harmes would be better-used in the midfield than at half-forward. They recruited Langdon and Tomlinson to be wingmen, and while Langdon had a fantastic first year in red and blue, Tomlinson’s wasn’t so strong. He looked better in defence but after missing out on Isaac Smith, the Demons don’t have an ideal second option in that position.
B: Kyron Hayden, Ben McKay, Aidan Corr
HB: Luke McDonald, Robbie Tarrant, Shaun Atley
C: Jared Polec, Ben Cunnington, Bailey Scott
HF: Curtis Taylor, Josh Walker, Tarryn Thomas
F: Jaidyn Stephenson, Nick Larkey, Cam Zurhaar
FOLL: Todd Goldstein, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Jy Simpkin
I/C: Jed Anderson, Aaron Hall, Trent Dumont, Jack Ziebell
In: Aidan Corr, Lachie Young, Jaidyn Stephenson, Atu Bosenavulagi
Out: Jamie Macmillan, Majak Daw, Jasper Pittard, Ben Jacobs, Paul Ahern, Mason Wood, Sam Durdin, Marley Williams, Joel Crocker, Lachie Hosie, Tom Murphy, Shaun Higgins, Ben Brown
We say: Plenty of turnover here and some of their first-round picks will be in the mix for Round 1, though it depends on who they select – a key position player at Pick 2 isn’t as AFL-ready as a midfielder, generally. Corr slots straight into defence and Young is a contender to join him while Stephenson steps into a pretty exciting young forward line. Bosenavulagi needs to fight for his spot. Polec is too good not to get a game in this side, even with his issues in 2020. Walker keeps his spot for now but in an ideal world younger guys like Tristan Xerri and Charlie Comben are pushing him out. Flynn Perez, Aiden Bonar and Jack Mahony are in the mix as well – it depends on how young the new coach wants this side to be.
B: Tom Jonas, Tom Clurey, Trent McKenzie
HB: Darcy Byrne-Jones, Aliir Aliir, Hamish Hartlett
C: Karl Amon, Ollie Wines, Xavier Duursma
HF: Zak Butters, Todd Marshall, Sam Powell-Pepper
F: Robbie Gray, Charlie Dixon, Peter Ladhams
FOLL: Scott Lycett, Travis Boak, Dan Houston
I/C: Connor Rozee, Tom Rockliff, Ryan Burton, Orazio Fantasia
In: Aliir Aliir, Orazio Fantasia
Out: Joe Atley, Wylie Buzza, Tobin Cox, Riley Grundy, Jack Watts, Brad Ebert, Cam Sutcliffe, Justin Westhoff, Jake Patmore
We say: Every AFL team used at least 32 players this past season – except Port Adelaide, who used only 30. That’s partially because they took fewer players into the hubs, and also thanks to a pretty kind injury run, but also because this is a talented, steady side. Of the exits so far, only the retired Brad Ebert and Justin Westhoff were in the mix for the best 22. We have recruits Aliir and Fantasia in the Round 1 side, with Aliir being lured across to join a stellar defensive group, but Fantasia is no sure thing to start. We have Marshall holding his spot in the forward line but Mitch Georgiades is coming for it. Likewise in the midfield there are contenders for Rockliff’s spot – who’s on the bench but clearly an inside mid when on the field – whether from current best 22 players spending more time in there (Rozee, Powell-Pepper) or emerging kids.
B: David Astbury, Dylan Grimes, Noah Balta
HB: Liam Baker, Nick Vlastuin, Bachar Houli
C: Kamdyn McIntosh, Dion Prestia, Marlion Pickett
HF: Kane Lambert, Jason Castagna, Dustin Martin
F: Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt, Daniel Rioli
FOLL: Toby Nankervis, Shane Edwards, Trent Cotchin
I/C: Jack Graham, Shai Bolton, Jayden Short, Nathan Broad
Out: Luke English, Fraser Turner, Oleg Markov, Jack Higgins
We say: When you’ve won three premierships in the space of four years, it’s fair to say the Tigers have a strong group of players to call upon. Other than Alex Rance, no big name has elected to leave the club, with a number of players outside the club’s best 22 hunting opportunity at other clubs. Oleg Markov and Jack Higgins both played throughout 2020, but missed out on the Grand Final, with the pair seeking opportunity at the Suns and Saints respectively. With no glaring holes, Richmond hasn’t brought anyone in over the off-season and will be able to pick up father-son Maurice Rioli Jnr in the draft.
B: Callum Wilkie, Dougal Howard, Ben Paton
HB: Nick Coffield, Jake Carlisle, Ben Long
C: Bradley Hill, Brad Crouch, Jack Billings
HF: Jack Higgins, Tim Membrey, Jade Gresham
F: Dan Butler, Max King, Jarryn Geary
FOLL: Rowan Marshall, Zak Jones, Jack Steele
I/C: Josh Battle, Paddy Ryder, Hunter Clark, Seb Ross
In: Brad Crouch, Shaun McKernan, Jack Higgins
Out: Nathan Brown, Doulton Langlands, Ryan Abbott, Jack Bell, Jack Mayo, Logan Austin, Matt Parker, Nick Hind
We say: This is a heck of a squad with quite a few very unlucky players on the fringes. The Saints’ trade period wasn’t quite as busy this year as 2019, but they still added two starters. Higgins will be more of a mid-forward at Moorabbin while Crouch will start after missing the opening two rounds through suspension. The question is who he pushes out – is it too much of the same thing to have Crouch, Ross and Dan Hannebery all in the 22? Especially with Jade Gresham returning, it’s tough. McKernan is ruck/forward depth behind the stellar combo of Marshall and Ryder. Geary did such a good job as a neutralising forward, especially on Caleb Daniel in the elimination final win that he probably spends more time there in 2021.
B: Lewis Melican, Dane Rampe, Robbie Fox
HB: Callum Mills, Tom McCartin, Jake Lloyd
C: Nick Blakey, Luke Parker, Jordan Dawson
HF: Isaac Heeney, Lance Franklin, Ollie Florent
F: Tom Papley, Callum Sinclair, Will Hayward
FOLL: Tom Hickey, Josh Kennedy, James Rowbottom
I/C: Dylan Stephens, George Hewett, Justin McInerney, Harry Cunningham
Out: Michael Knoll, Harry Reynolds, Brady Rowles, Ryley Stoddard, Jack Maibaum, Aliir Aliir
We say: The Swans have added just two players over the last two trade periods – Lewis Taylor last year, and ideally he’s just depth, and ruckman Tom Hickey. Expect John Longmire to use Hickey and Sinclair in combination with the latter spending more time forward. They’ve got quite a few virtual recruits for 2021 thanks to their horror injury run this past season, most notably a certain Lance Franklin. Fox Footy analyst David King has even suggested if this team stays healthy next year they can challenge for the eight. It’ll be a case of figuring out which kids emerge over the pre-season and claim spots in the best 22. Pick 3, or wherever the Swans’ first pick ends up, could also start depending on the position they go for.
WEST COAST EAGLES
B: Alex Witherden, Tom Barrass, Brad Sheppard
HB: Shannon Hurn, Jeremy McGovern, Liam Duggan
C: Dom Sheed, Tim Kelly, Andrew Gaff
HF: Jamie Cripps, Jack Darling, Jake Waterman
F: Oscar Allen, Josh Kennedy, Liam Ryan
FOLL: Nic Naitanui, Luke Shuey, Elliot Yeo
I/C: Jack Petruccelle, Jackson Nelson, Jack Redden, Zac Langdon
In: Zac Langdon, Alex Witherden
Out: Will Schofield, Nic Reid, Hamish Brayshaw, Francis Watson, Anthony Treacy, Mitch O’Neill
We say: Other teams will have quite a bit of change from now until Round 1 but with only late picks in the draft, the Eagles are pretty settled. Their two trade period recruits, Langdon and Witherden, aren’t walk-up starters but you would assume West Coast wouldn’t have given up their top draft picks for players they won’t heavily consider in the 22. Langdon will be battling guys like Brandon Ah Chee, Jarrod Cameron and Jamaine Jones. Witherden is ideally a long-term Shannon Hurn replacement, but is no sure thing to play right away ahead of Tom Cole and Jackson Nelson, plus Jarrod Brander is looking at switching into defence for more playing time.
B: Easton Wood, Alex Keath, Caleb Daniel
HB: Bailey Williams, Ryan Gardner, Hayden Crozier
C: Bailey Smith, Jack Macrae, Adam Treloar
HF: Tom Liberatore, Josh Bruce, Lachie Hunter
F: Mitch Hannan, Aaron Naughton, Mitch Wallis
FOLL: Tim English, Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley
I/C: Laitham Vandermeer, Stefan Martin, Jason Johannisen, Ed Richards
In: Mitch Hannan, Stefan Martin, Adam Treloar
Out: Tory Dickson, Billy Gowers, Fergus Greene, Brad Lynch, Lachie Young
We say: What a tough team to pick. We have all three trade period recruits in the best 22, but finding a spot for Treloar isn’t easy – neither him nor Smith are really wingmen. Martin can certainly assist English in the ruck. But the midfield was already good this year – it’s at either end where the problems sit. Some fans will want Jamarra Ugle-Hagan in the side from Round 1 but it’s unlikely the academy prospect would be ready right away, so Bruce holds his spot despite a difficult first year at the kennel. Hannan should start. Likewise in defence, where the Dogs were torn apart via the air against St Kilda in their elimination final loss, it’s between the maligned Gardner and Zaine Cordy.