Who will be your club’s leading goal kicker this season?
Every club is different, with some having an obvious choice and others will a few players capable of leading the way in 2021.
Club by club, here are our predictions:
Last year’s winner: Taylor Walker (15)
You could throw a blanket over a handful of players at the Crows. As we usually see with teams in the bottom four or at the start of a rebuild, they lack a focal point inside 50 and a number of players could lead the way with a low total, as we saw with Taylor Walker in 2020.
Elliott Himmelberg is an impressive young key forward on the rise, impressing across the second half of the season. He averaged a goal per game from Round 8 onwards, but also kicked 10 behinds. Some accuracy luck and a full season of opportunities and the 22-year-old could lead the way for the Crows.
Others in the mix: Taylor Walker, Shane McAdam and Darcy Fogarty
Last year’s winner: Charlie Cameron (31)
Charlie Cameron has been Brisbane’s leading goal kicker for multiple years now, but Joe Daniher has arrived and has a full pre-season under his belt.
The former All-Australian kicked 65 goals in 2017, his last full season, and finds himself in a stronger team. While he will likely need time to find his feet, if he stays healthy Daniher is very much a sneaky shot at winning the Coleman Medal.
Cameron (62) and Eric Hipwood (56) combined for 118 shots at goal in 2020, with a fair gap between them and the next highest Lion, Lachie Neale and Hugh McCluggage (34).
The addition of Daniher takes the load off of those two and gives Brisbane a dangerous three-pronged attack.
Others in the mix: Charlie Cameron, Eric Hipwood
Last year’s winner: Harry McKay (21)
With Charlie Curnow still on the shelf indefinitely, Harry McKay once again looms as the focal point of Carlton’s forward line.
McKay took big strides last season, kicking 21 goals from 13 games, including seven in the final two rounds.
Assuming the Blues continue to rise in 2021, the 23-year-old will be a vital cog, likely playing as the deepest forward. Carlton also needs him to stay healthy, with McKay only playing 20 games once in his five-year career so far.
The likes of Mitch McGovern and Levi Casboult will contribute, but can’t yet be counted on to lead the way.
Others in the mix: Mitch McGovern and Levi Casboult
Last year’s winner: Brody Mihocek (25)
Collingwood’s forward line was a point of contention last year, never quite settling across a tumultuous 2020 season.
Brody Mihocek was the one constant, kicking 25 goals from 18 games, 11 clear of Mason Cox and Jordan De Goey in second place.
De Goey obviously only played 10 games and could explode, but he may also be needed through the midfield more given the off-season changes at the Pies.
Mihocek is a safe bet to lead the way once again for Collingwood in 2021.
Others in the mix: Jordan De Goey
Last year’s winner: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (19)
Jake Stringer only played the 10 games in 2020, but came five goals from leading Essendon’s goal kicking.
Essendon’s forward line is a tough one to work out this year, with Joe Daniher, Shaun McKernan, Jacob Townsend and Orazio Fantasia gone and Peter Wright likely to step in at full forward.
If Stringer has a healthy season, he should comfortably lead the Bombers’ goal kicking this year given how much they will be relying on him.
Others in the mix: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti
Last year’s winner: Matt Taberner (29)
Matt Taberner finally put all the pieces together in 2020, making the All-Australian squad by kicking 29 goals and having 48 shots at goal.
Fremantle’s forward line will once again revolve around Taberner in 2021, with Michael Walters and Nathan Fyfe X-factor options that will swing through the midfield.
It’s hard to see anyone beating out the 27-year-old, but if Taberner goes down with injury or has a down year, Rory Lobb will likely need to stand up.
Others in the mix: Michael Walters
Last year’s winner: Tom Hawkins (49)
Obviously, the introduction of Jeremy Cameron to this forward line makes for an interesting head to head battle.
The two are the most recent Coleman Medal winners, but will have to work out how to share the forward 50.
Hawkins had 94 shots at goal in 2020, well over double the next Cat (Gary Rohan, 43), but will likely see that number dip to make room for Cameron.
Geelong won’t mind who kicks the goals for them, but Hawkins has the existing chemistry with the Cats’ midfield.
Others in the mix: Jeremy Cameron
Last year’s winner: Ben King (25)
Ben King led the way for the Suns in 2020, kicking 25 goals and taking 53 shots at goal from 17 games.
No other Sun had 40 shots at goal as the young key forward dominated the forward half.
He will only get better and Gold Coast’s improvements through the midfield will only benefit him.
Izak Rankine and Alex Sexton are nice compliments to King inside 50, but likely won’t have the consistent numbers to overtake him.
Others in the mix: Izak Rankine, Alex Sexton
If Toby Greene stays healthy and doesn’t get suspended, he will likely be GWS’ leading goal kicker.
Jeremy Cameron is gone and with him goes a fair chunk of targets inside 50. Greene has proven himself capable of taking over matches and from only 13 games last year, finished with GWS’ second most shots at goal behind Cameron.
Having Jeremy Finlayson, Harry Himmelberg, Jake Riccardi and Jesse Hogan gives the Giants key forward options, but Greene remains their most damaging forward.
They’re certainly a team to watch this year as they enter a new era inside 50.
Others in the mix: Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson
Last year’s winner: Jack Gunston (31)
With Jack Gunston set for an injury-interrupted year as he deals with a back injury, someone else will have to step up at Hawthorn.
Chad Wingard finished second in their 2020 goal kicking with 18 and got better as the year went on, while Luke Breust kicked 16 goals from 13 games.
Breust is a known commodity inside 50 and given a healthy season, should hit the scoreboard hard.
The best case scenario for Hawthorn would be seeing someone like Mitchell Lewis or Tim O’Brien rising up and taking control of the forward line.
Others in the mix: Chad Wingard and Jack Gunston (if healthy)
Last year’s winner: Bayley Fritsch
We’re tentatively still holding onto hope that Ben Brown will play a large majority of the season and lead Melbourne’s goal kicking.
It was revealed last week that Brown needs knee surgery and will likely miss the start of the season, following a strong pre-season with his new club.
2020 aside, no player in recent years has been a more reliable goal kicker than Brown and Melbourne will still be hoping to get the best out of him.
If he misses the opening month of the season, the likes of Bayley Fritsch and Tom McDonald will have the chance to build a lead in the club goal kicking.
Sam Weideman’s injury setback hurts Melbourne’s forward line overall.
Others in the mix: Bayley Fritsch and Tom McDonald
Last year’s winner: Cam Zurhaar (18)
North Melbourne’s goal kicking will likely be a battle between Cam Zurhaar and Nick Larkey.
Larkey will have a greater focus on him in the absence of Ben Brown, but had opportunities in 2020 to learn what that would look like given Brown’s injury issues.
Zurhaar is a bull and an x-factor player, but Larkey kicked 14 goals from just the 10 games last year and will likely be more reliable week to week.
Others in the mix: Cam Zurhaar and Jaidyn Stephenson
Last year’s winner: Charlie Dixon (34)
Charlie Dixon delivered in spades in 2020, kicking 34 goals from 58 shots at goal.
He was the focal point for the Power and one of the most dangerous key forwards in the competition.
It’s hard to see any scenario, injury aside, where Dixon doesn’t once again lead the way for the Power.
Others in the mix: Robbie Gray
Last year’s winner: Jack Riewoldt (33)
Jack Riewoldt edged out Tom Lynch by one goal in 2020, but played two more games.
Lynch had five more scoring shots and kicked seven more behinds. Assuming we something similar this year, the former Suns captain should overtake Riewoldt.
It’s clearly a two-horse race for the Tigers inside 50, but Lynch will likely be the focal point once again.
Others in the mix: Jack Riewoldt
Last year’s winner: Dan Butler (29)
Dan Butler led the way for the Saints in 2020 with 29 goals, but Max King had more shots at goal from one less game.
King was wayward in front of goal, kicking 22.20 and it goes without saying that straightening up will see him take home St Kilda’s leading goal kicker award.
The 20-year-old has all the tools and has received praise from some of the great key forwards of previous eras.
Others in the mix: Dan Butler and Tim Membrey
Last year’s winner: Tom Papley (26)
At this point, it’s hard to know what we will get from Lance Franklin and unfortunately the days of the key forward playing a full season seem to be behind him.
In his wake, the Sydney forward line has belonged to Tom Papley. The livewire kicked 26.27 from 66 shots at goal in 2020. No other swan had 25 shots at goal.
The drafting of Logan McDonald helps the Swans long-term, but for the time being all roads lead to Papley.
Others in the mix: Sam Reid and Isaac Heeney
Last year’s winner: Josh Kennedy (34)
Josh Kennedy is a seven-time West Coast leading goal kicker at this point, so predicting him to do it again is pretty straightforward, even in the twilight of his career.
He will likely continue to be the Eagles’ top target deep inside 50 and while it will be a close race between him, Liam Ryan and Jack Darling, Kennedy is our pick to lead the way.
He kicked four more goals than Darling last year, but also played one less game.
Others in the mix: Jack Darling and Liam Ryan
Last year’s winner: Mitch Wallis (25)
Aaron Naughton only played the 12 games in 2020, kicking 15 goals.
Naughton has shown his brilliance as a key forward, but has been held back by consistent injury issues.
Throw in Josh Bruce with a point to prove and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and the Dogs have an interesting dynamic in 2021.
Mitch Wallis also quietly turned himself into a dangerous marking option last year, giving the Bulldogs a lot of versatility.
Others in the mix: Josh Bruce and Mitch Wallis
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