Some coaches will be turning their attention to success.
While others have major decisions to make and signatures to chase.
Foxfooty.com.au looks at the priority for every coach in 2021.
Get all the latest AFL news, highlights and analysis delivered straight to your inbox with Fox Sports Sportmail. Sign up now!
To avoid anymore off-field incidents
The Adelaide Crows simply can’t keep themselves out of the media after various saga since the club’s 2017 Grand Final loss. And just when fans thought it was all ending with the appointment of Matthew Nicks, the Crows just can’t shake the incidents from occurring. The season had only just finished with Brad Crouch and Tyson Stengle were caught by police with an illicit drug, with the pair soon suspended for a short period in 2021. Then just two months later, Stengle was again in the news and was stood down after an “off-field matter”, making it his third indiscretion in eight months. Throughout 2020, more fuel was poured on the fire that is the Adelaide Crows training camp, with the club hopeful of avoiding anymore attention towards the 2018 incident. Nicks needs all the attention to be a positive one as his young side aim to push up the ladder after collecting the wooden spoon in 2020.
To create a powerful forward line with a fit Joe Daniher
The Brisbane forward line received a huge boost when Essendon tall Joe Daniher nominated the club as the place where he wanted to play football for 2021 and beyond. His inclusion with give the Lions a twin-towers of talls close to goal, with Daniher linking up alongside Eric Hipwood. Brisbane had major issues converting chances in front of goal throughout last season, with the club having one of the worst conversion rates across the entire competition in front of the big sticks. If Chris Fagan can find a way to get the club’s forward half clicking, there’s no doubting a late September finish is on the cards.
To push for the top eight
Carlton fans will be expecting that 2021 is the year the club can bounce back into finals action after multiple years down the bottom of the ladder. The Blues jumped from 16th to 11th last season and had a number of impressive outings against sides above them on the ladder. But it is now time for the Teague Train to depart the bottom 10 and play finals, especially after the off-season signing bonanza. Zac Williams, Adam Saad and Lachie Fogarty all comes through the door and will be best 22 for Round 1, with the trio giving the club power across all areas of the ground. Charlie Curnow’s return remains a mystery, however the Blues are well stocked in the attacking half and have firepower around the ball to get it deep inside 50.
To put a horror 2020 campaign behind and reach the pointy end of September
It was a brutal year for Collingwood supporters. Since their devastating grand final loss in 2018, the Pies have fallen in a preliminary final and a semi-final in the following years. Then what followed in the off-season was even more of a shock with stars Adam Treloar and Jaidyn Stephenson forced out the door due to salary cap issues at the Magpies, with Tom Phillips and Atu Bosenavulagi also pushed out. While Nathan Buckley’s club was arguably one of the most successful teams at the national draft, the multiple best 22 players walking out the door is sure to hurt in the short term. The club’s age profile isn’t exactly getting any younger with Steele Sidebottom and Scott Pendlebury still crucial cogs in the club’s midfield brigade. The Pies will to let the results do the talking in the final year of Eddie McGuire’s tenure.
To get the signature of star Zach Merrett
There were a plethora of stars on the free agency list when it was revealed on Friday, with Essendon’s Zach Merrett among them. After a horrendous 2020 season, there was talk during the trade and free agency period that the midfielder could depart the club. After some time, Merrett did confirm he would stay a Bomber for 2021, but won’t commit beyond that. If the Bombers have a poor start to the season, there’s no doubting the onballer will question if his future remains at the club that drafted him back in 2013. His signature would go a long way to easing the concerns around the club with all eyes on Ben Rutten’s Bombers this season.
To turn the young kids into stars of the competition
Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, Caleb Serong, Hayden Young and Liam Henry – they’re just among the stack of young Dockers at Justin Longmuir’s disposal. It was an impressive first season at the helm for the new senior coach, which culminated in seven wins. A 12th place finish was arguably higher than many might’ve thought heading into the year. Matthew Taberner stepped up inside 50 with Brayshaw, Cerra and Serong starring in the onball brigade, often allowing Nat Fyfe to be used as a deep forward. Fans have plenty to be excited about and another big pre-season could unearth the next generation of Fremantle stars that can get the club back into the finals mix.
To get September success after an off-season recruitment drive
The ageing Cats threw everything at the Grand Final and ultimately fell short against the Tigers. While Gary Ablett might’ve retired, Geelong has found some impressive replacements with Jeremy Cameron, Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith walking in the door. Cameron and Tom Hawkins will be tough to stop for opposition clubs, with a number of big scores likely to be kicked down at Kardinia Park. Higgins is continuing to get better with age, with the smooth mover to play a key role in the attacking half of the ground. Smith’s addition compliments Sam Menegola on the outside and adds some leg speed to the club. Nothing less than a Grand Final appearance should be viewed as a success in 2021.
GOLD COAST SUNS
To be a finals contender
The Suns had a mighty rise last season and after Round 7 found themselves inside the top eight. While the Suns ended well out of the finals race, there was a lot to like and many have jumped on the bandwagon. Izak Rankine, Ben King and Matt Rowell are among the young players who have taken the competition by storm, taking the game on and showing their class against some of the AFL’s biggest stars. Stuart Dew’s team have a number of strong role players alongside them and another big pre-season is bound to hold them in good stead to push up the ladder and be a genuine finals contenders. Gold Coast are still yet to feature in finals action and if it’s not 2021, 2022 should be the year of the Suns.
To find a new game plan capable of scoring heavily
It’s fair to say 2020 didn’t go to plan for the Giants after missing out on finals and losing big name players in the trade and free agency period. On-field however, there’s one element that needs attention and came under the microscope throughout the year. Throughout 2020, two-time premiership player David King mentioned on Fox Footy that GWS’ game style was out of date, with an expiry time fast approaching. With no finals and the year gone, Cameron is sure to have been working hard on devising some new tactics for the year ahead. The loss of Zac Williams and Jeremy Cameron hurts, but there’s still plenty of class in the group that can bring the pressure and class at crucial stages of games.
Sarah Olle and Tom Morris preview the AFLW season on the FOX FOOTY podcast. Listen below or subscribe via iTunes or Spotify
If you can’t see the podcast, tap here
To address their key position deficiencies
Jack Gunston was far and away the most damaging forward for Hawthorn in 2020 and he’s set to miss at least some of the 2021 season after back surgery. Jonathon Patton has had a horror run with injury and his future is clouded after off-field allegations, Tim O’Brien has failed to truly announce himself as a bona fide key forward and the Hawks used their top pick in the 2020 draft to bolster their defence by selecting Denver Grainger-Barras. Alastair Clarkson needs to figure out a way to get his side producing more reliable sources for goals outside of Gunston, while defensively his side conceded the third-most points of any team for the season, in front of only North Melbourne and Adelaide. No James Sicily and a still young Grainger-Barras means Clarko will have to employ all of his tactical nous to stem the tide in defence and open up the waterways in attack.
Maximise Ben Brown
Ben Brown at the Dees ticks all the right boxes and his strengths are perfect for Simon Goodwin’s needs. The challenge now is to deliver on that promise and implement a game plan that gets the most out of Brown’s capabilities. It is very hard to see Brown having a bad year and the Demons having a good one – the two will almost certainly go hand-in-hand. Rightly or wrongly the blame for the outcome of a season will fall smack bang on the shoulders of the senior coach, so Goodwin will need to make sure Brown is given everything he needs to return to his goalkicking best.
To avoid the wooden spoon
It will be a tough ask, but incoming coach David Noble has said he doesn’t believe the Roos are as far behind the pack as many may believe and finishing somewhere not 18th on the ladder will be a huge step towards proving that to supporters and onlookers alike. Even the most optimistic of fans would concede there will be a tough period before the Roos can get back into premiership contention, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be hope sprinkled throughout the seasons leading up to that success. Climbing off the bottom of the ladder seems a bit diminutive as a goal, but it would mean a lot.
To maintain altitude
It’s easy to forget that, at the start of 2020, the equation for Ken Hinkley was effectively ‘make finals or you’re done’. While not a like-for-like comparison, Melbourne in 2018 went from just outside the eight in 2017 to a preliminary final berth. Port Adelaide have made a similar jump in 2020, albeit one that looks more sustainable than Melbourne’s proved to be. The goal for Hinkley is to avoid complacency among players and coaches and double down on the push for a flag. A lot would have to go wrong for the Power to end up being a one-year wonder, but Hinkley’s job is to eradicate the possibility as comprehensively as possible.
To not let off-field drama influence the Tigers football
When presented with obstacles over the past four years, the Tigers have almost always found a way to overcome them, no more so than in 2020. There is no shortage of off-field drama for them heading into the 2021 season, including some centred around coach Damien Hardwick. During this now-dynasty for Richmond there seem to be a growing number of obstacles presented to the team in its quest for success. You simply have to give the Tigers the benefit of the doubt given their track record, but keeping the train on the tracks could well be the number one priority for Dimma and his coaching staff.
To have the stars fully fit at the right time
Getting to the finals was a huge deal all on its own for the Saints in 2020 – now the task must be managing the list so it can be fully firing for a likely second berth in 2021. Paddy Ryder’s hamstring injury at the end of a spellbinding finals win over the Dogs proved a huge blow the following week while Dan Hannebery had just one game back from injury before he entered the finals series. The Saints enter 2021 with a better list thanks to the acquisitions of Brad Crouch and Jack Higgins, while Max King should be even better with another pre-season under his belt. There is no reason to expect the Saints to regress from 2020, so for Brett Ratten the focus has to be on getting his charges firing at the right time with some calculated management in the backend of the season.
To get Buddy back
Tipped by some to be the bolters of 2021, Sydney getting Buddy Franklin back on the park isn’t just priceless for their on-field success but for the competition as a whole. An AFL Legend in waiting, Franklin deserves to go out with a bang rather than a whimper and these last two years of his contract provide a chance for one more reminder of just how fearsome he can be on a footy field. The amount of on-field guidance Franklin, who signed a $10 million deal to join the Swans, could provide for new draftee Logan McDonald could be absolutely crucial to his development as a player once Buddy hangs up the boots. There are so many reasons why getting Buddy back to full fitness is crucial for John Longmire and for footy lovers as a whole.
WEST COAST EAGLES
To keep Nic Nat on the park
No player in the competition would’ve benefited more from 16-minute quarters in 2020 than Nic Naitanui. At the start of the year it was all about how many games NicNat would manage. He ended up playing all bar one game and emerged as arguably the game’s best ruckman for the year, a hitout and clearance-winning machine. With a return to 20-minute quarters this year, managing the 30-year-old will become a much more nuanced challenge. There are few players in the competition more influential than Naitanui at his best and with Tom Hickey being traded to the Swans there is even more emphasis on his ability to shoulder the load in the ruck. His health is absolutely paramount to any premiership tilt.
To make the midfield brigade function at its best
Having too much star power can be a good problem to have and it’s one Luke Beveridge is definitely dealing with given Adam Treloar’s last-second arrival at the Dogs. Figuring out the best way to use his midfielders will be key to the club’s success in 2021. Treloar’s arrival is intriguing given Josh Dunkley’s noted displeasure with being played as a makeshift ruckman for periods of the season. Treloar being deployed across half-back and Liberatore as a pressure forward are a couple of options that must be going through Beveridge’s mind, but at the end of the day ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ and the onus is on Bevo to deliver on the enormous promise his line-up of stars offer at their best.
Thank you for spending time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed seeing this news release about Aussie Rules news and updates named “AFL 2021, every coach’s priority in 2021, AFL fixtures, results, teams, trade period, off-season, AFL draft”. This story was posted by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our national news services.
#AFL #coachs #priority #AFL #fixtures #results #teams #trade #period #offseason #AFL #draft