Dave Cardamone takes a look at what to expect around the league on the eve of Round 23
As the regular season of 2017 comes to a close we look at some of the undecided questions still to be answered at the beginning of Round 23.
Kelly – Listening to Paul Connors during the week, with that mindset and consistent message from a manager it’s more than increasingly likely that Kelly will stay with the Giants. That said, if they get the job done this year he may be satisfied enough and content on starting a new premiership challenge at a different club.
Martin – Dad’s the word. A trip to New Zealand next week to discuss his options with his father will be the last piece of the puzzle regarding his decision. Expecting he’ll stay a Tiger.
Lever – Dug a hole a few weeks back with his comments re meeting Melbourne. The imposed media ban isn’t a great sign and Adelaide clearly haven’t put enough on the table. With plenty of Melbourne clubs interested expect the offers to be too good to refuse.
Buckley – Collingwood are the team to watch next year. They’ll do a Richmond with Hardwick in a similar position 12 months ago. Buckley will get backed in for two more years with the club putting the best supporting cast around him. The young playing group will get stronger, they’ll learn from last years mistakes and with an extra month of pre-season will start 2018 in a strong position.
Nick Dal Santo
The footy media has found a gem in Nick Dal Santo. He’s refreshing, respected by all and gives fantastic insight into all football issues cutting through the jargon and getting straight to the point. He will continue to grow and I for one cannot wait for his input for the rest of the season and years to come.
Magnifying Glass is On
With the class of 2017 retiring and veterans left beginning to dwindle the spotlight is finally shining on Jarrad McVeigh and his playing future. Plagued by a calf injury earlier in the year his experience and composure off half-back was sorely missed by the playing group, however the game is fast approaching the 32-year old with the Swans yet to offer him a contract for season 2018. Those with an acute eye on last Friday night’s game would have no doubt noticed how the forward 50 pace of Adelaide required a reshuffling of the Sydney defence including moving McVeigh into the forward line. An isolated game indeed, it’s easy to forget that once you’re off the cliff there’s no going back.
The Western Bulldogs dropped that 5% this year and have come straight back to the pack with their underlining issues laid bare yet again. Firstly in the ruck, they haven’t been a dominant force in that area since Will Minson was in his prime and every week starve their midfield of at least 10-15 hitouts to advantage a game. Travis Cloke was brought in at the end of last year to ease the pressure on Tom Boyd as the main man to crash and bash and without his best on the table the Dogs have been found wanting. With the hunger back to improve next year and the arrival of ruckman the Dogs will be barking again.
It’s been an incredible season, one that has been like no other with the evenness of the competition, the story lines, the upsets, the excitement with Round 23 and the talk around the potential scenarios indicative of the year we have had. There’s so many moments and memories to choose from but without a doubt it will be fantastic to see Richmond and Melbourne, two key pillars of Melbourne football featuring in the finals together for the first time since Kevin Bartlett had hair. Strap yourselves in because we’re in for one of the best finals series the competition has ever seen.