The Hunch Report is back for its third season of production! Previously, it had existed through The Age, to cast a glance across each of the AFL’s 18 clubs through the Ultimate Footy prism, but in 2017, we’re shaking things up. The Hunch has now moved to Footy Prophet, where you can catch each weekly instalment on Wednesday, however the big change lies in that the fantasy footy talk has regressed, and will instead dispose pure football talk.
Go-time: Should Harrison Wigg be able to lock down a role in the Crows’ 22 come Round 1, David Mackay could be out of a job at season’s end. If not, Wigg could see that same fate himself. He’s dominated in the SANFL, now it’s time to deliver.
In the balance: If Hugh McCluggage decides to pack his bags in two years’ time and move back to Victoria, like many others before him, the Lions are going to look oh so silly once again. They had the chance to draft Ben Ainsworth, who wanted to be a Lion, but went the other direction. Only time will tell…
Another brick in the wall: If Carlton’s rebuild has been complete, think again. It’s been one year and the most important facet of the game – kicking goals – is still missing form their repertoire. They remain well behind both Melbourne and St Kilda in the rebuild phase, and it’s certainly far from over.
One out of three: Should Collingwood’s Women’s team continue to struggle, just like their men are tipped to do this season, despite winning their first match over the weekend, at least Pies’ fans can take solace that their netball team will do well. They’re currently 1-1, but with an unprecedented six Australian representative players on their roster, we’ll likely see more wins than losses this season.
Silver lining: If there is one storyline that has been lost in this whole Essendon saga, it’s that the careers of both James Kelly and Matt Dea have been extended as a result. Of course, that’s not what will be remembered from this whole ordeal in 50 years’ time, but it’s still neat to think about.
Perspective: In the likelihood that Harley Bennell fails to get on the park for the Dockers for some time, that lopsided trade in 2015, which many believed to be in Fremantle’s favour, suddenly looks a much different way. The Suns ended up with Brayden Fiorini in that trade, and that seems to have gone well thus far.
Bad look: Should your captain be caught speeding; doing 27km/h over the limit, over the weekend, only to promote the Australian F1 Grand Prix just days later, eyebrows should be raised. It’s a definite bad look, especially given the Cats are tied up with the TAC. Next time Joel, be sensible; enjoy your Uber.
Finding answers: If the AFL dipped their own toes in the glamour strip when they announced the Suns as the league’s seventeenth club, Tuesday’s appointment of Mark Evans, the former football operations boss at the AFL, was a full-blown, cannon ball from the ten metre platform. It’s a savvy move by the Suns, yet inconspicuous in the least.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
Money talks: If money was no option, there’d be a serious bidding war among punters just to see the Giants’ big black book. Tomlinson and Patton join a host of big names locked away, but plenty still remain. We’d guess it’ll soon be a squeeze, and another outflow of talent is almost inevitable.
Fitting the system: In the likelihood that Tyrone Vickery is actually consistently good this season, Richmond will be hounded by the media, but it shouldn’t be that way. An inform Vickery, as strange as that seems, would be purely the end product of the elite franchise out at Waverley Park.
Cream rising: If Melbourne’s women’s team reach par against Adelaide in a fortnight’s time, it’s hard not to see them going all the way to the Grand Final. They’ve had 165 more disposals than their opponents this season.
Lotto: If the JLT Community Series was intended to blow off the cobwebs after a long offseason for the players, the same can be said for the umpires. We’re used to strange MRP outcomes, and this time it was Ben Cunnington who felt the brunt. Let’s hope we don’t see this in the season proper.
Storm in a teacup: Should there be any person in the league currently which has made a big issue out of an avoidable topic, it’s David Koch. The game in China is a Gold Coast home game, period. If you wanted otherwise, Port Adelaide should have forfeited one of theirs. It’s a bad look, you lucked out. Move on.
Please explain: If we remember back to October 5 last season, Ivan Maric penned a one-year contract extension despite being over 30 and on the outer at the club. Now, with Toby Nankervis pulling the strings, the deal looks even more perplexing. Any AFL appearance this season for Maric certainly shouldn’t be taken for granted – it’ll likely be his last in the league.
Scoreboard: If we’re picking out of the Demons and Saints for one to make the eight, it’s really hard to go past the Saints – right now. They have three players capable of kicking more than 40 goals, plus Patty McCartin who is in the mix too, if he can stay on the park. They’re a scary proposition for the future.
Rotation, rotation, rotation: Should all of the talk surrounding the Swans be true, it’s likely we’ll see 14 of the Swans’ starting 18 positioned between the arcs. Mills, Heeney and Jones have all be tipped for more midfield time, in an engine room which is already stacked. At this stage Heath Grundy may get a run through there.
Roll the dice: If Jack Redden can return to his best, the Eagles could be the dark horse of the season. It’s a long shot, but adding him into a midfield containing Priddis, Gaff, Shuey, Sheed and now Mitchell, along with a stable defence and high-scoring attack could see a Preliminary Final return for West Coast. Who needs a ruckman, right?
In the matrix: In the likelihood that Tom Boyd goes beast mode throughout the entire home and away season just like he did in the Grand Final, we could be looking down another Grand Final appearance for the sons of the west. Frankly, it’s scary to think about but boy it could be exciting.
The Hunch Report is back on a weekly basis at Footy Prophet in 2017. Tell Ant Wingard what you think on Twitter @AntWingardFP