Around the league this week, the retirements continue, with some big names including Bob Murphy, Josh Gibson and James Kelly announcing their departures and saying farewell.
Fantasy footy freaks across the nation gear up for prelim finals, grand finals etc, some competing for cash and trophies, while others for bragging rights.
Most are scouring the injury reports, looking for a sign of who’s expected to play this week.
They say Melbourne Cup stops the nation, but for fantasy footy coaches, Thursday nights team announcements has nearly rivalled it for those participating.
We turn our attention now to the Weekend Forecast to get the inside running on what to expect in Round 21.
Match Of The Round – Sydney Swans vs Adelaide Crows
A lack of news turns out to be the good news for both clubs, with only one change between the two teams, as Josh Kennedy returns at the expense of Nic Newman, who is recovering from his injury last week. Captain Taylor Walker plays his 150th match in front of his adoring fans in Adelaide.
FB Dane Rampe, Heath Grundy, Nick Smith
HB Zak Jones, Lewis Melican, Jarrad McVeigh
C Jake Lloyd, Josh P. Kennedy, Isaac Heeney
HF George Hewett, Lance Franklin, Gary Rohan
FF Dean Towers, Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid
FOL Callum Sinclair, Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery
I/C Will Hayward, Kieren Jack, Callum Mills, Tom Papley
Ins in BOLD.
FB Luke Brown, Daniel Talia, Jake Lever
HB Jake Kelly, Alex Keath, Rory Laird
C David Mackay, Rory Sloane, Brodie Smith
HF Charlie Cameron, Taylor Walker, Riley Knight
FF Tom Lynch, Josh Jenkins, Eddie Betts
FOL Sam Jacobs, Brad Crouch, Matt Crouch
I/C Hugh Greenwood, Rory Atkins, Richard Douglas, Mitch McGovern
Head To Head
Sydney $ 2.25
Adelaide $ 1.66 (Source: Crownbet)
Who’s On Fire
Luke Parker is once more coming into All-Australian calculations, despite a poor first half of 2017.
It seems the bullocking Swan comes into his best form at the best time to be in form. With captain Josh Kennedy missing a few weeks, the old firm of Luke Parker, Dan Hannebery and Kieren Jack have put together some strong performances.
Parker is the barometer of the Swans fortunes it would seem, and must continue to provide that midfield grunt as the Swans prepare for finals.
You get the feeling his best performances of 2017 is still to come.
Round 19 vs Hawthorn
24 disp, 6 marks, 8 tackles
Round 20 vs Geelong
23 disp, 13 tackles, 1 goal
Round 21 vs Fremantle
29 disp, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 3 goals
Who’s Under Fire
Has Gary Ablett inadvertently contributed toward the damage of the Suns brand ?
The high profile champion player recruited to establish the club as a force in the competition has seen the expansion club stagnate, resulting in coach sackings, and a drop in memberships, and a constant barrage of questions about how he’s travelling, has seen disruption and conjecture amongst the footy club.
The rollercoaster ride of the little master’s 2017 season, has all but soured the Suns hopes finals chances. The blame cannot be placed squarely on Ablett’s strapped shoulders, but the Gold Coast Suns have not won a game without Gaz this year.
Now the drums are beating with strengthening rumours of his return to Geelong, and talk is circulating about him putting his Gold Coast home on the market.
The 33 year old is almost a certainty to leave Gold Coast, and now the Cats have a dilemma, whether to take a punt on the injury prone star next year.
Gold Coast with Gaz in 2017
6 wins 8 losses
Gold Coast without Gaz in 2017
0 wins 6 losses
Without Gaz again this week, look for Aaron Hall to shoulder the outside midfield work at $3.25 for 30+ disposals.
48 Port Adelaide
44 West Coast
44 Western Bulldogs
40 St Kilda
24 Gold Coast
20 North Melbourne
Adelaide can wrap up the minor premiership with a win over the Swans. Remembering that the minor premiership only puts teams in the box seat for the finals grid, it’s certainly not a given that the Crows will be there on the last weekend of September.
West Coast look all but gone for 2017, expected to drop out of the eight unless they can surprise GWS.
Hawthorn should beat Carlton, but the eight is just out of reach for Hawks, it will be a very unfamiliar look about the finals without Clarko’s crew featuring in the September festivities.
Out of the cellar dwellers, North would be most likely to win.
The Run Home
The Eagles weren’t convincing enough at home last week with their win over Carlton, to be trusted to get the job done this week or next.
Even their most ardent fans tell me, if they make the finals they are just making up the numbers. The changes will be swift in the West I’d imagine during the offseason, given the weight of expectation that the Eagles have been dealt this year. They persist with a team “web” defense, so they don’t possess enough tackling pressure to worry any finals side.
Round 22 – GWS (A)
Round 23 – Adelaide (H)
Head to Head
West Coast $4.10
GWS Giants $1.24
The 2016 premiers have been sluggish at best this year, just doing enough to win games, although their form has steadied in recent weeks.
The Bulldogs were put to an early finals test last friday night at home against GWS and failed.
Injuries, form lapses, mental health issues, and Luke Beveridge’s tendency to experiment with the line ups have made the Dogs look unsettled at times. It appears they could just make up the numbers in finals this year. Having said that, who would’ve thought they would rise from 7th spot to capture a historic flag last season.
Round 22 – Port Adelaide (Ballarat)
Round 23 – Hawthorn (H)
Head to Head
Western Bulldogs $1.85
Port Adelaide $1.96
It’s another big weekend of footy ahead, hope your team gets up.