AND we’re back. But we’ve been reflective during our off-season and changes had to be made.

We needed our own 6-6-6, our own AFLX. Sure, it was a quiet summer, didn’t get up to much, just popped over to Oktoberfest with Jack Watts which was immensely low key, but the column for 2019 needed to get shorter, sharper, crisper, needed a trim down. Absolutely a commercial partnership opportunity with Lite’n’Easy or Weight Watchers or the Australian Coal Industry should be happening and no doubt my phone will ring any moment now.

But we’re a Round down, we’re glad to have it back, and I’m glad I’m back, as well, yes.. let’s get on with it..

1.               Ah Essendon. Talk of the town since Sunday afternoon. Let’s get a couple things straight though. Essendon actually started ok, the first quarter in isolation was reasonably even, Shiel got a number of early touches, even had a shot at goal, five scoring shots to four at quarter time but Essendon went inside 50 14 times to 12. But once the Giants kicked away, yes, then Essendon sorta switched off, ran 147kms for the game compared to the Giants 242kms and for that you discredit them but gee, don’t undersell how good the Giants look.

2.               Last one on Essendon as I’m bored already – they got better last year when Woosha got nasty, cranky, menopausal, so less polite pharmacist and more strict headmaster for this group, clearly.

3.               Amongst all the Dons doom and gloom, the Giants were missing arguably their two best mids, their second tall forward and a bunch of other first 22 players and looked like a Rolls Royce. They may have lost a star every summer the last few but their best 22 is capable of finishing top four and winning three finals – no question.

4.               Steve Coniglio is elite, by the end of the year he will be discussed in the Fyfe, Martin, Dangerfield group. And at $21 for the Brownlow why not already move your kids from public to private school by just loading up on that tip, your wife will appreciate your smart economic decision making.

5.               The other bone of contention is rule changes so let’s give you the real story – they don’t mean four fifths of shit. Hate to be so subtle with that but it’s true. 6-6-6 was great for centre clearances, but in between goals we still see 34 players around the ball for stoppages, so the congestion has gone nowhere, thanks Steve Hocking.

6.               Quarters now go longer with the extra waiting before a centre bounce for players to get into the right position, so when your wife accuses you of post-game celebrations down King St as the reason you’re late, sure, you did pop in but genuinely games are going to go later by five minutes, close to ten if it’s a high scoring game….

7.               …Which it won’t, scoring was the lowest since the 1960s apparently, sure, little bit of poor goal-kicking, don’t want to name names, but I will – Collingwood – but the idea of Steve Hocking unleashing the dam waters of high-offence leading to monster score lines, I think it was famous philosopher Aristotle who said “yeah nah”.

8.               Weird game – in one way the Pies kick straight the first half, game over. But then the Cats after half time 15 shots to 7, so the Pies lucky to be close at the end. Cats have something to work with, 10 blokes 50 games or less, the Pies showed glimpses and came across rusty. Only 49 tackles.

9.               Last year, Round One, the Swans banged up the Eagles in Perth, Hawthorn were even better against Collingwood. Long season, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, firstly that’s a criminal offence and secondly, it’s all about momentum at the right time, the Pies started 0-2 last year, the Power started 3-0.

10.         Left Hawthorn out of my 8 because they’ve lost 40 touches a week in Mitchell. But they haven’t lost Clarkson who is Winx to the rest of these coaches. Hawks for the eight, challenge top four, why not.

11.         Clarkson’s assistants do well, Hardwick and Simpson the last two premiership coaches his former assistants. So let’s highlight two more this year, Cameron and Fagan, Giants flag chance, Lions sneaky 6th to 10th chance all going well. Mind you, yes, Neale a great get, but don’t think he was some amazingly free and expense-free acquisition, he is essentially directly replacing Beams, and in some way it was Beams and Pick 6 for Neale and pick 18. Beams didn’t want to stay, granted, but that deal looking like that is not value.

12.         With some continuity of Bont, Macrae, Libba, Hunter and Wallis, Dogs will be just fine. Bont is a top five player in the league, don’t forget that, has a Charlie sort of season in him one of these years. But whilst 2016 rode good fortune, you don’t fluke flags, so something still to work with down at the Kennel – a watch.

13.         Swans, Kennedy and Parker are elite but have no mates. Jake Lloyd is good but won’t win a final by himself, then its kids or flankers. Problems. Unless Heeney and Mills becomes midfield regulars, forward 50 supply going to be as reliable as Optus Sport during a World Cup.

14.         To use a soccer term Melbourne ‘dropped points’. Yeah great, Port, Jack Watts, the kids, the Power will be ok, but the Dees are a quality side who will still annoyingly drop a few because, they are the Dees, they’re not Hawthorn of the last decade… you never see value in them at $1.60 put it that way.

15.         This is the Freo I wanted 12 months ago. Tough bastards in the backline, Pearce, Ryan, Wilson, they’ve got high-end talent through the draft, Brayshaw, Cerra, Tucker, and now they have damaging talls. Will win at least 10 games, 10 kids under 50 games on the weekend too.

16.         Ross Lyon might come across a little off sometimes, and cops heat for taking a GF side in 2013 to far too many crap years the last few, but when he signed a four-year extension he didn’t need to then win a flag by Easter, he had the time to do it properly. The last three premiership teams had to go near the bottom to win, North hasn’t bottomed out and how’s that gone? Lyon is playing the long game here, because he can, and it works, and off a one-game sample size he might actually have been right all along.

17.         Speaking of long-game – I wouldn’t have recruited him for what it’s worth but why the hate on Dan Hannebery? Paying him 800k a year wasn’t getting in the way from getting anyone else, they’ve got him for four years so if he misses the first month of football, who cares, if he gets right and plays 75 good games for St Kilda when it’s all said and done, I don’t see anything wrong with that, Damian.

18.         Tassie – got a team in the U18s next season, they then have a VFL team in a couple years, its actually the exact template used for the Suns and Giants – so its definitely a chance. The AFL is probably 50-50 on it but Gil I reckon does want it, and AFL CEO’s have form at making captains calls for as long as we can remember. 6 games in Hobart, 5 in Launceston, the sponsors and money would seemingly be there, and has the profit margins and attraction akin to Geelong – if run well a profitable business and retains players – sure they won’t have the high revenues of West Coast or Collingwood but gee, it’d be solid.

19.         1:10 this Sunday, North and Fitzroy get under way at Marvel, half an hour later the AFLW Grand Final between Adelaide and Carlton starts at Adelaide Oval. Would love to bag the AFL on this stuff up, and the conferences problem too, but stopping short of sliding the AFLW to begin pretty much during the Aus Open which would be problematic, there’s no ideal or easy way to schedule everything seamlessly. I would love to give it to them but as a rule if I don’t envy your position then I’ll keep the firearm in the holster on this one.

20.         And finally, keep an ear out on Channel Seven coverage, you might have heard “Docklands” more than “Marvel Stadium” from its on-air talent last Saturday night. Why? Theory is that because Marvel Studios have an agreement with Stan, the Channel Nine-affiliated streaming service, Seven doesn’t want to promote the ground’s new name in the long bow it potentially feathers Nine’s nest. Strange, but true, so unless the AFL has had stern words before the next Seven game I think April 14 you won’t hear Bruce or BT utter “Marvel” once.

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