AFL Talking Points: Round Nine with Braden Smith

1. The Eagles have arrived on the back of a stronger culture both on and off the field in 2018. Its only early in the season but so far, so good. Gone are the days where the Eagles weak underbelly was exposed, often on the biggest stages. They play with a real drive and unity across the ground, their young players are hungry, enthusiastic, and importantly for team balance, performing. They are well complemented by elite top end talent, spread across each of the three sections of the ground which has understated benefits to their system.

2. The state of the game is not that bad. It’s not that good either. Rain, hail or shine we watch the footy every week and the fans evolve with the game. That said, I think there is some merit in the case for opening up the ground slightly so we can have a game a little closer to those sensational 90’s match ups, where one on one duals were the key highlights and you didn’t need x-ray vision to try see the ball through a mass of players at a stoppage.

3. Write off GWS at your peril. I don’t buy the chat around GWS being no good this year. If they can get their players fit and firing at the same time towards the back end of the year I think they are still primed to steal a premiership from underneath the Tiges. I still think they are the best pound for pound team in the competition on paper. Their top end talent is unrivalled and they’ve played in back to back losing prelims. They’re ready for the next step provided their injury and form woes evaporate. Let’s hope they do because they’re fun to watch when they’re up and going!

4. The hunt for Ross Lyon’s head is on and it’s being led by and large by the Fremantle faithful. Personally, I thought they would all back their man but it seems supporters are growing tired of Ross’ off-field demeanour and sombre game plan. It’s worth suggesting that I think Fremantle have some of the best young talent in the league and they are already playing in the team, and playing well, a huge bonus so early into the season and their careers. This will pay huge dividends in a few years when they get closer to the 50-game mark. I think this is Freo’s best shot yet at assembling a core young group who can finally break through for the clubs first premiership. The 2014 team was full of aging superstars and role players who are no longer at the club. The new young crop are genuine stars in waiting.

5. I really like what Carlton are doing, I believe in their youth and I think they have the right pieces of the puzzle to become a good football side soon. Unfortunately, patience is wearing thin amongst the Blues faithful, but some of the faith was repaid on the weekend and it was great to see the young Carlton players get some reward for effort! Next up, Brisbane!


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