Welcome to the first AFANA AFL Power Poll for 2019, and what a crazy couple of rounds of footy we have witnessed to kick off the season! If what we have seen so far is any indication, Aussie rules football fans are in for a crazy ride in 2019. Nothing should surprise us given the last three premiers have come from 8th, 13th and 6th on the ladder in the year prior to taking out the big one.
The West Coast Eagles unfurled their Premiership Flag at their first home game of the year and then completed the evening’s celebrations by punishing the Giants, with a clinical exhibition of effective forward play. It was a pleasing return to form for the home team after going down to Brisbane in the first game of the season and starting slowly in this contest.
The Fremantle Dockers caught the North Melbourne Kangaroos on the hop, and outran them on the turf at Optus Stadium. The stunned Roos, at times, looked disheveled as they were hustled and bustled by the Dockers who hunted the ball in packs and always seemed to outnumber the Roos when it mattered.
Led by Captain Nat Fyfe (23 contested possessions) the Dockers were in no mood to offer North Melbourne any leeway,
With Melbourne still under daylight savings the season opened during twilight at 7:25 PM at the MCG. A minute’s silence for the Christchurch massacre silenced the crowd before the 85,016 fans in the house roared at the first bounce. The Tigers would pour on the pressure through the likes of Graham, Cotchin and Martin from the start and the Blues would show little apparent improvement from their wooden spoon effort of 2018 in the first quarter.
It is something the AFL has tried, without much success, in the past and is set to try again - a mid-season draft. The league notified the clubs that the draft would take place at the beginning of June after Round 11 and just ahead of the bye rounds. The decision to hold a mid-season draft was finalized by the AFL Commission in October following discussions by the Competition Committee, but the finer details were not determined at that time. To be eligible, players must have previously nominated for an AFL draft or been on an AFL club list.
Shortly after Carlton signed two players under the SSP rule, Richmond followed suit by signing midfield speedster Sydney Stack from WA club Perth to a rookie contract. Stack, 18, was overlooked in the AFL Draft but has been training with the Tigers since December. He performed well during the Under-18 tournament earning All-Australian honors. The club list is now complete with the Tigers also having signed former Saint Maverick Weller.
First SSP Signings
The Blues have become the first club to sign replacement players under the recently introduced SSP (pre-season supplemental selection period) rule. With another season ending knee injury to defender Sam Docherty and the unexpected retirement of Tom Bugg, the Blues had two places open on their list. VFL star Michael Gibbons and Dandenong winger Matthew Cottrell, who have been training with the club, have been signed as rookies.
The AFL will continue its experiment with its radically shortened version of the game, AFLX, in a round-robin tournament at Marvel Stadium on Friday, February 22nd. The competition will climax with a final between the top two teams.
It’s AFL, but not as we know it...
The game format is intended to showcase the fast and furious aspects of Australian football, but played on a rectangular field similar to a soccer or American football field. The playing area is just 110 meters (120 yards) in length. There is a 10-meter "launching zone" in the middle of the ground and a 15-meter "forward zone" at each end of the field. The resemblance to AFL is maintained by using standard AFL goal posts.
Each team has fourteen players with only eight of their players permitted on the field at any one time, while the rest sit on the interchange bench. There are no limits on the number of interchanges or substitutions permitted. The game is played in two ten minute halves with no time on added for delays or stoppages.
Play starts with the umpire throwing the ball up in the center of the ground.
Carlton recruit Tom Bugg has put his burgeoning business ahead of his footy career, announcing his retirement. Bugg, 25, began his career with the Melbourne Demons in 2012 but was later traded to GWS. He played a total of 96 games for the two clubs. Cut by GWS, he was given a lifeline with Carlton in last November's rookie draft.
Bugg posted on Carlton's website, “My life ... has changed in a very short period of time which has been the reason behind this tough decision ... The players and staff ... have been so welcoming and supportive ... Everyone is working incredibly hard to take the club back to where it needs to be, you see that every day when you walk through the door.”
Bugg has a social media and "influencer" agency to which he wants to devote more time.
In mid-January, the AFL presented their annual life memberships to eight recipients. Five players and umpires were automatic recipients for having reached 300 games during the 2018 season: Ray Chamberlain, Lance Franklin, David Mundy, Scott Pendlebury and Heath Shaw. The other three were North Melbourne Team of the Century member and former North Melbourne CEO John Dugdale for Special Service to the Game, Richmond Team of the Century member and long-time Essendon Recruiting Manager Merv Keane, and SANFL Hall of Fame Inductee and Life Member Wally Miller.
Bill Hector was awarded the Jack Titus Service Award for outstanding service to football, for his 50 years’ service to the Western Bulldogs in various roles starting as a Timekeeper in 1969 to most recently being the Club’s Senior Doorman.