In a hot autumn afternoon when the mercury sat at 89 degrees as the game opened, the Greater Western Sydney Giants wilted and allowed the Fremantle Dockers to run out easy winners. It was only the Dockers’ kicking inaccuracy that saved the Giants from a complete belting. To make matters worse this was the first time since 2013 that the Giants have lost their two opening games. The Giants started with strong intent in an opening spurt, which saw Jacob Hopper swoop on a loose ball and kick truly to open the Giants’ account within the first minute of play. However, from there it was the Dockers who got players to the contested ball to outnumber the Giants in packs. The Dockers won contested possessions 145 to 113 and then outran the Giants in open space to rack up 278 uncontested possessions to 113. The Giants simply did not have the desire to work hard in close and appeared not to have the will to run with the Dockers when the ball found open territory.
Just as the opening round of the AFL season concluded, former Sydney Swan player Elijah Taylor pleaded guilty to aggravated assault against his ex-girlfriend Lekahni Pearce in a Perth hotel room in mid-September of last year. The incident happened after the pair met up at a nightclub and went back to the hotel. Taylor was sleeping but was awakened as Pearce attacked him. The attack was claimed to come because of her seeing a message from another woman on his Snapchat.
The AFL Supplementary Selection Period (SSP) ended on March 9 with eight clubs selecting 12 players. Several had been delisted by other clubs and were invited to train with other clubs in the hope of being selected. Below are the clubs and their selections.
Just two weeks before the 2021 season proper is due to commence, Saint Dylan Roberton, 29, has announced his retirement on the advice of his doctors. In 2018, Roberton collapsed during a game against Geelong, it was discovered he had a heart irregularity. He was cleared to play for 2019, but suffered another incident during the preseason and sat out all of 2019. He made it back for the opening round last season, but then the pandemic hit and he missed the rest of the year. In mid-January, he took a break from the club to consider his future.
West Coast's Willie Rioli was found guilty in 2019 of having traces of marijuana in his system during a routine ASADA check. In August and September of 2019, he was caught attempting to tamper with the boldly fluid sample required by ASADA. He has been serving a provisional suspension since August of 2019. The Anti-Doping Tribunal found him guilty and gave him a two year suspension. However, that suspension has been backdated to August 20, 2019 - the date of the first sample collection - so he will be allowed to return to training in June.
In early March, legendary commentator Bruce McAvaney, who has called everything from footy to the Olympics, announced he was giving up his role as footy commentator with Australia's Channel Seven. Other than a five-year absence between 2002 and 2006 (when Seven lost the TV rights), McAvaney has been there with the free-to-air coverage. He has notched over 1000 games, including 20 Grand Finals; and formed a great partnership with the equally legendary Dennis Cometti (who retired several years ago). Although he is bowing out of football, he will continue with Seven's horse racing carnival and the 2021 Tokyo Olympics - his specialty is track and field.
In January, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the end of year. However, he has decided to step down immediately after calls for his resignation and criticism of comments he made after a report of a "culture of racism" at the club was leaked to the media prematurely. The club had commissioned an independent investigation last June after former defender Heritier Lumumba (aka Harry O'Brien) told of the racism he encountered during his time at the club. He said on social media that he was subjected to racist jokes and nicknamed "Chimp". He also said Coach Nathan Buckley failed to support him. He was eventually traded to Melbourne where he saw out his career.
The AFL has announced their annual life members and the winners of the Jack Titus Award for service to the game. The life membership awards will officially be presented at the league AGM in March. Nine players and coaches qualified automatically by reaching the total of 300 games as either player or coach, including preseason games and international rules.
The Australian Sports Brain Bank has revealed the late Shane Tuck had a severe case of CTE, making him the third AFL player - after Graham "Polly Farmer and Danny Frawey - to have suffered from the crippling neurological disorder. The former Richmond star died in July last year at the age of 38 after a lengthy battle with mental health issues. Tuck’s family agreed to donate his brain to the Brain Bank and it was revealed he had stage three CTE. Neuropathologist Michael Buckland said, “It’s the worst case I’ve seen so far.
St Kilda defender Dylan Roberton is taking some time away from the game to contemplate his career. Robertton, 29, collapsed during a game against Geelong in 2018 due to a heart condition. He returned for the 2019 preseason but suffered another incident during a game and sat out the entire season. He came back for the first round of the 2020 season but again missed the rest of the year.