The 2023 AFL season is almost upon us, and the alternative BetDeluxe futures markets are appearing left, right and centre.
While Geelong, Melbourne and even those triple premiership-winning Tigers will be fighting for flag favouritism throughout the season, the same can’t be said for the teams on this list, as they take the majority of the money for the wooden spoon.
From Clarko’s Kangaroos to the scoring issues out west, we look at the teams trying to avoid the 18th spot on the AFL ladder.
It’s been a turbulent few years at Arden Street (to say the least) as the reigning wooden spooners enter the 2023 season with their fifth senior coach since 2019. Former Hawthorn maestro, Alastair Clarkson, takes the reins after the Kangaroos managed just two wins and a percentage of 55.8% under David Noble and stand-in mentor Leigh Adams last year.
Statistically, the Roos were of VFL standard in 2022. They ranked 18th for both points for and against while struggling to get their hands on the ball and ranking 16th for disposals.
They made significant personnel moves over the off-season to kick-start another rebuild, with former No. 1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, Jed Anderson, Jared Polec and Josh Walker all moving on. While they certainly haven’t added much firepower up forward to improve their 60.7ppg, they did welcome Griffin Logue, Darcy Tucker, Liam Shiels and a couple of high-prized draftees.
Clarko is without question the best in the business, but even he recognises the issues at North won’t be solved overnight, and their $2.50 quote for the spoon seems more than reasonable.
The Sam Mitchell-inspired clean-out at Hawthorn continued over the trade period as they parted ways with experienced quintet Jack Gunston, Ben McEvoy (retired), Tom Mitchell, Jaegar O’Meara and Liam Shiels. In anyone’s language, that’s a hell of a lot of experience.
The departures were offset somewhat by the arrival of Karl Amon and Lloyd Meek, with the latter of particular importance as he fills the ruck void left by Big Boy.
James Sicily is the right person to lead the resurgence as their skipper alongside the new guard of Jai Newcombe, Dylan Moore, and Mitch Lewis, but the depth of quality doesn’t go much further than that.
While AFL is a cyclical game for most (ignore those blue and white hoops down the highway), it’s safe to assume the Hawks will drop off after winning eight games and finishing 13th last season.
West Coast Eagles
Another team hit by the transition stick is the Eagles after they recorded just two wins and finished 17th. It was a challenging year on every front for the 2018 premiers as they battled injuries, averaged just 65ppg and sent retiring superstar Josh Kennedy off into the sunset.
The problem with Kennedy’s retirement refers to the previously mentioned scoring deficiencies, with no noted goal kickers joining during the trade period. Compounding their issues is the departures of Jack Redden and Junior Rioli, while Nic Naitanui’s fitness is always a concern.
They will be relying heavily on the health of Nic Nat, Luke Shuey, Andrew Gaff and Tim Kelly through the midfield while trying to find additional goals from Jack Darling and Oscar Allen.
There are far too many question marks to be confident in a West Coast resurgence, so fair shout to any punter who takes the $5 on offer.
I know what you’re thinking. St Kilda? At $34? You’ve got to be joking.
While the last three teams have formed around the bottom end of the ladder, the Saints were 10th and only one game behind the Western Bulldogs in the final eight.
But things have changed at Moorabbin, and it started with an unceremonious coaching departure during the off-season that saw Brett Ratten replaced with Ross Lyon. Expectations are that the Saints will be far better with the disciplined approach from Lyon in the future. Still, while getting used to a completely different, slower and more defensive game style, the Saints may experience short-term pain.
Defender, Zaine Cordy, was the only non-rookie/draftee added to the list over the off-season. Still, it was a different story in the departure lounge with Jarryn Geary, Dan Hannebery, Paddy Ryder, Dean Kent and Ben Long on the ‘outs’ list.
Again, the Saints should be better off with the changes they’ve made in the future, but 2023 could be a very long year while they put the program in place to get back into finals.