It’s been 172 days since Geelong saluted against Sydney on the final Saturday in September, but the 2023 AFL season is finally here.
Our experts break down the best bets for every game of Round One.
Tigers vs. Blues
16th March 7:20pm
The 2023 season officially kicks off with the three-time premiers (since 2017 at least) and the Blues doing battle in their annual Thursday night fixture at the MCG.
The Tigers have gone all-in on flag #4 in the modern era, with the recruitment of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper set to fill a void in the midfield. While Richmond is filling holes in their engine room, the Blues will attempt to win early games without Sam Walsh (back). A healthy George Hewett will undoubtedly assist in that mission.
The Tigers have the wood over the Blues in recent years with seven wins from their past eight Round One encounters, and the market suggests it will be rinse and repeat with the Tigers at $1.70.
Suggested Bet: Same Game Multi
- Leg 1: Tigers to win
- Leg 2: Over 171.5 points
- Leg 3: G. Hewett 25+ disposals
- Leg 4: T. Lynch 2+ goals
- Total: $5
Cats vs. Magpies
17th March 7:40pm
There’s been a lot of chat about the reigning premiers and the strength of their list over the off-season.
Round One presents a chance for the Cats to prove they’ve only built on their premiership-winning unit with injuries to Jack Henry and Mitch Duncan this week, while Tom Hawkins will test his sore foot.
Conversely, the Pies are expected to drop away from the team that charged into a preliminary final last year. They’ve added much-needed grunt to their midfield with former Hawk Tom Mitchell coming across and allowing Scott Pendlebury to use his elite skills and decision-making off half-back.
Suggested Bet: Cats (-11.5) @ $1.90
Kangaroos vs. Eagles
18th March 1:45PM
Clearly, the two worst-performing teams in 2022, both the Kangaroos and Eagles, will be keen to kick-start their seasons in the winner’s stall.
North has undergone enormous change off the field, with four-time Hawthorn premiership coach Alastair Clarkson leading a new-look football department. Harry Sheezel is set to debut alongside former Docker Griffin Logue.
All signs point to another disappointing year for the rebuilding Eagles, but the good health of Elliot Yeo and Luke Schuey will buoy them. Unlike the fitness of Jack Darling and Nic Nat, both of whom are questionable for Round One.
Suggested Bet: Kangaroos to win @ $1.82
Power vs. Lions
18th March 4:35PM
Speaking of disappointing 2022 campaigns, Port Adelaide was right up there with the biggest failures after pre-season expectations had them firmly in the top eight.
Well, it’s a bit the same this year with the addition of Junior Rioli and Jason Horne-Francis. The latter was the talk of the trade period after requesting a move out of North after just one season, but all reports suggest he could be about to showcase his #1 credentials.
Much like the Tigers, the Lions have gone all-in on the here and now with the recruitment of Josh Dunkley, Jack Gunston and father-son dynamo Will Ashcroft. Having teetered on the edge of success for years under Chris Fagan, the Lions look like they could put it all together, and it all starts with $1.84 favouritism in Adelaide.
Suggested Bet: Lions to win @ $1.84
Demons vs. Bulldogs
18th March 7:25PM
As $6.50 second favourite to win the 2023 premiership, the Demons will be hoping to make their mark against a dangerous Bulldogs outfit.
The Dees, led by ruck duo Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy, were relentless in their pre-season clash against the Tigers as they ran out 50-point winners. Lachie Hunter impressed and looks like he’ll slot straight onto a wing.
The Bulldogs were much the same during their 58-point victory over the Kangaroos, with Liam Jones returning to the fold and providing much-needed assurance down back. The loss of Josh Dunkley will hurt but expect even greater output from the likes of Bailey Smith and Tom Liberatore.
Suggested Bet: Demons 1-39 @ $2.15
Suns vs. Swans
18th March 8:00PM
Guess who’s back? Back again? The King is back, tell every Suns supporter with 200km of Heritage Bank Stadium.
The sun is shining over the Gold Coast as the prodigiously talented Ben King returns from injury alongside Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult up forward. King and Touk Miller will be the key to the Suns’ success and potential tilt at the finals.
However, it will be a tough first-up assignment for the Suns as they host last year’s grand finalists. The Swans will either flourish or drop away quicker than their recent finals form, with young guns Errol Gulden and Chad Warner leading the charge.
After accounting for Carlton by 43 points during the pre-season, we’re tipping the Swans to flourish yet again.
Suggested Bet: Swans to win @ $1.62
Giants vs. Crows
19th March 1:10PM
The Giants will enter their Round One clash against the Crows as $1.67 favourites with the punters, but that feels slightly unders.
While their pre-season performance against the Suns – where they won by 45 points – was impressive, the Giants were a lost cause in 2022, and it will take improved performances from captain Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield and Stephen Coniglio to change our minds.
The Crows were just as impressive during their 59-point win over West Coast in the pre-season. It’s their forward half where the improvement should occur first, with Darcy Fogarty and Izak Rankine joining Tex Walker.
Suggested Bet: Crows (+7.5) @ $1.90
Hawks vs. Bombers
19th March 3:20PM
Essendon’s off-season from hell could quickly turn as they enter their clash with Hawthorn at $1.60 with BetDeluxe.
A new coach, president and CEO should mean positive things in the future, but more immediate concerns relate to how they will improve after winning just seven games last season. Brad Scott will implement a more defensive game plan, but they will need to improve significantly on the 3.14 (32) they kicked in the pre-season outing.
The Hawks are in the middle of enormous change, with Tom Mitchell, Jaegar O’Meara, and Ben McEvoy all departing the club over the off-season. Sitting at $3 to win the wooden spoon, the inexperienced Hawks could find it tough against Scott’s men.
Suggested Bet: Bombers to win @ $1.60
Saints vs. Dockers
19th March 4:40PM
While the second tenure of Ross Lyon has brought a positive outlook for the Saints over recent months, the injury toll will cause them headaches ahead of their match against the Dockers.
Jack Billings, Jack Hayes, Zak Jones, Max King and Seb Ross are all unavailable this week, while Tim Membrey is a wait-and-see prospect.
The Dockers have no concerns, with Travis Collier and Michael Walters being the only two on their injury list. Luke Jackson will provide another target up forward, while Nat Fyfe’s career as a full-time goal kicker starts now.
Fremantle has all the makings of a top-four side and should have few issues against the Saints.
Suggested Bet: Dockers to win @ $1.48