It is only early in the 2016 AFL season but we’ve already learned so much from the opening three rounds. Are the Crows coping without Dangerfield, do we already know contenders for the NAB Rising Star and will the Gold Coast Suns be genuine premiership contenders this season?
Caleb Daniel is a future star
The second-year midfielder had a huge impact as the Western Bulldogs lost a thriller to Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Daniel showcased his talent throughout just his 13th AFL game, as he contributed with 29 disposals, eight marks, six tackles and one goal. He was influential and one of the main reasons the Bulldogs matched it with the Hawks for four quarters. The 168 centimetre Daniel showed his rivals and the AFL community why he is a contender for the NAB Rising Star award in 2016.
Crows moving on with life after Danger
Following Patrick Dangerfield’s decision to head home to Geelong at the end of 2015, Adelaide were expected to struggle – with Dangerfield’s supposed irreplaceable absence touted to leave a gigantic hole in the Crows’ midfield. Coming off two comfortable wins over Port Adelaide and Richmond by 58 and 36 points respectively, Adelaide’s midfielders have helped the Crows recover from such a loss. Their off-season recruiting team must also take some credit, with 24-year-old Paul Seedsman and their number eleven draft pick Wayne Milera adding some depth and flair into their midfield. Veteran Eddie Betts was at his menacing best against Richmond in his battle with Alex Rance, in a performance where the Crows made their intentions to contend for a top four spot abundantly clear.
Max Gawn is one of the competition’s elite ruckmen
The 208 centimetre Melbourne man competed in one of the AFL’s all time great ruck battles with North Melbourne’s Todd Goldstein in his side’s five-point loss in Hobart on Sunday afternoon. After an impressive end to 2015, Gawn’s astonishing career-high 63 hit-outs and seven clearances proved to pundits why the 24-year-old is poised to contest for a first ever All Australian selection come the season’s end.
Gold Coast will push for a finals spot
Rodney Eade came under heavy scrutiny after a disappointing 2015 season where they only managed to win four games. Following their 54-point victory over Carlton at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night, the Suns are one of the three teams to record a perfect start to the season – going 3-0 for the first time in the club’s history. Forward duo Tom Lynch and Jack Martin combined for seven goals between them. Aaron Hall and Gary Ablett were at their best for the Suns with the former recording a career-high 40 disposals. The Suns have an opportunity in the coming weeks to stake their claim for a finals spot, as they face Brisbane in the QClash next week, taking on the Kangaroos a week later.
Dockers ship sailing
Fremantle’s horror start to the season continued – winless after the first three rounds following a 33-point loss to arch-rivals West Coast in the 43rd edition of the Western Derby. The Dockers’ task wasn’t made any easier when ruckman Aaron Sandilands went down in the second term with a punctured lung. A potential season defining and must-win clash next week against North Melbourne could prove to be vital for keeping their already slim premiership hopes alive.
Written by Michael Barbaro