Darren Herft is a writer at Darren Herft Sports Central. You can learn more about him on his official website.
The Australian Football League is one of the most popular sporting leagues in Australia and fans couldn’t be more excited as the season kicks off this Thursday.
The latest AusPlay survey released by Sport Australia declared Aussie Rules Football as the number one organized sport in Australia, with more than 1.76 million participants and counting.
One of the biggest questions of this season is whether the Richmond Tigers will hold onto their Premiership winning streak and score a hattrick, or if 2021 will mark their unseating.
According to businessman and footy aficionado Darren Herft, “Richmond has a lot of depth. Not only do their main 22 players pack a punch but also those in reserve ensure the Tigers are extremely well-placed.”
The Reigning champions have been working hard to gear up for an attempt at their historic third Premiership bid in a row.
The team has locked triple premiership coach, a former Essendon and Port Adelaide defender, Damien Hardwick into a new three-year contract. This would take him to 15 years as the Tigers’ senior coach.
Herft thinks that Hardwick’s leadership might prove decisive in making history as the first Richmond team to win three consecutive premierships.
He says, “Despite some well-publicized personal issues, Hardwick’s leadership provides the Tigers with a lot of stability and expertise, which is a crucial guiding force for its players.”
It might not be smooth-sailing for Richmond as other teams have been working equally hard and will put up a fierce competition.
Herft says, “There are many teams with extremely talented young players, so it’s going to be a tough competition.”
His top four contenders for the Premiership this year are Port Adelaide, Brisbane, Richmond, and Geelong.
The Brisbane Lions missed out playing in the Grand Final held in Brisbane by losing in their last major game where they were beaten by Geelong in 2020.
Since, the Lions have bolstered an impressive team to become even more of a threat in 2021, with the likes of Joe Daniher being a valuable addition. With an All-Australian defender, a Brownlow Medallist in the middle, and an even more threatening forward spread, the Lions are prepared to take another shot on the flag under Chris Fagan.
Hailing from South Australia, Port Adelaide is coached by Ken Hinkley and finished in the top four last year.
Herft feels that they’ve got a great chance to build upon their successes in 2021, “The top-four should be well and truly in their sights.”
Geelong, who played in the Grand Final last year has swelled their ranks with some impressive additions. Most notably, Jeremey Cameron from the GWS Giants, Isaac Smith from Hawthorne as well as Shaun Higgins, a very skillful midfielder from North Melbourne.
Herft says, “They’re a little bit on the older side, which certainly ensures that they’re experienced enough to get to the Grand Final.”
But experience comes at a cost. “That also means that Geelong will have to be more mindful of fatigue and will need to make sure that their players are well looked after, well-rested and recovered.”
The stage is set for a fiercely entertaining AFL season ahead!