Adelaide Tall Forwards
With skipper Taylor Walker coming back in to the side for this week’s grand final rematch against a Tigers team that will be brimming with confidence following their barnstorming finish against Carlton last week, it is paramount that Walker and fellow key forward Josh Jenkins stand up and atone for their Grand Final sins from last year. Without solid contributions from both players, a loss causing a disastrous 0-2 formline, will not be the start they were hoping for in aspiring to go one better in 2018.
While it was very tempting to throw the entire Bulldogs team on this list after they were used as witches hats for a rampaging GWS outfit, the player under the pump the most is definitely the 2016 Norm Smith Medalist, who after a terrific 2016 season, has had an indifferent last 18 months. Entering round 1 with reports that his name was floated up in trade rumors, the man affectionately known as ‘JJ’ needed to step up and show why is a required player and while he still racked up 19 disposals, he was quite wasteful by foot and more pressingly in a full game of football, did not lay a single tackle, which has led to many questioning his role in the team. Being back at the fast track at Etihad should help him return to a bit of form this week.
AFL Tribunal/Match Review Panel
One of the most satisfying aspects of this footy season so far has come from a rare source, the much maligned MRP. Already we have seen two one match suspensions, Robbie Gray and Richard Douglas that have been challenged by the clubs only for the Tribunal to stick with the MRPs findings. This is a welcome change from recent seasons where the two have often not been compatible which has led to many dramas, and the pressure is on them now to keep this early season form up and remain consistent as so far Michael Christian has done a fantastic job.
Melbourne List Managers
Squandering a very winnable game against an ailing Geelong team was not the way that the Demons wanted to start this season and it is games like that that will be the difference as to whether or not Melbourne will finish 4th or 9th. Their list managers are also under the pump as the decision to let Jack Watts walk to Port Adelaide is beginning to look questionable at best, with Watts continuing on his fine preseason against Fremantle in round 1, where he is likely to poll at least 1 Brownlow vote for his fine efforts on the field. Jake Lever also had a horror first match for, his new club, and for a player apparently worth 2 first round draft picks and 800k a year, the Melbourne List managers will be hoping for a lot more.
At this point it wouldn’t be an article about pressure in the AFL without making note of Collingwood. They looked listless in defeat against the Hawks on Saturday night and with games against GWS, Carlton, Adelaide (at the Adelaide Oval), Essendon and Richmond coming up, they are staring down the barrel of a horrible 1-5 start if not worse and after the way they looked on Saturday Night, its likely things are going to get worse for the pies before they get better, so expect Bucks seat to heat up again very shortly.