As the AFL officially launched its season in Melbourne today, the league released its annual survey of club skippers, asking them to nominate the seven clubs – other than their own – that they believed would taste finals action this year.
But despite high hopes at Alberton that two middling seasons would be swept aside with a return to major round action, not one captain picked the Power as a finals contender.
Despite lingering questions over their midfield depth and burgeoning injury list, 15 of the respondents believed the Crows would back up last year’s final eight berth, with one nominating Adelaide as a likely grand finallist.
According to the poll, Greater Western Sydney is the team to beat, with 14 captains believing they would play in the AFL’s decider – although one anonymous respondent pointedly omitted the Giants from finals action altogether.
Every respondent believed the Swans would taste September action, with West Coast also heavily backed.
Reigning premiers the Western Bulldogs are considered outsiders to win back-to-back flags, while St Kilda are widely predicted to play finals for the first time since 2011.
Melbourne have also surfaced as a top-eight prospect for six captains.
Former Crows star turned Cat Patrick Dangerfield is again heavily backed for Brownlow favouritism, ahead of Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli, Dan Hannebery of the Swans and Dustin Martin from Richmond (two votes each).
Top draft pick Andrew McGrath from Essendon received the most votes (four) to win Rising Star, ahead of Port Adelaide youngster Sam Powell-Pepper and Giants midfielder Tim Taranto (three votes).
Injured Crows leaders Taylor Walker and Rory Sloane are notable absentees from today’s launch as they focus on rehabilitation in a bid to be ready for round one.
Skipper Walker is upbeat about his prospects of recovering in time from a hamstring injury for their season opener against the Giants, while a fractured eye socket meant vice-captain Sloane did not play in any preseason matches.
HOW THE CAPTAINS VOTED:
Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year’s top eight? (18 times seven selections.)
Sydney Swans (17), GWS Giants (16), West Coast (16), Adelaide Crows (15), Western Bulldogs (15), Geelong Cats (14), Hawthorn (14), St Kilda (11), Melbourne (6), Essendon (1), Fremantle (1).
Which other club is most likely to reach the Grand Final? (No Captains picked eventual premier the Western Bulldogs in 2016)
GWS Giants (14), Adelaide Crows (1), Sydney Swans (1), West Coast (1), Western Bulldogs (1).
Who do you think will win the 2017 Brownlow Medal? (Four captains correctly nominated Patrick Dangerfield in 2016).
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong Cats, five votes), Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs, two votes), Dan Hannebery (Sydney Swans, two votes), Dustin Martin (Richmond, two votes), Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans, one vote), Max Gawn (Melbourne, one vote), Luke Shuey (West Coast, one vote), Rory Sloane (Adelaide Crows, one vote), Adam Treloar (Collingwood, one vote), Callan Ward (GWS Giants, one vote), Jobe Watson (Essendon, one vote).
Who do you think will win the 2017 Coleman Medal? (Seven captains correctly nominated Josh Kennedy in 2016).
Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans, six votes), Tom Lynch (Gold Coast Suns, six votes), Josh Kennedy (West Coast, four votes), Jeremy Cameron (GWS Giants, two votes).
Who do you think will win the 2017 NAB AFL Rising Star? (Seven captains correctly nominated Callum Mills in 2016).
Andrew McGrath (Essendon, four votes), Sam Powell-Pepper (Port Adelaide, three votes), Tim Taranto (GWS Giants, three votes), Jacob Hopper (GWS Giants, two votes), Hugh McCluggage (Brisbane Lions, two votes), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast Suns, one vote), Sean Darcy (Fremantle, one vote), Caleb Marchbank (Carlton, one vote), Sam Petrovski-Seton (Carlton, one vote).
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