Tips » AFL Week 1 Selections by Graeme Kelly

AFL Week 1 Selections by Graeme Kelly

It will be an eerie, surreal atmosphere with fans being locked out of Round 1 AFL matches.

An interesting sidebar will be whether not having the fanatical support from their club members will impact on the way players perform.

That will only be evident from viewing on television, which is obviously going to have spectacularly high audiences.

Two of the A.F.L.’s most successful clubs with large memberships – Carlton and Melbourne – have been serious disappointments in recent times.

Neither club was truly competitive last season and their chances of beginning 2020 on a winning note are not looking particularly bright.

However, the Carlton and Melbourne players could benefit from not being “roasted” by spectators whenever they make mistakes, which were plentiful last season.

The Blues go in against defending premiers Richmond in the season’s opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday in front of vacant stands instead of packing in a crowd of 90,000.

It is totally appropriate that Richmond plays in the opening match of the new football year.

Although coach Damien Hardwick will not have them wound-up so far from the grand final the Tigers should be comfortably able to continue their winning streak at the M.C.G.

Admittedly Carlton did show improvement towards the close of last season after being taken over by replacement coach David Teague.

The Blues won four of their last seven matches – one of the losses was to Richmond – and Teague will be aiming to improve that winning ratio.

Carlton will definitely benefit from the expected return of co-captain Sam Docherty, who was sidelined last year after suffering two A.C.L. injuries.

The team could use Eddie Betts but without him Jack Martin has the chance to shine in attack and although defeat is looming the Blues should indicate whether they can climb a little way up the ladder.

The Demons will have to wait until 5.20 p.m. on Sunday to meet West Coast at Optus Stadium.

Pre-coronavirus there would have been 50,000-plus Eagles supporters giving Melbourne a very hard time but even without having to deal with that the Demons are in for a drubbing.

A more appealing clash comes up on Friday night when the Western Bulldogs encounter Collingwood at Marvel Stadium.

Until late last season the Bulldogs had been unable to fulfil expectations following on from the club’s 2016 premiership.

Judging from the club’s late season burst – despite a thumping by Greater Western Sydney – the Bulldogs are back to playing their fast, exciting brand of football judging from their pre-season appearances.

Marcus Bontempelli is presumably headed for another brilliant season but, of course, the Bulldogs are coming up against a settled and experienced Collingwood especially now captain Scott Pendlebury is able to play.

It will be a tight tussle but the Western Bulldogs could just have the edge.

G.W.S. will be able to demonstrate whether the club is capable of bouncing back from its grand final thrashing when meeting Geelong at Giants Stadium on Saturday evening.

Another match which should be a season-shaping indicator is that between North Melbourne and St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

Both sides finished well down the ladder in 2019 but the Saints are already displaying signs of being able to climb from 14th place last year into being a finals contender under new coach Brett Ratten.


Richmond by 27pts

Western Bulldogs by 10pts

Essendon by 32pts

Adelaide by 30pts

GWS Giants by 16pts

Gold Coast by 6pts

St. Kilda by 12pts

Hawthorn by 16pts

West Coast by 38pts