The AFL has conducted its annual poll of the 18 club captains on the eve of the season and they see St Kilda ahead of Melbourne as the best emerging team hoping to force its way into finals action for the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership Season.
As per recent seasons, the club captains were confidentially polled on five key questions on the season ahead and 11 captains saw the Saints playing finals this year, compared to six captains plumping for Melbourne. The Sydney Swans were the only unanimous choice of every other club to reach the finals while the GWS Giants are viewed as the clear team to beat for the premiership.
The captains were asked which seven other teams, apart from their own, could make the finals and which other club, apart from their own, could make the grand final.
A total of 11 different clubs were considered possible chances to contest the finals and four different clubs were considered for a grand final berth. Two rival captains held the view that reigning premier the Western Bulldogs will miss the finals this year, with the Dogs’ drawing 15 of a possible 17 votes to reach September action.
Geelong’s Patrick Dangerfield was the choice of five captains to win a second consecutive Brownlow Medal, with Marcus Bontempelli, Dan Hannebery and Dustin Martin each drawing two votes apiece.
Reigning John Coleman Medallist Josh Kennedy received four votes as the choice to lead the goalkicking again this season but Gold Coast’s Tom Lynch and the Sydney Swans’ Lance Franklin were the choice of six captains each.
Sydney’s Callum Mills was correctly nominated by seven captains last year to win the Rising Star Award and claim the Ron Evans Medal and the lead contenders for this year were Essendon’s Andrew McGrath (four votes), GWS Giants’ Tim Taranto (three votes) and Port Adelaide’s Sam Powell-Pepper (three votes).
The full voting was:
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).