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Footy 2016: Our Top 5 Picks for the Season

The 2016 AFL Season is upon us. Life is – once again – as it should be. Off the back of a highly charged tipping comp’ in 2015, anticipation is running high in the R&M studio. Rusty and Luke have put together their top five picks for the season that lies ahead.

Hawks – 4 in a Row?

Can the Hawks become the only team, besides Collingwood in the 1920s, to win four consecutive flags?

History is against them, as is having Jarryd Roughhead out with injury for the start of the season. But one thing is for sure, if the Hawks manage to finish top 4 they have to be favourites, no matter what their form during the season. Once they get on the big stage their experience is proven, having bullied their opponents in the last two grand finals. When even the coach loves punching on with ferals in Port Adelaide, you know this club means business. If Hodgey can stay away from a steering wheel and grog in the lead up to finals, it would be a massive plus.

Go Hawks. – LS

Blitzing Bulldogs

Will the bulldogs light it up again this year? By far one of the most exciting teams to watch last year, are they are poised to take another step forward in 2016? Or will they struggle to live up to the expectations like Port Adelaide did in 2015 after being one kick away from a Grand Final place in 2014?

Jake Stringer is shaping as one of the genuine superstars of the comp’. Fast, skilful and just an all around delicious footballer.

Bob Murphy has to be the coolest captain in the league, spiritual leader, good taste in music, and had one of his best seasons last year, even as a veteran.

Keep an eye on the kennel. – LS

Ripped Units at Carlton

Carlton has been a place where coaches careers have gone to die for the last eight or so years. Will Brendan Bolton be able to turn the club around and start a rebuild of merit with a crop of youngsters? The most exciting of which is Cripps.

As documented in the Age; Bolton had a group called the ‘Fat Club’ over the pre-season: any player with a body fat percentage over 10% found themselves in the fat club and not allowed to train with the main group. The Fat Club had to do additional cardio training to get the body fat percentage down to return to the main group and (hopefully) leave the fat club behind for good.

One can only imagine how previous Carlton captain Lance Whitnall would have handled these tough physical demands, given he smashed pies during the halftime break. But Bolton setting non-negotiable standards of professionalism and physical conditioning are a step in the right direction for a club that has been a basket case since Fevola got blind drunk at The Brownlow and tried to do a Steven Seagal pressure point hold on Chris Judd. – LS

Can Swans Fly?

Both a stupid question asked on Google and one being asked of Sydney this season. With a now experienced and hardened mid field, a couple of big stars up front, and a big man in the ruck care of West Coast, you would expect them to be a force to be reckoned with. The issue is, can they bring the intensity and consistency? More to the point: the hunger. With a lot of teams further down the ladder from 2015 playing great footy – and who are hungry for success – the Swans can’t just rely on big name players.

Carn Swannies – RB

Essendon Bombed

Drugs are bad. That’s what my mum tells me. Although many would say this is a cruel fate that has fallen on Essendon, a culture of ‘win at any cost’ that included a program of performance enhancing and illegal supplements has resulted in the Bombers having a team void of any of 2015’s player list. With James Hird gone, as he should’ve been from the start, can an experienced coach like Worsfold get something out of the player list he has in front of him? At least he has experience with how drugs can destroy the culture of a footy team.

Wooden spoon anyone? – RB