With the JLT Community Series underway tonight, Footy is well and truly back for 2017. 

The AFLW has already captured our attention, leaving us salivating for the AFL action to start. Here’s a look ahead to a few things we can expect to see:

Teams to copy the Bulldogs style

It was a revelation last season when the Western Bulldogs came from seventh on the ladder to claim the 2016 premiership. If there’s one thing we all learned from witnessing what will go down in history as one of the greatest ever grand final victories, it is that the old saying is quite true, a champion team will always beat a team of champions.

Not only did the Dogs want to win the ultimate prize for each other, but the way coach Luke Beveridge got his boys playing was exciting to watch. I expect to see most clubs this season taking a page out of Beveridge’s book, looking to play a similar – get the ball moving forward – game plan.

It may sound stupid – obviously teams want the ball forward – but there will be a focus on getting numbers around the contest. Irrespective of how they do it, the ball needs to get going your way.

“Chatting with club’s and players, I think there’s a general theme out there of looking to move the ball quicker with ball in hand,” Former Essendon player Scott Lucas said on SEN.

“Let’s go aggressive and let’s go hard forward which we hope will improve scoring and a club’s want to kick goals.”

This does not mean, however, the defences will be useless. In fact the most important part of defending is nullifying your opposition team as a whole. It’s not going to be one-on-one footy anymore, the game is evolving.

If there was one team last year that proved it’s about the how not the who, it’s the Doggies.

Hawthorn to find it difficult without Mitchell and Lewis

The Hawks won six games last season by the narrowest of margins, which is the reason people are struggling to see why they are certainties to make the top eight. They Lose their two best midfielders, Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis, which is a massive loss of not only footballing skill and smarts, but more importantly experience.

I know it’s a ‘what if’ situation, but the Hawks lose those six games – they finish ninth.

Experience is the toughest aspect of the team to replace. They lose two midfielders, but they lose two leaders. All training reports are suggestion the O’Meara and Tom Mitchell are training the house down, which is a silver lining in this situation. They’re good players, but they’re different players.

With many up and coming teams vying for positions in this year’s finals series, how will the ageing stars of the Hawks cope? The one player that will define Hawthorn’s season is Jarryd Roughead.

Roughead is a big-bodied midfielder as well as a key forward who has the potential to kick 50 goals a season. His versatility was sorely missed last year and he’ll need to make a fantastic comeback, have a strong year, because he is too significant to the fate of Hawthorn.

In-draft trading shouldn’t happen, but it will

We’re all familiar with the AFL hierarchy’s philosophy. Keep on changing the game to make it as different and non-unique as possible.

Let’s give them one thing, though, they’re persistent.

Personally the in-draft trading system would be much too complicated for our game and would be a disadvantage for many clubs, given we have already introduced the swapping of future draft picks.

Considering all the talk around this unique feature, I’m sure it will be implemented as early as during this year’s draft and trade period.

One of the biggest reasons why the AFL have suggested this, is because of the success that derives from the NFL. What our leaders here at the AFL don’t understand is that over there, many of the players who are drafted in this system have already come through college programs/leagues, meaning they are more ready-made than the rookies in the AFL.

We are going to struggle to make this work because a lot of our 18-year-olds haven’t been looked at before.

Let’s look at a scenario, a club with a mid-ranged first round pick has a number of players they like but can’t decide, they trade their pick with another club who is keen on one of those players, ruining and compromising the whole idea of the draft. It won’t matter where teams finish on the ladder and as stated before, a team who has already traded future picks come in completely disadvantaged.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken, AFL. Our game was unique once.