Sport Australian football

Bring on the AFL

Written by Ben Blaschke

Last week it was the NRL kicking off in Australia, this week it’s the AFL – also known around the world as Aussie Rules. Whether you follow the AFL closely or not – and for many of our readers in Macau and other parts of Asia it’s unlikely – there is good reason to pay close attention if you take any sort of interest in sports betting because along with rugby league, rugby union and of course NFL there are few better sports on the planet to bet on.

So with that in mind, here is what you need to know about the upcoming AFL season, starting at the top where we can expect a handful of clubs to almost certainly figure in premiership calculations barring some sort of injury disaster.

Can Hawthorn go back to back?

Can Hawthorn go back to back?

Last year’s premiers Hawthorn have lost one of their biggest names in Lance Franklin, who has joined the Sydney Swans in 2014, but even without him the Hawks will be somewhere around the top of the ladder come finals time. They are blessed with attacking options and you’ll go well taking them in head to head betting most weeks of the year. Having said that, even though they start the year as title favorites we’d steer clear of them in premiership betting. Going back to back is historically very difficult and it’s now been more than 10 years since any side won consecutive premierships, so it will take a mighty effort for Hawthorn to do it all again.

Fremantle will be looking to win their first premiership in 2014

Fremantle will be looking to win their first premiership in 2014

The two sides most predict will challenge the Hawks for the title in 2014 are Fremantle and Sydney. Fremantle took some huge strides last season to reach their first grand final and although the occasion got to them on the big day, they will be much better for the experience this time around. They are also very difficult to beat when playing at home and it’s no secret that rival teams don’t particularly enjoy the long flight from east coast to west coast. Look to back them whenever they are at home.

The Swans have been in the news quite a bit during the off-season after luring superstar forward Lance Franklin to the club from premiers Hawthorn. His arrival comes just 12 months after the arrival of another quality big man in Kurt Tippett and if captain Adam Goodes can stay fit they can probably claim to boast more star power than any other side in the AFL. They should expect to finish the regular season in the top four at the very least but it is finals time that this club tends to really shine where their tough, smothering style is perfectly suited to the big occasion.

Lance Franklin has arrived in Sydney to boost the Swans' forward line

Lance Franklin has arrived in Sydney to boost the Swans’ forward line

As for the rest, some questions are yet to be answered. Geelong, one of the real power clubs of the past decade, is nearing the end of an era but can they mount one last premiership challenge before its time to rebuild? Can Richmond turn the potential they’ve displayed the past two seasons into genuine results? And what to make of Greater Western Sydney (GWS)? The newest club in the AFL have made plenty of bettors rich over the past two years by tipping their opponents to cover the spread, but they have recruited well and their pre-season form suggests that while they still won’t won a whole heap of games, they will no longer be the easy beats they once were.

As always, we recommend sticking with the big three during the early rounds and leaving the rest alone long enough to pick up the early form lines but once the season has settled in you’ll find there is plenty to look forward to.