Former Sydney great casts his eye over the field for the year.
The 2013 AFL season might only be one game old but that has not stopped former Sydney Swans star Paul Roos from declaring only four sides are capable of winning this year’s title.
Roos, who played 202 games for Sydney and took the team to the 2005 premiership as coach, declared Hawthorn, Collingwood, West Coast and the Swans will fight it out at the pointy end of the season.
The former centre half-back believes his old side can go back-to-back due to the evergreen nature of its veteran stars while also seeing the potential growth from their young guns.
“Age may be a factor for the Swans, but there were no signs last year that players such as Adam Goodes, Jude Bolton and Ryan O’Keefe were slowing down,” Roos said in his column for news.com.au.
“The reason I believe the the Swans can go back-to-back is there is significant improvement left in players such as (Daniel) Hannebury, (Sam) Reid, (Lewis) Jetta, (Luke) Parker and new skipper Kieren Jack.”
The one stumbling block that could see the Swans have a slow start to the year is their shorter pre-season and an easy opening fortnight on paper, when they play the competition’s two newest teams, the Suns and Giants.
Sydney claimed the crown from Hawthorn in last year’s decider, and Roos agrees with most pundits’ assessment that the Hawks could go one step further in 2013.
“I thought the Hawks were exposed in last year’s grand final when the Swans players 15-22 were far better than those of the Hawks,” he added.
“We know of the Hawks’ star power, but they must unearth more consistent role players to hold the cup aloft.
For the Magpies of Collingwood to return to the top of the AFL mountain, Roos believes they must develop a better balance between all out attack and rock solid defence, while discipline must be maintained at all times.
Roos said West Coast’s premiership window is still open due to its cast of veterans who are still performing at a high level coupled with their massive home ground Subiaco Oval, which is traditionally is one of the hardest road trips in the competition.
As for the bolters that will make every fan sit up and take notice, Roos likes how Richmond and Essendon are travelling at this early stage of the season.
“Richmond’s biggest problem last season was losing close games and there is no doubt that would have been a huge focus in their off-season,” Roos said.
“Role-playing at training and placing players in game like situations would have happened on a regular basis. If they can arrest that worrying trend and win the close games, finals are a genuine consideration.
“The Bombers’ best 22 looks competitive. Last year they were cruelled by injury and also struggled to match the top teams run.”