The Northern Territory news Mon 1 Jan 2018
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News Corp Australia
28 SPORT MONDAY JANUARY 1 2018 28 Monday, January 1, 2018 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 MONDAY ntnews.com.au/sportAFL ADELAIDE The toughest new years resolutions are the ones that have to be carried around for an entire year. For the Crows, the only way they can make up for the horror performance is with premiership redemption. The likes of Taylor Walker and Josh Jenkins have a serious point to prove on the games biggest stage. Can they hold onto this hunger all year? BRISBANE Injury ruined Mitch Robin sons 2017 season but it also cost him his spot in an exclusive club. Long regarded by opposition supporters as the Lions biggest pest, the likes of Nick Robertson, Rhys Mathieson and Dayne Zorko stepped up in his absence. Robinson wont stand for this, and his new years resolution will be to return to his niggling best. CARLTON The Blues will be out to work even more miracles in 2018. What miracles have they worked already? Last year they somehow turned Liam Jones from a battling forward destined to be delisted into a star defender who might push for All-Australian selection one day. This was after fixing Levi Casboults disastrous set-shot kicking for goal. Who is next on their surprise makeover hit list? Nothing will surprise us with the Blues. COLLINGWOOD It might be the AFL equiva lent of the dog ate my homework. Jordan De Goeys excuse for breaking his hand during the pre-season involved his dog and a stuffed toy. It wasnt long before holes started to appear in the tall tale and it emerged a bar-room altercation was the actual reason. There is no doubt De Goey must up his excuse game in 2018. Dane Swan stayed out of trouble for years. Perhaps De Goey could use some lessons from the former Pie. ESSENDON Joe Daniher is a high flying excitement machine. But there is no doubt his Mark of the Year victory has a rather large asterisk next to it. While Jeremy Howe was robbed last year, Daniher is every chance of owning the award from here on out. Few have the ability to get higher than him and, as he enters his peak, the highlight reel moments will keep coming. In 2018, wed love to see him win the award (for real this time). FREMANTLE It is time for Harley Bennell to repay the enormous faith shown in him by Ross Lyon. Plenty have questioned Bennell over the past few years but Lyon was never one of them. Through thick and thin, the Dockers coach has always had his players back. Bennell made his Docker debut late last season and showed some good signs. Now is the time for the real Harley Bennell to stand up and show exactly how special he is. GEELONG In 2018, Gary Ablett will be out to make up for lost time. The little master has been out of the spotlight for far too long while up on the Gold Coast. But all that changes now. In 2018 Ablett will be back on the main stage, playing under lights on Friday nights and running out for his first finals footy since 2010. At 33, time is no longer on his side so expect him to go all-in on a big 2018. GOLD COAST The 2018 season needs to be a hoodoo crusher for the Gold Coast. The new kids on the block tag should be long gone but that wont happen until the Suns end their long standing losing streaks. Despite being around since 2011, the Suns have never beaten Adelaide or Sydney. Thats a combined record of 0-18. Most new years resolutions dont happen. This might be one of them. GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY It has been the knock on the Giants since they entered the AFL. Do all these top draft picks and highly paid superstars have what it takes to get their hands dirty when things get tough? The Giants were found wanting during the AFL finals, smashed by Adelaide and Richmond. Its time for this group to embrace being a blue-collar football team and take the next step in September. HAWTHORN The Hawthorn medical team think they have cracked the code on Jaeger OMearas knee. In a nutshell, his problem was in a different area to where he was actually feeling pain. It was a head-scratcher early last year, but if OMeara and the Hawks can correctly manage his knee issues from here we might see his Rising Star form from 2013 return. Looking good for Round 1. MELBOURNE The Dees are desperate to play a fierce and aggressive brand of footy. Theres a ruthlessness and relentless about M e l b o u r n e under coach Simon Goodwin. But the irony of the matter is the Dees overstepped the line at times last season and had some undisciplined moments. Clayton Oliver snapped at a crowd member. Tom Bugg punched Callum Mills. Even Jordy Lewis lost his cool. Is it a composure thing? Maturity? Perhaps leadership? Whatever, the Dees need to keep their Zen when things get heated in 2018. Otherwise, we know theyre good enough. NORTH MELBOURNE Theres no point walking around in pants which dont fit this time of year. Its uncomfortable and looks awkward. Youve got to be realistic after an indulgent Christmas and for North Melbourne, the club knows it has many long hours on the treadmill to get back into finals shape. More than anything, the Roos have to patient in 2018, and embrace the long-term rebuild, only one year in. Brad Scott knows this and is fully committed to developing the kids as quickly as possible at Arden St. Dont worry so much about the scoreboard this year, Kangas, the big picture is king. PORT ADELAIDE The flag is there for the tak ing for Port Adelaide this season. On paper they look good enough after topping up with the Territorys Steve Motlop, Jack Watts and Tom Rockliff, among others, in the trade period. But do they believe it? Have they got the confidence and the chemistry to pull off the clubs second flag with a new-look forward half? Pull the shoulders back and push the chest out fellas, and believe in yourselves. Certainly, Kens men look capable, but any selfdoubts will be exposed. RICHMOND How do the Tigers possibly top last seasons remarkable flag? The journey to winning back-to-back premierships for the fourth time in the clubs history will start with two words up towards the top of Damien Hardwicks 2018 whiteboard: stay hungry. Complacency is a killer, and it is what got the Bulldogs in the neck last year. The Tigers must learn from their pitfalls and make sure they stay sharp above the shoulders. Its all about the mental game. Perhaps Hardwicks good mate Alastair Clarkson can share some wisdom about staying at the top of the glorious mountain over the preseason. Well be watching. ST KILDA Thou shalt kick straight. We wouldnt blame Alan Richardson if he is still wakes up in cold sweats at night thinking about skewed and botched set shots. They blew some really easy ones, at crucial times last season. Remember the first half against Port Adelaide? Yuck. But the first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one and the Saints have enlisted goal kicking expert Ben Dixon to analyse every players routine and technique over the summer. Definitely we will see some improvement, Dixon said. I have got no doubt about that. Over to you, Sainters. SYDNEY SWANS Start well. Sydney knows it cannot afford to be as sluggish out of the blocks as it was last year, leaving John Longmires men with an extraordinary amount of ground to make up in the back half of the year. Yes, they still caught fire and made finals, but the Swans will have the first month of the 2018 circled in thick black Texta, knowing they have to produce early to setup their season. The problem is Lance Franklin and Isaac Heeney have both recently gone under the knife. Even still, the Swans cant blow it early. WEST COAST Win away. We know the Eagles possess a formidable spine and are tough to beat at home, although they will move to the new Perth stadium in 2018. But the big asterisk on the Eagles has been their subpar form in Melbourne in recent years. They are bunnies at the G and have lost respect across the league since Hawthorn did the job on them in the 2015 Grand Final. Coach Adam Simpson has undoubtedly tried a few things but is yet to come up with a solution. Perhaps a spirit-cleansing session is in order? Light some incense in the Great Southern Stand? Nic Naitanuis return certainly helps, but it is unclear if West Coast is coming or going in the premiership race in 2018. WESTERN BULLDOGS We lauded their midfield setup in 2016. Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore and Jack Macrae headlines a deep engine room. But what the heck happened last season remains something of a mystery. They averaged the least number of centre clearances in the AFL in 2017. Simply, Luke Beveridge knows they must get more supply out of the guts to score more next season. Quicker entries, less congestion, more space and more goals. They have the cattle, will they rediscover the manic edge in the middle of the ground? YOUR CLUBS NEW YEAR WISH Jay Clark and Liam Twomey take an early look at whats on your clubs wishlist for the 2018 AFL season TOP: Gary Ablett will be looking forward to playing finals football in his return to Geelong this year while from bottom left, Adelaides Taylor Walker will want to make up for a poor grand final, Richmond superstar Dustin Martin will hope for more personal and team success, while Marcus Bontempelli and the Western Bulldogs need to rediscover the spark of 2016
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