Picture this: An Essendon-style drugs saga sweeps the entire AFL competition as allegations surface of every club employing a Russian dope-doctor extraordinaire.
Each player on every list is suspended for a year, and the only eligible players clubs can field are the coaching staff as the AFL still hasn’t bothered with a mid-season draft.
Sound ridiculous? Well, yeah it is. But there’s no doubt new coaches in 2018 such as Stevie J (Sydney), Sam Mitchell (West Coast) and James Kelly (Essendon) still fancy themselves, and almost definitely pack their boots and socks every game. ‘Just in case’, they say.
Some clubs are full of these ‘youngsters’ on their coaching list. Others have elder statesmen further into retirement, but who you would still back to dominate. Here’s a top eight if the AFL club coaches had to pull their boots back on.
- Hawthorn: Alastair Clarkson, Scott Burns, Brett Ratten, Adam Yze, Darren Glass, Damian Monkhorst
To be honest I’d still be terrified of facing Clarkson and Monkhorst. Their sledging would make David Warner look like a genuine reverend. Also, Clarko might belt you if you refer to his height. This Hawks outfit make the eight on percentage to West Coast, who were stiff.
- Port Adelaide: Ken Hinkley, Michael Voss, Chad Cornes, Scott Thompson, Brendon Lade, Matthew Nicks, Nathan Bassett
Look, Ken Hinkley would need a decent hour on the physio table to get him ready but I’d still back him to sit at the back, barking orders. Plus, he doesn’t need to do much when he’s got Cornes and Bassett by his side, while Voss and Thompson get leather poisoning in the middle.
- Adelaide: Don Pyke, Scott Camporeale, Ryan O’Keefe, Ben Hart, Josh Francou, Matthew Clarke, Brent Reilly
A quality side with smart decision-makers throughout. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Campo screaming down the wing again?
- GWS: Leon Cameron, Lenny Hayes, Shane Mumford, Mark McVeigh, Amon Buchanan, Adam Schneider
Just like their playing squad, this list is a young outfit who ooze class by foot. There may be concerns with the state Mumford arrives in, but he always gives everything.
- Richmond: Damian Hardwick, Justin Leppitsch, Blake Caracella, Ben Rutten, Craig McRae, Xavier Clarke, Andrew McQualter
Premierships galore in this side, with four players winning two or more. No prizes for guessing who plays the support roles but hey, every side needs them.
- Collingwood: Nathan Buckley, Robert Harvey, Matthew Boyd, Anthony Rocca, Garry Hocking, Brenton Sanderson, Tarkyn Lockyer, Jared Rivers
Undoubtedly the best midfield of the lot. Buckley and Harvey could probably still keep up with modern day players. Not many options up forward, but hit Rocca on the chest around the arc and he’ll do the rest.
- Geelong: Chris Scott, Matthew Scarlett, Nigel Lappin, Corey Enright, Matthew Knights, Shane O’Bree
Very difficult to beat. A mixture of grunt and class in the midfield, combined with a defensive wall in Scarlett and Enright. Would back Chris Scott to bulldoze most modern players, too.
- Sydney: John Longmire, Dean Cox, Steve Johnson, Brett Kirk, Rhyce Shaw, Tadhg Kennelly, John Blakey
Quality across the park. Cox, tap down to Kirk, hands out the back to the running Irishman who bombs inside 50. Forward star Longmire splits the pack, Stevie J mops up and does the rest. Easy as you like.