IF AFL captains were allowed to bet, they’d wager on Richmond or Collingwood returning to the grand final this year.
In the annual poll of all 18 skippers on the eve of the AFL season, 13 picked either the Tigers (eight votes) or Magpies (five) as the most likely to play their team in the 2019 decider.
Collingwood sprung an almighty 39-point preliminary final upset on Richmond last year to deny the Tigers a shot at back-to-back premierships.
But they fell short of capturing a fairytale flag at the final hurdle, losing to West Coast by five points.
The Eagles, who weren’t picked by any opposing captains to make the 2018 grand final let alone win it, were the next best with two votes.
Last year’s preliminary final surprise packets Melbourne, beaten 2017 grand finalists Adelaide and top-eight regulars Greater Western Sydney polled one vote apiece.
Every opposing skipper believes Richmond, Collingwood, Melbourne and West Coast (17 votes) will make the top eight, while Adelaide (15) were not far behind.
As for individual honours, Carlton are fancied to potentially claim a Brownlow Medal-Rising Star double.
No.1 draft pick Sam Walsh polled a staggering 11 votes as the favourite to win the Rising Star award. No other first-year player received more than one vote.
Blues co-captain and powerful midfielder Patrick Cripps has clearly garnered the respect of his AFL peers too.
Cripps (three votes) is rated the second most likely to win the Brownlow, ranking him among previous winners Patrick Dangerfield (four), Nathan Fyfe (three) and Dustin Martin (two).
West Coast’s Josh Kennedy (seven votes) and Richmond’s Jack Riewoldt (four) are also favoured to add to their Coleman medal collections, with the duo topping the goal-kicking charts in three of the past four seasons.
© AAP 2019