Collingwood captain Darcy Moore and his fellow skippers on AFL Captains Day on February 26, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

LAST year's runner-up Brisbane is a strong favourite to reach this year's Grand Final, according to the 18 AFL captains, while Western Bulldogs champion Marcus Bontempelli is an overwhelming favourite to claim his first Brownlow Medal.

Carlton's two-time Coleman medallist, Charlie Curnow, is favoured to make it a hat-trick of leading goalkicker awards and the Lions are the top pick to take out this year's McClelland Trophy for the best combined results across the AFL and AFLW regular seasons.


All the skippers were surveyed ahead of the Opening Round of the 2024 Toyota AFL Premiership season, with some fascinating results.

There was a clear top six when the captains were asked which teams (apart from their own) could make the top eight: Collingwood, Brisbane, Carlton, GWS, Melbourne and Sydney.

Adelaide was tipped by 10 skippers to reach the finals, ahead of crosstown rival Port Adelaide (seven votes).

Matt Crouch and Connor Rozee in action during Adelaide's win over Port Adelaide in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Only four of the captains thought Gold Coast could make the finals under new coach Damien Hardwick.

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The Magpies and Giants were the only two other clubs considered most likely to reach the Grand Final, alongside the Lions.

Bontempelli was a runaway Brownlow pick with 10 skippers picking the Bulldogs leader to take 'Charlie' home. Nick Daicos (two votes) was the only other player to get multiple votes.

If the skippers' votes are any guide, we're in for a thrilling AFL Rising Star race in 2024. West Coast's No.1 pick Harley Reid (six votes) and second-year North Melbourne midfielder George Wardlaw (five) were the top selections, with Bulldogs young gun Ryley Sanders tipped by three skippers and Wardlaw's Roos teammate Colby McKercher (two) also among the frontrunners.

And when it comes to Grand Final curtain-raisers, Coldplay, country star Luke Combs and Aussie rockers Tame Impala were all picked by multiple captains as ideal Telstra Pre-Game Entertainment.

The 18 AFL club captains at Marvel Stadium on Captains Day on February 26, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

How the captains voted

Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year's top eight? 
17 – Collingwood
16 – Brisbane
15 – Carlton, GWS GIANTS
14 – Melbourne, Sydney Swans
10 – Adelaide Crows
7 – Port Adelaide
6 – Western Bulldogs
4 – Gold Coast SUNS
3 – St Kilda
2 – Geelong Cats
1 – Essendon, Fremantle, Richmond

Which other club is most likely to reach the Grand Final?
(No captains picked eventual premier Collingwood in 2023).
9 – Brisbane Lions
6 – Collingwood

Which player from another club do you think will win the 2024 Brownlow Medal?
(Three captains correctly nominated Lachie Neale in 2023).
10 – Marcus Bontempelli, Western Bulldogs
2 – Nick Daicos, Collingwood
1 – Charlie Curnow, Carlton; Jordan Dawson, Adelaide Crows; Tom Green, GWS GIANTS; Errol Gulden, Sydney Swans; Darcy Parish, Essendon; Sam Walsh, Carlton;

Which player do you think will win the 2024 Coleman Medal?
(One captain nominated eventual Coleman Medallist Charlie Curnow in 2023).
7 – Charlie Curnow, Carlton
3 – Jeremy Cameron, Geelong Cats; Nick Larkey, North Melbourne
1 – Tom Hawkins, Geelong Cats; Max King, St Kilda; Tom Lynch, Richmond; Harry McKay, Carlton; Jacob Van Rooyen, Melbourne

Which player do you think will win the 2024 AFL Rising Star?
(One captain nominated eventual Ron Evans Medallist Harry Sheezel in 2023).
6 – Harley Reid, West Coast Eagles
5 – George Wardlaw, North Melbourne
3 – Ryley Sanders, Western Bulldogs
2 – Colby McKercher, North Melbourne
1 – Blake Howes, Melbourne; Jed Walter, Gold Coast SUNS

Which club will win the McClelland Trophy?
8 – Brisbane Lions
4 – Melbourne
1 – Adelaide Crows, Collingwood, Gold Coast SUNS, GWS GIANTS, Richmond, Western Bulldogs

Who would you love to see perform as the Telstra Pre-Game Entertainment this September?
3 – Coldplay
2 – Luke Combs, Tame Impala,
1 – AC/DC, Adele, Fred Again, Luca Brasi, Kylie Minogue, Mumford and Sons, Oasis, Rihanna, Robbie Williams, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift