THE AFL has polled 18 club captains for their views on the impending 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership Season, and they see Richmond and Brisbane at the top end of the ladder as the teams to beat.
In all, those two clubs drew the votes of 12 of the 18 captains as the teams most likely to be a part of the Grand Final this year.
A total of 15 different clubs were considered possible chances to contest the finals while five different clubs were considered to reach the Grand Final.
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Unanimously, the view of the game's on-field leaders is that four clubs should all make an appearance in September – Brisbane, Geelong, Port Adelaide and Richmond, while Marcus Bontempelli (Western Bulldogs), Tom Hawkins (Geelong) and Matt Rowell (Gold Coast) will be the individuals to watch for the season ahead.
A total of eight different players received a tip as a choice for this year's Brownlow Medal favourite, with Bontempelli (six votes) the standout ahead of Patrick Cripps and Nat Fyfe (three votes).
The Coleman Medal as leading goalkicker was expected to be the domain of Hawkins (eight votes), with Port Adelaide's Charlie Dixon (four votes) as his main rival.
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Rowell was again the standout to claim the Ron Evans Medal as the NAB AFL Rising Star with 13 of the captains nominating the Gold Coast youngster to take out the award.
Before gathering in locations across the country today and tomorrow, the captains were asked five key questions on the season ahead, with the proviso that their individual answers would be treated anonymously to ensure personal views:
1. Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year's top eight?
2. Which other club is most likely to reach the Grand Final?
3. Who do you think will win the 2021 Coleman Medal?
4. Who do you think will win the 2021 NAB AFL Rising Star?
5. Who do you think will win the 2021 Brownlow Medal?
The full voting is below:
Which seven other clubs do you think can make this year's top eight?
(18 times seven selections).
17 – Brisbane, Geelong, Port Adelaide, Richmond
15 – West Coast, St Kilda
9 – Western Bulldogs
8 – Collingwood
4 – Greater Western Sydney
2 – Gold Coast
1 – Carlton, Essendon, Fremantle, Hawthorn, Melbourne
Which other club is most likely to reach the Grand Final?
(Four captains picked eventual premier Richmond in 2020).
7 – Richmond
5 – Brisbane
3 – Port Adelaide
2 – Geelong
1 – West Coast
Which player from another club do you think will win the 2021 Brownlow Medal?
(Four captains correctly nominated Lachie Neale in 2020).
6 – Marcus Bontempelli
3 – Patrick Cripps
3 – Nat Fyfe
2 – Lachie Neale
1 – Dustin Martin
1 – Ollie Wines
1 – Jaeger O'Meara
1 – Jack Macrae
Which player from another club do you think will win the 2021 Coleman Medal?
(No captain nominated eventual Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins in 2020).
8 – Tom Hawkins
4 – Charlie Dixon
2 – Jeremy Cameron
2 – Joe Daniher
1 – Tom Papley
1 – Lance Franklin
Which player from another club do you think will win the 2021 NAB AFL Rising Star?
(One captain nominated eventual Ron Evans medallist Caleb Serong in 2020).
13 – Matt Rowell
3 – Logan McDonald
1 – Tom Powell
1 – Jamarra Ugle-Hagan