WITH the 2021 Toyota AFL Premiership season racing to a conclusion, Damian Barrett's Sliding Doors is really heating up.

So what's Damo saying about your club? What's he saying about the AFL? You can't say that, Damo, can you?

Oh, and be sure you tune in to AFL Daily as Nat and Damo put the spotlight on all the big issues. Check it out.

IF ...

four losses have now been registered since the last win ...

THEN ...

there may be an equal (North Melbourne in round 23) but not a better chance of another victory in 2021 than the Hawks on Saturday night. Extremely unfortunate to have to play this "home" match at Marvel Stadium, though.

IF ..

the Lions' premiership credentials weren't already questionable before last weekend's match against Richmond ...

THEN ...

there are multiple questions now. Consecutive losses, to Saints and Tigers. Season-ending injuries to Rayner and Hipwood. Serious injuries to Adams and Gardiner. And a concerning lack of spark.

IF ...

landing a win against the Roos is the most important aspect of Saturday's game at Marvel Stadium ...

THEN ...

the second most important facet could be granting the medical vest to the fit-again Marc Murphy. The runway to his 300-match milestone is getting shorter and shorter – four matches required, five 2021 season games remaining. Given what he has endured since 2006, he fully deserves to take off.

IF ...

the former coach, Bucks, and the ex-player, Stephenson, didn’t see eye to eye at the end of 2020 ...

THEN ...

July of 2021 has re-established a connection in the most unusual of ways. Bucks this week did as Stephenson did the week prior in using social media to offer opinion on the handling by authorities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Interesting times.

IF ...

Dylan Shiel was the main midfield man in the Bombers' mix before serious injury ...

THEN ...

upon his return, which could be on Sunday against GWS (he has been named on an extended interchange), he will need to embrace, and respect, the different workings of the new Bombers' engine room, where in his absence Darcy Parish has become one of the competition's best onballers.

IF ...

the Dockers had entered round 18 in seventh place on the ladder ...

THEN ...

while factually they exited it in 10th place, so bereft of top eight relevance did they seem in scoring just three goals against Geelong that it might as well been 15th. Need to show some steel against the Swans.

IF ...

Jez, Mitch and Gary (who could even play Sunday, being named as a possible inclusion against Richmond) all get their bodies right ...

THEN ...

I can’t see another team getting near the Cats in September.

IF ...

Touk Miller's skills and ability to impact a game of footy are now very clearly elite ...

THEN ...

it is actually his Joel Selwood-like competitiveness that is his No.1 footy quality. An extraordinary storyline of 2021.

IF ...

the forced withdrawals of key players Greene and de Boer just minutes before the start of last Sunday's match was an obvious cause of concern and unrest ...

THEN ...

that needs to be factored in to the overall assessment. But so too does the fact the Giants were six goals up in the second quarter and managed just two goals after half-time. Another disappointing loss in a season already stacked with such results.

IF ...

you look up "mess" in the 2021 AFL dictionary ...

THEN ...

there is a really big picture of Jeff. And with every word that he and everyone else in a position of power at Hawthorn utters about Sam and Clarko and the coaching succession project, the whole thing just gets messier.

05:26 Mins
Published on

Hawthorn's mess, Kennett 'carnage', Clarko's OTHER power issue

Damian Barrett on Jeff Kennett's succession plan rant, Melbourne's cellar-dweller troubles and an injured Dog with a bright future.

Published on

IF ...

Bont in my eyes is THE standout player of 2021 ...

THEN ...

Trac is second to him. And Trac still has five matches to catch him, beginning Saturday night when he lines up inside the MCG square against him. After that moment, Bont will go one way, Trac the other, as they both inevitably go about controlling their team's fortunes in this fascinating 1 v 2 ladder clash. Cannot wait.

IF ...

Cunnington is a big in for Saturday's match against Carlton ...

THEN ...

Tarrant is an equally big out. Has unfortunately endured a torrid 2021 season.

IF ...

the 2021 season has at times been a struggle for the Power ...

THEN ...

a look at the ladder going into round 19 (sitting fourth, a game clear of fifth) and the re-inclusion, after serious injury absences, of this team's fire-starters in Butters, Rozee and Duursma for Friday night's match against the Pies is cause for premiership confidence.

IF ...

the Tigers need to win four of the remaining five matches to secure a finals berth, and the Cats loom very large in the first of those matches ...

THEN ...

it's going to be tight. But with Fremantle, North, GWS and Hawthorn then following, I'm locking them in for an elimination final. Even without Dusty.

IF ...

IF there was one player the Saints could not afford to lose due to an exposure to a COVID-19 hotspot ...

THEN ...

it was the one player who was, indeed, exposed to a COVID-19 hotspot, and is now in quarantine. St Kilda is a five-goal better team with a fit Rowan Marshall part of it. Now it needs to take on Nic Nat without him.

IF ...

even John Longmire wasn't able to hold back a little welling in the eyes ...

THEN ...

everyone on the outside looking in on the Swans' massive win last week knew this was an ultra-special moment in a season already full of special achievements. And there's plenty more to come.

IF ...

West Coast was a racehorse ...

THEN ...

last weekend's performance was akin to an ageing weight-for-age superstar long past his best dropping back to a weak listed-race. After three dreadful runs – losses to Bulldogs, Sydney and North respectively by 55, 92 and 10 points - got a much needed, six-length margin "easy kill", against the Crows.

IF ...

his debut game was underwhelming ...

THEN ...

match No.2 for Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was very, very nice. Now that he's had senior match conditioning, looms as a genuine X-Factor for the pointy-end of the season.

AND THIS ONE'S FOR THE AFL

IF ...

the holding the ball rule, along with all its interpretations and nuances, isn’t the subject of a full-scale football department review at the end of the season ...

THEN ...

the game will take yet another dreaded leap toward the ugliness of modern day rugby union.