Fireworks going off at Marvel Stadium. Picture: Designer Image

A NEW year brings fresh hope and the opportunity for AFL coaches to turn over a new leaf.

So with season 2023 on the horizon, what will each coach be resolving to fix in the New Year?


Hand Tom Doedee the captain's armband and give him a new contract. Pronto! The 25-year-old is expected to be in hot demand as a free agent next season and the Crows will be desperate to lock him down on a long-term deal. Doedee underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season but is hopeful of playing in the club's round one clash against Greater Western Sydney. - Brandon Cohen

Tom Doedee in action for Adelaide against Collingwood in R18, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

CHRIS FAGAN (Brisbane)

Meditate, pray, keep calm – do whatever it takes to keep the ship steady as the club sets its sights on September. A dream off-season that addressed some of their shortcomings has Fagan's side primed to go one or two better than their preliminary final in 2022. The ingredients are there for a premiership, it just needs some strong leadership – and maybe a bit of luck – to get them near that elusive flag. – Martin Smith

Eric Hipwood and Chris Fagan after the elimination final between Brisbane and Richmond at the Gabba on September 1, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos


Give the medical staff all the support they need as they look to get Sam Walsh back on the park. One of Carlton's most important players faces an uncertain 2023 after undergoing back surgery last week, and getting him back to full fitness will be a top priority for Voss in the new year. Not only is Walsh a star in his own right, his absence early in the season will mean opponents can put even more time into Patrick Cripps, which could quell the Brownlow medalist's impact around the ball. - Martin Smith

Sam Walsh looks dejected after Carlton's round 18 loss to Geelong at the MCG on July 16, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

CRAIG McRAE (Collingwood)

Get the Cox-Cameron combination firing. Having farewelled Brodie Grundy just two years into a seven-year deal, McRae will again rely on Mason Cox and Darcy Cameron to carry the ruck duties in 2023. The pair performed admirably in 2022 after Grundy went down with injury, but the two-time All-Australian leaves a big hole to fill. Should be return to his best at the Demons, and Cox and Cameron lose form, the decision to let Grundy go will come under the microscope. – Martin Smith

Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox in the Pies' huddle during the clash against GWS in round 15 on June 26, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

BRAD SCOTT (Essendon)

Where to start? A season without colossal upheaval would be a good start. New coach Brad Scott has the experience and temperament to guide the developing Bombers to a more successful season, and that's exactly what the Dons' promising crop of young guns needs. A close second behind stability is an injury-free season for those aforementioned youngsters. Archie Perkins, Ben Hobbs, Nik Cox, Zach Reid, Jye Caldwell, Sam Draper and Harrison Jones have the talent; now they need the environment. – Michael Rogers

Ben Hobbs celebrates a goal for Essendon against Richmond in R10, 2022. Picture: Getty Images


Find more avenues to goal. The Dockers won 15 games in 2022 but kicked just 1739 points – the lowest of any of the top eight sides – and scored above 100 just four times with wayward kicking often letting them down. The fitness of key forward Matt Taberner will be important after an injury-interrupted season, and with Rory Lobb and Griffin Logue departing, they need others to step up. Will recruit Luke Jackson be the man? Can Jye Amiss hold down a spot after a promising debut season? Could Nat Fyfe play as a permanent forward? Longmuir has plenty to think about over summer. - Brandon Cohen

Matt Taberner celebrates a goal against Essendon in round five, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos


Re-sign Mark Blicavs. The versatile 31-year-old is nearer the end of his remarkable career than the start, but he was one of Geelong's most important players in their 2022 premiership and was acknowledged with All-Australian selection. His ability to play almost every position on the ground makes him irreplaceable and Scott will be desperate to keep hold of the free agent as the Cats look to add another flag to their golden period. – Martin Smith

Mark Blicavs shows off his premiership medal during a street parade in Geelong on September 27, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

STUART DEW (Gold Coast)

This one's easy – a fit, healthy Ben King will go a long way to Gold Coast reaching its first finals series after 12 seasons at the top level. Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult did admirably in 2022 but the Sun King takes Stuart Dew's attack to another level. It would be unfair to expect the gun forward to recapture his best form straight away, but his mere presence will force opposition defences to think carefully about how to deal with a potential three-headed monster of King, Casboult and Chol. – Michael Rogers

ADAM KINGSLEY (Greater Western Sydney)

Make Aaron Cadman the face of the Giants for the next 10-15 years. The 195cm gun youngster from the GWV Rebels was unfazed at being picked at No.1 in November's draft - and he won't be worried by being THE man either. Sure, Toby's still the box-office drawcard, but the Giants now have someone they can build a team around. Having drawn comparisons to Geelong premiership hero Jeremy Cameron, Cadman is bound to sell plenty of memberships for years to come. - Brandon Cohen

No.1 draft pick Aaron Cadman during his first training session with the GWS Giants. Picture: Phil Hillyard


Play the kids. To be fair, Sam Mitchell doesn't really have much of a choice but the quicker the rebuilding Hawks can get more games into their youngsters, the better it'll be for the future. Hawthorn will field the youngest team in the competition in 2023, having lost more than 1000 games of experience over the off-season. Wins may be at a premium over the next couple of years, but Mitchell's eyes are firmly set on the club's next piece of silverware. - Brandon Cohen

Sam Mitchell talks to his players during the R17 clash between Hawthorn and Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on July 10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos


In 2022, Simon Goodwin largely backed the same group that delivered the historic 2021 premiership but after his men fell short in September, the Demons coach could do worse than shake things up at selection. Jacob van Rooyen and Bailey Laurie are in their second and third years, respectively, and have the talent to make an impact at the top level. The Dees are in 'win now' mode, as evidenced by the arrival of Brodie Grundy, Lachie Hunter and Josh Schache, but that doesn't mean the likes of van Rooyen and Laurie can't give a new look to the forward line. – Michael Rogers

Jacob van Rooyen at a Melbourne training session at Casey Fields on September 6, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos


This one's simple, and Alastair Clarkson knows exactly how to do it – just hold his nerve. There will be some rough days at the office in 2023 but Luke Davies-Uniacke, Tarryn Thomas, Will Phillips and George Wardlaw will need time at the coalface to learn as a midfield group. Similarly, Harry Sheezel might find things tough at half-forward but every moment in the top flight will be invaluable. Clarkson's experience at Hawthorn, when he won just 10 of 40 games across a stretch in 2005-06, makes him the perfect coach to steer the Roos through the turbulence ahead. – Michael Rogers

New North Melbourne players George Wardlaw and Harry Sheezel with coach Alastair Clarkson during the 2022 AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

KEN HINKLEY (Port Adelaide)

Keep Jason Horne-Francis happy. After a turbulent debut season at North Melbourne, the 2021 No.1 draft pick requested a trade back to his home state to be closer to his family. After the highly publicised move, the 19-year-old had surgery in October to decompress the arteries behind his knees but resumed running again before the Christmas break. In a midfield brimming with talent, a fit, firing and content Horne-Francis could be just the shot in the arm the Power needs to surge back into finals. - Brandon Cohen

Jason Horne-Francis poses at Alberton Oval after joining Port Adelaide from North Melbourne. Picture: @PAFC Twitter


Read Chris Scott's book How To Avoid A Rebuild. If we were in any doubt that Hardwick is not interested in a rebuild following the club's premiership treble, the off-season acquisitions of Jacob Hopper and Tim Taranto silenced those doubts. The success of Geelong in 2022 would have only strengthened the club's resolve that bottoming out and hitting the draft – as Hawthorn has done – is not the only avenue for success. And if Hardwick can get Dustin Martin back to his best, the Tigers will effectively have three 'new' star players at their disposal in 2023. – Martin Smith

Tim Taranto in action at Richmond training on December 5, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

ROSS LYON (St Kilda)

Let Mattaes Phillipou loose. Amid all the excitement around St Kilda's off-season recruits, it's worth remembering none of the legends who have returned to the club in recent months will take to the field in 2023. One man who will, however, is No.10 draft pick Phillipou, who already looms as a potential fan favourite for a supporter base that has been crying out for something – or someone – to get excited about. With a booming left foot and an attitude to match, Phillipou will add plenty of flair and excitement to the club, with Lyon's task to properly harness his undoubted potential. – Martin Smith

Mattaes Phillipou with St Kilda player Jack Steele during the 2022 NAB AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 28, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos


Get Logan McDonald back in the senior side, and keep him there. After the heartbreaking decision to axe the young forward for the Grand Final, Longmire needs to rebuild the 20-year-old's confidence as the Swans look towards a world beyond Buddy. McDonald has bucketloads of ability and despite some dwindling returns before his axing in September, he looms as a player the club can build its forward line around for the next 10 years. – Martin Smith

Logan McDonald celebrates a goal during the R5 clash between Sydney and West Coast on April 15, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos


It's a new era for Adam Simpson's Eagles squad. The core of the 2015 and 2018 Grand Final teams is either in retirement or very close to it, so there's only one way forward – play the kids. Campbell Chesser, Jai Culley, Connor West and Reuben Ginbey will inject some pace, power and class to the middle of the ground and the return of a rejuvenated Oscar Allen can't come soon enough up forward. There is still plenty of work to do to revive the fortunes of this West Coast team – and the golden oldies are still a huge part of the rebuild – but getting games into the youngsters will be a key plank of the 2023 program. - Michael Rogers

LUKE BEVERIDGE (Western Bulldogs)

Having recently put pen to paper on a new two-year deal, Luke Beveridge can turn his attention to finding the right forward structure for his team. Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Sam Darcy, Josh Bruce, Tim English and the addition of Rory Lobb gives Beveridge PLENTY of tall options to work with. Now he just has to find a way to fit them all into the line-up. It's a good problem to have, right? - Brandon Cohen

Rory Lobb in Western Bulldogs colours after being traded from Fremantle. Picture: Instagram @westernbulldogs