Footy is just one week away and there's plenty to debate as we get close to Round 2. Our AFL experts answer some of the burning questions.
Are players being precious with their hub hotel demands?
Niall Seewang: No! They're human! Anyone forced to stay in a hotel for a month or so will need their creature comforts, so I'm staggered there's any issue with the players wanting to bring with them any items that will make their stay more comfortable. This is a massive non-issue.
Jake Michaels: If I was forced to stay in an interstate hotel for at least a month, there's a few things I'd want to have with me. I don't understand why we're criticising players for requesting basic things most of us use or live with every day. Surely these clubs, or the AFL, can fork out the cash to comfortably accommodate players. After all, no players equals no game.
Matt Walsh: Give players all the bikes, PS4s, coffee machines and sandwich presses they want. They're being housed in a small, confined room for more than a month, anything they want to make their stay comfortable, they should get in my opinion.
What do you make of Chad Wingard's stance against media in Australia?
NS: Wingard's self-imposed media ban is a strong statement but I wonder whether he could have played this smarter, and used his reach to spread his messages far and wide rather than shutting up shop. Still, it's his decision.
JM: As much as I'd love Wingard to take advantage of his sporting profile and publicly discuss the negative implications of racism in society, I certainly understand his decision. Don't forget, Adam Goodes spoke out for what he believed in and was subject to further racial vilification. People are happy to pick and choose when they want athletes to speak, the reality is these athletes should be able to speak, or keep quiet, about any topic, whenever they like.
MW: I think Wingard is standing up for a cause he believes strongly about, but I would argue media, at least footy media, is something he could leverage to spread further awareness, and announcing a media ban of sorts maybe isn't the best way to go about it. I'd love to learn more about his views and, for instance, if he talked to me, we could come up with a written piece which helps further the cause in Australia.
Will Lance Franklin reach 1,000 career goals?
NS: Something that appeared to be such a formality even a few days ago is now no sure thing. He's on 944 goals but the injuries and father time (he's 33) mean it might be more difficult than expected. 'Buddy' is contracted until the end of 2022, so should have two more seasons after this one to kick the 56 needed to reach four figures. But if his injuries keep mounting, then who knows?
JM: If I had to guess, I'd say yes. 'Buddy' has obviously been battling some nagging injuries over the past 12 months but he's so close to the magical milestone and will no doubt be motivated to reach it. He's got the contract part sorted, he just needs to get his body right. I predict he'll get there late in 2021 ... hopefully against the Hawks.
MW: It's looking unlikely 'Buddy' will reach even 950 goals at this rate, unfortunately his body just keeps failing him as he gets fit again. Remember when the Swans were saying he was in the best nick of his career in preseason? Seems like years ago ... let's hope he gets back on the park in 2020!
❌ The Pies aren't flag ready— footytips (@footytips) July 7, 2020
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Has your flag prediction changed since pre-Round 1?
NS: Collingwood were my premiership tip in the preseason and that hasn't changed. The more mature squads should best handle the crazy curveballs that have been thrown their way since Round 1, so the Magpies, along with Richmond, GWS, West Coast and Geelong, are looking like the teams to beat. I'll stick with the Magpies as a flag tip due to their midfield depth and stingy defence. They just need a bit of luck on the injury front.
JM: I was very bullish on the Eagles before Round 1, and while I still expect them to feature at the pointy end of the season, their temporary relocation to Queensland will pose a few additional challenges. With that said, Richmond should be the flag favourites. They've been the best and most consistent team over the last three years and Damien Hardwick will know that a third flag in four years puts them in greatest team of all time discussions. Plenty to play for!
MW: I'm backing the Cats now. This may be the last (and best) chance they get to win a flag while Ablett, Hawkins, Taylor, Selwood and Dangerfield are all contributing very good football. The fact they'll now likely be hosting more games than ever before at GMHBA Stadium is a massive boost as well. They really need to take advantage of this fixture.