The AFL season has kicked off with some stunning matches and unexpected turns.
Four weeks in, the 2021 season has seen three teams that were missing from the top eight last year make major headway at the start of the premiership.
With the Western Bulldogs leading the charge, followed by the Sydney Swans and Melbourne, these teams have emerged undefeated so far.
According to Australian Football League aficionado and entrepreneur Darren Herft, “Obviously, it’s very early in the season, so whether or not they can retain their positions remains to be seen.”
“It certainly bodes well for these three teams as they have a high chance of at least making it to the final eight, if not the final four, for this season,” says Herft.
For many fans, the Sydney Swans have been the biggest surprise this year. While they fell well short of making it to the final eight last year, they have made an epic comeback in 2021 so far.
To Darren Herft, their rise this season is not wholly unexpected.
“The Swans showed much promise last year as they ended the 2020 season well and played three of the top four teams in the last five rounds.”
The Swans were pitted against Port Adelaide, Brisbane Lions as well as Geelong in the run up to the 2020 finals.
“They were extremely competitive in all three games, falling short by one goal to Geelong in round 23, fought all the way up to three quarter time with the Brisbane Lions in round 22 and played a very rigorous contest against Port Adelaide in Adelaide as well. They fell 23 points short but still played a very good game of football.”
The Swans position has been bolstered with the addition of some great young talent swelling their ranks this year.
“Their two draft picks from last year Dylan Stephens and Chad Warner are both improving rapidly,” says Darren Herft.
The highly skilled Isaac Haney’s return to the team (albeit now being out for 2-4 weeks with a hand injury), as well as Callum Mills going into the midfield has also worked well for the team in 2021.
Having Buddy Franklin, one of the best power forwards of the last decade back has been another major boost to the team, even though he has played only two of the four games this season.
According to Darren Herft, “having the guidance and coaching of the very experienced John Longmire sets the stage for the Sydney Swans to have a strong season in 2021.”
He adds, “The addition of Don Pyke as one of the new assistant coaches has given them an edge. The incorporation of some of his running and ball movement is evident in the Swans play of 2021.”
While it remains to be seen if they will be able to maintain their luck in the upcoming matches, Darren Herft thinks that having three wins banked this early in the season gives each one of these teams a brilliant chance to make a bid for the premiership this year.