The three teams that AFL captains believe are a lock for finals in 2022

An AFL footballer extends his left leg in the act of kicking the football, as a defender trails him and another looks on.

The captains have spoken, and they all agree — three teams are considered locks for the 2022 AFL finals series.

Key points:

  • Melbourne, Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs are the most likely teams to be playing in this year’s grand final, according to the AFL’s captains’ survey
  • For the second year running, Marcus Bontempelli has the most votes from rival teams as likely Brownlow Medal winner
  • Carlton’s Harry McKay is tipped to win the Coleman Medal for most goals kicked

The Brisbane Lions joined 2021 grand finalists Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs as being unanimously voted for by the team captains as the likely finalists in 2022.

Only one team captain of the 18 polled said they thought Port Adelaide would not make the finals, while four captains predicted perennial finalists Geelong would miss out this year.

Richmond — which unexpectedly missed the finals in 2021 — also received 13 votes for making the finals, while Sydney (11), GWS (9), Essendon (5), Carlton (5), Fremantle (2) and St Kilda (1) all received votes.

Last year, no captains predicted Richmond’s slide to 12th position, while only three correctly tipped West Coast and St Kilda to miss the top eight. None of the rival skippers backed eventual surprise packets Sydney to play finals.

Grand final opponents

Somewhat surprisingly, the Demons were only tipped by six rival skippers to reach the grand final again this year. Brisbane (five) and the Bulldogs (three) were popular choices ahead of Port Adelaide and Richmond (two each).

Last year not one rival skipper picked Melbourne or the Bulldogs to reach the 2021 decider, with most favouring Richmond or Brisbane. The Tigers were coming off a golden run of three premierships in the previous four seasons.

Brownlow Medal winner

An AFL footballer extends his left leg in the act of kicking the football, as a defender trails him and another looks on.
Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli is again the top nominee to win this year’s Brownlow Medal.(Getty Images / AFL Photos: James Elsby)

Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli (eight) is an overwhelming Brownlow favourite again, while no rival club captains believe Power midfielder Ollie Wines will repeat last year’s victory. Melbourne’s Clayton Oliver (four) is considered Bontempelli’s main competitor for the game’s most coveted individual award.

Last year, only one rival captain correctly picked Wines in 2021. Bontempelli (seven) was the skippers’ top pick and finished second in the count.

Coleman Medal winner

Carlton's Harry McKay celebrates a goalCarlton's Harry McKay celebrates a goal
Carlton forward Harry McKay is favoured to kick the most goals in the upcoming AFL season, backing up his Coleman Medal win in 2021.(Getty Images / AFL Photos: Michael Willson)

Harry McKay is backed by six rival skippers to top the league’s goal-kicking for a second-straight season.

Geelong pair Jeremy Cameron (four) and Tom Hawkins (three) are expected to feature prominently, as is Dogs spearhead Aaron Naughton (three).

Young St Kilda forward Max King and Swans superstar Lance Franklin also received votes, with the 35-year-old just five goals away from reaching 1,000 for his career.

Last year, Blues spearhead McKay was overlooked by every rival captain, with eight of them selecting Hawkins to benefit from former GWS star Cameron’s arrival in the Cats’ forward line. McKay finished four goals clear of Hawkins, who was the 2020 winner.

The Rising Star

A young AFL player looks down at the ball as he runs and gets ready to drop it for a kick.A young AFL player looks down at the ball as he runs and gets ready to drop it for a kick.
Number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis of the Kangaroos is tipped by most AFL captains to win the Rising Star award.(Getty Images: Kelly Defina)

There are no surprises here, with number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis (seven) and son-of-a-gun Nick Daicos (five) the stand-out selections ahead of Josh Rachele (two). Second-year forwards Logan McDonald and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan also received votes.

Last year, Matt Rowell was the popular choice after a stunning start to his 2020 debut season, but was cut down by injury. No rival captains tipped Melbourne ruckman Luke Jackson, who played an important role in the Demons’ premiership side.




Author: Ivan Robinson