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Below, the seven biggest talking points of the 2022 AFL season to date.
1. Umpire dissent
Introducing a rule that attempts to remove the disrespect toward umpires by players was one of the bigger advancements made over the off-season.
Initially, there’s been a great change in the game that saw player behaviour alter immediately, otherwise they would be forced to pay a big penalty.
However, given the subjectivity of umpiring, what is deemed dissent toward one umpire can be deemed understandable to another, creating a grey area around the rule, ergo, confusion and frustration for players and fans alike.
2. The rise of the Blues
The surprise rise of the Blues has taken the AFL by storm, with the introduction of coach Michael Voss and acquisition of midfielders Adam Cerra and George Hewett being key figures as they vie for a top four finish.
Skipper Patrick Cripps is a Brownlow fancy, while tall forwards Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay are dominating on the scoreboard.
Curnow leads the Coleman leaderboard with 37 goals, while despite McKay being out of the side with injury, has kicked 20 majors in his eight outings this year.
Jacob Weitering has elevated to one of the best key defenders in the competition, being likely to make the All-Australian side if he continues his form when he returns from injury.
The Blues sit 8-3 after the first 11 rounds and look likely to return to finals for the first time since 2013, with a strong chance to make top four.
3. North Melbourne troubles
Aside from the terrible 1-10 start, North Melbourne’s issues off the field have been just as rough, with players choosing not to re-sign and coaching staff choosing to depart the club.
The Kangaroos lost three of their list managers during their tumultuous time in the first half of the season, with the club right at the beginning of its rebuild.
They have also struggled to lockdown the signatures of key players Cameron Zurhaar and number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis beyond the near future.
4. AFL crowds
A lot of speculation has gone into the desire for fans to come along to the footy and support their side from inside the stadium.
Since 2016, there was a consistent increase in average crowd numbers, rising from 31,667 to 35,131 in 2019.
Excluding years 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, the return of football to its norm in 2022 has been relatively underwhelming, with crowd attendance not reaching its expectation.
A lot of speculation around people going to the footy includes the residual effect of the virus, the state of the game as well as the affordability of tickets and food at the ground.
According to expert commentators, footy fans have opted to stay home due to the over-adjudication from umpires, referring to the watchability of the AFL.
5. The demise of West Coast
West Coast has faced unfortunate and rare circumstances, with the residual effect of COVID-19 hitting the club badly.
The Eagles have been forced to use all of their WAFL regulars as well as top-ups to field a side of 22 on gameday.
Adam Simpson has played well over 40 players so far in 2022, an unprecedented amount for an AFL side.
West Coast have an awful win/loss record, sitting 1-10 with a percentage of 49.7 per cent.
Two of those losses were over 100 points, while six others were 50 points or more.
The Eagles have an average losing margin of 65.5 points and is arguably the worst start in the club’s proud history.
There is speculation surrounding Simpson’s future as head coach, while a lot of the experienced players could be offered up in the potential rebuild starting in 2023.
6. 19th AFL side – Tasmania
Tasmania has unleashed one ‘last push to play’ in its attempt to become the 19th AFL side.
The decision will be made in August, which will be one of departing CEO Gill McLachlan’s last calls he makes in charge of the AFL.
Tasmania has gotten support from a lot of big names, including former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson, as well as Nick and Jack Riewoldt.
Expansion in the AFL has had mixed feelings from the public, with some deeming the competition is heading toward a direction alike other sports such as the NBA and NFL.
Recent clubs that have joined in Gold Coast and GWS has also stirred a mixture of emotions, with the Suns yet to play finals in their existence, proving not any expansion is successful.
7. Player movement
Dustin Martin and Jordan De Goey have led player movement talks, with some suggesting the two big names may find themselves at other clubs in 2023.
Martin has been linked with a change-up from Melbourne, with either Sydney sides potentially being a suitor for the Brownlow Medallist.
The champion Tiger spent time away from the game to grieve his late father, Shane, and some have considered his desire to move away from the hustle and bustle in Victoria.
De Goey has also led free agency talks, with the Magpie coming out of contract at season’s end.
The midfielder-forward has had plenty of off-field issues whilst being in the black-and-white but his talent on the field has attracted by money in the past and could receive similar offers.