The AFL finals series kicks off on Thursday with premiers Richmond taking on Hawthorn at the MCG.
The New Daily asked AFL greats – triple Brownlow Medal winner Bob Skilton (Swans), former Carlton captain Chris Judd and Melbourne Football Club’s longest-serving captain David Neitz – for their footy tips on what teams have the edge to win the first round of finals and become the favourite to claim the 2018 premiership.
Richmond v Hawthorn
“Richmond, because of their evenness and ability to tackle during games. They have also managed the workload of their group the best out of any team this season.”
“Definitely Richmond. They’re the ones to beat.”
“Richmond has been the clear standout performer of the year. Come finals time, they will stand up. Although the Hawks are a very smart team, they will need to be at their best.”
Melbourne v Geelong
“Melbourne, because of Max Gawn and their ability to win contested balls and score quickly.”
“It’s going to be a great finals series because I think they will all be close games. It’s a toss of the coin, but I’m going to go with Geelong.”
“Melbourne are coming into the finals with great form against quality opposition. They will need to keep Geelong’s top four under control.”
Sydney v GWS Giants
“GWS. The Giants’ midfield will outrun Sydney’s midfield, especially with the likes of Dylan Shiel and Josh Kelly.”
“GWS has a lot of talent. They’re capable of anything on the day. But we’ve beaten them both times, so let’s hope we can do it again. Swans.”
“This will be a tight, tough encounter. But with GWS getting key players back, they should get the job done.”
West Coast Eagles v Collingwood
“West Coast’s tall forwards will do damage. They have the advantage with their ability to kick out of the back half and marking abilities. This will cause some headaches for Collingwood.”
“That’s another hard game to call. It’s in Perth, so I’m going to stick with the home side. West Coast.”
“West Coast are hard to beat at home and it will be difficult for Collingwood with so many injuries.”
Who is going to win the premiership?
“We [Melbourne] play a contested style of footy that should hold us in good stead. We hold the ball in the forward half for a majority of time, which should make defenders nervous,” he said, backing his own club.
“Richmond,” he said without hesitation.
“They have been the best team all year.”
“I certainly hope they can win but I also think that whoever beats Richmond – if anyone – will take the premiership away from them. Richmond deserve to be the favourites.”