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The Captains' call

Jennifer Phelan  March 16, 2018 11:38 AM

Clarkson: Fire burns for everyone Alastair Clarkson spoke with Fox Footy's Ben Dixon ahead of the 2018 season.

Greater Western Sydney is the team to beat this season and Patrick Dangerfield is poised to win a second Brownlow medal, the AFL's captains say.

The League has polled 18 club leaders as the 2018 season is launched, and the results put the Giants firmly at the top of the pile, with seven skippers voting for them to make the Grand Final.

Richmond and Adelaide have been tipped by five captains each to make consecutive deciders, while Sydney picked up the remaining vote to win through to the last game of the year.

Read: Hawthorn's upcoming season - from the fans' point of view

Dangerfield was the clear Brownlow standout, with seven of the skippers picking him to follow up from his 2016 medal to win another.

Just three captains picked Richmond bull Dustin Martin to go back-to-back, while two chose Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe to win a second medal following his 2015 triumph.

Giant Josh Kelly, Swans Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker, Bomber Zach Merrett, Hawk Tom Mitchell and Crow Rory Sloane polled one vote each.

Melbourne has been tipped as the competition's big mover, with 10 captains selecting the Demons to make the top eight. Captains are asked to nominate which clubs other than their own will reach the finals.

Melbourne narrowly missed the finals last season, and a berth in September this year would be its first since 2006.

Adelaide, Geelong, the Giants, Richmond and Sydney were all unanimous selections in this category, while Port Adelaide – fresh from a mature-age recruiting spree – was picked by 14 captains to play finals.

One captain named Tom Mitchell as his predicted Brownlow Medal winner. Picture: AFL Photos

Hawthorn was next with five, followed by Essendon and West Coast (four votes each), the Western Bulldogs (two), and Collingwood and St Kilda (one each).

Twelve captains picked Swans spearhead Lance to win a fifth Coleman Medal, with West Coast's Josh Kennedy – who has won two of his own – to provide the most competition.

Kennedy polled three votes while Joe Daniher, Charlie Dixon and Tom Hawkins were nominated by one captain each to top the League's goal-kicking.

There was no love for Carlton or North Melbourne in the finals race, but four captains named Blue Paddy Dow as this year's NAB AFL Rising Star and three voted for Kangaroo Luke Davies-Uniacke.

Top draft pick Cam Rayner and No.2 overall Andrew Brayshaw were picked by two captains each to claim the prize this year.

Aiden Bonar (GWS), Nick Coffield (St Kilda), Darcy Fogarty (Adelaide), Oliver Florent (Sydney), Jack Graham (Richmond), Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs) and Alex Witherden (Brisbane) were selected by one captain each.

The captains will gather in Melbourne on Thursday for a media and photo opportunity at Etihad Stadium, although Port Adelaide will be represented by Ollie Wines, Richmond by Jack Riewoldt and West Coast by Andrew Gaff.

Which seven other clubs apart from your own do you think can make this year's top eight? (18 times seven selections)

17 - Adelaide, Geelong, GWS, Richmond, Sydney
14 - Port Adelaide
10 - Melbourne
5 - Hawthorn
4 - Essendon, West Coast
2 - Western Bulldogs
1 - Collingwood, St Kilda 

Which other club apart from your own is most likely to reach the Grand Final?

7 - GWS
5 - Richmond, Adelaide
1 - Sydney 

Who do you think will win the 2018 Brownlow Medal?

7 - Patrick Dangerfield
3 - Dustin Martin
2 - Nathan Fyfe
1 - Josh Kelly, Josh P. Kennedy, Zac Merrett, Tom Mitchell, Luke Parker, Rory Sloane 

Who do you think will win the 2018 Coleman Medal?

12 - Lance Franklin
3 - Josh Kennedy
1 - Joe Daniher, Charlie Dixon, Tom Hawkins 

Who do you think will win the 2018 NAB AFL Rising Star?

4 - Paddy Dow (Carlton)
3 - Luke Davies-Uniacke (North Melbourne)
2 - Andrew Brayshaw (Fremantle), Cam Rayner (Brisbane Lions)
1 - Aiden Bonar (GWS) Nick Coffield (St Kilda), Darcy Fogarty (Adelaide), Oliver Florent (Sydney), Jack Graham (Richmond), Aaron Naughton (Western Bulldogs), Alex Witherden (Brisbane)