WILL WODONGA RAIDERS PLAY FINALS?
History says no.
Whenever a club loses so many stars, it's almost impossible to stay in the top five.
You look at the list. Jydon Neagle was the third best player in the league behind Michael Newton and team-mate Brodie Filo, Matt Neagle had improved rapidly to the extent where AFL clubs spoke with him, Jackson Kelly was the league's most improved player in the last 10 weeks and Tom McCaffrey was a pivotal reason Raiders made it to the preliminary final.
Admittedly, when you finish in the top three, you have some breathing space, but you back history every time.
IS BRODIE FILO A FUTURE HALL OF FAMER?
The only criteria is the impact you had on the competition.
He's won a Morris Medal and probably would have another but had his jaw broken with a month left in 2017. That's a fair impact.
After two years, it's probably too early to have him in there (once he retires of course), but if he has another blinding year, then pencil him in because he's the reason you go to watch football.
A few of those remarkable goals last year will never be forgotten.
WHO'S THE BIGGEST LOSS?
It's a quality field (see above) but Jydon Neagle is at Winx odds.
He was their leading goalkicker, so the club's most lethal target. When they needed a lift in the midfield, he would rack up possessions there and when the game got tight, or a forward was cutting them apart, Neagle was the troubleshooter.
It would be great to see him do well in the SANFL, but he'll be missed.
Q&A WITH BRODIE A'VARD
Q: You've played mostly Goulburn Valley and Murray leagues over the past decade, why now join the O&M?
A: I've only got say five years of my best footy left, I want to do it at the highest level and you can always drop away from there.
Q: It's often said ruckmen are at their best later in their careers, is your best footy ahead?
A: My best footy's been played in the last few years, so hopefully I can keep that on track.
Q: You romped in the Murray League best and fairest last year, what do you see as the main differences with the O&M?
A: I'm assuming it will be on par with the GV, so it will definitely be the pace. At Barooga, I generally rucked the whole game, if I had a break it would be five minutes in the last quarter maybe, so I think rotations are going to be needed a lot more. It will probably be the quality of players I'm playing against.
Q: What's your link with coach Jarrod Hodgkin?
A: I played with him at the Murray Bushrangers. He's professional in the way he goes about things, he's been at a higher level as well. he's obviously learnt a lot from that experience.
Brodie A'vard (Barooga), Luke Hodgkin (Taylor Lakes), Johann Jarratt (Yackandandah), Jonathan Male (Henty).
Jydon, Matt and Jaxon Neagle (Central District), Mark Doolan (retired), Tom McCaffrey (Casey-Wangaratta Rovers), Raven Jolliffe, Nick Murray (Wangaratta Rovers), Jackson Kelly (Wagga Tigers), Ben Mason (Chiltern).
Will Donaghey, Floyd Bollinghaus (Coburg)
B: Alex Daly, Jordan Rouse, Shane Munro
HB: Daniel Bowles, Zac Rouse, Will Donaghey
C: Dillon Blaszczyk, Jarrod Hodgkin, Brad St John
HF: Jake Bradshaw, Lachlan Flagg, Ethan Boxall
F: Dylan Clarke, Connor Newnham, Floyd Bollinghaus
Foll: Brodie A'Vard, Brodie Filo, Jack Haugen
Int: Luke Hodgkin, Hayden Clarke, Jarrod Ardern
R1: Wangaratta (a)
R2: Yarrawonga (h)
R3: Lavington (a)
R4: Wodonga (h)
R5: Myrtleford (h)
R6: Wangaratta Rovers (a)
R7: North Albury (h)
R8: Albury (a)
R9: Corowa-Rutherglen (a)
R10: Yarrawonga (a)
R11: Wangaratta (h)
R12: Lavington (h)
R13: Wodonga (a)
R14: Wangaratta Rovers (h)
R15: Myrtleford (a)
R16: Corowa-Rutherglen (h)
R17: Albury (h)
R18: North Albury (a)
2018 BEST & FAIREST
1st: Jydon Neagle
2nd: Brodie Filo
3rd: Jackson Kelly
2018 MOST GOALS
1st: Jydon Neagle 48
2nd: Connor Newnham 33
3rd: Lachie Flagg 32
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