Australia: Predictions – Western Crusaders favorites as Gridiron Victoria kicks off 2022 season

Gridiron Victoria kicks off the 2022 season this Saturday, January 15 and this will mark the first time that football has been played in this Australian state since December 2019.

Much has changed since then, thanks in large part to the pandemic. The biggest difference will be the number of teams. A total of 13 teams competed in 2019 but that has been reduced to six for the 2022 edition.

What no doubt will not have changed is the superiority of the 2019 title holders, the Western Crusaders. The Crusaders are the three-time defending champions, having defeated the Warriors in the title game back in 2019 and 2018 and the Melbourne University Royals the year before that. The Crusaders are currently undefeated in their last three seasons and look to equal history with four in a row. Their record is one of the reasons why their head coach, Craig Wilson, was named coach of the Australian National team.

Here then, are my predictions for the 2022 season:

Western Crusaders – Matthew Krul will be steering the ship as QB for the 3-time defending champion. Having not lost a game in 3 seasons, they may just lose at least one this year. Krul is better known for his scrambling ability, not so much his accuracy with his arm. Time will tell if his elbow can last out the season. The Crusader RB’s will be the difference as will the stellar Defense they have put together. DE Jnala Saluni will probably be back out of retirement AGAIN, wreaking havoc on opposing QB’s. The loss of WR Prince Coleman to the Preds is big and they will need to cover him.

South Eastern Predators – Coming agonizingly close in the semi-finals in 2019, the Predators look to improve and make it to their first ever Vic Bowl appearance. The Crusaders are the one club in their way and I am sure head coach Mel Martin would love to knock them off as would WR requisition from the Cru, Prince Coleman. Only question is, can they improve from where they left off 2 years ago?

Melbourne University Royals – With information of the majority of the under 19 championship team sticking around, I see the Royals as a roughie for the title. Young man mountain QB Declan Ramage will be competing for the starting job. With head coach Noah Simms taking the reins, they should be well off. Let’s see if the success of the under 19’s continues into the senior men’s side. They took a massive slide in the last half of 2019.

Warriors Gridiron Club – You can never count the Warriors out. Unfortunately, with an aging team that sees GV and Warriors Legend Dom Dearman hanging up the boots after 25+ years, they won’t be returning for another VIC Bowl. RB Luke Jackson returns for another year but questions remain at QB. They will be sporting new uniforms which look really good. Could this be the start of a slide?

Croydon Rangers – With the retirement of QB Jamie Stafford, the Rangers are hopeful that the influx of new players has an immediate impact. Look for WR James Fountain to have a big year if Stafford’s replacement at QB is just as reliable as he was. Mark Doyle will be leading the Defense once again. Looking forward to seeing their new pavilion in person (Round 4). They could have a star in the making at Tight End.

Geelong Buccaneers – Unfortunately for the Bucs, it could be relegation for them (providing it’s a ONE team club moving up and relegation is actually a thing this season). Rumor has it a few ex-players are returning for another run. If that is the case, I see them winning a few more games than predicted



Scott Ditcham is from Melbourne, Australia and played 4 seasons at Gridiron Victoria (Valley Pirates, Templestowe Thunder and Melton Wolves) He is the head of Onside Kick Productions and a writer for Gridiron Downunder.