Trending topics

Select your station

We'll remember your choice for next time

Emerging stars and redemption stories: The players who could define your club in 2024


With 2024 on the horizon, we’ve had a look at the players that will define your club’s upcoming season.

While the stars are known commodities, we’ve looked at the players that could help your team build from within, while also naming the player that could lose their spot in the side as a result of that internal improvement.

Breaking it down into categories, we’ve picked one player from your club who will bounce back from a tough 2023, one young gun to watch, one player likely to lose their spot and one fringe player that will become a regular senior player.

Check out all 18 clubs below!

ADELAIDE club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Josh Rachele

Josh Rachele had some struggles bordering on second-year blues in 2023.

He at times appeared frustrated with increased attention and indifferent form, culminating in a two-week suspension for striking.

Rachele was still quite solid in 2023, but now entering his third year in the big time he should be primed to really deliver on his massive potential.

It may seem a little harsh but Rachele is an extraordinary talent who may just get it to all click together in 2024.

Young player to watch: Daniel Curtin

It seems the obvious but No.8 pick Daniel Curtin is expected to have an immediate impact for the Crows.

Much like Max Michalanney did this year, Curtin should get the opportunity to play a fairly important role in defence, especially in the absence of Nick Murray.

To a lesser extent, as he’s been around a while, but plenty of eyes will be on Riley Thilthorpe.

He’s now played 46 games and it’s time for him to break out.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Rory Sloane

Does Matthew Nicks need to start looking beyond the old warrior?

Rory Sloane has had a storied career but he is beginning to slow down. And fast.

He’ll still have a role to play at some stage and should play some senior footy, but if the Crows are to truly push themselves into finals calculations, they’ll need to stop relying on such players.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Josh Worrell

Josh Worrell looked very assured in the second half of last season.

The 22-year-old played 12 games and did a pretty good job in defence. In 2024, he’ll likely get a clear run at it with Murray injured and after Tom Doedee’s defection to Brisbane.

He may have competition from Curtin but Worrell has first dibs on a spot in the back six and should be a regular in Nicks’ side next year.

Andrew Slevison

BRISBANE club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Jack Payne

Jack Payne had his best season at the level in 2023, playing 23 games.

While he showed that he could be a star defender in this league, his season was still a tough one to swallow as he missed the Preliminary and Grand Finals with an ankle injury.

Entering 2024 at age 24, Payne is primed to become one of the game’s best backmen. After missing out on much of September last year, that could be the fuel that fires another career-best campaign.

Young player to watch: Jaspa Fletcher

The father-son pick showed some serious signs of star potential in 2023, playing the last 14 games of the season including the Grand Final.

His breakout performance came in the Qualifying Final against Port Adelaide, kicking three goals.

Drafted as a midfielder, Fletcher could look to make a wing position his own in 2024 and he looks set to go to a new level as a result.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Jarryd Lyons

Jarryd Lyons started as Brisbane’s tactical substitute in the Grand Final and was either subbed on or off in eight of his 10 games in 2023.

Entering 2024 aged 31, Lyons could start to see himself play even more VFL footy than he did in 2023 - despite winning the JJ Liston Trophy at the level - as Brisbane looks to bring some fresh faces through the midfield.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Darcy Gardiner

The solid defender was the man who replaced Payne in the Preliminary Final and Gardiner didn’t let his team down in both September games he played in.

Showing that he’s still at the level, the Lions could use Gardiner as a lockdown option, allowing both Harris Andrews and Payne to peel off even more than they did in 2023.

It could give the side some decent flexibility in defence if Gardiner becomes more of a permanent fixture in the 22.

Lachlan Geleit

CARLTON club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Harry McKay

Harry McKay played 21 games for Carlton in 2023, but it’s tough to suggest he had anything other than a tough year.

He kicked 29.29 for the season after 45.31 and 58.33 in the previous two years.

If the Blues are to be a premiership threat, they need McKay to get through the kicking yips that plagued him this year and return to his best because otherwise there will be too much pressure on Charlie Curnow.

McKay is a former Coleman Medallist and has all the attributes required to be a star of the competition once again. At 26, he is coming into his peak physically.

Young player to watch: Jaxon Binns

Binns didn’t debut in 2023 for the Blues, but won the club’s VFL best and fairest as an 18-year-old.

The hard-running midfielder started the year on the wing, but spent time on-ball as well, averaging 29 disposals per game.

With Paddy Dow and Ed Curnow gone, opportunities will be available in the Carlton midfield and expect Binns to get his chance across the season.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Marc Pittonet

No Carlton player emerged more in the back-half of 2023 than Tom De Koning, which naturally will raise questions as to how much Marc Pittonet we see in 2024.

The query on De Koning is his tank, but a strong pre-season could see him able to play 85 per cent ruck time, with Harry McKay or Jack Silvagni chopping out.

Pittonet is a quality tap ruckman, but doesn’t offer a whole lot around the ground and the Blues might want to play the extra runner in 2024.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Jordan Boyd

Jordan Boyd enters 2024 as a fringe player in the eyes of many, but not Carlton fans who have watched him closely.

He was outstanding in the Preliminary Final loss to Brisbane and no certainty to lose his spot in the side even with Zac Williams returning.

Boyd is maybe the best kick on Carlton’s list and is a great offensive weapon out of the backline, but is also reliable as a one-on-one defender.

Nic Negrepontis

COLLINGWOOD club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Patrick Lipinski

After a strong first season in black and white, Patrick Lipinski regressed in 2023 despite ending the season as a premiership player.

A lot of that must be put down to the fact that he underwent two serious shoulder surgeries in the pre-season, restricting him to just 14 senior games in 2023.

Lipinski has the skills to play AFL footy and the Collingwood coaches seem to love him.

If he gets fit this pre-season and has a good run with injury, there’s no reason why he can’t recapture what he showed in 2022.

Young player to watch: Fin Macrae

It simply must be Fin Macrae time in 2024. The former first-round pick played just one senior game in 2023, taking his overall tally to 12.

Turning 22 at the start of the season, Macrae will have had enough pre-seasons under his belt to make a genuine impact at the AFL level.

He’s dominated VFL footy for two seasons now and is ready to make the step to the next level. The midfielder could even claim Taylor Adams’ spot in the best 22.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Billy Frampton

A bit of a harsh call considering he just became a premiership player, but there doesn’t look to be an obvious spot for Billy Frampton in Collingwood’s best side.

He’s best suited to defence, but Darcy Moore, Nathan Murphy and Jeremy Howe hold those key roles. While up forward and in the ruck he’s a backup option at best.

He’ll still no doubt be a useful player for the Magpies in 2023 due to his versatility, but it would be surprising to see Frampton line up in Opening Round if most of the club’s talls are fit.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Ash Johnson

The stage is set for Ash Johnson. After playing 15 games in 2023, kicking 21 goals, Johnson has a real chance to become a full-time member of the side due to Dan McStay’s injury.

The Magpies will need the athletic tall to play alongside Brody Mihocek and consistently perform.

Johnson without a doubt has the talent to make it, perhaps 2024 is the year he delivers on that promise.

Lachlan Geleit

ESSENDON club banner

Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: Sam Weideman

The key forward moved across to the Bombers from Melbourne last season, with hopes that he could add another consistent goalkicking option alongside Peter Wright.

This pairing failed to fire, however, with a seven-game goalless run causing him to spend most of the season’s second half in the VFL.

Now with a year of understanding Essendon’s system under his belt, Weideman has no excuse but to hit the scoreboard in 2024 or he risks becoming merely a backup option, particularly with Harrison Jones returning from injury.

Young player to watch: Ben Hobbs

It took until round six for the Hobbs to come into the senior side in 2023, but from here he skyrocketed into impressive form, not missing a game for the rest of the year.

The 20-year-old averaged 19 disposals and four tackles a game last season, slotting into an already-impressive midfield group seamlessly.

Coming into his third season in the league, his grit and ability to find the footy should see his averages rise again as he becomes an important member of the Bombers’ side.

Player likely to lose spot in the best 22: Dylan Shiel

2023 was another season to forget for the midfielder, with injury again riddling his year as he managed just 12 games.

Two offseason surgeries to fix these issues gives him what feels like one more chance at proving his worth for the Bombers.

Shiel’s name was reportedly raised in trade discussions this offseason, and with the additions of midfielders Jade Gresham and Xavier Duursma, as well as draftee Nate Caddy’s ability to move into the middle, it seems Shiel may be falling out of favour at the Hangar.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Jye Menzie

Essendon’s midfield looms as a major improver in 2024, with new recruit Jade Gresham and returning tall Harrison Jones bolstering an already-powerful line.

However, don’t be surprised if Menzie holds his spot amongst this group. The 21-year-old played 21 matches last year and is rated highly internally, averaging just over a goal and two tackles a game.

Should he consistently hit the scoreboard and continue to enforce pressure inside 50, the medium forward could be a surprising inclusion in the Bombers’ best team.

Paddy Sinnott

FREMANTLE club banner

Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: Heath Chapman

2023 was a year derailed by injuries for Heath Chapman, with a serious hamstring injury following a calf issue.

He only played the three games for the season – rounds one, two and three – but the Dockers rate the defender highly, locking him in until 2027.

Nathan O’Driscoll is another who could have featured here after a similarly tough year. Freo will be very keen to welcome both back in.

Young player to watch: Hayden Young

Could 2024 be the year Hayden Young emerges as a star midfielder of the competition? He’s started his career across half back and impressed with his ball use and attacking flare, but his move on-ball late in the year showed that is surely his position going forward.

Young, alongside Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw, should form one of the game’s best young midfield trios.

The sky is the limit for the 22-year-old in 2024 and he should move ahead of Jaeger O’Meara in the midfield pecking order.

Player likely to lose spot in the best 22: Matt Taberner

Matt Taberner mostly lost his spot in the best 22 through injury, but 2024 feels like the year Fremantle officially moves to its next generation of key forwards.

Jye Amiss and Luke Jackson are already locks in Freo’s best 22, with Josh Treacy another promising young forward with some size.

It’s hard to imagine the Dockers playing those three and Taberner together in the same side and the 30-year-old will likely be squeezed out of their best side.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Tom Emmett

With Lachie Schultz gone, there is a position available in the Fremantle forward line and Tom Emmett could be the man to fill it.

He kicked four goals across two games to close the 2023 season, a great preview of what the 22-year-old could be capable of going forward.

Emmett was selected with pick 41 in the 2022 National Draft out of Sturt – and kicked 15.18 from 17 games in the WAFL in 2023.

Nic Negrepontis

GEELONG club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Cam Guthrie

A toe injury meant Guthrie didn’t play after Round 6 in 2023 and the Cats suffered for his absence.

Along with the retirement of Joel Selwood, Geelong simply couldn’t cover for two of their top three midfielders missing from the year before.

But Guthrie is only 31 and still has enough footy ahead of him to suggest he can put his best foot forward in 2024.

Guthrie's last full season saw him average 24.5 disposals and 4.3 clearances per game as the Cats bullied their way to a flag.

Young player to watch: Jhye Clark

Clark, 19, has only played a little over a quarter of AFL football. But the 2022 top 10 draft pick certainly put his best foot forward in that patch, gathering six disposals and laying four tackles with his ball-winning abilities standing out.

A stress fracture in his foot ensured he didn’t play again in 2023. But Clark drew Joel Selwood comparisons when he was first drafted to the Cats, a mantle that’s not handed out lightly, and his only AFL performance was enough to set tongues wagging.

He’ll be given an opportunity to prove himself early in the season and don’t be surprised to see him grab it with both hands.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Jed Bews

Bews has been an unheralded player for almost a decade at Geelong, taking the opposition’s best small forward with little to no fuss. But in Chris Scott’s best team, the unfortunate reality is all of Bews, Zach Tuohy and Mark O’Connor are unlikely to fit into the starting side together.

Mitch Duncan will also spend more time behind the ball as the Cats eye more youth in the midfield.

It’s not to say Bews won’t play most games, but the fact that the 30-year-old has fallen slightly down the pecking order may become more noticeable in 2024.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Oisin Mullin

If Geelong believed enough in Mullin to pick him less than 12 months after starting to play the game, you can bet they’ll persist with him in 2024.

The Irish prospect’s debut against Greater Western Sydney was an impressive one that drew plenty of praise and he’ll only improve from the experience.

At 23 years of age with six games to his name, the sky is the limit for Mullin, a player Cats fans should expect to become familiar with on the team sheet more so in 2024.

Seb Mottram

GOLD COAST club banner

Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: Touk Miller

After finishing third in the 2022 Brownlow count with 27 votes, Miller slumped to pick up just 3 in a tough 2023 campaign.

That was mainly due to the co-captain tearing his lateral meniscus in his left knee, restricting him to just 13 games across the campaign.

At his best, Miller is a high-possession winner who does all of the team things and makes the midfield tick. That kind of output alongside the improving Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell could make for a formidable on-ball trio.

If he gets his body back into top shape, Miller can no doubt recapture the form that saw him earn All-Australian blazers in 2021 and 2022.

Young player to watch: Bailey Humphrey

After bursting onto the scene in his first season playing 19 games, Humphrey is ready to go to another level in 2024.

Utilised primarily as an exciting forward in his first campaign, Humphrey could begin to earn some midfield minutes this year.

The former No. 6 draft pick has been compared to Collingwood’s Jordan De Goey. If he’s anything like the Magpie, he could begin turning into a player that kicks goals up forward while bursting out of centre stoppages.

Player likely to lose spot in the best 22: Levi Casboult

While he played 20 games in 2023, it appears unlikely that Levi Casboult will get near that number again in 2024.

With Ben King and Jack Lukosius forward 50 locks, the third tall slot could either be taken by Casboult or No. 3 pick Jed Walter.

Given the load won’t be on the third tall, Walter could be the obvious option, particularly as he appears ready-made for AFL footy.

Casboult will serve as good depth, but his time as a regular in the senior side might be over.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Sam Flanders

Gold Coast midfielder Sam Flanders played 14 games in 2023, but most of those came once Stuart Dew was axed as coach.

From Rounds 1-14, he played just four times, twice as the sub. Following Round 15, Flanders played every game and averaged 28.9 disposals in those appearances.

Given how well he finished the end of the 2023 season, you can lock Flanders in to become a full-time member of the side’s best 22 under Damien Hardwick and play more than 15 games.

Lachlan Geleit

GWS GIANTS club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Nick Haynes

After finishing the year as the sub on multiple occasions, Nick Haynes would need to find his All-Australian form again in 2024 in order to cement his playing future at the club.

The continuous improvement of Connor Idun, Jack Buckley and Sam Taylor will only make life even more difficult for Haynes, who is struggling to find a spot in a side which looks destined for success in the near future.

He must rediscover his best to have a significant contribution under Adam Kingsley.

Young player to watch: Finn Callaghan

The number three draft pick of the 2021 national draft looks set to explode in 2024, after establishing himself as a key cog in this up-and-coming Giants side.

Callaghan has drawn many comparisons to the likes of Marcus Bontempelli in the past, and with his favourable height, skills, speed and strength, expect the young Victorian to potentially take the league by storm and even announce himself as one of the best midfielders in the game by the end of the 2024 season.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Lachlan Keeffe

Although he proved to be a handy utility come finals time for the Giants, it seems like Keeffe’s safety in this side is not nearly as strong as others.

With the further development of Aaron Cadman and the continuous improvement from Jake Riccardi, it seems difficult to find an area where Adam Kingsley can see Keeffe remaining in his best 23 in 2024, after he spent most of his time in the side playing as a tall forward.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Xavier O'Halloran

The pacey winger has continued to develop nicely over the last couple of years and found himself gaining more game time as the 2023 season went on.

Since Round five, O’Halloran only missed seven games for the rest of the season and was used as the sub in the club’s semi final and preliminary final.

Another year of improvement under his belt could springboard the Victorian into a regular spot in 2024.

Zac Sharpe

HAWTHORN club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Changkuoth Jiath

The athletic defender only played eight games in 2023 due to numerous injuries.

He was impressive across the 2021 and 2022 (albeit injury-riddled) seasons and his dash and dare off half-back will be more than useful for Sam Mitchell’s side.

The Hawks are so keen to get him right that they have sent him to Qatar to get to the bottom of his calf and achilles injuries.

There is no doubting his ability. He just needs a clear run at it in 2024.

Young player to watch: Nick Watson

Nick Watson is a livewire forward who has some serious tricks to his game.

He was Pick 5 in this year’s National Draft, showing just how highly the Hawks rate him considering the other talent taken after him.

‘The Wizard’ is likely to play early in the season and will be one of the most exciting young players to watch in 2024.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Finn Maginness

Finn Maginness plays his role as a tagger better than anyone else in the AFL but the Hawks might just be looking to get games into their younger midfielders such as Cam Mackenzie and Henry Hustwaite.

Unless Maginness can add another string to a his bow, he will struggle to cement his spot in the best 22 this season.

There is no denying his tenacity and hard-working nature, but he may want to find another niche in order to make himself more selectable.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Denver Grainger-Barras

It’s now or never for the former pick 6.

Denver Grainger-Barras has failed to live up to the hype after being taken early in the first round of the 2022 draft.

He’s been tried in defence as well as up forward and is yet to find a true home at AFL level.

But after three years in the system and 28 games, the time is now for Grainger-Barras to step up and become much more than a fringe player in brown and gold.

Brad Klibansky

MELBOURNE club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Clayton Oliver

After a tumultuous year off the field, it seems fair to say that Clayton Oliver will be keen to try and build a consistent season in 2024.

The star midfielder missed most of the Demons’ 2023 season due to a hamstring injury and only played in the club’s last five games of the season.

2024 looms as a year that Oliver will be desperate to get stuck into and help his side get back to the promised land.

Young player to watch: Trent Rivers

The young defender enjoyed a career best year in 2023 and with more predicted midfield time in 2024, Trent Rivers looms as a young player that will definitely be one to watch.

In 2023, Rivers recoded his career high in disposals, kicks, tackles, clearances and goal assists which was rewarded with a 10th place finish in Melbourne’s best and fairest count.

The Western Australian is set to only reach newer heights next season and be a key reason for any of the club’s success in 2024.

Emerging forward Jacob Van Rooyen should alsoplay a key role in 2024 and will be worth following.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Kade Chandler

After breaking through into the best 22 at the beginning of the season, Kade Chandler loomed as a lock for a small forward position in this Demon side going into a highly anticipated finals campaign.

With the drop off in form in the latter part of the season and the off-season recruiting of Shane McAdam and Jack Billings, it seems as though Chandler’s spot in the side is going to be harder to keep and could easily be lost if his pre-season is not as strong as what it was prior to the 2023 season.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Adam Tomlinson

Thanks to Harrison Petty’s successful move to the forward line in 2023, expect Tomlinson to gain that third tall position in the backline which will look to continue to improve in 2024.

Due to form and other preferences, Tomlinson was only able to manage nine games in 2023 and loomed as one of the key defenders who could’ve changed clubs at the end of this season due to limited game time.

Now that he is remaining at the Demons in 2024, Tomlinson could be in for more guaranteed game time as he tries to lock away a spot in the Demons’ best 22 next season.

Zac Sharpe


Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: George Wardlaw

George Wardlaw blew punters away when he took the field in his debut season, after being taken with Pick 4 in the 2022 draft.

However, the tough nut only managed eight appearances in 2023 due to various injuries that hindered his continuity.

Should he remain healthy and complete a full pre-season, Wardlaw could become a dangerous addition to the Roos’ midfield.

Youngster Brayden George is also highly rated internally and has endured some nasty injury luck, but could quietly slot into the best 22 when fit again.

Young player to watch: Colby McKercher

The Tasmanian was the No.2 draft pick this season for good reason, already showcasing his class on the training track.

The 18-year-old midfielder was the Coates Talent League's joint Morrish Medallist, averaging 29 disposals and a goal per game.

It is an obvious pick, but it is the right one – North Melbourne fans should have this name circled on their to-watch list, with his speed and attacking nature sure to feature from Round 1.

Player likely to lose spot in the best 22: Liam Shiels

The ex-Hawk managed 16 games last year in his 15th AFL season, with his experience important amongst the young group.

However, Shiels may not be favoured in 2024, with Colby McKercher and a healthy George Wardlaw eyeing off midfield time alongside Luke Davies-Uniacke and co-captain Jy Simpkin.

The 32-year-old will play an important veteran role as the Roos develop, but he may no longer be first picked by Alastair Clarkson.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Tristan Xerri

The ruckman has been highly touted at Arden Street, despite only managing nine games in 2023.

This was partly due to veteran Todd Goldstein owning the number one ruck spot. However, 'Goldy' is now a Bomber, meaning 24-year-old Xerri must step up to take that spot over.

If he can remain fit, which has been a problem in his first four years in the AFL, the ruck position is Xerri’s spot to lose against Callum Coleman-Jones and draftee Taylor Goad.

Paddy Sinnott

PORT ADELAIDE club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Mitch Georgiades

AFL seasons don’t get much tougher than they did for Mitch Georgiades in 2023.

Coming into a contract year and wanting to put his best foot forward, the now 22-year-old ruptured his ACL just two games into the season.

He eventually recommitted to the Power on a four-year deal later in the year and will stay at Alberton until 2027.

Georgiades looks to have all the tricks to make it as a key forward and booted 32 goals in just his second season of AFL football. With a good recovery from his ruptured ACL, he’ll show why he was so highly rated just 24 months ago.

Young player to watch: Jason Horne-Francis

AFL players just don’t do what Horne-Francis did in their second season, especially coming off an interrupted pre-season.

To average 17.6 disposals and just shy of five clearances at 20 years of age is a rare feat. To do it with the explosiveness and game-changing abilities of Horne-Francis shows he is a serious talent to be nurtured.

He finished with 16 Brownlow votes, a figure that would have been larger had superstars Connor Rozee and Zak Butters not been in the same midfield.

With a full pre-season under his belt, it’s impossible to put a cap on what Horne-Francis can achieve in 2024.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Ollie Lord

The 21-year-old key forward shapes as a star of the future, there’s no doubt about that. But can all four of Lord, Charlie Dixon, Todd Marshall and Mitch Georgiades play in the same team?

It’s highly unlikely.

If Georgiades gets back to full fitness, Lord appears the fourth seed of that group and may not be starting until there’s an injury or one of the other trio needs a rest.

But Lord was a competitive beast in 2022 in establishing his credentials and the likes of Dixon, Marshall and Georgiades would have to play very well to keep him out of the side.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Francis Evans

Evans was just getting warm at the end of 2023 and Power fans are likely to see more of him heading into the new year.

Coming from Geelong at the end of 2022, the 22-year-old played 10 games in his debut season for Port Adelaide, including three of the last four home and away games.

He was dropped for the Qualifying Final after kicking three goals the week prior. The small forward proved his best footy commands a spot in Ken Hinkley’s starting side and with another year to learn the ins and outs of the club, he’ll improve again.

Seb Mottram

RICHMOND club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Tom Lynch

Richmond’s fortunes in 2024 will rely on Tom Lynch.

He played just four games last season due to a pesky foot injury which has plagued him since he went down in April.

At his best he is one of the top few key forwards on the competition, he is arguably the best contested mark and his ability to crash packs and create chaos is second to none.

The Tigers simply need Lynch on the park in Adem Yze’s first season at the helm.

Tyler Sonsie will also be intent on bouncing back after playing just three senior games before copping a lengthy suspension for a nasty hit in the VFL.

Emerging defender Josh Gibcus would also love an injury-free 2024 after his 2023 was derailed by a hamstring injury.

Young player to watch: Tom Brown

Tom Brown played the final game of 2023 and looked fairly comfortable at the elite level.

The club is quite keen on the 20-year-old who was taken with Pick 17 in the 2021 draft.

There could be a spot for Brown in the back six with his toughness and composed ball use the key features of his game.

Sam Banks also showed a bit in his six games in 2023 and should play a fair bit of senior footy next year.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Marlion Pickett

The two-time premiership hero played a pivotal out-of-position role as a marking forward to help alleviate the burden on Jack Riewoldt last season.

Before that he had made his home on the wing, performing an admirable role on the opposite side of Kamdyn McIntosh.

Pickett, who turns 32 in January, still has a bit to offer at senior level but it won’t surprise if he’s not a first choice selection in 2024.

Yze may want to look at younger options on the wing, while using Pickett as a fallback plan if Tom Lynch or Jacob Koschitzke are missing.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Thomson Dow

The young midfielder won a one-year deal in September after making an impression under interim coach Andrew McQualter late in the 2023 campaign.

He produced a career-best performance against Port Adelaide in Round 24 when picking up 27 disposals, which might have just been

Yze will be looking for someone to step fill the hole left by Trent Cotchin and Dow appears to be the midfielder who can have an impact in and around the contest.

Dow was potentially staring down the barrel of a premature delisting late in then 2023 season, but earned himself a new deal and now he needs to break through and vindicate why the Tigers used Pick 21 on him in the 2019 draft.

Andrew Slevison

ST KILDA club banner

Player to bounce back from a tough 2023: Max King

Star forward Max King has had a tough run of things injury wise since being drafted to the Saints and 2023 was no different.

The St Kilda spearhead managed just the 11 senior games this year as he recovered from a serious shoulder.

King missed the start of the season after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction from a training incident that saw him miss the first ten games of the year before flaring up again in Round 17 against Melbourne.

He still kicked 30 goals for the year which was a great turnaround and if he gets a clear run at it in 2024, he should take the competition by the scruff of its neck.

Young player to watch: Darcy Wilson

This is an obvious one but their first pick in this year’s draft in Darcy Wilson looks a ready-made AFL player.

The whispers coming out of Moorabbin from St Kilda’s coaches is exciting for members and the lack of midfield depth is definitely an area of concern from Ross Lyon’s side.

His speed and elite ball-use is what saw him be taken at Pick 18 and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him line-up against Geelong in Round 1.

Player likely to lose his spot in the 22: Anthony Caminiti

Young rookie Anthony Caminiti had a great first year in the AFL system, the 20-year-old played 18 senior games with an average a one goal a game.

With Max King and Tim Membrey the preferred options down forward, Caminiti looks the obvious one to be left out St Kilda’s elimination final side that faced GWS at the MCG.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Cooper Sharman

Cooper Sharman looks the perfect third tall option down forward alongside King and Membrey.

Not only is it Sharman’s ability to take a mark and hit the scoreboard that is crucial as that third option, but capacity to shut down the oppositions intercept defender is very handy.

We saw him do a slight number on Hawthorn star James Sicily in round 20 after the captain did as he pleased in their previous round 11.

Sharman and Caminiti will be battling it out for that third forward position but Sharman will definitely get first crack at it.

HUgh Fitzpatrick

SYDNEY club banner

Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: Isaac Heeney

Heeney is entering his 10th season in the AFL and the 27-year-old had one of his least productive years of his career in 2023. The half-forward only managed to kick eight goals in the first 12 games of the season.

A five-goal haul during Sydney’s demolition of West Coast began a return to form for Heeney but he was found missing in front of goal again against Melbourne in Round 24 and the elimination final against Carlton the following week.

In 2023, Heeney averaged less disposals, marks and goals which is not what you expect from one of your leaders the year after a Grand Final appearance. Heeney is a quality player who will return to his best in 2024 but must assume the mantle of one of Sydney’s most senior players.

Young player to watch: Braeden Campbell

Campbell is overshadowed by Errol Gulden and Logan McDonald as part of the Swans’ 2020 Draft class but the 21-year-old showed glimpses in 2023 that he is ready to take the next leap and become an elite player.

Campbell was easily the best player for the Swans during their 54-54 draw with Geelong in Round 16 and was largely the reason they escaped with two points.

Campbell arguably had the best game of his career against Essendon in Round 20 in which he racked up a career high 26 disposals, six intercept possession, six score involvements four tackles, three clearances and 535 metres gained.

Player likely to lose spot in 2023: Lewis Melican

Melican fell out of favour with the Swans in the past few seasons but found his way back into the side due to the unfortunate injury to defender Paddy McCartin.

With the arrival of Joel Hamling from Fremantle as well as the revelation of Aaron Francis as a tall defender, Melican may find himself squeezed out of the team again.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Angus Sheldrick

Sheldrick managed seven games in an impressive 2023 season for the Swans before going down with an ankle syndesmosis injury against Richmond in Round 17. Prior to his injury, Sheldrick played five consecutive games including a breakout performance against Grand Finalist Brisbane in which he kicked the first two goals of his career.

With the off-season injury to Callum Mills and more competition for midfield spots with Taylor Adams and James Jordon entering the fold, Sheldrick has the perfect opportunity to solidify his place in the team and be amongst Sydney’s starters on a consistent basis.

Charles Goodsir

WEST COAST club banner

Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: Jeremy McGovern

It would be reasonable to put the entire Eagles list in this category, but McGovern stands out as particularly desperate for a bounceback season.

When healthy, he is clearly one of the competition’s elite defenders, however a slew of injuries in 2023 saw him play just nine games.

If West Coast is going to make any progress in 2024, they need a healthy Jeremy McGovern.

Young player to watch: Harley Reid

It won’t just be Eagles fans with their eyes on Harley Reid, it will be the entire country.

He’s the hottest prospect to enter the competition in recent memory, and if he performs the way many expect, Reid will be impacting contests from the jump.

Player likely to lose spot in the best 22: Who knows?

With the Eagles based in so much uncertainty, it can be difficult to establish what a best 22 actually looks like for the club.

Everyone that is playing regular minutes for West Coast should be playing, and at this stage it's impossible to tell who could fall out of favour this season.

Could Matt Flynn overtake Bailey Williams as the club's starting ruckman?

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: Jack Williams

A young forward who has the size and versatility to pinch hit in the ruck, Williams carved out a role for himself in the back end of last season, playing 10 straight games.

While still very raw, Williams has shown he is capable of supporting the existing forward duo or Oscar Allen and Jack Darling, and could see plenty of appearances as a result.

Jack Makeham


Player that needs to bounce back from a tough 2023: Aaron Naughton

At first glance, Aaron Naughton’s 44-goal 2023 doesn’t jump off the page as a rough season.

Yet considering he eclipsed that goal mark in the previous two seasons and the monster contract extension he signed, the forward needs to take his game up a notch.

It’s time for Naughton to play like the star that the Bulldogs clearly see him as.

Young player to watch: Caleb Poulter

After being picked up in the 2023 Mid-Season Draft, Poulter immediately found himself thrust into the Bulldogs best side, appearing in the final nine games of the season.

With Bailey Smith ruled out for the year, there will be plenty of opportunity for the 21-year-old Poulter to break out in a big way.

Draftee Ryley Sanders is expected to break into the team early in the season and looks a quality player for the future.

Player likely to lose spot in the best 22: Oskar Baker

Oskar Baker started strong last season but quickly found himself on the fringe, being dropped mid-year en route to 18 total appearances.

With new faces joining the already ultra-competitive battle for roles at the Bulldogs, it won’t be surprising if Baker finds himself on the outside looking in.

Fringe player who will play 15+ games: James O’Donnell

O’Donnell was perhaps the most unexpected player to tally double-digit games in 2023, switching codes from cricket to football ahead of the season and going on to make his senior debut after just three appearances in the VFL.

While he had his fair share of struggles through his 12 games last season, Luke Beveridge clearly sees something in the young defender and we should expect to see plenty more of him in 2024.

Jack Makeham

More in AFL