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bombers v swans

Welcome to AFANA’s new column where we look around the league to check in on which players are dominating and who is struggling as the new season starts to take shape. With all teams heading to sunny South Australia for the AFL’s second iteration of “gather round”, these are the names you want to keep an eye on as they are currently the difference makers for your favorite teams.


ISAAC HEENEY (Sydney Swans): They say adversity brings opportunity and you have to look no further than this man to see this adage confirmed. Early season injuries to midfielders Luke Parker and Callum Mills has been the catalyst for coach John Longmire sending regular forward Heeney into the middle, bringing amazing results for the Swans in the early going. In 2023 Heeeney averaged 15.5 disposals and 1.3 goals per game. His move to the midfield has seen him in dominant form, averaging a whopping 28.5 disposals while actually increasing his scoring output to 1.5 goals per game.

CALEB SERONG (Fremantle Dockers):
The Dockers have started their 2024 campaign with three wins on the trot thanks in part to a scintillating start from midfielder Caleb Serong. Coming off a solid campaign in 2023, Serong has raised the bar even higher in the early going racking up a league-high 36.3 disposals per game while also being among the league leaders in clearances won. Serong’s class around the contest is setting the table for what could be the Dockers best season since they made the Grand Final in 2013.

TOM GREEN (Greater Western Sydney Giants):
Green has been nothing sort of sensational for the Giants so far with the contested beast averaging 16 contested possessions per game while pacing the aforementioned Caleb Serong for disposals with a whopping 33.67 per match. With a solid supporting cast laced with stars such as Toby Greene and Josh Kelly, the Giants are poised for big things this season.

MATT ROWELL (Gold Coast Suns):
Speaking of contested beasts, Rowell has put some tough injuries behind him to lead the league to date with 20.3 contested ball wins a game, an equal third 7.7 tackles per game and a league leading 11.7 clearances per game. He is simply the best in the game right now at extracting the ball from a ruck contest, a trait that will no doubt be putting a huge grin on the face of new coach Damien Hardwick as he strives to put the Suns into the finals for the first time in history.


TAYLOR WALKER (Adelaide Crows):
“Tex” Walker enjoyed a sensational season in 2023 averaging 3.5 goals per game and turning back the clock to career best form. Whilst it is early days and you can give the great man some leeway given the poor form of his team, his disposal count is the lowest it has been since his injury riddled season of 2020 while he has produced just two goals in his first two contests of the year. Expect Walker to bounce back as the Crows hit better form, but for now, the jury on his future is well and truly out.

JAEGER O’MEARA (Fremantle Dockers):
Once a premier midfielder, O’Meara is a victim of a young talented team that is looking to the future. O’Meara has gone from one of the first picked to being names substitute in two of Fremantle’s three games to date. Starting the season just ticking over age 30, it’s not like he is super-old in footy terms, it is just that a combination of a battered body and a youth movement in Fremantle has left this talented footballer in no-man’s land moving forward.

JACK MACRAE (Western Bulldogs):
Seemingly on the outer with coach Luke Beveridge after suffering a hamstring injury in the pre-season, Macrae was banished to the VFL for two weeks (where he racked up a humungous 46 possessions against the Giants) before being recalled for last weekend’s match against the struggling West Coast Eagles. With young star Riley Sanders eating into the midfield mix, Macrae managed just 20 disposals, well under his career average of 28.5. While the talent is still there, it remains to be seen whether Macrae will once again reach the lofty heights of years gone by.

Article last changed on Sunday, April 07, 2024 - 7:55 AM EDT

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