The crucial cogs of AFL’s Round 10: Which players need to be the difference makers?


Let’s hope there are plenty of close games and that the three teams lowest on the ladder are more competitive than they were last weekend.

There’s plenty to look forward to in Round 10; who will win when Sydney takes on Carlton, an intriguing game will be GWS against Western Bulldogs and Ross Lyon coaching against his old team with plenty at stake.

We’re taking a look at one player from each team that needs to make a difference for their team.

Gold Coast v Geelong

Gold Coast

Sam Clohesy has been a revelation since being brought into the team, remarkably Clohesy was the fourth pick in the 2024 rookie draft.

The winger has kicked a goal in four of his six games and multiple goals twice.

Clohesy is a player who’s gone under the radar, but if he plays the way he did in Round 9 against North Melbourne, people will start to take notice.

Against Geelong, he’ll face a test to prove his performance but last Saturday night was a sign of things to come.


Oliver Henry still maintains a record of kicking at least one goal per game in the opening nine rounds of the season.

Henry will be an extremely important part of the Geelong structure against Gold Coast, given Geelong will be without Jeremy Cameron due to concussion and Tom Hawkins, who is being managed.

Sydney v Carlton


James Rowbottom possesses the impressive stat of having made the most tackles of any player in the competition with 77 in the opening nine games of the season.

It will be intriguing to see if John Longmire chooses to tag Sam Walsh with James Rowbottom against Carlton.

Internally, Rowbottom is rated highly, as he is a player that goes under the radar.


Charlie Curnow would be pleased that he has taken his game to another level this season.

The Carlton key forward has kicked the most goals of any player in the competition after Round 9 with 27, but what’s most notable is that he has added another layer to his game.

Curnow showed it against Melbourne in Round 9 when he went behind the ball and took a couple of key intercept marks.

He will need to be at his best if Carlton are to beat Sydney.

If Charlie Curnow kicks a goal this week against Sydney, he will make Carlton Football Club history as the outright leader for most consecutive games with a goal (57).

He is tied with Australian football & club Hall of Famer Harry Vallence, on 56 consecutive games.

— Carlton News & Stats (@UptheBaggers) May 13, 2024

Collingwood v Adelaide


Jack Crisp must continue playing the way he did when Collingwood obliterated West Coast in Round 9; the experienced campaigner had eight score involvements and three intercept possessions, playing in the midfield.

The 30-year-old is a pivotal part of the team, but he needs to back up his best game of the season with a solid performance against an Adelaide team that is in decent nick.


Darcy Fogarty will need to prove that his Round 9 display against Brisbane wasn’t an aberration when Adelaide takes on Collingwood. Fogarty was back to his best, as he finished the game with four goals.

The Adelaide forward has gone goalless on three occasions so far this season, which simply isn’t good enough for a player of his calibre.

The 24-year-old forward could prove a difficult match-up for Collingwood because he should gain plenty of confidence from kicking four goals against Brisbane in Round 9.

GWS v Western Bulldogs


Lachie Whitfield has proven to be a bit of a barometer for GWS: the half-back flanker provides plenty of run – and in the last two weeks teams have gone to school on Whitfield.

This has resulted in him being tagged and amassing an aggregate of just 37 disposals in the last two games.

He’s had to deal with a tag two weeks in a row, but Lachie Whitfield will be prepared should it happen again.

— AFL (@AFL) May 14, 2024

It’s no coincidence that Sydney curtailed his influence with James Jordon in Round 8 and Essendon negated Whitfield through the use of Matt Guelfi as a tagger and on top of that Guelfi kicked three goals.

There’s no disputing that Adam Kingsley needs Whitfield to get back to his best if GWS are to beat the Western Bulldogs.

Western Bulldogs

Ed Richards was immense for the Western Bulldogs in the midfield against Richmond in Round 9: the 24-year-old took to the new role like a duck to water, finishing the game with 34 disposals, 13 score involvements, five intercept possessions and ten tackles.

What it does prove is that necessity is the mother of invention, because with Tom Liberatore unavailable due to concussion, it forced Luke Beveridge to move Richards’ magnet around, in what proved a masterstroke.

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St Kilda v Fremantle

St Kilda

Jack Sinclair must bounce back from a subpar display against Hawthorn in Round 9, given he finished the game with just 18 disposals.

The half-back flanker has averaged 25 disposals, to go with 5.38 score involvements and 4.88 intercepts per game so far this season.

St Kilda needs Sinclair fit and firing against Fremantle.

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Caleb Serong continues to deliver week after week and should be up there in the Brownlow Medal count after Round 9.

The Fremantle midfielder just keeps on fronting up and will need to be at his best if they are to win against St Kilda, given he has averaged 6.67 score involvements per game so far this season.

Brisbane v Richmond


Eric Hipwood has averaged just 1.11 goals per game as it stands. Having gone goalless in three games is unacceptable.

There’s no disputing that when he’s at his best Hipwood can be a tough player to stop, but unfortunately, that form has deserted him, therefore he should be up for the game in Round 10, as it’s a chance to get back into the groove against an injury-riddled Richmond team.

Gives his all week in, week out.

Nick Vlastuin is your Round 9 @latitude_fs Player of the Match.

— Richmond FC ???? (@Richmond_FC) May 13, 2024


Nick Vlastuin is an experienced player who must be at his best if Richmond are to be competitive against Brisbane, given they have a long injury list.

Vlastuin has averaged the equal sixth most intercepts of any player in the competition per game with 8.89.

The 30-year-old needs to lead from the front against Brisbane and prove that Richmond’s display against the Western Bulldogs in Round 9 was unacceptable and an aberration rather than a trend.

Essendon v North Melbourne


Ben McKay is a player who showed his wares when Essendon had an upset win against GWS in Round 9 and will face the difficult task of curtailing the influence of Nick Larkey, who’s one of the best key forwards in the game.

Larkey was selected in the 2023 AFL All-Australian team and has kicked at least one goal per game this season.

Matthew Lloyd pinpoints major change Ben McKay has brought to Essendon Bombers #afl

— Hans Mücke (@reallyrealhans) April 1, 2024

North Melbourne

Charlie Comben is a player who has cemented his place in the North Melbourne best 22, as he has been a mainstay in the North Melbourne team since Round 4.

Having averaged the most intercepts per game of any of their players this season, with seven, indicates that the 22-year-old is doing all he can to make them competitive.

The key defender will face a stern test against Essendon, in a forward line comprising Peter Wright, Jake Stringer and Kyle Langford.

Port Adelaide v Hawthorn

Port Adelaide

Zak Butters proved what a good leader he is in Round 9 when Port Adelaide had an upset win against Geelong with the Port Adelaide vice-captain polling nine Coaches’ votes.

It’s not going to be easy for him in a danger game against Hawthorn with a midfield comprising of Jai Newcombe and James Worpel.


Dylan Moore captained the team in the absence of James Sicily due to injury in a game where Hawthorn won narrowly against St Kilda in Round 9; the Hawthorn leader kicked two goals from his 14 disposals.

Moore is a player who’s extremely valuable from a leadership perspective and Hawthorn will need the 24-year-old firing against Port Adelaide.

Bayley Fritsch celebrates a goal. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

West Coast v Melbourne

West Coast

Alex Witherden stood up, even though West Coast were soundly beaten in Round 9 against Collingwood; the former Brisbane defender finished the game with six score involvements and 12 intercept possessions.

West Coast will need him at his best against Melbourne if they are to be competitive.


Bayley Fritsch should become an even more important player from a structural perspective than he has been, given key forward Jacob van Rooyen will be unavailable due to concussion when Melbourne takes on West Coast.

It will be interesting to see who West Coast choose to match up against him.

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