Which players need to be the difference makers? by StuffsEarth

Estimated read time 25 min read

There will be 12 teams featuring in Round 15, with Adelaide, Collingwood, Hawthorn, Richmond, St Kilda and Western Bulldogs all having a bye.

The Round will start with the De Koning brothers facing off against each other, when Carlton takes on Geelong.

Tagging and negating roles are back in vogue.

We’re taking a look at one player from each of the 12 teams in action who needs to make a difference.

Carlton v Geelong


Tom De Koning should take plenty of confidence into Round 15; the Carlton ruckman/forward was probably the best player on the ground when the Blues last played a game in Round 13 against Essendon, given he polled ten Coaches’ votes. Geelongs’ ruck stocks are probably their Achilles heel; it will be interesting to see whether Michael Voss chooses to go with the older De Koning brother as the first ruckman or Marc Pittonet, if the latter is fit and available for selection.

Tom De Koning and Matthew Kennedy celebrate. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)


Sam De Koning is an integral part of the Geelong defence, which can be vindicated by them conceding 164 points in Round 10 against Gold Coast – the only game that he has missed this season. The key defender will face a tough battle when Geelong take on Carlton. The 23-year-old may be up against Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay and will need to perform well in order to free up Tom Stewart so that Stewart can do what he does best: intercept anything and everything. It will be intriguing who the younger De Koning brother’s opponent will be, because the key defender could be up against his older brother at times.

Port Adelaide v Brisbane

Port Adelaide

Zak Butters needs to prove that his display against GWS in Round 14 was an aberration when Port Adelaide play in what could be a season-defining game against Brisbane. There’s no disputing that Butters is an elite player, but the Port Adelaide vice-captain must bounce back from a disappointing performance last round; Butters was restricted to just 17 disposals by Toby Bedford. Time will tell whether Butters can work through a tag against Brisbane, as the Port Adelaide midfielder will probably be up against Jarrod Berry and Josh Dunkley at times.


Eric Hipwood has been back in form in the last couple of weeks; in Round 13 the Brisbane key forward kicked six goals and had nine score involvements against the Western Bulldogs, while in Round 14 against St Kilda, Hipwood kicked two goals and had seven score involvements. Brisbane have won three of the four games in which the 26-year-old has kicked multiple goals; on the other side of the coin, they have only won one out of four games where he has been held goalless.

GWS v Sydney


Toby Bedford tagged Zak Butters in Round 14 against Port Adelaide; that has added another string to his bow. The 24-year-old normally plays up forward but displayed that he’s a versatile player and warrants a permanent place in the GWS best 22. The question is; will Adam Kingsley continue to use Bedford in that tagging role against the best team in the competition and if so, will he go to Isaac Heeney or Chad Warner.


Joel Amartey has kicked at least one goal in every game apart from Opening Round against Melbourne. The Sydney key forward has kicked multiple goals in the last five games that Sydney has been involved in. In Round 14 against Adelaide he kicked nine goals, which should give him plenty of belief; Amartey will face a stern challenge against Sam Taylor when Sydney take on GWS. The 24-year-old will need to bring the ball to ground so that Tom Papley and Will Hayward can go to work.

Joel Amartey celebrates his ninth goal.
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Joel Amartey. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Melbourne v North Melbourne


Kysaiah Pickett is a live wire with plenty of ability; Pickett has averaged the equal third most score involvements per game of any Melbourne player with 5.64. There may be an opportunity for the 23-year-old to get midfield time; Christian Petracca will be unavailable to play for the rest of the season, which may mean Pickett’s magnet can be moved around.

North Melbourne

Cameron Zurhaar must replicate the effort he displayed in Round 14 against Collingwood when North take on the Dees in Round 15. Zurhaar has to be more consistent; the 26-year-old showed what he is capable of in Round 14 against Collingwood, kicking three goals. The North Melbourne forward has kicked the third most goals of any North Melbourne player, with 17 in 12 games.

Essendon v West Coast


Jade Gresham has had a reasonable season, but the Essendon small forward needs to hit the scoreboard more, as he has only kicked 11 goals in 13 games. Along with that, the former St Kilda player has averaged 5.46 score involvements per game. There’s no disputing that Gresham has the talent and will prove a tough match-up for West Coast and will probably be matched up against Brady Hough.

West Coast

Matt Flynn has been a welcome addition to the West Coast team and has formed a good ruck combination with Bailey J. Williams in the past two games, but Oscar Allen could be back for West Coast against Essendon, which may mean that Williams could be dropped and Flynn may have to shoulder even more of the ruck work. Even though the former GWS ruckman has shared the ruck duties, he has averaged 30 hit-outs per game. The 26-year-old will probably be up against Todd Goldstein and/or perhaps Sam Draper, when West Coast takes on Essendon, but Flynn should be up for the challenge.

Fremantle v Gold Coast


Hayden Young is a player who has potential and has taken to the change of position from half-back flanker to midfielder like a duck to water; remarkably, Young has had at least 21 disposals per game this season and only had fewer than four tackles in Round 9 against Sydney. It will be interesting to see how the 23-year-old plays against Touk Miller, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson when Fremantle takes on Gold Coast.

Gold Coast

Touk Miller has had a reasonable season, having averaged 6.38 score involvements per game. Unfortunately for him, he was tagged and soundly beaten by Marcus Windhager in Round 13 when Gold Coast played against St Kilda; the Gold Coast captain was restricted to just 14 disposals in a game they lost by three points. The onus is on the 28-year-old to respond when they take on Fremantle. Given Fremantles’ lack of a tag on Marcus Bontempelli in Round 14 when they took on the Western Bulldogs, Miller should have nothing to worry about.

Carlton Blues


Geelong Cats

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AFL : Head To Head

Fri, 21 Jun 2024, 19:40

Port Adelaide Power


Brisbane Lions

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AFL : Head To Head

Sat, 22 Jun 2024, 13:45

Greater Western Sydney Giants


Sydney Swans

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AFL : Head To Head

Sat, 22 Jun 2024, 16:35

Melbourne Demons


North Melbourne Kangaroos

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AFL : Head To Head

Sat, 22 Jun 2024, 19:30

Essendon Bombers


West Coast Eagles

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AFL : Head To Head

Sun, 23 Jun 2024, 13:00

Fremantle Dockers


Gold Coast Suns

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AFL : Head To Head

Sun, 23 Jun 2024, 16:00

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