The worst news this week was the Gaff fall. Shaun Burgoyne’s announcement to return next year was the best.
Already 14th on the all-time top 100 AFL game players, and with somewhere between three and five games left this year (Hawthorn will not advance any further than Round 2 of the finals) reasonable form and fitness in 2019 will see him climb into the top 10 and maybe even overtake Adam Goodes as the number one indigenous player.
This week’s game – his 354th – does not change his position on the AFL top 100 game players list, but at Hawthorn, he will match the games played by John Hendrie.
The number two current player on the all-time list may also play on next year, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Friday night’s game will be his 332nd and he will join Leigh Matthews (Hawthorn), Drew Petrie (North Melbourne and West Coast Eagles), Corey Enright (Geelong) and Justin Madden (Essendon and Carlton) at number 23 on the all-time AFL list.
All other AFL top 100 current day players will take the field this week, and all except Jarrad McVeigh will improve their position.
Essendon’s opponent on Friday night will be St Kilda who will be keen to win to celebrate Sebastian Ross’s 100th game and the first AFL game of Ben Paton, but Essendon will be looking for a big percentage boosting win to keep their faint finals hopes alive.
Hawthorn will also have a debutante run out with the great Shaun Burgoyne while Sam Menegola will play his 50th game and Gary Ablett will equal the games tally of Geelong’s great full forward Doug Wade.
This clash at the MCG is vital for both teams and will help shape the final eight.
The Gold Coast Suns/Richmond game is almost a ho-hum game as a win, loss, or draw as the Tigers will still finish on top of the ladder with the Suns nowhere.
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However, the two Tiger superstars will both move up the games played ladder with Riewoldt equalling former captain Roger Dean and Dustin Martin joining Matthew Rogers on 197 games, and looking to reach the 200 game mark this year.
On Saturday, another vital game will be when Port Adelaide versus the West Coast Eagles.
The Eagles will hope that Elliott Yeo’s 100th game for them will be the additional inspiration needed to get them over the line.
A real danger game for Collingwood is the Saturday night clash with Brisbane at Etihad Stadium as a loss to the vastly improved Lions would see them take no meaningful part in the finals.
Steele Sidebottom will pass Carlton’s Harry ‘Soapy’ Vallance’s number of games in the number 22 jumper and join the Bulldog’s Wally Donald in fifth place.
On Collingwood’s list, he will equal Damien Monkhurst and Albert Collier.
Greater Western Sydney should snuff out Adelaide’s slim chance of still making the finals in Canberra, and the penultimate game of the round (Melbourne versus Sydney) will also have a big impact on who plays on in September.