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The Roar


AFL round 22's crucial cogs: The players who need to make a difference for their team this week

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Roar Guru
8th August, 2023

Round 22 and the home and away season is reaching its climax with plenty to play for, from final spots to simply building belief. Find out which player from each team must have an impact.

Collingwood v Geelong


Jack Crisp was one of the few Collingwood players that performed to an acceptable level in Round 21 against Hawthorn; he finished with 27 disposals and the most metres gained of anyone on the field with 547. He needs to step up in the absence of Nick Daicos and he is capable of doing so; Craig McRae has the opportunity to experiment given Collingwood are ensured a top four finish, therefore it will be interesting to see what role Crisp is deployed in.


Oliver Henry could come back to haunt Collingwood; it’s incomprehensible that someone as talented as Henry effectively only played 13 of a possible 25 games in season 2022 for the Pies. Since joining the reigning premiers, he has missed just one game in season 2023 through injury, which was a game they lost to Fremantle. Having only been held goalless in one game is quite remarkable. Expect Henry to be a key part of the Geelong team as he won’t find it hard to be motivated in Round 22.

North Melbourne v Essendon

North Melbourne


Luke Davies-Uniacke has been a revelation in season 2023, despite missing games through injury; his effort can never be questioned and knows how to find the ball. Davies-Uniacke will play a key role for North Melbourne as he could go head-to-head with Essendon captain Zach Merrett, who’s in sublime form when the two teams meet in Round 22.


Nic Martin has been spoken about as an All-Australian on the wing, but would be disappointed with his last couple of weeks as he has only had 16 disposals in both Round 20 against Sydney and Round 21 against West Coast. Essendon need Martin to impact on the game when they take on North Melbourne, with what looms to be an intriguing match up with Bailey Scott.

Touk Miller.

Touk Miller. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Sydney v Gold Coast



Hayden McLean looms as an ace Sydney coach John Longmire has up his sleeve as he can play forward and hit the scoreboard, along with pinch hitting in the ruck; he kicked four goals and had 11 hit-outs against GWS in Round 21. If McLean can limit the impact of Sam Collins at times and Charlie Ballard and bring the ball to ground, then the Sydney crumbing forwards should have a field day.

Gold Coast

Touk Miller will need to take the pressure off Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell and win the clearances for Gold Coast to stand a chance of winning against Sydney in Round 22. Miller needs to help Gold Coast get back on track and prove his worth to the team as he was sorely missed against Adelaide in Round 21. With the addition of Sam Flanders, it may mean that Touk Miller could play on the wing or on the half-forward flank at times.

Brisbane v Adelaide


Eric Hipwood makes Brisbane a better team; he is so important to them, which was evident in Round 21 against Fremantle; he kicked his only goal late in the game which was pivotal as it gave Brisbane an eight-point lead late in the game. Despite only kicking one goal, Hipwood took ten marks and had seven score involvements. He will have the perfect opportunity to hit the scoreboard when he takes on a youthful Adelaide defence.



Darcy Fogarty is an unsung hero for Adelaide; he is a player that’s getting to show his true worth to the team as he works hard and is starting to reap the rewards, as was on show when Adelaide took on Gold Coast. Fogarty finished the game with 19 disposals to go with three goals, ten marks and seven score involvements. In Round 22 it’s essential that he takes his opportunities as Taylor Walker will probably get the match up with Harris Andrews of Brisbane, which may mean Fogarty has plenty of opportunities to impact the contest.

Carlton v Melbourne


Blake Acres is an underrated player that has the capability to play a key role for Carlton; he is proving to be one of the bargain recruits of the season. Through injuries comes opportunities and Acres clearly stepped up to the plate when called upon in Carlton’s comeback win over St Kilda. Acres kicked two goals to go with 27 disposals and a handball in a pivotal moment in the fourth quarter, which brought about the only goal of the game for Charlie Curnow. Round 22 looms as a fascinating battle on the wing as Blake Acres will be up against Ed Langdon and Lachie Hunter from Melbourne at times.


Kysaiah Pickett kicked three goals in the first half against North Melbourne in Round 21; he is a player that doesn’t need to have much ball to impact the game. Pickett set up a goal for Christian Petracca midway through the third quarter to give Melbourne a ten-point lead. It’s integral for Melbourne that Pickett displays his x-factor against Carlton in Round 22; when he produces his magic, it can be a morale lifter for the team, but he may be matched up on Nic Newman who’s an quality defender and uses the ball well, which will be a challenge for Pickett.

Kysaiah Pickett of the Demons is tackled by Matthew Kennedy of the Blues.

Kysaiah Picket. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)


West Coast v Fremantle

West Coast

Liam Duggan was rewarded for his impressive display in Round 21 against Essendon with two coaches’ votes; he had the most metres gained of any player on the ground with 698. Duggan must display how well he reads the play and have an influence on the contest against Fremantle if West Coast are going to be a chance of winning the ‘Western Derby’.


Caleb Serong is a dependable player who doesn’t take his talent for granted; in Round 21 against Brisbane he showed why he could be leading Fremantle’s best and fairest – he had 35 disposals to go with nine clearances, six score involvements and seven tackles. Serong nearly dragged Fremantle over the line and will need to replicate his performance in the ‘Western Derby’ against a West Coast team that have been competitive the past couple of weeks.

Hawthorn v Western Bulldogs



Finn Maginness deserved more than two coaches’ votes as he tagged Nick Daicos and effectively nullified his influence on the game when Hawthorn took on Collingwood in Round 21. If it’s a tag no one could pull off, enter Maginness, who made the impossible seem like a myth. In Round 22 against Western Bulldogs it wouldn’t be a surprise if he gets the job of negating Western Bulldogs captain and possible All-Australian captain, Marcus Bontempelli.

Western Bulldogs

Rhylee West needs to impact the contest like he did against Richmond if the Western Bulldogs are to get the desired result in Round 22. West is a player that doesn’t have to do much to have an impact on the game, as he seems so calm and composed. It will be interesting to see who Hawthorn choose to curtail his influence, as Cody Weightman and the three Western Bulldogs tall forwards will probably be prevalent in Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell’s planning.

ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Nathan Murphy of the Magpies clashes with Darcy Fogarty of the Crows during the 2023 AFL Round 07 match between the Adelaide Crows and the Collingwood Magpies at Adelaide Oval on April 30, 2023 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Darcy Fogarty. (Photo by James Elsby/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

St Kilda v Richmond

St Kilda

Mason Wood has the opportunity for All-Australian selectors to sit back and take notice as he is a chance of at least making the squad of 40. In Round 21 against Carlton, he had an outstanding game finishing with 36 disposals to go with 14 marks. Wood needs to tidy up his ball use as he had a disposal efficiency of 66.7 per cent. He will be matched up on Kamdyn McIntosh and Jack Ross at times, so Wood should have a field day when St Kilda take on Richmond.



Jayden Short performed admirably in what was his first game back from injury, even though Richmond were obliterated by Western Bulldogs. He had 569 metres gained, along with 25 disposals and used the ball at 80 per cent disposal efficiency. There’s no disputing Short is a player Richmond need in form against St Kilda and need firing in their quest to play finals.

Port Adelaide v GWS

Port Adelaide

Zak Butters was back to his best against Geelong in Round 21; he finished the game with 30 disposals, ten score involvements and six tackles. Despite Geelong getting the chocolates he polled ten coaches’ votes. Butters will need to replicate his display in a tough game against a GWS team whose finals hopes are on the line. He could go head-to-head with Tom Green.


Jesse Hogan provides a contest and brings the ball to ground even if he doesn’t take a mark for the most part. In his first game back from injury he played reasonably well against Sydney in Round 21, as he finished the game with a couple of goals to go with five score involvements. He could get the job of curtailing the influence of the intercept marking of Aliir Aliir, which could determine the fate of GWS in what could be a season defining game.