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The Roar


The crucial cogs of AFL's Round 4: Which players need to be the difference makers?

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Roar Guru
3rd April, 2024

It’s Round 4 and it’s high stakes with five teams having lost their first three games of season 2024, and in desperate need of a win.

All 18 teams will feature across nine games in Adelaide, which is titled Gather Round. We’re taking a look at one player from each that needs to make a difference this week.

Adelaide v Melbourne


Jordan Dawson needs to tidy up his ball use and lead from the front.

When Adelaide takes on Melbourne in Gather Round, it’s simply a must-win and probably a season-defining game; the spotlight will be firmly on Dawson and it’s essential that he’s front and centre for helping to turn his teams’ fortunes around.



Bayley Fritsch has shown that he can be a match-winner. The talented left-footer kicked an amazing goal from a set shot from the boundary line from nearly 50 metres late in the game when Melbourne took on Port Adelaide in Round 3.

There’s no doubt he’ll be a difficult match-up for a youthful Adelaide defence.

Brisbane v North Melbourne


Joe Daniher has been underperforming in the opening three games of the season; the Brisbane key forward has kicked five goals and five behinds.

Fortunately for him, he’ll be up against a mediocre North Melbourne defence, in Gather Round, which could lead to a change in fortunes for him.


North Melbourne

Colby McKercher has shown some promise for North Melbourne in their opening three games of the season. The youthful exuberance that the number two draft pick possesses, has been there for all to see.

Along with that, he’s been playing some good footy, as he has averaged 21 disposals per game and his average disposal efficiency per game, has been 87.29 per cent.

Port Adelaide v Essendon

Port Adelaide

Dan Houston is a key part of the Port Adelaide team and will be playing his 150th AFL game against Essendon.

They need to get the ball in his hands more often, as he has averaged 6.67 score involvements per game and he provides plenty of drive off half-back.



Ben McKay was brought to Essendon for a reason and that was to help them taste success, which they’ve been starved of for a fair amount of time.

In Round 3 against St Kilda McKay displayed his quality, finishing the game with 13 intercept possessions. They’ll need him to play a key part in curtailing the Port Adelaide key forwards.

West Coast v Sydney

West Coast

Elliot Yeo needs to lead by example to influence the likes of Harley Reid and other youngsters against a Sydney team that beat West Coast by a 171-point margin in season 2023.

The midfielder may have had 29 disposals against Western Bulldogs in Round 3, but he had a disposal efficiency of only 44.8 per cent, which clearly needs improving.



Logan McDonald is a talented key forward, given he was taken at pick four in the 2020 AFL draft.

The 21-year-old has kicked at least one goal in the four games that he has played in thus far in season 2024.

He will need to bring the ball to the ground for the Sydney crumbers.

Fremantle v Carlton



Bailey Banfield has had a good start to the season, the 26-year-old has kicked at least one goal per game in Fremantle’s opening three games.

Along with that, he has averaged five score involvements per game and poses a threat when he can get his hands on the ball.


George Hewett is a player who has stepped up in the absence of Sam Walsh due to injury.

The former Sydney player has averaged the second most disposals per game of any Carlton player this season. The 28-year-old has averaged the equal most tackles of any Carlton player this season.

Western Bulldogs v Geelong

Western Bulldogs


Aaron Naughton faces a stern test against a talented Geelong defence, as he will need to get the ball to ground to allow Rhylee West and Cody Weightman to go to work, by negating the influence of Tom Stewart.


Max Holmes could play a key part when Geelong takes on the Western Bulldogs, as he has averaged five score involvements per game and polled four Coaches’ votes in the Easter Monday clash between Hawthorn and Geelong.

He has averaged 23.33 disposals per game and averaged the third most metres gained per game of any Geelong player with 552.33.

Gold Coast v GWS

Gold Coast


Noah Anderson needs to play out of his skin in a game that should be tough for Gold Coast to win, against GWS.

The 23-year-old should be up for this game, as it could be a season-defining one and could prove to be a yardstick for Gold Coast against arguably the form team of the competition in GWS.

It should make for an interesting contest given Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick’s comments on the Gold Coast list.

GWS Giants

Sam Taylor has averaged the most intercepts per game thus far in season 2024, with 12.

The GWS key defender is an elite player of the competition and should prove tough to stop in Gather Round against Gold Coast, where he will probably be matched up on Ben King.

Richmond v St Kilda



Daniel Rioli had his first win under new Richmond coach Adam Yze in Round 3 against Sydney.

The half-back flanker was instrumental in Richmond claiming a much-needed four points; the 26-year-old finished the game with 12 intercept possessions.

Hopefully, he can replicate his performance and prove that it wasn’t an aberration when Richmond takes on St Kilda.

St Kilda

Jack Steele could face a tough test when St Kilda takes on Richmond, as he may go head-to-head with Tim Taranto if Ross Lyon chooses to go down that path.

The St Kilda captain will need to lead his team well in what looms as a danger game against a Richmond team that should take plenty of confidence into Round 4, given they claimed an upset win against Sydney.


That shouldn’t faze Steele, as he has averaged the equal third most tackles per game of any player in the competition this season, with eight.

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Collingwood v Hawthorn


Tom Mitchell should have fire in his belly when Collingwood takes on Hawthorn, as it’s no secret that there’s a bit of bad blood between him and Sam Mitchell.



Jack Ginnivan would certainly want to give a good account of himself against his former team in Collingwood, given Craig McRae wasn’t happy with him going to the races the night before the grand final, which may mean Ginnivan plays with a point to prove.