20/04/2024
Club MVP: Opening Round

Matt Rowell was just one of the players who made a big impact in Opening Round. Picture: Daniel Cohen.

The Inner Sanctum makes their picks for the Best On Ground in Club MVP each week, to highlight the best-performing players each round of the 2024 AFL Season.

A new season began with plenty of fanfare over the AFL’s inaugural Opening Round, with mixed results for the interstate visitors.

The Inner Sanctum makes their picks for the Best On Ground in Club MVP each week, to highlight the best-performing players each round of the 2024 AFL Season.

Sydney Vs Melbourne 

Sydney

3. Isaac Heeney: With big bodies at a premium for Sydney to kick off the season, Isaac Heeney stepped up in a big way to provide some grunt in the midfield, finishing with a whopping 13 clearances, four more than the next best. 

2. Brodie Grundy: After a second club move in two years, Brodie Grundy made an impressive start at his third club, growing as the game went on to get the victory over Max Gawn in the ruck battle. 

1. Nick Blakey: Arguably Sydney’s best defender in 2023, Nick Blakey picked up right where he left off, with his trademark dash providing plenty of drive inside 50 for the Swans. 

Melbourne

3. Jack Viney: The Demons were on top in the midfield for large portions early on, and Jack Viney was key to Melbourne’s early midfield dominance, while also hitting the scoreboard at crucial moments. 

2. Bayley Fritsch: He may not have gotten heaps of the football, but Fritsch made every opportunity count for Melbourne, with three goals in the third quarter and four for the match. 

1. Blake Howes: On debut for the Demons, Howes provided plenty of nice moments down back, making the most of his opportunity with seven marks, suggesting he will be a regular feature. 

Brisbane Vs Carlton

Brisbane

3. Dayne Zorko: Whilst he’s no longer their captain, Zorko led from the front and was instrumental in their dominance early. With two goals to his name to accompany 19 disposals and six tackles, he was doing it all – especially when the game became close. 

2. Jarryd Lyons: It was hard to split Lyons and Dunkley, but Lyons gets the points as a fringe player making an impact. The sub in their 2023 Grand Final loss, Lyons was lively all night and continued to work hard with ball in hand whilst also providing great pressure.

1. Darcy Wilmot: In Coleman’s absence, the Lions struggled, but Wilmot shone. Picking up where Coleman left off, albeit to a lesser extent, Wilmot began to make his presence known in the game – leading all comers for kicks (17) by the game’s end as he propelled Brisbane’s attack and found targets.

Carlton

3. Charlie Curnow: Need I say more? Whilst it was a true team effort to bring themselves back into the contest, Curnow’s magic was a class above. Taking control of Carlton’s forward line, Curnow capitalised on both the chaotic and the structured forward fifty entries, making him truly unstoppable. 

2. Patrick Cripps: From 23 disposals, he gathered 10 contested possessions, but what was more telling was his leadership. Whilst his teammates struggled with the physicality of the game early, he continued to make his presence and strength known and rallied the Blues in doing so. 

1. Harry McKay: Like his captain, McKay gathered 10 contested possessions as he continued to compete and involve himself in the game when the forward line barely saw the ball early on, featuring in the ruck before landing the final blow. 

More Footy News

‘We didn’t connect’: Craig McRae reflects on Opening Round loss to GWS

Harry’s redemption as Blues complete chaotic Lions comeback

Grundy, Heeney fire Swans to comfortable victory over scrappy Dees in Opening Round

Gold Coast Vs Richmond

Gold Coast

3. Matt Rowell: Rowell continually used his big frame to win the ball and send it Gold Coast’s way, and when Richmond started to run over the Suns in the third term, Rowell continued to stand firm.

2. Sam Flanders: Flanders worked his socks off and his intelligent ball use sent the ball into the attacking 50 seven times, to the advantage of the Suns’ forwards.

1. Wil Powell: Powell constantly set up play-off half-back, and was just as vital going the other way, pulling down nine marks as he went.

Richmond

3. Jacob Hopper: Hopper never stopped battling in a beaten midfield, and was instrumental in the Tigers’ third-quarter fightback, a good return for a much-maligned footballer coming off an injury-ruined 2023.

2. Daniel Rioli: Rioli rebounded well off half-back to provide opportunities across all four quarters when they were often limited.

1. Shai Bolton: Whilst not his best game, Bolton was still a constant danger to the Gold Coast defence. He kicked three goals and provided energy for his teammates throughout the second half.

GWS Vs Collingwood

GWS

3. Tom Green: Green was at his best when the game was in the balance, having 20 disposals and one goal in the first half alone. Nine clearances and score involvements demonstrate he’s not just a cheap disposal.

2. Jesse Hogan: Whether it was lining up in front of goal or being the target from kick-ins, Hogan was GWS’s man on fire, he was impossible to stop in the second quarter, where he kicked two goals and took many a mark.

1. Callum Brown: A career-high five goals for Callum Brown who kickstarted GWS’s game in the early stages, kicking three in the first quarter alone. Brown looked every bit Hogan’s equal, despite having played over 100 fewer games.

Collingwood

3. Nick Daicos: This game looked almost remedial for Daicos, yet he still finished with 34 disposals and a goal. Daicos was influential with his kicking and helped break through GWS lines when no one else seemingly could.

2. Darcy Cameron: Just kept going did Darcy Cameron, who got the better of Briggs in the ruck. Cameron kicked two goals but was super busy around the ground, with 20 disposals and four tackles.

1. Brayden Maynard: When you’re matched up against Toby Greene, and equal his goal output, you know you’ve done well as a defender. Maynard took a team-high nine marks and was second for metres gained, only behind Nick Daicos.

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