AFL top 100: Round 1 selection highlights

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With the start of the footy season now just around the corner, I thought I would highlight the milestones – both traditional and historical – that senior players will achieve by playing in Round 1 while discussing the history of the contests between the two competing clubs.

At this stage it appears likely that all eight AFL top 100 game players could take the field in Round 1, with Lance Franklin and Travis Boak moving a rung up the ladder.

Buddy will draw level with highly decorated former Hawthorn and Melbourne player Jordan Lewis, who retired in 2019 with four premierships and the 2014 Hawthorn Best and Fairest Medal, while Travis Boak will draw level with former Essendon champion Tim Watson.

Of the six players who could reach traditional AFL milestones in the first week, it is interesting to note that only two will do so at their original club (if selected): Tom Barrass (100 games – West Coast Eagles) and Sam Weideman (50 games – Melbourne).

The two 200-gamers, Jamie Cripps (West Coast) and Stefan Martin (Western Bulldogs) played at two and three clubs respectively before reaching their milestone, as did Nathan Wilson (150 games – two clubs) and Jesse Hogan (100 games – three clubs).

Then there are the AFL debutants. How many new faces will we see out there this week, and will the familiar names of Darcy, Diacos, Woewodin, Motlop and even Aleer be amongst them? How many of the other draftees will burst onto the scene and be potential champions from day one?

Finally, there are the established players who have sought a new home and a second chance to extend their careers either by the free agency opportunity or the tap on the shoulder from a club official with the news that you no longer fit into their future plans.

Players like Luke Dunstan, who fell one game short of becoming a top 100-game player at the Saints, but has the opportunity to start again at the reigning premiers, and Tim O’Brien, already a top 100-goal scorer at the Hawks is now at the Western Bulldogs.

Historical milestones in this week’s round of games include Max Gawn, in the season opener and repeat of last year’s grand final, equalling the games played by Travis Johnstone, who played for ten years at the Demons before finishing his last three years at Brisbane.

Max Gawn

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos/via Getty Images )

The Bulldogs’ most senior player, Jack McCrae, will equal the 186-game tally of 1990s champion Matthew Croft.

The next three games on the weekend involve teams of the old guard, and the sides have played each other more than 220 times each!

The first two of these games (Carlton-Richmond and Collingwod-St Kilda) feature teams who dominated last century and built up imposing win/loss ratios against their opponents but there is no doubt now that Richmond and St Kilda, the two sides on the wrong side of the ledger, are working to balance the ledger.

This is particularly true of Richmond, who have not lost to Carlton since the elimination final of 2013 and currently have a record winning streak of 11 against the Blues. The Saints are nowhere as dominant against the Magpies, but are improving on the win-loss ratio of a measly 27.5 per cent, having won two of their past five encounters.

In the third game, Essendon’s 18-game winning advantage has been narrowed to 15 with Geelong winning their last three encounters.

The only other game of the round that has significant history is the Hawthorn-North Melbourne encounter, where the Hawks will be hoping for their 99th win over the Kangaroos to stretch their dominance to 21 games.

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