By Benjamin Smith
With the first of the AFL’s grand final qualifiers just hours away, five players have stood up throughout the season and should be ones to watch now their teams are on the doorstep of eternal glory.
With Collingwood facing the GWS Giants at the MCG tonight, and Brisbane taking on Carlton at The Gabba at 5.15pm tomorrow, all four teams will need someone to step up and take the game away from the opposition.
Here are the stars who will be forces to be reckoned with over the weekend:
5. Sam WalshEmbed from Getty Images
An injury earlier this year had many doubting the ability of one of the AFL’s best young players but, since coming back, Walsh has been instrumental in Carlton’s late-season surge up the ladder.
In their first prelim since 2000, the Blues Army will be eager to see their star man alongside Patty Cripps dominate the midfield and potentially do what no other team has done this season – beat the Lions at The Gabba – this Saturday night.
4. Toby GreeneEmbed from Getty Images
He may be a grub, but he’s bloody good. The All-Australian captain will need to show his full leadership capabilities tonight as the Giants look to upset Collingwood on their home turf.
Greene has been on fire in front of goals, and has been a bull in the midfield, developing his game to send the Giants into their first prelim since 2019.
3. Darcy MooreEmbed from Getty Images
Captain Courageous. Darcy Moore has been all class this year and has guided his team to the minor premiership with resilient defending and fierce leadership.
Moore’s flowing blond locks will be on full display as he aims to spoil the GWS army and their bandwagon supporters.
Collingwood will need him to lead from the back as he has done in 2023 if they are to withstand the big, big sound coming from the west of the town.
2. Charlie CameronEmbed from Getty Images
Rev your Harleys, Lions fans, because Charlie is on fire and will be chomping at the bit to send Carlton packing this Saturday.
With 55 goals this season and a spot in the grand final up for grabs, the best small forward in the comp will be at his best against a towering Carlton backline including fellow All-Australian Jacob Weitering.
1.Nick DaicosEmbed from Getty Images
The second-year superstar and Brownlow Medal favourite is of course the one to watch this week as Collingwood look to crush the Giants’ fairytale run at the MCG.
After suffering a hairline fracture in his right knee against Hawthorn six weeks ago, the 20-year-old will hope to make an immediate impact on his return game.
Having won 22 of their past 26 at the MCG, and their previous meeting against the Giants leading to a 65-point demolition, will Daicos provide the spark the Pies need to reach the grand final?
Featured image: The AFL’s prelim finals stars are auditioning for a spot centre stage at the MCG. Photo: Storm machine/CC/Wikimedia Commons