Ollie Hollands in action during Carlton's practice match against Melbourne on February 28, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

WHETHER it be a young gun, a late bloomer, a recruit, or an in-form veteran who still has the magic, there was plenty to take out of the practice matches.

Our team of experts watched every game closely and here are the names from each club who caught the eye.


Berry dropped off the AFL radar in 2023, playing just four senior games, but the midfielder now looks ready to re-join the Crows' onball rotation from round one. Berry was in the thick of the action from early on against the Eagles on Saturday, bouncing off a tackler to snap a first-quarter goal and later converting a 50m set shot. An expert without the ball, he has worked hard on his execution and looks a more rounded midfielder in 2024. – Nathan Schmook 



After warding off rival interest and re-signing late last season, Lohmann is doing everything possible to force his way into the settled Lions' line-up. The 20-year-old impressed against Sydney with his huge workrate to link up in attack (16 disposals) and get back and help the defence. His six tackles were also notable and have given coach Chris Fagan plenty to think about ahead of Opening Round against Carlton. – Michael Whiting

Kai Lohmann in action during the AAMI Community Series match between Brisbane and Sydney at Blacktown ISP on February 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos


A change of role has paid early dividends for Hollands. After 19 appearances playing predominantly on a wing throughout his maiden season at Carlton, the former No.11 pick is now featuring in a more inside role and did plenty of nice things across the club's pre-season campaign. He's still an elite runner on the outside, but is now combining that work with a more rugged and physical approach in the midfield. He was the club's best performer against Geelong last week and backed it up with a 16-disposal effort against Melbourne. – Riley Beveridge

Ollie Hollands in action during Carlton's practice match against Melbourne on February 28, 2024. Picture: Getty Images


At 25 years old, Lipinski is just about to enter his prime as an AFL player, and looks to have had an outstanding pre-season. He was lively from the first to last bounce in the AAMI Community Series match against Richmond, providing plenty of pace on the wing and at half-forward, pushing hard into attack to be a constant threat. Lipinski showed plenty of poise, too, kicking two goals to go with his 23 touches. – Sarah Black

Patrick Lipinski is tackled by Kamdyn McIntosh during the AAMI Community Series match between Collingwood and Richmond at Ikon Park on February 27, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos


Usually found on the wing over his past two-and-a-half seasons (after he was taken in the 2021 mid-season draft), Durham looks to have added an extra layer to his game, lining up on the ball against Geelong. His pace and agility are more than handy in the stoppages, and he wasn't afraid to throw his weight around either, clearing paths and setting up clearances for senior teammates Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett. – Sarah Black

Sam Durham evades a tackle in Essendon's AAMI Community Series game against Geelong. Picture: AFL Photos


With a significantly weakened forward line, former Bomber Voss had the chance to step in, and he became the Dockers' most viable target in attack against the Power on a difficult night for the forwards. Voss has consistently presented well since joining the club as a train-on player and winning a list spot, and his 50m set shot goal on an angle was a highlight that confirmed he has top-level talent. – Nathan Schmook

Patrick Voss celebrates a goal with Cooper Simpson during the AAMI Community Series match between Fremantle and Port Adelaide at Alberton Oval on March 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos


The Cats small forward looks ready to lock up a regular spot in the best 23 after an impressive pre-season. Dempsey played with confidence and composure against Essendon, willing to push high up the ground and providing a marking target, leading onto the ball rather than being exposed in a standing wrestle. Hard to miss with his bright pink boots, Dempsey had 15 disposals and kicked a goal, but it was his seven score involvements that would have most pleased the coaches most. – Sarah Black

Ollie Dempsey in Geelong's AAMI Community Series game against Essendon. Picture: AFL Photos


Lukosius looks set for another year of growth after showing glimpses of his enormous potential as a key forward in Thursday night's hitout against the Giants. The silky forward looked impressive as he kicked a game-high four goals, including three in the opening term, while he had a hand in several other forward forays. Lukosius was primarily used in defence and on a wing since his 2019 debut, but had a career-best season in 2023 after finding a permanent home in attack, kicking 39 goals. – Alison O'Connor

Jack Lukosius in action during Gold Coast's practice match against Greater Western Sydney on February 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images


After returning noticeably bigger and stronger for his second pre-season, Cadman looks to have accelerated his push to be a key part of the Giants' forward line in 2024. The former No.1 pick flashed his potential against Gold Coast with some acrobatic marking attempts and a late goal to top off what should be a confidence-boosting performance. Cadman only played 12 games for a modest six-goal return in his debut season, but the 19-year-old can expect to see more senior opportunities in 2024. – Alison O'Connor

Aaron Cadman and Greater Western Sydney celebrate a goal during a practice match against Gold Coast on February 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images


Is Newcombe about to take yet another leap in 2024? While the Bulldogs dominated clearances on Saturday, Newcombe stood up for the Hawks with 37 disposals (including 15 contested possessions) and seven clearances. Picked in the 2021 AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, he has improved every season and could be set to do the same in 2024. – Dejan Kalinic  

Jai Newcombe in action during Hawthorn's match simulation against the Western Bulldogs on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


You can mark Windsor down for an Opening Round debut at senior level. Melbourne's flashy No.7 pick was the standout across the side's two pre-season matches, stamping his ticket to the SCG to face Sydney in the season-opener with two classy goals on the run in a victory over Carlton on Wednesday night. The wingman has fantastic aerobic capacity on the outside, but also wins his own footy. He should see plenty of senior opportunities in 2024. – Riley Beveridge



Having moved from Carlton for more opportunities at Arden St, Fisher will hit the season proper in good form. The left-footer did as he pleased against St Kilda on Sunday, finishing with a game-high 36 disposals playing off half back. The 25-year-old started off plenty of forward surges for the Roos, picking up 668m gained, and provided some much-needed spark from the back half. - Martin Smith

Zac Fisher during the AAMI Community Series match between North Melbourne and St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos


The recruit who could make the biggest difference for Port Adelaide this year is Ratugolea. The former Cat looked imposing on Friday night, using his size to dominate an understrength Fremantle forward line while maintaining the smarts to roll off and intercept at the right times. The Power looked significantly more balanced in the back half as a result. – Nathan Schmook  

Esava Ratugolea marks in front of Aliir Aliir during the AAMI Community Series match between Port Adelaide and Fremantle at Alberton Oval on March 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos


Naismith now has two very solid performances under his belt, holding his own against Max Gawn in the match sim and the Darcy Cameron/Mason Cox combination in the AAMI Community Series match. The injury-hit former Swan moved well across the ground against the Pies, showing good agility for his size at ground level and taking a few eye-catching marks. There's a question mark still hovering over the fitness of Toby Nankervis, and whether Adem Yze will play two rucks, but Naismith has done all he can to put his name into the frame. – Sarah Black

Sam Naismith kicks the ball during the AAMI Community Series match between Richmond and Collingwood at Ikon Park on February 27, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


The No.18 pick in last year's AFL Draft, Wilson has stormed into calculations for round one with another strong performance after an impressive summer. Having won the 3km time trail at the Saints back in early December, Wilson followed up an eye-catching performance against Essendon last week with another standout showing against North Melbourne on Sunday. The 18-year-old made an impact all over the ground, finishing with 24 touches and 10 marks. - Martin Smith

Darcy Wilson during the AAMI Community Series match between North Melbourne and St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos


He might not have been the Swans' biggest-name recruit during the off-season, but Jordon might yet have the biggest impact. The former Demon was terrific against Brisbane, combining outside touch (31 disposals) with inside grunt (12 contested, four clearances). The 23-year is a nice complement to the established Sydney midfield. – Michael Whiting

James Jordon poses during Sydney's official team photo day at Sydney Swans HQ on January 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos


No.1 draft pick Reid has obvious talent, but it was significant that he was able to show it against opposition before round one, giving him confidence as he prepares to start his AFL career. The Eagles put Reid around the ball more against Adelaide and he rewarded them with a terrific ball-winning performance, finishing with 20 disposals and five clearances (including three out of the centre). His ability to dance around opponents, shove them away when needed, and then break into space was on show. – Nathan Schmook



The No.6 draft pick had already caught the eye in a match simulation, but he showed his class again against the Hawks on Saturday. Sanders produced another smooth performance and finished with 30 disposals, four clearances and 10 score involvements in a display that should've secured an AFL debut in round one. – Dejan Kalinic

Ryley Sanders in action during the Western Bulldogs' practice match against Hawthorn on March 2, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos