Matt Rowell poses for a photo during a Gold Coast media opportunity on March 4, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

GOLD Coast wrecking ball Matt Rowell went past some of the best midfielders in AFL history to put his name in the record books with a stunning performance against Richmond on Saturday.

Rowell racked up the second-most clearances ever in a single game, finishing with a jaw-dropping 20 against a Tigers midfield that included Dion Prestia, Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper.

Only Paul Salmon, who had 22 when playing for Hawthorn against North Melbourne in 1998, has had more in a game.


The performance from Rowell was enough to change the thinking of one of his most vocal critics, Kane Cornes.

"I've been hard on Matt Rowell because I would love, and I have wanted, him to get some easy ball," Cornes said on's The Round So Far.

"But maybe I've just to accept that this is what he is, and he's an absolute freak at doing this."

Among his 20 clearances, the No.1 pick from the 2019 draft had 10 from the centre as he laid the foundation for Gold Coast's 39-point victory.

It surpassed his previous career high of 16 established against the Western Bulldogs in Darwin last season.

"He was unbelievable," Cornes said.

"He took it to a much more experienced Richmond midfield ... who had their pants pulled down.


"He put them on his back single-handedly. It was just awesome to watch. He was like a machine."

Rowell's Opening Round heroics ensured he passed some of the biggest names in the game's history.

Among those in his wake are Brownlow medallists Patrick Cripps (19), Sam Mitchell (18), Gary Ablett jnr (18) and Matt Priddis (17), who are all in the top-10.