Jake Waterman, Ollie Henry and Mykelti Lefau. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHEN your team's players are bursting out of the middle, ball in hand, who's the player they look to the most?

And has that forward-50 target changed over time?

In the case of Richmond, Mykelti Lefau wasn't even on the list till mid-February, but three months later, he's the team's No.1 target in attack.

Such has been the Tigers' inability to get the ball forward this year, Tom Lynch sits second despite playing just three games, and Noah Balta third (six games). It's a far cry from last year's trio of Jack Riewoldt, Dustin Martin and Samson Ryan, with Lynch, Riewoldt and Shai Bolton the combination in 2022.

In the absence of Oscar Allen (knee) at Waalitj Marawar, all eyes have been on the incredible rise of Jake Waterman. But the forward has been targeted only at a slightly higher rate, sitting at 56 times in nine games this year, up from 55 times in 11 games. Waterman was also third in 2022, behind Jack Darling and Josh Kennedy. Jamie Cripps rounds out the top three this year.

Has Tom Hawkins passed on the torch at Geelong? Having been the No.1 target for at least the past two years, in 2024 Hawkins has been hit up nearly 30 fewer times than the new frontman, Ollie Henry. Jeremy Cameron rounds out the top three.

Ollie Henry marks the ball during Geelong's clash against Port Adelaide in round nine, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Some forward lines have been rejuvenated in recent years.

The next face of Walyalup's forward line is here, with Jye Amiss and Josh Treacy sitting in the top three for the past two years. The biggest targets in 2022 were Rory Lobb (now at the Western Bulldogs), Matt Taberner (third this year) and veteran Michael Walters.

Gold Coast draftee Jed Walter has jumped to become the Suns' second target in attack in a very short space of time, with Ben King holding onto his mantle for a second year, and Ben Long a surprise third. Levi Casboult has dropped out of the three, the 2022 mix being himself, Mabior Chol and Ben Ainsworth.

Hawthorn has completely flipped its forward structure year on year – Mabior Chol, Jack Ginnivan and Jack Gunston are the go-to targets this season, while the 2023 mix was the now-injured Mitch Lewis, Luke Breust and new Tiger Jacob Koschitzke.

Mabior Chol celebrates a goal during Hawthorn's clash against Yartapuulti in round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The baton has well and truly changed hands at Sydney, Logan McDonald taking the reins from retired champion Lance Franklin. The ladder-leading Swans are building a young, formidable forward line, with Joel Amartey and Hayden McLean supporting McDonald this year. Tom Papley popped up last year, while the 2022 combination was Franklin, Isaac Heeney and Sam Reid.

The forward line of Narrm has been a work in progress for several years. The 2022 season saw Ben Brown, Bayley Fritsch and ruck Max Gawn as the main targets, while last year was a tie for first between Jake Melksham and Jacob van Rooyen, with support from Fritsch. The Demons small is the main man this year, having been targeted double the number of times compared to Harrison Petty and van Rooyen.

Yartapuulti has had a nearly even split between Charlie Dixon and Todd Marshall over the past two years, with the returning Mitch Georgiades jumping Jeremy Finlayson for third this year, to form the same trio as 2022.

It's no secret Nick Larkey is the main man at North Melbourne, last year being targeted 220 times, compared to second-placed Paul Curtis' 59. He once again holds the title in 2024, with Cam Zurhaar and Curtis already around 50 behind.

Nick Larkey in action during round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Then there are those who have tinkered around the edges.

Brody Mihocek and Jamie Elliott have been the main two men at Collingwood for years now, but the third target has consistently changed, from Ollie Henry in 2022, Ash Johnson in the premiership year, and Bobby Hill this season.

Jake Stringer spent much more time in attack earlier this year to cover for Peter Wright's suspension, and has been the third target at Essendon, having not featured last season. Breakout star Kyle Langford is the Bombers' No.1 man, with Wright playing second fiddle.

A shoulder injury limited forward leader Max King's game time at Euro-Yroke last year, which resulted in virtually an even split for first between the unlikely pairing of Anthony Caminiti and Jack Higgins, with Mitch Owens in third. King and veteran Tim Membrey lead the way this year, as was the case in 2022.

Max King in action during St Kilda's clash against North Melbourne in round eight, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

It's the triple threat at the Western Bulldogs, with Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Aaron Naughton and Sam Darcy the three literal and figurative biggest targets in attack. Naughton and Ugle-Hagan are perennials, while Rory Lobb and Cody Weightman have occupied third spot in recent years.

By contrast, it's business as usual at some clubs who have long-term spearheads and forward setups.

Taylor Walker is still the main man at Kuwarna, with Darcy Fogarty his understudy, as has been the case for at least the past three seasons.

Brisbane is ever reliable when it comes to its forward line mix, its top three targets over the past three years having been a combination of Joe Daniher, Eric Hipwood and Charlie Cameron.


Unsurprisingly, Carlton's Coleman medallists in Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay have been the Blues' top targets for the past few years, with emerging ruck/forward Tom De Koning jumping into third this season (previously Matt Owies, and Jack Silvagni in 2022).

Jesse Hogan remains king of the Giants, with support from Jake Riccardi (third in 2023 and 2022), and Aaron Cadman. Toby Greene sat second in the two years prior.

Your club's top forward-50 targets, 2024

Kuwarna: Taylor Walker (73 times), Darcy Fogarty (59), Izak Rankine (29)
Brisbane: Joe Daniher (71), Eric Hipwood (59), Charlie Cameron (42)
Carlton: Charlie Curnow (95), Harry McKay (84), Tom De Koning (21)
Collingwood: Jamie Elliott (40), Brody Mihocek (36), Bobby Hill (33)
Essendon: Kyle Langford (72), Peter Wright (48), Jake Stringer (44)
Walyalup: Jye Amiss (49), Josh Treacy (44), Matt Taberner (31)
Geelong: Ollie Henry (72), Tom Hawkins (43), Jeremy Cameron (40)
Gold Coast: Ben King (96), Jed Walter (49), Ben Long (25)
Greater Western Sydney: Jesse Hogan (89), Jake Riccardi (38), Aaron Cadman (37)
Hawthorn: Mabior Chol (41), Jack Ginnivan (33), Jack Gunston (29)
Narrm: Bayley Fritsch (58), Harrison Petty (29), Jacob van Rooyen (29)
North Melbourne: Nick Larkey (79), Cam Zurhaar (30), Paul Curtis (29)
Yartapuulti: Charlie Dixon (76), Todd Marshall (74), Mitch Georgiades (42)
Richmond: Mykelti Lefau (39), Tom Lynch (36), Noah Balta (33)
Euro-Yroke: Max King (55), Tim Membrey (45), Anthony Caminiti (29)
Sydney: Logan McDonald (62), Joel Amartey (53), Hayden McLean (45)
Waalitj Marawar: Jake Waterman (56), Jack Darling (53), Jamie Cripps (26)
Western Bulldogs: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (72), Aaron Naughton (46), Sam Darcy (27)