Adelaide Crows

Powerfully-built 19-year-old Darcy Fogarty has been stuck in the SANFL this season, where he has switched ends. After playing 10 AFL games as a forward last year, Fogarty – the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft – is now learning how to play as a key defender. Fogarty was moved to defence to help cover the loss of Tom Doedee, sidelined with a torn ACL, and as back-up for Daniel Talia, Alex Keath and Kyle Hartigan. Fogarty's chances of playing in the AFL side as a forward are limited, sitting behind co-captain Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch, Elliott Himmelberg and Josh Jenkins.

How does he get back in? 

Fogarty has taken time to adjust to his new role in defence but has shown improvement with his positioning and one-on-one defending in the past couple of games. He could be an option to replace Hartigan in the senior side, however the Crows will re-jig their backline once lockdown small defender Luke Brown returns from an ankle injury. Fogarty, who is signed until 2021, could still be used as a forward, and he looms as the ideal long-term replacement for 29-year-old Walker, who comes off-contract in 2021. - Lee Gaskin

Darcy Fogarty in action during a JLT game against the Giants in March. Picture: Getty Images

TEAM OF THE WEEK Who made the cut in R6?

Brisbane Lions

After finishing last season in defence, Allen Christensen is on the outside looking in following some injury and form issues early in 2019. The 27-year-old was in contention for a round one spot before hurting his ankle in the Lions' intraclub and after missing three weeks through rehab, had been passed by second-year speedster Zac Bailey. Christensen was given a chance against Essendon and Collingwood, but much like the team, struggled, was dropped, and is back playing NEAFL.

How does he get back in? 

Christensen needs a touch of luck. He is versatile, able to play as a rebounding defender or small forward and seems to be vying with draftee Noah Answerth – who debuted at the weekend – and Bailey for his preferred position at half-back. In the final year of his contract, Christensen is still in the club's top 25 players. He needs to be creative with the ball at NEAFL level and perhaps a move further upfield – to the wing or half-forward – might create more opportunities. – Michael Whiting

Former Cat Allen Christensen has played just two AFL games in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos


Brendon Bolton demanded a battle for places through the midfield over the summer and Matthew Kennedy has been a victim of that extra competition. The improvement of youngsters Sam Petrevski-Seton, Paddy Dow and Zac Fisher through the centre, plus the arrival of Sam Walsh and Will Setterfield, has meant Kennedy has been forced to bide his time. Purely an inside ball winner, the former Giant must work on his ability to spread from the contest if he is to surpass one of those aforementioned players in the pecking order.

How does he get back in?

Quite simply, he must keep producing in the VFL. Kennedy is yet to play a senior match this season, but has won 24 disposals in each of his games for the Northern Blues to start the year. As mentioned previously, an improved ability to spread and win the ball on the outside will help his cause. He showed glimpses he could be a good AFL performer through the second half of last season, so he must start displaying that type of form again soon. - Riley Beveridge

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One of the great stories of the Magpies' charge to last year's Grand Final was big-bodied midfielder Brayden Sier, who played 12 of the last 13 games and added more inside grunt to a powerful midfield. In the off-season he returned to Thailand for another gruelling Muay Thai camp and appeared set to take his game to another level, but he finished the scratch match against Melbourne with a neural calf/hamstring issue, later suffered a rib injury and is now dealing with a toe tendon problem, each of which have restricted the 21-year-old's opportunities to press his claims at VFL level.

How does he get back in? 

The equation is simple: if Sier regains fitness and form, he'll break back into the Pies' strong line-up. At his best the youngster they call "Bear" is in the best 22, so they'll make room for him if he meets all the requirements. Sier's presence would also enable greater flexibility in roles for Scott Pendlebury, Dayne Beams & co. – Ben Collins

Big-bodied Brayden Sier was a revelation for the Pies last season. Picture: AFL Photos


It's been an interesting ride for Kyle Langford in his time at the Bombers. Their first pick at the 2014 NAB AFL Draft (No.17 overall) has played 49 games in his now four-and-a-bit seasons at the club, with last year his most exciting with 16 games at senior level. He broke into the midfield and performed strongly at stages, averaging 18 disposals and also pushing forward on occasion. He was unlucky not to be awarded the club's most improved player award as well, but has found himself on the outer this season after just two senior appearances. 

How does he get back in? 

Langford has been the player to get omitted a handful of times over the past two years following a bad Essendon defeat, and it was the case again in round three when he was dropped following the Bombers' loss to St Kilda. This despite kicking two goals from 18 disposals in round one. Langford gets plenty of touches at VFL level, but the jury is still out whether he has the tenacity and proactiveness to be a midfielder in the senior side or whether he is best suited to a half-forward role (which makes it hard for him to find a spot given Essendon's strength in that part of the ground). – Callum Twomey

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It seemed Sean Darcy had a clear runway to establish himself as the No.1 ruckman at Fremantle after Aaron Sandilands' calf issues wrecked his pre-season, but things haven't turned out as the 113kg youngster would have hoped. Darcy was solid in round one but then battled quad soreness against Gold Coast and was rested the following week. Unfortunately for Darcy, recruit Rory Lobb has been strong as the main ruckman, which has had the added benefit of balancing the talls in attack, with Jesse Hogan, Matt Taberner and Cam McCarthy looking the most dangerous combination so far.

How does he get back in? 

Ross Lyon says the ruck set-up is a week-to-week proposition, but when Darcy wasn't recalled to face Giants behemoth Shane Mumford in round five it was a sign he could have to bide his time given Lobb is holding his own. Despite his excellent tapwork, Darcy's lack of mobility is an issue in a side that is already stacked with talls, and he needs to work on getting involved more around the ground. - Travis King

Sean Darcy is stuck behind Rory Lobb as Freo's No.1 ruckman. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong Cats

After identifying his endurance as a flaw over summer, Quinton Narkle's tank continues to be a work in progress. The 21-year-old's highlights reel is as good as anyone's, but an inability to finish games strongly has let him down in the early parts of the VFL season. Following Gary Ablett's move to permanent forward, three small forward roles remained open heading into 2019 – now filled by Luke Dahlhaus, Gary Rohan and rookie Tom Atkins.

How does he get back in? 

By bringing the heat in the VFL. Averaging 17 touches and 2.7 tackles from his three games, he must ensure he's the next pressure forward in line. Gary Ablett will need a rest at some point and it appears the replacement will be down to Narkle or James Parsons. After six games in his debut season, Narkle can also appeal as a centre-clearance specialist. However, with Scott Selwood edging closer to full fitness, the forward role appears more likely. - Mitch Cleary

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Gold Coast Suns

One of the only foundation players remaining at the Suns, Sam Day is yet to play a game this season. The key forward had shoulder surgery in the off-season and started a bit behind his teammates when they resumed training in November. State league recruits Chris Burgess and Josh Corbett, along with No.2 draft pick Jack Lukosius, all had strong pre-seasons and were preferred forwards. Day has excelled in the NEAFL, including kicking a bag of six goals against Canberra.

How does he get back in? 

After three goals against Brisbane at the lower level on Saturday, the 26-year-old might be ready for a recall. Coach Stuart Dew has said he wants Day to play with more presence in the forward line. Day is an unselfish footballer and the Suns want him to impose himself more on games. – Michael Whiting

Sam Day appears set for a recall after strong form in the NEAFL. Picture: AFL Photos

GWS Giants

The Giants' top pick (11) at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, Aiden Bonar played four games in his debut season, but hasn't featured in 2019. He's averaged 19.8 possessions and 4.8 tackles in four NEAFL games but apart from his 31 disposals in round one, hasn't dominated the lower level like he should be. He was expected to ease into his AFL career after a couple of injury-interrupted years before he was drafted, but played both JLT Community Series matches this year after a solid pre-season.

How does he get back in? 

Bonar needs to increase his workrate, which would see him find more of the footy on a consistent basis and therefore have a bigger influence on games in the NEAFL. His hands are excellent and his clearance work is one of his strengths, but if he's going to break into the Giants' best 22, he must beat the door down with weekly standout performances - Adam Curley

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Teia Miles impressed throughout his eight games towards the back end of last year, playing largely in defence. However, he lost his place in the side on the eve of finals and was then made to wait before earning a one-year contract in late October. It looked for a long time as though Miles might depart the Hawks last year, while he still looks a fair way down the pecking order despite his solid form in the second half of last season. At his best, he's a tidy defender who can use the ball relatively effectively going forward.

How does he get back in?

Miles might have had a few stints playing forward of the ball in the VFL this year, but it's down back where he'll earn his place in the senior side. He continues to use the ball well out of defence, but Hawthorn has put the heat on Miles to work on the defensive side of his game while at Box Hill. He's averaging 16.6 disposals and six marks per game with Box Hill. An improvement on that output should see him push for selection at Hawthorn. - Riley Beveridge

Hawthorn has told Teia Miles to work on his defensive side. Picture: AFL Photos

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Young forward Charlie Spargo was a revelation for Melbourne in 2018, with the 18-year-old's pressure and ability to create goals at ground level pivotal in the Demons' finals run. Now in his second year, Spargo has found himself in and out of the team, with Melbourne using the equal second-most number of players in the AFL (31) in 2019. With Melbourne's mid-forward links a glaring issue, and with many senior teammates out of form, Spargo has not been able to recapture the touch that saw him keep Jeff Garlett out of the side at the end of last season.

How does he get back in? 

Spargo booted 14 goals from 18 matches last season, but he has failed to hit the scoreboard in his three senior matches in 2019. The 19-year-old developed a strong reputation for thriving in the contested stakes, but just seven of his 29 touches this year have been contested. Easier said than done in a 1-5 side, but Spargo needs to start winning more of the ball, converting his opportunities and applying greater pressure to the opposition to force his way back into the team. - Ben Guthrie

FULL INJURY LIST Who's ruled out and who's a test?

North Melbourne

The calls for Paul Ahern to play reached fever pitch after he was left out of the Roos' senior side for the first three rounds. That came despite a seemingly solid pre-season, at least from the outside. The 22-year-old's chance finally came against Adelaide in round four, but he didn't quite grab his opportunity. He started strongly in his return game on his way to 15 disposals, but won only nine a week later, including hurting a finger, before finding himself back in the VFL.

How does he get back in? 

Ahern's offensive talents were never in doubt, although his possession tallies were low in his fortnight in the AFL. It is his work without the Sherrin that is keeping him in the reserves. The inside midfielder spoke about needing to improve his tackle numbers and defensive pressure after racking up 33 touches at state league level at the weekend. He identified tough teammate Jed Anderson as the player he wants to be more like. –Marc McGowan

Paul Ahern has failed to grab his chance in two appearances this season. Picture: AFL Photos

Port Adelaide

After 101 games with Brisbane, utility Sam Mayes returned home to South Australia at the end of last season for a fresh start. The 24-year-old is yet to crack into the Power's best 22, but he's produced strong form in the SANFL, playing on a wing. Mayes has been an emergency several times and is close to breaking through for a senior game for his new club. However, youngsters Xavier Duursma, Willem Drew and Zak Butters are keeping him out of the side.

How does he get back in? 

One of Mayes' strengths is his versatility. He's played mostly on a wing in the SANFL but can also play across half-forward and half-back. Mayes will be there if the Power's young guns need to be managed in their first season of senior footy, while he's also ready to take his opportunity if injury strikes. Mayes showed during the JLT Community Series he's capable of playing at the level. He just needs a chance to push his claims. - Lee Gaskin

FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game


It's been a difficult 2019 season for Dan Butler. The classy small forward was a lock for 18 months, winning a premiership in 2017 before his 2018 season ended halfway through with a bad ankle injury. Fully fit to start this year, Butler kicked just one goal in the first three rounds and failed to lay a tackle in round three before being dropped. He has spent the last three weeks in the VFL, held out of the side by tenacious rookie Liam Baker and to a lesser extent, Shai Bolton.

How does he get back in? 

Butler has averaged 14 disposals and has kicked two goals from his two VFL matches (the Tigers had a bye in that period). He was named an AFL emergency for round four but not rounds five and six. Shai Bolton appears to be the next forward in line given Jack Riewoldt's injury. Butler's at his creative best when he is running hard and bringing teammates into the game with his silky skills. Given Richmond's strong small forward stocks, Butler may have to wait some time to force his way back in. - Sarah Black

Dan Butler won a flag with the Tigers but has struggled for a senior berth in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

St Kilda

Saints supporters have been bewildered by the absence of the No.8 draftee from 2017, Nick Coffield, who has yet to be seen this year despite the team being plagued with injuries. After 10 games in his debut campaign and displaying explosive speed and classy disposal, he has played down back in the VFL and been instructed to work on his desperation in defensive contests and consistently bringing that effort.

How does he get back in? 

His numbers have been steadily improving at Sandringham, although that isn't the main concern for the coaches, since they are confident he can win the footy. Coffield's work without the ball is improving, but the senior side's 4-2 record and settled backline makes it hard to see him winning a berth in the short term. Having said that, the Saints' ball use has been an area of concern and the 19-year-old would help improve that, although others are ahead of him in the pecking order, with Coffield yet to be listed as an emergency in 2019. - Dinny Navaratnam

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Sydney Swans

Irish defender Colin O'Riordan showed some positive signs in three games last year but he was dropped after his only appearance this season against Adelaide in round two, when he gave away a costly 100m penalty. The 23-year-old has dominated at reserves level but surprisingly can't crack into the backline set-up in the AFL side, despite the absence of Jarrad McVeigh and Nick Smith. His speed and dash off half-back would be important for the Swans.

How does he get back in? 

O'Riordan's decision-making lets him down at times, but he's skilful and loves to take the game on, so if he can clean up that area of his game, he should get more opportunities. He's averaged more than 30 possessions per game in four reserves games so far, and had 42 against GWS last week, but needs to ensure he's got the mix right between defending his opponent and providing an attacking option. - Adam Curley

Colin O'Riordan has been left out of the Swans side despite the absence of some big names. Picture: AFL Photos

West Coast Eagles

During the first half of last season, Jake Waterman looked to have quickly become a valuable part of the Eagles' forward mix, booting 13 goals in his first 12 career games. But scoring has dried up for the young Eagle, who hasn't kicked a goal in his last five senior matches and been unsighted since round one when he had eight touches and contributed a solitary behind on a tough night for forwards in Brisbane. Waterman was eyeing Mark LeCras' spot after his retirement but has seen taller Oscar Allen and quicker Jack Petruccelle move ahead of him.

How does he get back in? 

The best thing Waterman could do was go back to the WAFL and kick bags of goals, which he has done playing in a deeper role, and the 191cm mobile youngster should be back against Gold Coast this Saturday night. Waterman booted consecutive five-goal hauls before missing round three with a tight hamstring, but added another three in the win against his old club Claremont on Saturday. The Eagles need better connection between midfield and attack and the hard-running 20-year-old could help provide it. - Travis King

MID-SEASON DRAFT 50 players who could spark up your list

Western Bulldogs

Patrick Lipinski is a curious case. The 20-year-old midfielder played every game from round five until the final round of 2018 but hasn't featured at AFL level in 2019. Aside from friendly fire that required a stretcher in the last game against Richmond there hasn't been any obvious fitness queries. The arrival of Bailey Smith and return of Tom Liberatore has made midfield spots hard to come by and Sam Lloyd was recruited to bolster half-forward. Coach Luke Beveridge has said Lipinski simply needs to persist.

How does he get back in?

He has been doing a lot right. Lipinski has led the possession count for the Dogs in two of their three VFL games so far and had 68 touches across two practice matches prior to that. He is renowned as a reliable kick and covers the ground strongly. Pressure acts without the ball was perhaps the knock, although nine tackles in the opening VFL game suggests improvement there. Billy Gowers' dip in form might pave the way back into the fold as early as this weekend. – Paul Bastin

Patrick Lipinski has dominated at VFL level but still needs to bide his time. Picture: AFL Photos