ASK YOURSELF the question: you're in charge of an AFL club, and you have access to one player of your choice from all other clubs … who would it be?

I'd suggest you think outside the square, the square that would obviously include Bont, Trac, Dusty, Oliver, Toby.

Maybe go for Aaron Naughton. Maybe Sam Walsh. Isaac Heeney. But the one I would go for would be Luke Jackson.


The Demon big man has played just 32 matches – six in 2020, 24 in 2021, two in '22. But he's the one I'd be prepared to invest an entire future on. He can do anything, this 20-year-old. He's already changed the course of a Grand Final, from 19 points down, when he was still a 19-year-old. Think about that, slowly. And he hasn’t even got started.

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Relive Melbourne's blistering goal flood that broke a 57-year flag drought

A late third-quarter onslaught saw the Demons pile on seven consecutive goals in what will be looked at as the pivotal burst that captured the flag

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He's already an incredible ruckman. He might be an untapped centre half-forward. Imagine him at centre half-back. Reckon he would be a taller version of Ross Glendinning, barging past anything in his way.

Jackson was again outstanding on Saturday night, helping the Demons do enough to beat a plucky Gold Coast, along with the other resident superstars Christian Petracca and Clayton Oliver.

Jackson is out of contract. The two Perth teams want him to come home and have pitched mind-boggling offers for his talents.

He can’t lose from here.

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Jackson wows with stunning ruck action

Luke Jackson gets the Melbourne faithful roaring after this dazzling goal out of the ruck contest

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Young Bloods making Sydney a contender

All the Sydney Swans focus has been on one man in the opening weeks of the 2022 season.

And while that focus reached its historically momentous occasion at the SCG on Friday night, the real reasons for the premiership hopes attached to the Swans have gone largely unnoticed.

In no particular order, those reasons are Warner, Campbell, Gulden, Blakey, Stephens. The kids who play as though they are already seasoned AFL performers. Then there's Heeney, Mills and Florent, who respectively have been in the AFL system since 2015, 2016 and 2017 – they are now at, or very near, the peaks of their brilliant powers.

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Heeney having a party before the break

Isaac Heeney electrifies with two consecutive goals right before half-time

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Buddy, fresh off career goal No.1000 and now 320 games into his guaranteed AFL Hall of Fame Legend career, is still very important. So too Rampe and Kennedy and Parker. And Papley, arguably the competition's best small forward, is yet to be seen this season.

The Swans in 2022 present as the perfect mix of old and new. The oldies remain important, the newbies are more important and give them a beautiful X-factor. A win against the Dogs on Thursday night at Marvel Stadium will give Melbourne and Brisbane, the obvious standouts on premiership markets, something deep to think about.

Sydney's Chad Warner in action against Geelong in round two, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

'80s powerhouses turn back the clock

It's probably way too early to think of 1986-87 possibilities when analysing the start to the 2022 season by Carlton and Hawthorn.

But, given the Western Bulldogs, Richmond and Melbourne have all come from nowhere to break droughts since 2016, there's at least reason for Blues and Hawks supporters to think big – if not for this year, then for years in the near future.

In a round three series of matches which has a Showdown, a Perth Derby and an intriguing Bulldogs-Swans game on Thursday night, Carlton v Hawthorn, next Sunday at the MCG, could be the game of the round.

NINE THINGS WE LEARNED Young Hawk's living up to the legends

Both have started 2-0, both are playing tough and great-to-watch footy under new coaching structures, and both, after respective big wins against the Western Bulldogs and Port Adelaide, have forced Luke Beveridge and Ken Hinkley into early-season panic.

And both teams have potent, footy-brain forward lines: Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay, and Jack Gunston and Mitch Lewis. Sure, it’s not Stephen Kernahan-Jon Dorotich and Jason Dunstall-Dermott Brereton, but the key forwards are leading the way.

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Blues see double as power forwards combine for nine

Carlton forwards Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay combined to kick 9 goals between them to lead their side to a memorable

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For Carlton, Patrick Cripps has been on a rampage in the opening two games, hitting the form that saw him secure three best-and-fairests in his first six seasons. For Hawthorn, James Sicily's return after 18 months out with a knee has been just about perfect.

Hope Blues and Hawks fans pack out the MCG next Sunday, just like they did Princes Park, Waverley Park and the 'G in the '80s.

Hawthorn's Gary Ayres kicks during the 1986 VFL Grand Final against Carlton. Picture: AFL Photos

Always wait, but....

I've long been adamant that no bold, season-assessment judgments should be made on any club or player until round six of an AFL season at the earliest, and preferably round eight.

Buuutttt … that doesn’t mean you don’t ponder best case – hello Sydney and Carlton – and worst case – and hello to you, Port Adelaide and Western Bulldogs – in the early rounds.

Port was OK against Brisbane in round one, woeful against Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval in round two. Its previous match at its home venue was also embarrassing, a 71-point preliminary final loss last year.

A Showdown match against Adelaide is up next, followed by Melbourne and Carlton. Again, I'm not ruling them out of a run at a flag, but there are major worries. And Aliir Aliir's injury absence is the biggest concern.

Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas leads his team off after losing to Hawthorn in round two, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

The Bulldogs were OK in both their losses. But there are worrying themes emerging. Aaron Naughton cannot do it all himself up forward, the backline is serviceable but questionable, and the midfield machinations may have been worked out by opposition. Even my competition-wide favourite player, Bont, is down on form, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was due to the foot injury he sustained during the season opener against Melbourne. Not that he would ever admit that.

The Swans and the Tigers are up next for the Dogs. Hmmm. But then it's North, Adelaide, Essendon and Port. Yep, let's stick to the plan, and wait till round six, maybe round eight.