IN THIS week's Nine Things We Learned, we discover that Charlie Curnow is the most watchable player in the comp, a veteran Tiger still has some juice left and a star Demon's Brownlow chances are on track.
Check our what our team discovered in round 10 below.
1. Step aside superstars, there's a new A-lister in town
Toby Greene has been missing in action through suspension, Dustin Martin has been away on personal leave and Lance Franklin is 35. A new guard of entertainers has enthralled the competition in recent times, including Christian Petracca, but there isn’t a more watchable player in the competition right now than Charlie Curnow. The Carlton game-breaker is turning on a brilliant campaign – his six-goal performance against the Swans taking him to 33 goals for the season, which is one short of his career-best season tally from 2018 (34 goals from 20 games). He is on track for a 70-goal year and who knows how far the Blues will go in September. On Friday night Franklin kicked two goals, but he must have seen some similarities of himself in Curnow at the other end as the amazingly athletic and brilliant young forward turned the game the Blues’ way. - Callum Twomey
2. Newcombe should be the Rising Star favourite
There’s no shortage of contenders to win this year’s NAB AFL Rising Star award, but in my opinion, Hawthorn’s Jai Newcombe is the head of the pack. Newcombe has been unbelievable this season, and in Sunday’s win against the Lions in Launceston, he was phenomenal. Newcombe stuffed the stats sheet, tallying 27 possessions (14 contested), nine clearances, six inside 50s, 664 metres gained, 24 pressure acts, six tackles, 12 score involvements and one goal. He was probably best afield, and if he’s not already Hawthorn’s premium midfielder, he’s not far behind. Ahead of Sunday’s game, Newcombe was averaging 23 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s per game. And, he loves it tough. - Trent Masenhelder
3. Veteran star still has some gas in the tank
At 33 and with 313 games on the odometer, Jack Riewoldt still has some high-quality performances left in the tank. Tom Lynch has been the star of the show in attack this season, but on Saturday night against Essendon it was all about the three-time Coleman medallist – and it might be in the coming weeks. Lynch suffered a hamstring injury against the Bombers and spent the final quarter on the bench after kicking 0.4 up until that point. Riewoldt produced his best performance of the season, finishing with 4.2 from 10 marks and eight score involvements. The three-time premiership player has been a star for a long time and doesn't want to exit the game quietly. - Josh Gabelich
4. Dockers' midfield needs Nathan Fyfe more than its forward line
Fremantle's transition game style has been a revelation in dry conditions this season, but the past fortnight has exposed wet weather as the team's kryptonite and an adjustment is needed as winter looms. Luckily for coach Justin Longmuir, he has the opportunity to plug the team's best wet-weather player straight into a team that was fumbly in Sunday's loss to Collingwood just in time for a top-four battle against Melbourne. There is intrigue around whether Fyfe will return as a midfielder or a forward. The Dockers would benefit from a strong target in attack, but what they need more is a midfield bull who can force the ball forward when games get messy, as they inevitably will in June and July. They've got one waiting. – Nathan Schmook
5. The Dogs are getting their brand back
The Bulldogs were expected to beat Gold Coast in Ballarat, and the final score was close, but there were enough signs to suggest they're getting closer to the 2021 version of their game. There were snippets of it against Collingwood the previous week, and that turned into prolonged patches against the Suns. The dynamic midfield that carried the Dogs all the way to last year's Grand Final was back, with Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore and Josh Dunkley winning everything on the inside, Adam Treloar and Bailey Smith taking advantage on the outside, and superstar Marcus Bontempelli doing everything everywhere. With Alex Keath settling the backline and Aaron Naughton flying for everything forward, the Dogs look ready to scare the top teams again. - Michael Whiting
6. The Saints don't need their Steele, and that's a good thing
Questions rightfully arose about St Kilda's ability to win without their midfield talisman and skipper Jack Steele, and some might still remain after the victory over an Adelaide side without Matt Crouch and Harry Schoenberg. But the dynamic performances from Bradley Hill and Brad Crouch, together with Jade Gresham, ensured that many of those concerns were dispelled. Hill was electric against the Crows with 30 disposals and a goal, while Crouch, who finished with 31 touches and a crucial final-quarter major, stepped up when the Saints were searching for a hero not named Max King. Tougher tests await - and they Saints will need their skipper back for those - but Saturday night's win will have Brett Ratten sleeping much easier as the second half of the season approaches. - Michael Rogers
7. Oliver's Brownlow hopes alive and well
After 10 matches this year, Melbourne star Clayton Oliver is averaging an incredible career-high 34 disposals (up from 31.6 last year) and 8.7 clearances (7.5). Already a three-time club best and fairest winner at the age of 24 (including topping last year's premiership count), Oliver has somehow gone to another level this year. After his 45-touch performance against North Melbourne, coach Simon Goodwin praised the midfielder's ability to not just win the footy – right under the umpires' eyes when it comes to votes – but bring teammates into the game with his deft touch and footy smarts. – Sarah Black
8. The Cattery remains a nightmare for travelling sides
During a run from 2007 to 2021, Geelong won 98 of 109 games at GMHBA Stadium, but that was halted by a shock 19-point loss to GWS in round 19 last year. Including that Giants loss, the Cats had actually lost three of their past five games at the venue coming into Saturday's game against Port Adelaide. Three weeks ago at home, Geelong went down by three points to Fremantle, while the two wins in that five-game span were both under 15 points, creating doubts about whether it's still a fortress. But their grinding 35-point win over 2020 and 2021 preliminary finalists Port was a good reminder that the Cattery is still a fortress. - Ben Somerford
9. Could Giants coaching crew become a Bombers squadron?
When a caretaker coach salutes in his first game he is immediately discussed as the frontrunner for the full-time role, but as impressive as Mark McVeigh’s 52-point winning debut was, he is still just the jack in the pack with Alastair Clarkson the ace. For McVeigh this year may be more of a remote audition for a role at his former club. With Essendon and Ben Rutten under the pump, could club power brokers at the Hangar be watching McVeigh closely? And there's also old club mates and new coaches box companions James Hird and Dean Solomon. Footy fans love only one thing more than a prodigal son returning home, and that’s three prodigal sons. - Howard Kimber