Whilst the bye rounds are usually a pretty dire affair, this round promises to be the exact opposite. Of the six games this weekend, not one has a clear winner as it looms to be a potential weekend of upsets.
Round 14 starts on Thursday night with Geelong travelling to take on Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval. Whilst the Power look to extend their win streak to 11 games, Geelong will be fresh off the bye and will start to mount a case towards September as they regain captain Patrick Dangerfield as well as Mitch Duncan and Max Holmes.
Then we head to Friday night's game at the Gabba, where Jack Gunston and Daniel Rich have stood themselves down for selection as they believe their current form doesn't warrant being picked. Despite the Swans' loss to St Kilda last week, they stuck with them for the whole game, losing by only 14 points. Expect the Swans to bring their best against the out-of-form Brisbane.
Richmond and the Gold Coast Suns will be looking to knock off St Kilda and Carlton respectively this weekend to both make it three wins in a row and challenge for a spot in the top eight. The Tigers will be stirred on by milestone man Trent Cotchin, who will play game 300 this weekend.
It's going to be an interesting weekend of footy, and these are the five players we are focusing on.
Richmond's former premiership captain will play his 300th game this weekend as he starts to rediscover strong form under interim coach Andrew McQualter. Cotchin was one of Richmond's best in their victory over Fremantle last weekend, finishing the game with 28 disposals, four score involvements and seven clearances.
Cotchin has had a decorated AFL career to date, attaining accolades which include being a triple-premiership captain for Richmond, the 2012 Brownlow medallist, three-time Jack Dyer medallist, All-Australian and the AFLCA's Player of the Year in 2012. Taken at Pick No.2 in the 2007 NAB AFL Draft, Cotchin has definitely lived up to the hype associated with being such a high draft pick.
With Richmond mathematically in finals contention after two close wins in a row, Cotchin will be looking to lead from the front in game 300 against St Kilda on Saturday night and stir his team towards three in a row. The two clubs haven't played each other since Round 3, 2022, when Richmond lost by 33 points, and they'll be looking to change that this weekend.
Port Adelaide will have their hands full on Thursday night as they host Geelong at Adelaide Oval, and will have to find a solution to stopping twin towers Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins. When these sides met in Round 19 last year, the duo's seven goals got Geelong over the line, and no doubt Port Adelaide will have their hands full once again.
With captain Tom Jonas stuck in the SANFL for another week, Aliir Aliir will take the job on either Cameron or Hawkins. Aliir was one of Port's best last time, with 23 disposals, 11 intercept possessions and three tackles.
Aliir has been below his usual standards the last few weeks, particularly between Rounds 8 to 10, where he only accumulated single-figure disposal numbers. Last week was one of his better games in recent times, with 13 disposals, six marks and three tackles. Expect him to build on that this week if Port Adelaide are to extend their winning streak to 11 games.
Carlton are once again under the microscope after slumping to their sixth loss in a row against Essendon last weekend. They were right in the match at halftime, going into the main break down by only two points, yet a shocking third quarter saw them kick two goals to Essendon's seven. Their inaccuracy in front of goal ultimately cost them the game, kicking 16 behinds.
We highlighted Patrick Cripps a few weeks ago, however, Cripps has failed to exit his form slump, with coach Michael Voss even highlighting on the weekend that Cripps "had a challenge ahead of him," despite being fully fit.
In the last two weeks, Cripps has only laid two tackles a game which is well down on his usual average of 4.8. Some are calling Cripps' form slump a "Brownlow hangover," whilst the pressure of being Carlton captain right now may also be a contribution. Being the champion that he is, Cripps' slump won't last for long and he'll respond to his critics, and if there's any time to do that, it's this weekend in a winnable game against the Gold Coast Suns at home.
Ben King's comeback to footy has been one of the feel-good stories of the season, having returned to form almost instantly after missing the entirety of the 2022 season. King has kicked multiple goals in every game since Round 5 to have 30 for the season so far, setting him up to beat his career-high 47 goals from 2021.
A stint in the Top End has found Gold Coast knocking off some contenders, beating the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide Crows to move up to the 11th spot and sitting one game outside the eight. King has been a crucial part of the Suns' form, kicking five goals across the two games to go into the bye with momentum. King has been pretty accurate this season, scoring at 68.2 per cent, and will be looking to make Carlton pay for their missed shots on goal.
This weekend, the Suns will travel to the MCG to play a struggling Carlton side and will be looking to prove they can perform and win games in Melbourne, not just in Queensland and the Northern Territory. If they win this game, the Suns will be right amongst the finals talk, after resurrecting a 1-4 start to the season.
The Kangaroos are edging closer to a win under caretaker coach Brett Ratten, getting within a kick of the Swans and Essendon in tough losses and sticking with GWS for most of the game last week to go down by 28 points. Whilst this week's opponent is tough in the Western Bulldogs, they've been off their game recently, having lost their last three games, and North Melbourne will be looking to pounce.
One player who will go a long way to beating the Bulldogs is George Wardlaw. Pick No.4 in the 2022 AFL Draft, Wardlaw earnt a Rising Star nomination this week for his performance against GWS, with 22 disposals, nine tackles and his first AFL goal. Although he has only played four games, it feels as though he has slotted into the Kangaroos' midfield seamlessly, averaging 6.3 tackles and 5.8 clearances a game.
This weekend, Wardlaw will come up against stars in Marcus Bontempelli, Adam Treloar and Tom Liberatore. Whilst many would be intimidated by the prospect, Wardlaw will take on the challenge and continue to string together impressive form.
Our man's a Rising Star ⭐️#Kangas
— North Melbourne FC (@NMFCOfficial) June 13, 2023