Sir Doug Nicholls Round continues this weekend as footy returns to the Top End, with Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs facing off at TIO Stadium on Saturday night.
With the news that Damien Hardwick was leaving Richmond during the week, Sunday afternoon's clash between Richmond and Yaartapulti looms as a massive clash, and the whole AFL world will be watching as Andrew McQualter coaches his first game.
Carlton will also be looking to break a three-game losing streak on Friday night at the SCG, with an enticing midfield battle to take place as the likes of Gulden, Warner, Parker and Heeney go up against Cripps, Walsh, Cerra and Hewett.
There are also plenty of milestone men this weekend, as Steele Sidebottom notches up game 300, GWS captain Toby Greene plays game 200, and the big American Mason Cox plays game 100.
It's shaping up to be a big weekend of footy, so we've named the five players to focus on for this weekend.
Sidebottom will become the 101st VFL/AFL player to reach the 300-game milestone this weekend, having only missed 33 games since his debut in Round 7, 2009. Sidebottom has been one of Collingwood's most consistent performers alongside Scott Pendlebury, having won 170 games together, and is still in strong form at age 32.
Sidebottom has always been lauded for his team-first attitude, but his achievements have not gone unnoticed. In Collingwood's heart-breaking end to the 2018 season, Sidebottom was awarded finals player of the year, an All-Australian blazer, the Copeland Trophy alongside Brodie Grundy, and was runner-up in the Brownlow Medal count by only four votes.
This weekend, when the Pies host North at Marvel Stadium, Sidebottom will be hoping to continue his strong form this season to celebrate game 300 in style, having finished runner-up in this year's ANZAC Day Medal voting and kicking the winning behind for Collingwood against Adelaide.
He was a young lad from Shepparton, now he’s a 300 game club champion.
Steele hasn’t aged a day 🤪 #STEELE300 pic.twitter.com/JkZuR3IhVe
— Collingwood FC (@CollingwoodFC) May 24, 2023
Luke Jackson will face off against his former Naarm premiership teammates for the first time this weekend, having crossed to Walyalup at the end of last season.
Jackson recorded only one mark and 0.2 in front of the goals across the opening rounds of the season, drawing heavy criticism in the media after being such a large pickup for Walyalup. However, Jackson has managed 12 goals since Round 3, including a three-goal haul against the Swans to be named one of the Dockers' best.
His ruck pairing with Sean Darcy will come up against the All-Australian duo of Max Gawn and Brodie Grundy in what looms as the biggest test for the pair this season. After strong wins against Geelong and the Swans in the last two weeks, Jackson will be hoping to replicate his form and claim bragging rights over his old team, with a top-eight spot up for grabs if Walyalup gets the win.
Butters polled a perfect 10 in the coaches' votes last week, leading Yaartapulti to a four-point victory over Naarm after a massive 41-disposal, two-goal game. Butters now sits equal first with Nick Daicos for coaches' votes this season and has rocketed into Brownlow contention across the last three weeks.
According to afl.com.au's Brownlow Predictor, Butters has eight of a possible nine votes from his last three performances, compared to Daicos' predicted one vote. Butters' strong form has placed Yaartapulti into premiership contention after a slow start to the season and now find themselves third on the ladder.
Yaartapulti will take on a new look Richmond on the weekend, who will be without Damien Hardwick for the first time since 2009, in what looms as an opportunity for Butters to continue his strong form. The last time the two sides played was Round 21 last season, where Butters was Port's best with 28 disposals, eight tackles, and a goal - despite a 38-point loss. Expect him to put on a similar show this Sunday afternoon.
After being the sub for Carlton last weekend, George Hewett has been tipped to return to the starting side this weekend.
Coming up against his old side the Swans at the SCG under Friday night lights, Hewett will be looking to make an immediate impact and help break Carlton's three-game losing streak. If selected, Hewett takes part in an enticing midfield battle against the likes of Gulden, Parker, Heeney and Warner, with the game ultimately to be won in the middle of the ground.
Hewett was in Carlton's best when he played his former side for the first time in Round 10 last season, recording 32 disposals, nine clearances and seven tackles to help Carlton to a 15-point win. He'll be hoping to replicate that performance tomorrow night in order to save Carlton's season and bring them back into finals contention.
After a disappointing loss to Sydney last weekend, giving away a 50-metre penalty for an interchange breach in the dying stages, North will be looking to cause a massive upset against the Pies and spoil the Sidebottom 300 party. Luckily enough, North regain Zurhaar from a facial injury this weekend to aid their chance at an upset.
So far this season, Zurhaar is averaging 17.1 disposals and 10.8 kicks to rank as elite, but his hard-bodied efforts around the ball are what will be needed the most on the weekend, particularly against Darcy Moore and Brayden Maynard.
Zurhaar's forward combination with Nick Larkey has also been critical for North Melbourne, with the pair combining for 38 goals so far this season. The last time the pair played Collingwood they combined for six goals to nearly snatch victory. In front of a sold-out crowd and a disappointing loss last weekend, expect 'The Bull' to be raring to go.