Round 8 is here. This weekend sees many huge blockbuster clashes across the fixture with New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland derbies. We will see nine games from Thursday to Sunday where 18 teams will battle it out, with new stories bound to be written.

Thursday night will see Adelaide v Port Adelaide, the battle of South Australia, this game is anticipated to be a blockbuster.

A must-watch game this weekend is on Friday night between Carlton v Collingwood at the MCG, these two clubs have one of the biggest rivalries in the competition so it's going to be a huge match with over 80,000 expected at the 'G.

Saturday afternoon promises another blockbuster match for the New South Wales bash when Sydney Swans hosts GWS Giants at the SCG. Every time these two play each other it's expected to be a fierce and fiery match. They sit 2nd and 3rd respectively on the ladder, this game is for sure going to live up to its expectations.

Below we have focused on a player who is going in under the radar, a player who needs to step up, a player who's sure to gain plenty of attention, a big matchup, a player who could potentially look at a new role and a player who is on a comeback in Round 8.

Under the radar: Sam Darcy 

Sam Darcy has had a great start to the season after being overlooked in Round 1, and has been in the team ever since. The key forward is flying under the radar and becoming a huge threat to any defending team.

LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Sam Darcy of the Bulldogs celebrates kicking a goal during the round 23 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Western Bulldogs at University of Tasmania Stadium on August 21, 2022 in Launceston, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

The son of Western Bulldogs great Luke Darcy has made a name for himself this season, kicking 11.6 goals, averaging 12.3 disposals, 5.2 marks, 3.7 tackles and two contested marks in just six games.

The 20-year-old earned a Rising Star nomination for his performance against Geelong in the Gather Round, kicking three goals. The key forward is one of the most improved players this year and is almost challenging Harley Reid for the Rising Star title but is going under the radar for his performances each week.

His aerial craft and mobility for his size is outstanding and he will be a huge threat to the Hawks' backline this weekend. If Hawthorn defenders are not ready for the key forward, it's likely Darcy will be damaging, kicking a handful of goals.

Needs to step up: Lachie Neale

Two-time Brownlow medallist Lachie Neale must step up this weekend and help lead his side. As co-captain of the Lions, the midfielder needs to lead his team who have been struggling with form this season to have a strong performance against the Suns on Sunday night.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Lachie Neale of the Lions in action during the 2023 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Brisbane Lions at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 30, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Neale has been off his best form this season and his football resume suggests he should be performing a lot better. The 30-year-old needs to help lift his team, who have a great opportunity against state rivals the Suns to get a win and begin to return to their best form.

The midfielder needs to step up and get his form back to what he's capable of. Neale having a strong performance this weekend will help get his team back on track and push to be contenders again in 2024.

All eyes are on... Liam Baker

All eyes will be on Liam Baker this weekend when his side takes on the Dockers. Baker this season has been taking on more of a midfield load to fill the hole in the Tigers midfield group due to the absences of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper, who are sidelined due to injury.

Liam Baker during the 2022 AFL Round 19 match between Richmond and Fremantle (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

Baker this weekend will be one to watch and how he handles being in the midfield against an opposition with a very strong midfield with the likes of Nat Fyfe, Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong.

Additionally, Baker's contract is up at the end of the year and there's a chance that he will be departing the Tigers and looking for a move back home to Western Australia.

Fremantle is in a favoured position to secure the 26-year-old player, so all attention will be on Baker this weekend in the midfield and how he performs against Fremantle, knowing they could be his future team next year.

The big matchup: Errol Gulden and Josh Kelly/Finn Callaghan

The biggest matchup for Round 8 will be on Saturday afternoon at the Sydney Derby between three of the best wingmen in the competition; Errol Gulden and GWS pair Josh Kelly and Finn Callaghan.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 30: Errol Gulden of the Swans in action during the round 16 AFL match between Sydney Swans and Geelong Cats at Sydney Cricket Ground on June 30, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

This matchup between Gulden and the GWS pair is anticipated to set the tone of the match. Whoever gets the advantage and wins the ball will have a huge impact on their sides.

Gulden is third in the competition for score involvements and on home turf is hard to stop, but don't count out Kelly and Callaghan with their classy skills as two of the most damaging weapons for the Giants.

They are three of the most lethal wingmen in the competition and come Saturday afternoon at the SCG all eyes will be on these three and who will get the upper hand and win this battle.

A new role? Isaac Heeney

With Luke Parker likely returning for the Swans this weekend what does his mean for Isaac Heeney?

Heeney has had an exceptional start to the 2024 season and he's one of the favourites for the Brownlow Medal, though with the return of a veteran midfielder what will happen to his role? Does he remain in the midfield or does he get pushed back to a more half-forward position?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15: Isaac Heeney of the Swans looks on during the 2024 AFL Round 01 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 15, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Heeney started the season as a midfielder to help fill the shoes of Luke Parker and Callum Mills, who have both been absent due to injury but no one expected him to perform the way he has been.

So what will John Longmire do? Does he continue to play Heeney as a midfielder or move him into a new role, back to his half-forward position which he can be equally as dangerous? Or does Longmire push Parker to a new role playing a more forward role?

On the comeback: Luke Parker

Luke Parker is likely to return this weekend for a huge Sydney Derby which will be his first game of the season.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 02: Luke Parker of the Swans celebrates a goal during the 2022 AFL Second Qualifying Final match between the Melbourne Demons and the Sydney Swans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on September 2, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Parker has been absent from the senior side since he broke his arm in February and had to undergo surgery.

The 31-year-old returned last week through the VFL, where he dominated managing 34 disposals, six tackles and five clearances, and it's expected he will return to the senior side this weekend.

It's unclear what Parker's role will look like and if he play in the midfield or is pushed into another position. But there is no doubt his experience and the gusty player he is comes as a huge win for the Swans this weekend in a blockbuster match against cross-town rivals.