Five rounds into the 2024 campaign, it's time to share our edition of the way-too-early end-of-season honours by naming our best 22 for the first segment of the year.

The fixture has nearly evened itself out, all but two teams have played five matches while Melbourne and Richmond await their Round 6 bye.

This means footy pundits have a solid sample of performances to analyse all teams, players, trends and styles during the season so far.

Players will come and go throughout each instalment, the team could flip completely by Round 10, let alone in our end-of-year edition.

Let's celebrate the form of these players to start the season and hope they continue to shine through the enduring struggle of the home & away season.


This backline provides an ominous mix of intercepting prowess with offensive counterpunch and flare, starting with the two Docker stalwarts Alex Pearce and Luke Ryan. Both are in career-best form and make up arguably the most reliable and consistent one-two defensive combo in the competition so far this year.

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

Tom Stewart and Sam Taylor have each started the year typically well without taking the competition by storm, these two are ranked one and two for the AFL's top intercepting backs.

Lachie Whitfield and Nick Blakey are both threatening half-back runners with some of the best foot skills going around the league, providing a damaging score-launching ability when kicking off an offensive chain.

Dan Houston hasn't put a foot wrong since his maiden All-Australian campaign, he earns a backup spot on the bench after a positive start with the Power.

Stiff to miss:


Nine full-time mids have made this side and you'd struggle to find a better group so far this season.

Matt Rowell, Caleb Serong and Tom Green get the honour of the first centre bounce in the rotation, all three are proven contest kings with an ability to use it well on the outside. Serong has been the most prolific and dynamic ball-winner of the lot, while Rowell leads the competition for contested possessions and ground ball wins.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 16: Matt Rowell of the Suns in action during the 2022 AFL Round 05 match between the St Kilda Saints and the Gold Coast Suns at Marvel Stadium on April 16, 2022 In Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Harry Sheezel and Connor Rozee aren't listed wingers but have the pace and outside ability to dominate the position, gathering plenty of handball receives, inside 50s and score involvements.

Max Gawn has usurped former teammate Luke Jackson in the last two weeks thanks to his consistent ruck dominance since Melbourne's Opening Round defeat to Sydney.

Zak Butters, Zach Merrett and Christian Petracca round out the midfield talent on the bench, with some established superstars taking their talents forward of centre.

Stiff to miss:


Here's where you quake in your boots as an opposing defender, looking at the mix of star power roaming through this forward line.

Harry McKay has a strong case as the league's best forward so far, not only taking big clunks in all areas of the ground but kicking truly also.

Jesse Hogan leads the Coleman race so far and looks back to his Demon youngster days, providing a consistently dangerous forward 50 option on the lead, in a pack or at ground level.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 09: Jesse Hogan of the Giants celebrates kicking a goal during the AFL Opening Round match between Greater Western Sydney Giants and Collingwood Magpies at GIANTS Stadium, on March 09, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Jeremy Cameron and Shai Bolton sit in the pockets in this side and have played similar roles for their sides so far this season, using their green light to roam up and down the ground, win the footy wherever necessary, but hit the scoreboard routinely.

Isaac Heeney and Marcus Bontempelli are probably the two best players in the competition as of now and could easily start as midfielders in this side. Their size, power, strength, fitness and scoreboard influence make them worthy forward-line candidates and the two most dangerous players on the ground.

Stiff to miss:


FB: Tom Stewart (GEEL), Alex Pearce (FRE), Luke Ryan (FRE)

HB: Lachie Whitfield (GWS), Sam Taylor (GWS), Nick Blakey (SYD)

C: Harry Sheezel (NM), Tom Green (GWS), Connor Rozee (PA)

HF: Isaac Heeney (SYD), Harry McKay (CARL), Marcus Bontempelli (WB)

FF: Jeremy Cameron (GEEL), Jesse Hogan (GWS), Shai Bolton (RICH)

R: Max Gawn (MELB), Matt Rowell (GC), Caleb Serong (FRE)

I/C: Dan Houston (PA), Zak Butters (PA), Zach Merrett (ESS), Christian Petracca (MELB)