Your Ultimate Guide To The 2024 AFL Season

Your ultimate guide to the 2024 AFL season

With the season opener set to kick off at the SCG on Thursday night, it’s time to catch up on everything that’s been going on in Aussie Rules. Consider this your go-to guide to the 2024 AFL season.

SUMMER HAS COME to pass, which can only mean the AFL season is right around the corner. And it is, with anticipation reaching fever pitch and fans currently dusting off their scarves and jerseys as they eagerly await the opening fixtures. The AFL is on the cusp of a new season, and as always, it promises to be an electrifying, showstopping experience for all and sundry.

As is usually the case in the AFL, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will come out on top this year. Six different teams have contested the last three grand finals, with no side truly establishing themselves as a force of dynastic proportions. The Collingwood Magpies are the current top dogs, but their rivals have bolstered their weaknesses, added to their arsenals and will be eager to knock the much-maligned Pies off their pedestal. The 2023 AFL draft was also particularly strong, boasting a number of vaunted prospects looking to make instant impacts in the big league.

With the aim of growing the game outside of its traditional Victorian stronghold, the ‘opening round’ of the 2024 AFL season will be held entirely in New South Wales and Queensland. Eight teams will kick off their seasons in the opening round, with the rest joining in a week later for round one. In case the opening round has snuck up on you, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the 2024 AFL season, including the storylines, players and teams to watch out for this season.

What does the 2024 AFL schedule look like?

The long-awaited opening round of the 2024 AFL season begins this Thursday, March 7, with the season opener being played at the Sydney Cricket Ground between the Sydney Swans and Melbourne Demons. Six other teams will kick off their season this week, with the remainder waiting one week longer for round one.

If you’re keen on joining this year’s festival of footy for Gather Round, mark April 4-7 in your calendar. Over those four days, all nine fixtures of round four will be played in Adelaide as part of an unmissable footballing spectacle.

What about the finals you ask? The 2024 AFL finals series begins on September 5, with the grand final to be held on September 28.

Who are the teams to watch in the 2024 AFL season?

 

2024 AFL season

Instagram I @collingwood_fc

 

Collingwood Magpies

Saying the defending premiers will be an interesting team to watch is anything but a bold claim, but before you derisively skip past this pick, hear us out. Yes, Collingwood will still be the team the beat in 2024, but in the AFL, a team is never truly invulnerable. No team inspires more lunacy from its own fanbase and genuine hatred from opposing sides than the Pies. For every person hoping Collingwood goes back-to-back this year, there are two who would much sooner see them crumble. That’s unlikely to happen, given that the team has superstars Nick Daicos, Darcy Moore and the ageless wonder of Scott Pendlebury steering the ship, but no matter how you feel about Collingwood, you can’t deny that they’ll be entertaining viewing.

 

2024 AFL season

INSTAGRAM I @gwsgiants

 

Greater Western Sydney Giants

GWS won just four of their first 12 games last year, sitting all the way back in 15th spot on the ladder and struggling to find their footing under Adam Kingsley in his first year as coach. They went on to win nine of their last 11 on their way to squeaking into the finals, where they sent St Kilda and Port Adelaide packing before finally coming up just one point short against eventual champions Collingwood. GWS were the team nobody wanted to play in the latter half of 2023. Now they’ll look to continue their incredible run of form into the new season. And they have a good chance of doing so, as coach Kingsley has had a full season to hone his tactical acumen while Toby Greene, Josh Kelly and co. have been firing on all cylinders during preseason. GWS is the team with the best shot at unseating Collingwood this season, and we’ll get a taste of what’s to come when they meet in the opening round this weekend.

 

2024 AFL season

INSTAGRAM I @brisbanelions

 

Brisbane Lions

The Brisbane Lions have made the finals for five straight years now, making it to at least the semi-finals on each occasion. Yet, they only have one grand final appearance—and zero flags—to show for it. The Lions have become perennial nearly-men, a title that was cemented by their narrow four-point defeat to Collingwood in last year’s big dance. Some predictions will have Brisbane slipping on the ladder ever so slightly, but we simply can’t ignore the fact that they’ve won 42 of their past 47 games at home and went undefeated there last year. The Lions remain a formidable side, one that cannot be counted out, especially with reigning Brownlow winner Lachie Neale in tow.

 

2024 AFL season

INSTAGRAM I @melbournefc

 

Melbourne Demons

When the Melbourne Demons won their first premiership in 57 years back in 2021, they did it in dominant fashion. Finishing the regular season as minor premiers and cruising to the premiership with an average winning margin of 63 points across their three finals games, it felt like we were witnessing the beginning of a dynasty. Since then, Melbourne has lost all four finals games they’ve played. They remain contenders though as—off-field drama aside—the Demons have one of the most talented squads in the AFL. Clayton Oliver, Christian Petracca, Jack Viney and Max Gawn will likely all be Brownlow hopefuls, and while the loss of Angus Brayshaw to early retirement will hurt, the Demons have firepower in excess.

 

2024 AFL season

INSTAGRAM I @sydneyswans

 

Sydney Swans

The Swans are a difficult team to pin down at the moment. Some are propping them up for top-four push, others are certain they’re overdue for a downturn. We tend to favour the former. The retirement of Buddy Franklin heralds a new era for the Swans, with a young, exciting crop of players taking the reins. The likes of Errol Gulden, Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills will keep them competitive and the addition of Brodie Grundy won’t hurt. Another deep finals push could be on the cards.

 

Who are the AFL players to watch in 2024?

 

2024 AFL season

INSTAGRAM I @isaacheeney

 

Isaac Heeney

Following Buddy Franklin’s retirement, the Swans are in need of a new face. Isaac Heeney looks like he could be the man, though he will have big shoes to fill. After his first All-Australian selection in 2022, Heeney cemented his status as one of AFL’s premier players in 2023. A true all-rounder capable of playing in the forward line, as a roving midfielder or even as a loose man in defence, Heeney has the talent and leadership ability to lead the Swans into a successful future.

 

 

Getty Images.

 

Nick Daicos

Nick Daicos was a revelation for Collingwood last season. Daicos’ rookie year in 2022 was one of the best ever, but in 2023 he kicked into an even higher gear on his way to an All-Australian selection and a Brownlow near miss. Now, Daicos is almost a certainty to be a Brownlow candidate and should probably be considered the frontrunner. If Collingwood is to repeat, Daicos will be a big reason why.

 

Getty Images.

 

Errol Gulden

Proof that the AFL’s future is in good hands, Errol Gulden and the aforementioned Nick Daicos are both just 21 years of age and are already pushing for Brownlows. Gulden finished fourth in Brownlow voting last season, one place behind Daicos, and also earned a spot in the All-Australian team. A versatile midfielder, Gulden looks primed to dominate the AFL for at least the next decade or so. The Swans have yet another young superstar amongst their ranks.

 

Getty Images.

 

Colby McKercher

Earlier, we noted that the 2023 AFL draft was one of the strongest in recent memory. Talents like Colby McKercher are why. The second pick in the draft, McKercher is a dynamic midfielder who, at just 18 years old, possesses an explosiveness that is rarely seen in players of his inexperience. McKercher has a solid chance of winning the 2024 Rising Star Award, and at a mediocre North Melbourne Kangaroos outfit, he’ll likely have plenty of opportunities to shine.

 

 

Getty Images.

 

Touk Miller

Will the Gold Coast Suns ever make the finals? That’s the question we ask ourselves at the start of every AFL season, as the team is yet to make it to the knockout stages throughout their 13-year history. The Suns finished 15th on the ladder last season, which is—shockingly—not too bad of a result given their lacklustre history (they’ve only finished higher than that four times). If the Suns are ever going to break their duck, it will likely be because of the brilliance of their captain, Touk Miller. A two-time All-Australian who finished third place in Brownlow voting in 2022, Miller is a gamebreaker who can turn any match on its head. Gold Coast’s success hinges on him.

 

Where can you watch the AFL in 2024?

The primary broadcasting rights for the 2024 AFL season lie with Foxtel. All games will be broadcast live on Fox Footy and are available to stream live and on demand on Kayo. A selection of headline games will also be broadcast live on Channel 7.

Related:

Isaac Heeney and the pursuit of the ultimate prize

The fan who copped Buddy Franklin’s 1000th AFL goal ball has returned it to the star

By Cayle Reid

Cayle Reid is a fan of everything sports and fitness. He spends his free time at the gym, on his surfboard or staying up late watching sports in incompatible time zones.

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