The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 40-31: Is this man the most underrated player in the game?

The 2024 AFL season is here!

Not officially – no, the first bounce of the season proper isn’t for another few weeks, but The Roar’s annual countdown of the league’s top 50 players has arrived.

If you’re new here, it’s all very simple. Five Roar AFL experts – Liam Salter, Tim Miller, Dem Panopoulos, Cameron Rose and myself – each listed our top 60 players as of this very moment.

Those cumulative lists were added up, and over the next five days how things shook out will be revealed, finishing up on Friday with our top 10.

Yesterday, Liam ran through our picks from 41-50; today, I’ll be doing the next group of players, featuring some of the game’s most underrated stars.

Agree with our picks? Let the debate start in the comments section below.

If you haven’t checked out our list so far, you can do so below.

>> The Roar’s AFL top 50 players, 50-41

40. Taylor Walker

Adelaide Crows | Forward

The Crows’ greatest ever goalkicker is now coming into his 17th season, and he is still as dangerous in attack as ever.

Walker’s ability to create a lead and present himself as a target for teammates inside 50, combined with his accuracy in front of goal, makes him still one of the best key forwards in the league, even with his 34th birthday just a few months away.

It has been a late-career resurgence from Tex, as he looked to be dwindling in the COVID-affected 2020 when he kicked just 15 goals; last year’s career-high 76 from 22 games capped with a maiden – and overdue – All Australian blazer.

If the 260-gamer can pick up where he left off last year, complementing the likes of Darcy Fogarty and Izak Rankine up front, Adelaide certainly have the scoreboard firepower to be a finals contender in 2024.


Had to.

All seven goals in a two-minute package.

20 disposals
15 score involvements
1 Showdown medal

AND a goal on his left from 50 that we’ll talk about long after he’s retired…#weflyasone

— Vardy Magic (@VardyMagic) August 1, 2023

39. Jack Viney

Melbourne | Midfielder

As vice-captain of the Demons, Viney has proven himself an outstanding leader for many years, and it won’t be long before the 2021 premiership hero becomes a member of the 200-game club.

In a Dees midfield blessed with Clayton Oliver and Christian Petracca, it would be easy for Viney’s achievements to slide under the radar, but through hard work and reliability, he has established himself as one of the best and most ferocious competitors in the game.

Those who play fantasy AFL (or partake in a multi or two) know just how quickly he can rack up numbers, averaging 25 disposals and nearly six tackles a game in 2024, and he was widely regarded as unlucky to miss All-Australian selection.

He’ll be looking to build on last year’s runner-up best and fairest finish, as well as a career-high 24 Brownlow votes, in 2024 – and with the off-field drama surrounding Oliver, the Dees may need him to raise his game to another level to challenge for a second flag.

Jack Viney puts them through the spin cycle ????#AFLDeesNorth

— AFL (@AFL) April 29, 2023

38. Shai Bolton

Richmond | Midfielder/Forward

While his stats may not shine as bright as others in the competition, there are few players who can light up a game like Bolton. 

A regular on the highlights reel for his abilities close to goal, he has bagged 70 of them across the past two seasons despite spending plenty of time on-ball, many of them goal of the year contenders.

The 25-year-old is already a dual flag-winner and All-Australian in 2022, and he is starting to become more and more of a force in midfield, with his speed, agility and elite skills spelling danger for any opposition.

If Richmond are to return to premiership contention for the first time since 2020, Bolton will undoubtedly play a major role – and having cracked the top 10 in our 2023 list, there’s no doubt his best makes him one of footy’s most lethal players.

Shai Bolton makes the most of the turnover to put through his third goal in a big first half for the Tigers.

???? Watch #AFLDeesTigers on ch. 504 or stream on Kayo:

— Fox Footy (@FOXFOOTY) February 18, 2024

37. Jack Sinclair

St Kilda | Defender

Jack Sinclair’s development over the past few seasons into one of the more consistent rebounding defenders in the competition has been a remarkable watch, and he is set to again be a crucial component of the Ross Lyon system as the Saints aim to build on last year’s return to finals.

Playing 24 games last year, he was among the competition’s top disposal-getters, averaging just under 29 per game while also rating elite for metres gained. Supremely skilled, speedy and with a cool head under pressure, consecutive All-Australian selections and Trevor Barker Awards as the Saints’ best and fairest in 2022 and 2023 have well and truly established him as the biggest star in a team chock full of honest grafters.

If the Saints can pick up where they left off last season, expect Sinclair to have just a big of an impact.

Sinclair slots one on the run and that’s three in a row for the Saints!#AFLGiantsSaints | #AFLDeadly

— AFL (@AFL) May 21, 2023

36. Noah Anderson

Gold Coast Suns | Midfielder

Crowned Gold Coast’s club champion for the first time in 2023, Anderson continued his meteoric rise into the game’s true elite.

Averaging nearly 27 disposals per game, while also ranking elite for kicks and clearances, he provides just the star power that Damien Hardwick will be looking for to try and surge the Suns up the ladder…. and possibly, just possibly, allow the Gold Coast to dream of finals.

He’s not the worst kick for goal either: while he only has 29 from his 81 games, Tigers fans (and Hardwick!) will remember what he did to them back in July 2022, in what has been labelled the Suns’ greatest ever win.


The moment the @GoldCoastSUNS secured one of their greatest ever victories. #AFLSunsTigers

— AFL (@AFL) July 9, 2022

35. Callum Mills

Sydney Swans | Midfielder

One of the mainstays of the Swans’ midfield, the 2022 All-Australian has a lot of making up to do later in 2024, after a Mad Monday mishap ruled him out for the start of the year due to a shoulder injury.

But if he can build on an outstanding 2022 in which he earned a maiden All-Australian blazer and the Bob Skilton Medal as the Swans’ best and fairest, before a slight waning in 2023 that saw him drop from ninth in our list last year down into the 30s, the new sole captain will be crucial in guiding the Bloods to another finals series, if not the grand final itself.

It may be the non-Victorian factor, but his achievements seem to slip under the radar when compared to a Marcus Bontempelli, Nick Daicos or Clayton Oliver. A star of the game for a while now, that Sydney have reached finals in six out of eight seasons is a testament to the skill, composure and ability to influence the game in the midfield or a kick behind the ball that he has shown from the moment he first stepped onto an AFL field.

Callum Mills has been named sole captain at Sydney for the 2024 season. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

34. Tom Liberatore

Western Bulldogs | Midfielder

It’s hard to miss the 31-year-old Bulldog on the field, with his cheeky moustache, Simpsons tattos, and regular involvement around the ball.

2023 was arguably his best season yet, averaging a career-high 27 disposals and nearly eight clearances per game to finish runner-up to Marcus Bontempelli in the club’s best and fairest (more on the Bont later this week).

The son of Dogs legend Tony has been one of the most consistent performers at the club across the past four seasons, finishing second or third in every Charles Sutton Medal since 2020. 

He is an all-round midfielder, capable of winning the hard ball, distributing with some of the fastest hands in the game, and tackling ferociously to win it back.

Returning to the Bulldogs’ leadership group in 2024, it would be great to see ‘Libba’ continue to improve with age this season, and continue to form a dynamic partnership with the superstar that is Bontempelli

The Dogs get out of the blocks fast through Libba.#AFLSwansDogs

— AFL (@AFL) July 13, 2023

33. Luke Davies-Uniacke

North Melbourne | Midfielder

There has been precious little for Roos fans to celebrate over the last few years, but the development of Davies-Uniacke has definitely been a highlight.

One frustration, though, has been injuries, only playing 14 games in 2023 due to hamstring and foot issues – but he did enough to convince our experts to deem him unanimously worthy of spots in our top 50 lists.

From all reports, Davies-Uniacke is in unbelievable shape, burning teammates in the Roos’ two-kilometre time trial in pre-season, and if he can put his injury woes behind him in 2024 is looking at a breakout season – which is just what North fans want to hear


Small sample of his best on ground performance.#AFLSaintsNorth

— TheKing (@theindextracker) July 23, 2023

32. Rory Laird

Adelaide Crows | Midfielder

If you ever needed an example of a workaholic midfielder, look no further than Laird.

The Crows ball magnet averaged 29 disposals last season, among the best in the competition; on top of that, he showed his defensive pedigree with eight tackles a game.

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The continued rise of Jordan Dawson, a late-season renaissance from Matt Crouch, and the rise of some dangerous young stars at the Crows has all combined to shift Laird down the list of priorities for opposition teams to address, and he has been making the most of it as a model of consistency for Matthew Nicks to build a finals-calibre team around.

If the Crows are to better their finals near-miss of 2023 and return to September for the first time since 2017, the whole team needs to stand up, but it will be on the back of an engine room still powered by Laird.

Is Rory Laird the AFL’s most underrated player? (Photo by David Mariuz/Getty Images))

31. Harris Andrews

Brisbane Lions | Defender

Approaching the 200-game milestone, the Lions defender is one of the best ‘spoilers’ in the AFL, with an average of 9.6 per game in 2023.

Add to that 3.5 intercept marks, and the intercept king returned to his very best in 2023, even edging out Brownlow Medallist and fellow co-captain Lachie Neale to win the club’s best and fairest award.

This is not a drill ????

Harris Andrews has kicked a goal.#AFLLionsCrows

— AFL (@AFL) August 12, 2023

Andrews, along with the rest of the Brisbane side, will be extra focused this year on trying to avenge last year’s grand final heartbreak.

If that isn’t enough incentive to inspire the 27-year old to retain his position as one of the game’s pre-eminent key defenders, then nothing will be.

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