AHEAD of the two big clashes between Queensland and Western Australia for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, we take a look at Western Australia and how they are shaping up this year. Below we take a look at some of the key players to watch ahead of the championships. Like Queensland yesterday, all 10 players are members of the AFL Women’s Academy.
A well-spoken leader and natural footballer, Bowen has already signed on as a pre-listed player for West Coast ahead of next year’s AFL Women’s 2020 season. She was amongst the top three for Western Australia last year alongside two players who stood out in the AFLW this year in McKenzie Dowrick and Sabreena Duffy. Now the top player, expect Bowen to do everything right, covering the ground well and having the perfect balance between offence and attack. The star player of the side who has great toughness and nice bursts of speed.
The other pre-listed West Coast Eagles signing ahead of the 2020 season, Deegan comes from an elite basketball background which has seen her travel to the Youth Olympics in the spot in 2017. She also represented Western Australia last year, and while she might not have the years of experience dedicated to one sport over the journey, she has nice athleticism and will be keen to stand up across the tournament.
The younger sister of McKenzie, Abbey was just 15 years-old when she ran out for Western Australia last year, and twelve months on, she will still have 18 months left until she is eligible to be drafted but still looms as a key player. She attacks the ball and contest hard, and is one of the loudest players out on the field. Even when standing on the mark, Dowrick is doing her best to put the opposition off, and thrives on a see-ball, get-ball attitude.
Two years ago as a middle-ager, Hodder was one of the top performers at the national carnival, winning the state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP), alongside the likes of Madison Prespakis (Vic Metro). Last year injury struck and Hodder was unable to play in the championships, but has been named as an overager this year. She will provide a wealth of talent and experience, and will be one to watch.
Played up the other end to her sister in the 2018 carnival, but showed the same slick skills and composure under pressure, While her role last year was an unheralded one, her best game came on the final day against Vic Country where she showed off her technical ability and intercept capabilities. Could play anywhere on the ground with her traits.
The goal sneak finished the national carnival as the only West Australian to boot a goal in every game last year, finishing with five majors from three matches. Her best effort game against the Eastern Allies, booting three second half goals to win the game off her boot when the opposition was coming. A range of tricks and a good mover, Hyde is a middle-ager who still has another year in the system.
A consistent, rock solid defender who is rarely beaten, O’Driscoll plays a key role in settling the defence. She was a crucial interceptor back in 2018, taking a number of big overhead marks and rebounding out of the back 50. O’Driscoll is smart, clean and positions herself well in contests, not panicking under pressure and a shining light in the back 50. While the Sandgropers have plenty of talent in the forward half, O’Driscoll is one to watch up the other end. A real team player, who is an overager at these championships.
Showed some impressive signs last year and is a hard runner who plays in defence and repels attacks. A natural leader at her state club Swan Districts, Pescud is one who will be able to shut down her opponent whilst causing headaches for the opposition through attacking movements. A smaller player, Pescud could also play through the midfield such is her running capacity and versatility.
One of the best stories across junior football, Roux travelled 10 hours return to go to training on a Monday night, heading across from rural Western Australia. Blessed with strength and a clean pair of hands above her head, Roux impressed in patches last year as a key target inside 50. She has a raking long kick and loves to lay a tackle, expect her to be a crucial player inside 50, potentially teaming up with Courtney Hodder. She also has the capability to push up the ground and be the link-up player to deliver inside 50.
Gained experience for the state side last year and booted the final goal of the game on day two, with Verrier putting the icing on the cake. While Mikayla’s Hyde’s three goals against the Eastern Allies will be remembered, it was Verrier who booted the fourth goal in the second half to secure the win. Another West Australian AFL Women’s Academy member, and yet another middle-ager.