Western Australia's Roxy Roux against Vic Metro at the AFLW U18 Championships

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Fremantle

FREMANTLE was one of two non-Victorian clubs forced to share the state pool of players this year, with the introduction of West Coast Eagles to the AFL Women’s competition. In doing so, the Dockers lost nine players to their cross-state rivals, with Dana Hooker the most notable of the departures. Elsewhere, Maddy Collier headed to GWS GIANTS and Belinda Smith went to the Bulldogs. They used the free agency to scoop up Mia-Rae Clifford and convince the talented forward to play for her third club, whilst also looking overseas, recruiting Gaelic football duo Kate Flood and Aine Tighe, as well as netballer Lindal Rohde.

Heading into the AFL Women’s Draft, Fremantle was well placed to pick up some serious top-end talent. Roxanne Roux is an incredible talent and will be a franchise player in the future with her high leaping, contested marking and goalscoring ability. Along with Roux, Mim Strom completed her remarkable rise this season to join the club as a developing ruck – though might be thrown into the spotlight given the loss of Parris Laurie and Alicia Janz. Emma O’Driscoll, Sarah Garstone and Bianca Webb are another trio of players who have represented Western Australia at Under 18 level and have plenty of development left in them, while Ann McMahon and Janelle Cuthbertson provide some experience amongst the youth.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Mia-Rae Clifford (Geelong), Kate Flood, Aine Tighe (Gaelic football), Lindal Rohde (netball), Roxanne Roux, Ann McMahon (East Fremantle), Mim Strom, Emma O’Driscoll, Bianca Webb (Swan Districts), Sarah Garstone (Claremont), Janelle Cuthbertson (Perth Angels)
OUT: Dana Hooker, Ashlee Atkins, Melissa Caulfield, Kellie Gibson, Brianna Green, Courtney Guard, Parris Laurie, Cassie Davidson, Alicia Janz (West Coast), Maddy Collier (GWS GIANTS), Belinda Smith (Western Bulldogs), Ebony Dowson, Tayla McAuliffe, Brianna Moyes (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Ebony Antonio
Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan)
Kiara Bowers
Tayla Bresland
Steph Cain
Mia-Rae Clifford
Janelle Cuthbertson
Sabreena Duffy
Sarah Garstone
Evie Gooch
Katie-Jayne Grieve
Gemma Houghton
Leah Mascall
Ann McMahon
Hayley Miller
Emma O’Driscoll
Gabby O’Sullivan
Laura Pugh
Roxanne Roux
Matilda Sergeant
Philipa Seth
Ashley Sharp
Angelique Stannett
Jasmin Stewart
Mim Strom
Bianca Webb
Alex Williams

Rookies: Kate Flood, Lindal Rohde, Aine Tighe

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Tayla Bresland – Janelle Cuthbertson – Phillipa Seth
HB: Emma O’Driscoll – Stephanie Cain – Evie Gooch
C: Hayley Miller
HF: Sabreena Duffy – Roxanne Roux – Ebony Antonio
F: Ashley Sharp – Gemma Houghton – Mia-Rae Clifford
R: Mim Strom – Kara Antonio – Kiara Bowers
INT: Angela Stannett – Alex Williams –  Gabby O’Sullivan – Leah Mascall – Ann McMahon
EMG: Laura Pugh – Katie-Jayne Grieve – Matilda Sergeant

DEPTH: Sarah Garstone, Jasmin Stewart, Bianca Webb, Kate Flood*, Lindal Rohde*, Aine Tighe*

Fremantle is one of the most difficult clubs to predict a potential 2020 side from given its losses over the off-season. Whilst the forward half remains relatively untouched, the defensive end had some holes and the loss of a couple of rucks made it difficult for the Dockers to replace immediately. They picked up a number of key defenders in the draft, with the experienced Cuthbertson and youthful O’Driscoll potentially lining up in Round 1. Up forward, Roux is likely to be thrown in from the start, as well Strom in the ruck given the losses. McMahon is also expected to make an early debut, while the forward line packs a punch with the inclusion of Clifford.

The toughest area is predicting how the defence will line-up with Tayla Bresland, Phillipa Seth and Evie Gooch all more defensive nullifying players, while Stephanie Cain is the offensive runner. With Justin Cooper at the helm, expect a number of changes to occur for the Dockers as they look to continue building the side for the future. Kiara Bowers was a revelation last season, and will be a tackling machine around the contest once again. The Dockers are probably a year or two away from being a serious contender, but they surprised many in 2019, and with more youth added to the side, could be a dark horse in season 2020.

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