AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is Sandringham Dragons’ rebounding defender, Sarah Hartwig who is as good in the air as she is on the ground.

Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Height: 173cm
Position: Centre half-back / can play midfield or forward
Strengths: Intercept marking, footy IQ, spoiling, clean hands, one-on-ones, positioning

2020 NAB League stats: 3 games | 15.0 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.0 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 2.6 rebounds

2019 NAB League stats: 9 games | 13.1 disposals | 2.8 marks | 4.1 tackles | 3.4 rebounds

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 2 games | 5.0 disposals | 1.5 marks | 1.0 tackles

For AFL Women’s clubs, finding a tall defender with clean hands and high footy IQ that can also play through the midfield and up forward is tough. But luckily for Victorian teams, there are two genuine quality taller defenders in Isabelle Pritchard and Sarah Hartwig both in their top-age years this year. In Hartwig’s case, she has spent more time up the ground in 2020, which is why when you look at her stats compared to last year, her disposals and marks are up, whilst her rebounds and tackles are down. She has gone out hunting the ball and provided much more of an offensive run out of defence.

In 2019, Hartwig played nine games in the NAB League Girls competition and was one of the premier rebounders. She reads the ball well in flight, but reacts quickly at ground level, which makes her all the more damaging even when you think she is out of the contest. She attacks the ball carrier just as hard as the ball itself, and will often be the one knowing when to drop back into the hole to take an intercept mark. She can just as easily come over as a third player in a marking contest too.

In 2020, we saw Hartwig’s game develop further – albeit in just the three games – where she was able to win the ball a bit more up the ground, but still have the impact on the contest. In one play against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in Round 1, Hartwig came off half-back and ran between a number of opposition players to pick the ball up one-take on the burst, then took the opposition on by sidestepping or fending them off, and kicked neatly inside 50. It is this dare that can separate her from her peers, because she backs herself to get the job done and make the right choice.

While she only got limited time in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, if it goes ahead this year expect her to have a much greater role. She has the versatility to play in multiple positions, but she just reads the ball so well off half-back and positions herself accordingly, it is where you expect to see her line-up. With the improvement already shown and the natural development over time, Hartwig has the potential to become a quality defender at the top level.

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