THE 2021 AFL Women’s Draft saw 59 players enter the top flight on Tuesday night, with a mix of the nation’s most promising youth, undeniable state league guns, and some recycled elite level talent making up the selections. We recap the hauls from all 14 clubs, and there still may be more to come yet with Carlton and St Kilda opting to pass their final picks, while Geelong’s Millie Brown has been placed on the inactive list.
Adelaide picked up a three-pronged haul of local talent, spearheaded by another tall in Sturt’s Zoe Prowse. The 177cm ruck has been developing her craft in other positions given the Crows’ strong stocks in said department, but offers great athleticism, aerial ability, and value at their first pick. Three selections later, Adelaide went with a bolter to secure Glenelg prospect Brooke Tonon, a half-back/winger with tenacity and plenty of drive on the outer. Rounding out the crop was Abbie Ballard, a top-age midfielder who remarkably stepped up to skipper West Adelaide in its SANFLW grand final this season, setting the tone with her pressure and contested work.
Brisbane hauled in a handful of Queenslanders to top up its premiership squad, headlined by three players originally out of the Maroochydore Football Club. The Lions featured with the final pick of the first five rounds, starting with Maggie Harmer at number 18. She’s an intercept defender who can roam further afield, where inside midfielder and pick 35 Bella Smith likes to operate. Fellow Lions Academy graduate Mikayla Pauga was next off the board, a forward-midfielder with natural footballing traits. Brisbane then dipped into the mature-age pool by selecting Luka Yoshida-Martin and Lucinda Puller out of the QAFLW. The former was an exciting forward asset in the University of Queensland’s premiership side, while the latter hails from an elite soccer background and typically plays at the other end of the field.
Poised nicely with two close pairs of picks in the first and second rounds, Carlton stuck to its word by targeting the best available talent, some midfield running power, and forward-line depth. Classy Geelong Falcons defender Annie Lee was first up at pick 10, fitting the ‘best available’ description having slipped passed the Cats’ early picks. She’s a great reader of the play, distributor, and avid Blues fan. Another in the latter category is Keeley Sherar, who was snapped up with the very next pick. Her burst out of the stoppages and athletic upside make for some exciting viewing through midfield. A second Vic Metro representative in Brooke Vickers opened Carlton’s second round account, with the forward-running winger potentially an apt replacement for fellow Oakleigh product Mimi Hill while she recovers from injury. Mature-age forward Imogen Milford was taken at pick 26 out of the VFLW, having booted 19 goals in 15 games for Casey. She could be a readymade replacement for Tayla Harris as Serena Gibbs continues to develop.
With three selections poised close together, Collingwood nabbed a dynamic crop of players. Eliza James was first up at pick 29, an Oakleigh premiership player who continues the Magpies’ strong connection with the NAB League region. She’s an athletic midfielder-forward who can take a strong mark and hit the scoreboard. A surprise selection came at pick 32 as Eastern Ranges captain Eloise Chaston was snapped up. She’s another dynamic type up forward who boasts a booming kick and moves smoothly. With the very next pick, Collingwood promoted VFLW product Imogen Barnett to its senior list, after she led the competition’s goalkicking for the undefeated Magpies.
#14 Amy Franklin (Claremont)
#31 Dana East (Swan Districts)
#38 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
#44 Airlie Runnalls (North Melbourne VFLW)
#52 Jessica Low (Claremont)
#57 Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)
Fremantle brought in an equal-high haul of six players on draft night, including five local talents out of the WAFLW and elite talent pathway. Athletic key position utility Amy Franklin was difficult to pass up at pick 14, serving as a player who can get it done aerially at either end of the ground. Fellow state Under 19s representatives Dana East and Makaela Tuhakaraina were next off the board in the 30s, offering inside ball winning class and incredible speed up forward respectively. The Dockers pulled off a Victorian coup with VFLW product Airlie Runnells landing at pick 44. Fremantle liked the 23-year-old’s running ability having broken down her VFLW footage. Jessica Low (pick 52) and Sarah Wielstra (57) rounded out the selections, dipping back into the local pool. Low can play a variety of positions and finally gets her chance as a senior player, while Wielstra offers some forward-ruck support for Mim Strom.
It was no surprise to see Georgie Prespakis head to the Cattery at pick two, and the classy midfielder will be joined by fellow Calder Cannons graduate Zali Friswell. Geelong will hope the two can form a strong centre bounce partnership amid its rebuild, with the two already a very familiar combination. The Cats then picked local with their last two picks, dipping into the Falcons and VFLW talent pools. Athletic forward Gabbi Featherston came at pick nine, with her leap and massive upside at 169cm proving too hard to ignore. 20-year-old multi-sport athlete Annabel Johnson was the Cats’ fourth first round selection, again adding to her new side’s midfield depth.
All eyes were on Gold Coast with pick one and it was no surprise to see Oakleigh Chargers premiership captain, Charlie Rowbottom selected first. The powerful midfielder-forward is a contested beast at 179cm and is equally damaging bursting away from stoppages as she is taking big grabs inside attacking 50. Local product Teagan Levi joined her sister Maddison at the Suns with pick six, again adding great athleticism and skill to the engine room. A second Suns Academy graduate in Giselle Davies joined at pick 30 to add some key defensive support, but not before Northern Territory native Ashanti Bush was taken at pick eight. Bush is a damaging forward who also plied her trade with Hawthorn in this year’s VFLW.
Greater Western Sydney:
#37 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers)
#49 Jessica Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy)
#55 Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power)
#59 Georgie Fowler (East Coast Eagles)
#60 Casidhe Simmons (UNSW-ES Bulldogs)
#61 Erin Todd (Inner West Magpies)
The GWS GIANTS took the equal most draft selections into the night, and utilised them all, including redrafting Erin Todd with the final selection. The first two picks went as many predicted, with Murray Bushrangers tall and GIANTS Academy member Ally Morphett heading to the club with Pick 37, followed by Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle with the second selection at Pick 49. The pair provide completely different attributes, but make a couple of immediate inclusions in the forward half of the ground. The GIANTS then picked up tackling machine Brodee Mowbray out of the Southern Power, with talented forward Georgie Fowler a big improver in AFL Sydney this year, and former heptathlete Casidhe Simmons being a surprising and unique pick, selected with Pick 60 to round out the large GIANTS’ haul.
Melbourne selectors and fans alike had to wait a while for their first pick, but knew what was coming with father-daughter selection Georgia Campbell landing at pick 41. The athletic ruck-forward is an absolute steal at that range, bringing enormous upside and potential to her post. The Dees went tall again with the very next pick, snapping up Campbell’s Vic Metro teammate Tahlia Gillard out of the Calder Cannons. Gillard uses her 189cm frame to advantage in the ruck but is also versatile enough to roll forward and clunk big marks. Rounding out the trio was mature-ager Alison Brown, a player with experience at two different AFLW clubs. Originally a Blue and then a Saint, she comes out of the Demons’ VFLW program where she settled in defence but showed good versatility.
#13 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)
#19 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers)
#28 Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs)
#43 Perri King (Tasmania Devils)
#51 Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW)
#56 Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)
The third side to take six selections in the 2021 draft, North Melbourne picked up some absolute bargains and a strong mix of experience and youth. The youth came early with Geelong Falcons midfielder Tess Craven taken at pick 13, a wonderful addition to the Roos’ already strong midfield who can crack in at the coalface, but also works hard to accumulate and make good decisions around the ground. Tara Slender may well be the steal of the draft at pick 19, with the athletic tall able to play at either end or through midfield. She may take some time to settle at senior level, but her best is elite. The Roos finally secured Kim Rennie‘s services at pick 28, having not struck a deal with the Western Bulldogs during trade period. She brings some much-needed key position experience and strength. Perri King and Ella Maurer were the Tasmanians North Melbourne opted for; King is arguably a first round talent with a terrific blend of class and tackling grunt in midfield, while Maurer is another midfielder with promising traits. Collingwood VFLW product Jasmine Ferguson landed between them at pick 51, showcasing the Roos’ intent in gaining mature talent en route to premiership contention.
Richmond addressed its need for midfield depth with four fresh faces, and the redrafting of defender Akec Makur Chuot. Oakleigh Chargers premiership player Stella Reid came at pick five, with the utility offering consistent ball winning prowess, running power, and scoreboard presence on each line. Fellow Vic Metro representative Emelia Yassir matches the Tigers’ tenacity and is a handy addition at pick 16, providing class at ground level. Richmond then went for a mature-ager in Meagan Kiely with pick 48, who proved too good to overlook after a stellar VFLW campaign with North Melbourne. She’s ready to slot straight into midfield. Geelong Falcons winger Ingrid Houtsma was the last fresh selection at pick 50, brining a good deal of athleticism and versatility to the mix.
St Kilda was in and out of this draft in a flash, taking two first round selections before passing at pick 36. The Saints sured up their forwardline with the selection of Ella Friend, a contested marking phenom out of the GWV Rebels who can also roll up to a wing. She could prove a great fold for Caitlin Greiser at 175cm. At pick 12, Ashleigh Richards keeps the Dandenong-St Kilda link alive as somewhat of a surprise selection, though she has proven herself at every level. The 17-year-old can rotate through midfield from the forwardline and has great footy smarts, as well as her obvious versatility and leadership quality as the Stingrays’ 2021 co-captain.
West Coast pulled off arguably the night’s first surprise by snapping up Charlotte Thomas with pick three. The AFLW Academy member only played one game this year due to a wrist injury, but had previously shown enormous talent at 175cm with her clean skills and reading of the play. Courtney Rowley was a steal at pick 21, the third of Western Australia’s pool, and is a bundle of energy on both sides of midfield. Tall stocks were next on the agenda as the Eagles took Beth Schilling and Sarah Lakay. Both are athletic, with Schilling more of a key defensive type, while Lakay is a developing forward-ruck. Emily Bennett got her chance at pick 47 after missing out last year, proving hard to deny after a consistent campaign. The rebounding defender capped off a strong haul for the Eagles.
Having previously featured heavily at the top end of the draft, the Western Bulldogs got to sit back and watch others select first in the Victorian pool, ending up with three high value picks within the 20s. Two of them were 19th-year talents who came back after being overlooked in 2020, starting with Amanda Ling. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was best afield in her side’s NAB League grand final triumph, and is a tenacious worker on the inside with clean hands and a sound work rate. Elizabeth Snell (pick 27) was the other 2002-born prospect to land at the Kennel, bringing a touch of speed and great character to the midfield-forward rotation. In between those selections, Murray Bushrangers best and fairest Aurora Smith slid to pick 25, proving a high-value choice for the Bulldogs. She balances her game well on both sides of midfield and again has a handy burst of speed, adding to her level of consistency.
Image Credit: Gold Coast SUNS via Twitter