22 in 2022: AFLW Draft Ones to Watch

WHILE the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted for another year, clubs quickly turn their attention to 2022, having followed the potential draft prospects for many years. Whilst there will be at least 12 months until the players begin to hear their names called out, Draft Central will throw up 22 names to remember for 2022, in alphabetical order. This does not necessarily mean that the 22 named will be the top 22, but some of many who have already impressed across the board.

Charlotte Baskaran
Balanced Midfielder
09/12/2004 | 162cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

One of the best kicks going around, Baskaran is a potent inside/outside midfielder who is able to find space and do a lot of damage with ball-in-hand. A high impact player, Baskaran has remarkably already played three seasons at the Jets, making her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. Over the past two seasons, she has averaged more than 20 disposals and around six tackles per game, but it is her pinpoint passes inside 50 that make her a clear standout amongst the top Victorian talents.

Mia Busch
Medium Defender
18/05/2004 | 166cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

The skilful defender burst onto the scene this year with an impressive consistency, averaging 15.1 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.5 tackles and 3.5 rebounds. She caught the eye with her ability to use the ball well by foot coming out of the defensive half, and has equal measures of defensive and offensive traits that can set up play down the field. Won Eastern Ranges’ best and fairest award this season, and will be expected to push into the midfield next year to showcase her versatility.

Amber Clarke
Medium Utility
22/12/2004 | 169cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

In a very talented Stingrays lineup, Clarke has likely pushed herself to the front of the cue thanks to her enormous upside. Arguably the fastest player in the Victorian pool, once she gets goalside, it is all over for any opponent hoping to catch her. Impossible not to see with her ability to just get and go, Clarke can play at either end, booting 10 goals in six games in 2021. That tally would have been more, had injury not struck in the Vic Country championships game against Vic Metro.

Octavia Di Donato
Tall Utility
23/02/2004 | 172cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

After showing glimpses in her first season (one that was albeit cut short), Di Donato stepped up in 2021 to showcase terrific versatility from defence, to attack and eventually through the midfield. That latter role is what is likely to be her goal in 2022, and she showed she can win the ball, averaging 15.4 disposals, 3.6 marks and 3.3 inside 50s. Possessing a booming kick, Di Donato is a high-impact player forward of centre, and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to what she could produce at the next level.

Mackenzie Eardley
Key Position Utility
13/01/2004 | 180cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

The second Dandenong player on the list, Eardley shapes as a top key position option, credit to her versatility at both ends. Still refining her marking itself, Eardley is quite an athletic player with good ground level work. She can be on the last line or in attack, and moves well for a player of her size. She has pinch-hit in the ruck too, and with another preseason behind her, expect her to be one of the prominent key position players in the draft, stepping up to play two games with the Vic Country Under 19s squad already.

Hannah Ewings
Inside Midfielder
17/03/2004 | 167cm
North Adelaide / South Australia

The only player on this list not to play AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships this year, Ewings was a late out due to an ankle injury in the SANFL Women’s. Her form in the 18 months leading up to that moment was nothing short of sensational, and the North Adelaide player won the Breakthrough Player Award in the SANFLW in 2020, becoming a premiership player at 16-years-old. Similar to Ellie McKenzie, Ewings has a booming kick, is strong in the air and at ground level, and is an unbelievable contested ball-winner.

Jasmine Fleming
Midfielder/Forward
05/11/2004 | 165cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Not making her debut until the final round of the NAB League Girls season, Fleming – the daughter of Australian cricket champion Damien – came in and dominated. Only turning 17 at the end of the year, Fleming averaged 20 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and booted three goals to collect a premiership medal along the way. With eye-catching athleticism out of the stoppage and superb skill, Fleming is one of those players that will only get better with time, and is a natural sportsperson, sharing the load with – you guessed it – cricket.

Alana Gee
Balanced Midfielder
20/04/2004 | 170cm
Coolangatta Tweed / Queensland

If clean and composed with ball-in-hand is what you are after, then Gee is the type of player to catch the eye. A good size at 170cm, Gee covers the ground well and is able to use either foot. Her work rate to win the ball in all thirds is impressive, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, was the outside receiver to get-and-go forward, playing between a wing and in defence, but she is a natural inside midfielder who will take over from the recently drafted Teagan Levi and Bella Smith in the Queensland program.

Montana Ham
Inside Midfielder
29/03/2004 | 178cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

The other key Western Jets talent is dominant clearance player Ham, who has been catching the eye since her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. A very different prospect to Baskaran, Ham has a lot more height, and has been utilised in just about every role, but her best is inside where she wins the ball and thumps it on the boot with a penetrating kick. She played two of Metro’s games at Under 19s level and did not look out of place, averaging 15 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s. One of the taller options to keep an eye on next season.

Cynthia Hamilton
Inside Midfielder
02/04/2004 | 178cm
GIANTS Academy / NSW-ACT

Hamilton is the top NSW-ACT prospect for 2022 after taking out the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Racking up a whopping 21.5 disposals, 3.0 marks, 10.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s and booting two goals in her two games, Hamilton is a fierce player at the ball, and puts her body on the line time and time again. She is one who at her size can add more strings to her bow and refine a few areas of her game, but in terms of her natural footballing ability, it is there to see.

Bridie Hipwell
Inside Midfielder
15/06/2004 | 174cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

After a starring role early in her Round 1 game for the Dragons, Hipwell hurt her ankle and missed several weeks. She finished the NAB League Girls season averaging 12.5 disposals and around three inside 50s and three tackles, then played the one Metro game at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. A strong inside midfielder with good hands, Hipwell is someone who is capable of going forward and providing some height as well when required.

Sofia Hurley
Balanced Midfielder
30/01/2004 | 166cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

An eye-catching midfielder with great spacial awareness through traffic, Hurley reads the ball off hands so well and is able to burst away fro stoppages. Possessing a nice balance of athleticism and skill, Hurley is the type of player who can turn a game when on-song, using the ball so well from half-back to half-forward. A high running capacity saw her average 18.1 disposals, 4,7 tackles, 3.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s, finding the ball in all thirds of the ground, and looms as one of the top Victorian midfielders.

Keeley Kustermann
Medium Utility
17/04/2004 | 166cm
West Adelaide / South Australia

Another South Australian prospect to keep an eye on is the smooth-moving Kustermann who is well-balanced and able to use the ball so well under pressure. Having impressed as a 15-year-old at SANFL Women’s level last season in defence, Kustermann played further up the ground in 2021, and even played inside at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. An injury early in the game against the Allies ended her championships early, but Kustermann eventually returned to state league level where she took to the field in a grand final.

Charlotte Mullins
Forward/Midfielder
28/10/2004 | 165cm
Aspley / Queensland

Impressing in both her Academy game against Coorparoo, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships against Vic Country, Mullins is a lively player who can find the ball and apply good defensive pressure to the opposition. She works herself into space, wins the ball and can create goal-scoring opportunities for both herself and her teammates. Likely to be more of a midfielder in 2022, Mullins has proven she can play as a high half-forward and then push up the ground to get involved when the game is not on her team’s terms.

Claire Ransom
Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2004 | 169cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

The standout prospect from the Apple Isle next year is Ransom, a player who can best be described as class personified. As clean as they come on the inside, Ransom picks the right option time and time again, and her ball use by hand or foot is exquisite. Standing at 169cm, Ransom is a good size to play inside or outside, but she is best utilised winning the ball and using her smarts to sidestep and opponent then hit a target under pressure. Does not need to win a lot of the ball to do a lot of damage.

Ella Roberts
Tall Forward
17/12/2004 | 175cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

Yet to turn 17, Roberts already has an AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships MVP under her belt. Averaging a massive 24.3 disposals, 5.7 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and booting four goals in three games, Roberts showed what anyone familiar with the WAFLW already knew – she is a star in the marking. Winning a grand final off her own boot at 15, Roberts translated that form into 2021, and showed she has few flaws between her aerial and ground work, and athleticism to boot. Right now, Roberts is the top player in the 2022 AFL Women’s draft class.

Paige Scott
Medium Forward
25/06/2004 | 166cm
GWV Rebels / Vic Country

The X-factor in the draft crop, Scott is an unbelievably dynamic forward who can turn a game off her own boot. Slotting 15 goals in nine games for the GWV Rebels in the NAB League Girls, then seven goals in three games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – including turning the game around against South Australia – she is a natural footballer inside 50. The scary thing was despite being such a dominant goalkicker, inaccuracy plagued her at times and she could have kicked even more. A fierce contested player, Scott is strong overhead and great at ground level too.

Emily Shepherd
Inside Midfielder
05/04/2004 | 164cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

Having three players inside the top 22 at this stage emphasises just how strong the Stingrays will be next year, and Shepherd is that inside midfielder who can win clearances with great body positioning and strength. She throws the ball on the boot going forward, but wins a lot of contested ball and can extract it from the stoppages. Able to go forward and kick goals as well, Shepherd was injured mid-season and missed a fair chunk of football before returning to play all three Vic Country games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, averaging 11.3 disposals.

Keeley Skepper
Inside Midfielder
15/03/2004 | 163cm
Murray Bushrangers / Vic Country

When it comes to penetrating, few put the boot to ball like it owes them something quite like Skepper. Possessing enough speed to run out of the clearance, Skepper has one mode of kicking and that is with ultimate power. She racks up clearances time and time again, also amassing a high volume of inside 50s, averaging 4.7 per game to go with 16.7 disposals, 2.3 marks and 4.9 tackles. Once she is able to pinpoint those penetrating kicks, look out because her ability to win the ball and create separation is terrific.

Tara Stribley
Outside Midfielder
22/03/2004 | 165cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

Western Australia’s top rated midfielder is Stribley out of Swan Districts, where she is clean and composed with ball-in-hand and creates run and carry on the outside. A lightly-built player, the 165cm wing is able to roam up and down the ground to find the ball. Definitely an outside receiver, it plays to Stribley’s strengths which are her ball use and decision making, as well as her vision, though she can also play off flanks and create opportunities for teammates down the ground or inside 50, which makes her a point of difference in the role she plays.

Lauren Wakfer
Ruck
23/04/2004 | 180cm
South Fremantle / Western Australia

The top ruck in the AFLW Draft pool at this stage is Wakfer out of the South Fremantle program, where she has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Averaging 12 hitouts and 10.3 disposals at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Wakfer is just as impressive at ground level, with great athleticism and turn of speed for a tall. She laid 5.3 tackles per game at the championships, and can also play as a key forward as she has at times in the WAFLW. Still adding more strength, Wakfer has high-level upside for the future.

Lily-Rose Williamson
Medium Defender/Midfielder
25/08/2004 | 166cm
Gippsland Power / Vic Country

A member of the Gippsland Power program for many years now coming through the V/Line Cup, Williamson is a high-potential project player who took her game to another level in 2021. Showing glimpses of her capabilities that come with unbelievable acceleration and power, Williamson would set the world record for most fend-offs in a season and probably only need a couple of games to do so. She can use the ball well when winning it, but it is her defensive pressure and metres gained that stands out, and once it all clicks consistently, watch out.

OTHERS TO WATCH:

The depth in the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft is exciting and unbelievable. When making the list, there were many more names that could have squeezed in. Calder Cannons’ Abbey McDonald is a smooth-moving small midfielder with good defensive and offensive traits and one who was the next in line to be named. Looking across Victoria, GWV Rebels defender Molly Walton and Gippsland Power midfielder Yasmin Duursma are another couple to remember for 2022, with another Rebels talent in ruck, Kalani Scoullar likely to be among the best rucks in the draft crop. Geelong Falcons have a number of even prospects such as Charlotte Simpson and Ashleigh Van Loon who will lead the midfield brigade, while Mia Van Dyke has been a highly touted tall for a number of years. Northern Knights’ Brooke Plummer showed strong signs as a wing in 2021 and will be another that catches the eye in 2022, while J’Noemi Anderson is a Sandringham Dragons and Allies representative hailing from the Northern Territory. With names aplenty, a few more who impressed at Victorian Under 17s level were Alisha Molesworth, Felicity Crank and Grace Hay who are all in the mix. Calder Cannons pocket rocket Reese Sutton and Western Jets’ Krystal Russell proved some highlights at ground level and in the air respectively.

Moving north, Ella Smith in Queensland is a notable performer in her bottom-age year, as is Fleur Davies, the taller sister of recently drafted, Giselle. Amelie Borg is a tall option playing between defence and pinch-hitting in the ruck as a Croweater to keep an eye on. Norwood inside midfielder Lana Schwerdt is a ball-winner to remember for 2022, while tall forwards Astrid Gooley and Jorja Hooper are also promising key talents. In Western Australia, Emily Gunton has had a strong end to the WAFLW season and could be a bolter early in 2022, while Ash Reidy, Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wright are dangerous players in the forward half.

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