AFLW Expansion look: Hawthorn

WITH four new teams accepted into the AFL Women’s competition, it means there will be at least 120 new players stepping up to the elite level. So just where might the clubs look outside the junior pathway? Draft Central casts an eye over each of the clubs through either their state league team or Academy that might help them get off to the best possible start.

Whilst the makeup of lists and how much compensation the expansion clubs will get is unknown, we take a look at it from a broader sense and who might be some names to remember. The series continues with Hawthorn, a side that was highly competitive in the VFLW and have already announced the return of AFLW premiership coach Bec Goddard as the one to lead the brown and gold into the 2022-23.

Hawthorn has long being an ultra-competitive neutral VFLW team, able to bring in ex-AFLW talent that help develop the younger core around it. In 2021, Tamara Luke was a huge influence in the ruck since coming from the Saints, alongside Alison Drennan, whilst ex-Magpies Kristy Stratton and ex-Roo Katelyn Cox also stepped up to suggest the Hawks could pre-list quite a bit of experienced talent ahead of the season.

Firepower up forward is never an issue for the brown and gold, able to get Cats key forward Phoebe McWilliams back for a couple of games at the end of the season, whilst Georgia Bevan continued her playing stint under Goddard. Jess Trend unfortunately tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Round 1, but a full season behind her in 2022 – depending on VFLW dates – and she could be an immediate inclusion.

From a VFLW perspective, Jenna Richardson, Olivia Flanagan and Jessie Williams are names that would have to be considered to make the jump as they cover each respective third of the ground in defence, midfield and attack. Catherine Brown produced a consistent season in her nine games, while Dominique Carbone keeps getting better with more senior football, and Maddi Shaw is another natural leader who has been a rock in defence when running around.

From a top-age perspective missing out this year, Grace McRae showed she can match it with experienced players and held her own in the midfield, with fellow Ranges, Jess Grace and Matilda Hardy joining Vic Metro representatives Bridget Deed and Cadhla Schmidli as others who have tested themselves at senior level.

It would be a surprise not to see Goddard use her South Australian contacts and premiership experience not to ask the question to some Crows or top-line SANFL Women’s talents who are willing to relocate, with the power of working under someone with Goddard’s experience the pulling power for the brown and gold.

Overall the Hawks should not have any troubles building a competitive list, with plenty of ex-AFLW talent running around in the brown and gold, and with links to Eastern Ranges, the Hawks could add some eye-catching talent to the experienced core to be up and running almost immediately for the 2022-23 season.

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