2022 AFLW early look: Geelong

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central delves into each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Geelong, a team that will suit up with a new coach in 2022 after being the lowest ranked Victorian team in 2021, picking up just one win – in the final round – to be 13th overall on the ladder.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 13th
Wins: 1
Losses: 8
Draws: 0
Points For: 164 (14th)
Points Against: 408 (12th)

It was a forgettable season for Geelong finishing in 13th overall, and also through missing players due to injury such as Nina Morrison and for the most part, Olivia Purcell, leaving the Cats exposed. They averaged just 18.2 points per game in season 2021, the lowest of any side, which prompted them to search for forward options in the AFLW Draft and off-season. Whilst not a heap to smile about last season, the Cats did pick up a win in the final round against fellow winless team Gold Coast to avoid the wooden spoon and provide hope for the future with a lot of Cats getting their chance at AFLW level in 2021.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Chantel Emonson (Melbourne), Chloe Scheer (Adelaide), Olivia Fuller, Claudia Gunjaca, Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW), Georgie Prespakis, Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons), Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons), Rachel Kearns (Gaelic)
Outs: Olivia Purcell (Melbourne), Aasta O’Connor (retired), Maddie Boyd, Kate Darby, Nicole Garner, Rebecca Goring, Mia Skinner, Richelle Cranston (delisted)
Inactive: Millie Brown, Denby Taylor

Geelong will head into the 2022 AFLW season with significant change after a big off-season. The largest loss was 2020 club best and fairest winner Purcell departing to join rising club Melbourne, with the Cats able to move up the draft order and pick up Chantel Emonson as an experienced replacement. The Cats will also be without fellow former Vic Country representatives Denby Taylor and Millie Brown who will sit out the 2022 season, leaving some gaps in defence. Along with Aasta O’Connor retiring and Richelle Cranston among six delistings, the Cats will be missing a fair chunk of experience for the upcoming year. Chloe Scheer‘s recruitment should give Geelong fans plenty to smile about, with the talent able to dominate up forward or through the midfield and is exactly what they need as a young player with experience. Picking up the best available Victorian prospect in Georgie Prespakis, and her Calder Cannons teammate Zali Friswell will give the midfield a much needed boost, as will rewarding the Cats’ VFLW footballers in Annabel Johnson and Claudia Gunjaca who were incredibly impressive in 2021. Olivia Fuller presents the immediate solution for O’Connor’s departure in the ruck as Rene Caris looks to take over the reigns full-time, whilst Gabbi Featherston adds an extra dimension up forward, and former Gaelic player Rachel Kearns is some raw X-factor for the blue and white hoops.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Olivia Barber
Rene Caris
Georgia Clarke
Julia Crockett-Grills
Chantel Emonson
Gabbi Featherston
Zali Friswell
Olivia Fuller
Laura Gardiner
Renee Garing
Claudia Gunjaca
Danielle Higgins
Jordan Ivey
Annabel Johnson
Rachel Kearns
Maddy Keryk
Madisen Maguire
Darcy Moloney
Amy McDonald
Meg McDonald
Maddy McMahon
Phoebe McWilliams
Nina Morrison
Georgie Prespakis
Georgie Rankin
Carly Remmos
Chloe Scheer
Sophie Van De Heuvel
Rebecca Webster
Stephanie Williams

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can Geelong improve their win-loss record in 2022 off the back of a big AFLW Draft haul?
  • Can Georgie Prespakis have a similarly immediate impact at Geelong as her sister Maddy did at Carlton?
  • Could Chloe Scheer prove to be the recruit of the year if she can be that extra target inside 50 the Cats crave?

PREDICTION:

Geelong is now at the bottom staring at the climb up the mountain. The Cats on paper had unbelievable young talent last year, but a combination of factors including injury, did not help their cause. Once again Geelong has a side that on paper has a really impressive starting lineup, but the losses of Purcell, Taylor and Brown in particular will hurt, so the weight of expectation on their first round picks, as well as Scheer will be particularly large as to where they end up next season. Few fans would be expecting finals given the jump they would need to make, but if they can pick up a few more wins and really challenge the premiership contenders, then the Cats can build the foundations for bigger and better things in 2023 and beyond.

Picture credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

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