2022 AFLW early look: St Kilda

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is St Kilda who finished 11th in the 2021 AFLW season, though blooded a host of young players to continue building their side for the future.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 11th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Points For: 272 (10th)
Points Against: 391 (11th)

St Kilda was one of the more exciting sides to watch in the AFLW for 2021, though unfortunately it did not always translate into wins. Their Round 1 victory over Western Bulldogs in front of a home RSEA Park crowd was fantastic, with their two other wins coming against Geelong and West Coast. The latter was the most impressive, belting the Eagles by 56 points over in the West, but their 40-plus point losses to the top sides like Adelaide, Melbourne and Collingwood showed the gap they still have to make up to challenge for a flag.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Alana Woodward (Richmond), Paige Price (Basketball, rookie), Ella Friend (GWV Rebels), Ash Richards (Dandenong Stingrays), Leah Cutting (Norwood)
Outs: Poppy Kelly (Richmond), Claudia Whitfort (Gold Coast), Selena Karlson (retired), Alison Brown, Clara Fitzpatrick, Tamara Luke, Nadia von Bertouch (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

St Kilda had a relatively quiet off-season, and were able to head into the draft with a high selection inside the Top 5, the second overall Victorian pick. With another pick in the first round and just three spots overall by the time it came to the draft, it was always going to be uneventful in terms of volume, but they made up for it with the top-end quality. Prior to the draft the Saints bid farewell to Poppy Kelly who headed to the Tigers to provide extra ruck depth there and replace the outgoing Sabrina Frederick, while Claudia Whitfort went to Gold Coast, and Selena Karlson retired. The Saints then delisted a further four players, with Alison Brown eventually picked up by Melbourne, and the likes of Clara Fitzpatrick, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch also not handed contracts for the 2022 season. In the AFLW Draft, the Saints selected key forward Ella Friend as a marking target who can also push up and play along a wing, with a similarly valuable prospect in Ash Richards who is capable of playing inside 50, or up the ground rolling through the midfield. The Dandenong Stingrays co-captain has natural leadership in her veins, something that both she and Norwood ruck Leah Cutting – at 29-years-old – will immediately add to the club. At the other end of the scale is basketballer Paige Price, with the talented up-and-comer opting to have a crack at Australian rules

2022 TEAM LIST:

Alice Burke
Leah Cutting
Rosie Dillon
Nat Exon
Ella Friend
Caitlin Greiser
Darcy Guttridge
Bianca Jakobsson
Tilly Lucas-Rodd
Jess Matin
Kate McCarthy
Molly McDonald
Tahlia Meyer
Rebecca Ott
Georgia Patrikios
Cat Phillips
Paige Price
Hannah Priest
Ash Richards
Renee Saulitis
Isabella Shannon
Kate Shierlaw
Tyanna Smith
Jayde Van Dyk
Olivia Vesely
Jacqui Vogt
Rhiannon Watt
Tarni White
Alana Woodward
Nicola Xenos

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Will Ella Friend and Ash Richards be the key to more avenues to goal for St Kilda in 2022?
  • Can Leah Cutting crack straight into the senior side, easing the load on Rhiannon Watt?
  • What will new coach Nick Dal Santo change in terms of gamestyle next season?

PREDICTION:

St Kilda are definitely one of the more exciting teams to watch, and whilst they are still young and learning the ropes, the Saints are expected to continue the upward trajectory in 2021. Georgia Patrikios is already amongst the game’s elites, and with multiple contested marking forwards in Friend and Caitlin Greiser, the Saints have the targets inside 50 – including the smalls at their feet – to kick winning scores. If they can tighten up defensively and not allow sides to kick away on them, then expect the Saints to pick up some more wins next season.

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

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