Author: Peter Williams

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Western Bulldogs

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We conclude the club-by-club reviews with Western Bulldogs.

#22 Amanda Ling (Inside Midfielder)
09/07/2002 | 161cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

After missing out on being drafted last year, Ling put together an ultra-consistent season for the Oakleigh Chargers, racking up the ball consistently and being a force through the midfield. In a team littered with stars, Ling stood out when it counted most, winning the best on ground medal in the Chargers’ premiership win over Geelong Falcons. Also impressing at VFLW level, Ling has the athleticism and hardness, as well as high-level endurance to step straight into the AFLW midfield if required.


>> Ling praises team effort in best on ground performance

>> Bond credits “focused” team in NAB League Girls Grand Final win

#25 Aurora Smith (Wing)
13/12/2003 | 165cm
Murray Bushrangers / Vic Country

Another ultra-consistent performer, Smith produced an outstanding year, winning Murray Bushrangers’ best and fairest and being one of the most dominant wings in the NAB League Girls competition. That led her to step up to the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for Vic Country where she had outstanding games against South Australia and Queensland to earn All-Australian honours. With pace to burn, a clean user by hand or foot, and one who can go inside if required, Smith is a talent who has come on in leaps and bounds and is predicted to make even more strides now she is at the elite level.


>> 2021 Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool: June 2021

#27 Elizabeth Snell (Inside Midfielder/Forward)
14/03/2002 | 165cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

A second top-age player who missed out last year, the Western Bulldogs were attracted to her hardness at the contest, and athleticism around the ground. Able to play midfield or forward, Snell has terrific acceleration and defensive pressure, with high-volume tackles. Able to accumulate the ball well, Snell won the Bendigo Pioneers’ best and fairest off just five games in 2021, and was a standout each time she took the field. Stepping up to the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for Vic Country, and VFLW for Essendon, Snell did not look out of place, and earned her spot on the Bulldogs’ list with their last pick in the AFLW Draft.


>> VFLW Player Focus: Elizabeth Snell (Essendon)

>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft Victorian top-age talents


Western Bulldogs addressed their need for speed and defensive pressure, with all three players able to run with the ball in transition. Ling and Snell provide the inside hardness, whilst Smith is the outside runner who can evade opponents easily like the others. Having all represented Victoria and played at VFLW level already, the trio are capable of slotting in against senior opposition and Ling and Snell having the extra year of NAB League Girls football has them particularly set to impress.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: West Coast

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with West Coast.

#3 Charlotte Thomas (Tall Utility)
05/09/2003 | 175cm
Subiaco / Western Australia

Despite only playing the one game before succumbing to a wrist injury that curtailed her 2021 season, Thomas showed how highly she was rated by West Australian claubs by being the first from her state to be called out on draft night. A tall utility who primarily plays forward, Thomas is a smart user who hits targets and makes the right decisions with ball-in-hand. She might not have played much this season, but as a member of the AFLW Academy, Thomas has been an eye-catching player for many years, and one who stands out for her ability to impact a game wthrough her ball use and composure. Expect her to be right to go ahead of the 2022 AFL Women’s season and the Eagles will be thrilled to have her on board.

charlie thomas CONTENT:

>> Thomas well supported during injured season

#21 Courtney Rowley (Balanced Midfielder)
24/09/2003 | 167cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

Class personified, Rowley is an unbelievable talent with ball-in-hand, and complements Thomas as the two best ball users in Western Australia heading to the Eagles. Rowley can hit targets over multiple distances and has clean hands on the inside, as well as being able to play off flanks at both ends. After a successful AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships campaign, Rowley was named in the All-Australian team. Her high-level defensive pressure matches that of her offensive ability, and is something that makes her such a successful and driven player, and one who is ultra-competitive at all levels.


>> Rowley’s “crazy” ride only getting started

>> Peel prepares for 2021 after “whirlwind season”

#24 Beth Schilling (Key Defender/Ruck)
01/12/2003 | 178cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

An athletic tall who can roll through the ruck or stand as a key defensive option, Schilling has been a big mover for Peel Thunder this season, playing in a premiership. An eye-catcher at both WAFLW and AFLW Under 19 Championships level, Schilling was able to purely play as a key defender for the Allies, where she averaged almost five rebound 50s per game to go with her 12.3 disposals and two marks. Her competitive nature and presence in the air and at ground level is noticeable, and once she increases her endurance, Schilling will be able to impact for even loner periods of play.


>> Schilling follows brothers into footy, rises to challenges

#40 Sarah Lakay (Ruck)
20/02/2003 | 186cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

An athletic ruck who has come from a basketball background, Lakay teamed up with Schilling for her state and will look to do so again in the blue and gold. Another tall looking to build her endurance, Lakay has an elite vertical leap, which she showcased at the recent AFL Women’s Draft Combine, smashing the previous record in the vertical jumps. Her strength overhead, competitive nature and defensive pressure at ground level make her a danger to opposition sides, able to recover quickly after a ruck stoppage to be like a fifth midfielder. Lakay has clean hands and has already come along in leaps and bounds, something she will continue to do at the elite level.


>> Fast learning Lakay takes her game to new heights

>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

#47 Emily Bennett (Medium Defender)
26/12/2002 | 170cm
Claremont / Western Australia

A natural footballer, Bennett provides great hardness and one-on-one contests each and every time she goes near the ball. Though not just a negating player, Bennett can lock down on opponents and beat them in the air or for the hard ball at ground level, then run off and provide drive out of defence. Bennett is a strong kick of the ball and good at intercept the play with clean hands and composure with ball-in-hand. Her overhead marking is a strength, and whilst she hopes to continue improving her endurance, she is a player who coaches can rely on to get the job done each week.


>> Bennett enjoying season after “difficult” 2020 season

>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders


West Coast was able to target height and athleticism, as well as skilful ball users, with its five selections. Thomas, Rowley and Bennett all use the ball superbly, and are highly competitive players. Lakay and Schilling are also defensively-minded, and have terrific athleticism, able to impact in the air or at ground level. They can play multiple roles like Rowley and Thomas, and it will give the Eagles great versatility going forward.

Cats claw their way to victory with dominant second half performance

IT took until the final quarter, but Geelong booked its redemption battle with Collingwood in the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final, following a terrific 6.9 (45) to 2.5 (17) win over Essendon. The teams were neck-and-neck for the first half, but the Cats shook off their opponents after the main break, booting 4.7 to 0.3, including two last quarter majors to Renee Tierney to earn their spot in the decider.

The first quarter was mostly played on Geelong’s terms, having plenty of chances early, but the staunch Essendon defence did well to hold them up. Georgia Clarke had the best chance of the quarter with a good lead and mark out in front, converting the set shot with the breeze blowing left to right into her. A couple of more chances went begging, and up the other end, Tahlia Gillard had her opportunity with a strong mark pinching it from a Geelong defender inside 50. Her kicked sprayed wide for just a behind, but soon the momentum with the Bombers was going to be rewarded.

New Cat still in the red and black, Georgie Prespakis sunk an early dagger into her soon-to-be teammates’ hearts with a clever snap out of traffic from a forward stoppage, to give Essendon reward for effort and a late reprieve. Kicking into the breeze, it was relief for the Bombers to get one on the board and keep within a point at quarter time.

The second term was yet again neck-and-neck with Clarke being the target inside 50 and kicking her second cleverly to give her side the seven-point lead. Essendon had more of the play with the breeze, but the Geelong defence was up to the task. That was until in transition, Zali Friswell – another soon-to-be Cat – won it in midfield and put it into the path of Alana Barba, and, after sidestepping her opponent close to the line put it on the outside of the boot and snapped it home.

Trying a similar thing in the dying moments of the half, Barba was run down and the shot went astray for one behind, but the sides were level heading into the main break. Georgia Nanscawen suffered leather poisoning in the first half, proving everywhere with a massive 19 disposals and six tackles, unrelenting on the inside. She teamed up well with Prespakis (12 disposals, nine tackles), whilst Rebecca Webster (15 disposals), Darcy Moloney (11) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (11) were showing their AFLW experience.

Geelong had an early opportunity from the first clearance, with Clarke almost getting her third, but she was cleverly dragged down on the line by Tamsin Crook for a rushed behind. Forward pressure soon proved overwhelming however, as recently drafted Cat Annabel Johnson took a mark and then went back from long-range and slammed a massive goal home – both in distance and in the context of the game, to give the Cats another seven-point lead.

Geelong had stepped it up in the premiership quarter and a kick inboard to a dangerous spot looked to be covered by Gillard but the ball slipped from her hands and soon the tall was called for throwing it as she mobbed, handing Clarke with a chance of her third. She made no mistake and put it straight through the middle for the largest margin of the game. No sooner had the goal been put in the book and Clarke was having another shot on goal, this time from a tight angle. This time however it proved too great, pulled a bit tight and just one behind.

It was Essendon’s chance to have chances with Jessie Davies having a shot but floating off the side of the boot. Barba was again dangerous, sidestepping and snapping towards goal but it was Johnson playing the role of goalkeeper on the line that saved the day. She played on before the line for it to be deemed a rushed behind, and yet another Barba snap just missed, but the Bombers were lively. Unfortunately for the home team, the time would beat them, and the deficit was 11 points at the final break.

It was tight and contested to start the fourth, that was until a Tamara Smith kick inside bounced to Tierney’s advantage and the teenager swung around and slammed it home for a game-high 17-point lead early in the term. Essendon were desperate to atone and Natalie Macdonald won a free kick for being held close to goal. Her set shot was on target but marked on the line by Maddy Boyd in a goal-saving effort. The Cats ran it down the other end as Madisen Maguire had a chance to win the game, but it just went to the side but put it to a flat three straight kicks.

The intensity had lifted and the pace of the game was red hot, with pinball like footy from end to end as both sides were willing to open the game up and try and take it on. Geelong had the 18-point advantage though, and every minute off the clock was a minute closer to victory. Smith was proving vital around clearances, getting multiple thrusts forward. Geelong was starting to win the territory battle however, and with another behind meaning the Bombers needed four straight kicks to victory, the game looked done and dusted.

The frustration was starting to show on the Bombers’ faces and a 50m penalty was given away after Ruby Svarc tried to charge forward but was brought down well. The subsequent set shot from the Cats went to the right, but meant the Bombers would need the four goals to win. Tierney almost had a second goal in the last quarter but the ball beat her to the line for one behind. Then her moment came again and a terrific snap out of trouble from Tierney put the game beyond doubt with her second successive goal and the Cats were headed to a grand final.

Webster finished with a match-high 29 disposals, three marks and two tackles, leading teammates Van De Heuvel (20) and Gunjaca (19), while Nanscawen recorded 26, as well as 10 tackles, with Prespakis (17 and 11) and Barba (18 disposals, five tackles, 1.2) also among the more impressive players for the red and black.

ESSENDON 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 2.5 (17)
GEELONG 1.2 | 2.2 | 4.4 | 6.9 (45)


Essendon: G. Prespakis, A. Barba
Geelong: G. Clarke 3, R. Tierney 2, A. Johnson


Essendon: A. Barba, R. Svarc, G. Nanscawen, G. Prespakis, C. Ugle
Geelong: R. Webster, C. Gunjaca, D. Moloney, G. Clarke, O. Fuller

2021 AFLW Draft club review: North Melbourne

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with North Melbourne.

#13 Tess Craven (Inside Midfielder)
23/12/2003 | 163cm
Geelong Falcons / Vic Country

A huge bolter this year in her draft-eligible season, Craven became one of the premier inside midfielders in the NAB League Girls competition. Winning the hard ball then using her high work rate to get to the outside and have an impact going forward in transition, Craven put together plenty of four-quarter performances. She won Geelong Falcons’ best and fairest for the season in a Grand Final team, and was touted to go as high as inside the Top 5 at one stage. Clean with her hands and able to distribute inside 50, Craven is not afraid to get her hands dirty and will be a player who can immediately step up at AFLW level.


>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft eligible surprise packets

>> 2021 NAB League Girls team review: Geelong Falcons

>> Draft Central Player of the Week: NAB League Girls – Round 6

#19 Tara Slender (Tall Utility)
03/11/2003 | 175cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

In one of the steals of the draft, Bendigo Pioneers’ Slender made her way to the Roos with the first pick in the second round. A tall utility who after dominating as a key defender in past years, went forward to be a leading target in 2021, and even spent time through the midfield amassing one game of 27 disposals against top Victorian pick Georgie Prespakis. Her strong hands in the air and ability to lay fierce tackles at ground level make her the all-round performer, and captaining the Bendigo Pioneers this season, Slender has leadership traits that will help her adapt to the top level going forward in whatever role the Roos choose to play her in.


>> 2021 AFLW Draft: Bolters and Sliders

>> 2021 Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool: June 2021

#28 Kim Rennie (Ruck)
19/10/1994 | 182cm
Western Bulldogs / AFLW

The Kangaroos made their intentions of picking up Rennie very clear during trade week, and whilst it did not eventuate, they got their ruck in the second round of the AFLW Draft. A 182cm readymade prospect who played four seasons at the Western Bulldogs – 18 games – Rennie was knocked down the pecking order in 2021 by Celine Moody, and therefore looked for more opportunities. With Emma King playing forward and Kate Gillespie-Jones moved on, Rennie’s change to Arden Street gives her a great chance at taking over that role. In the VFLW season, Rennie booted four goals in five games as a forward to showcase her ability there and rotate with King if need be.

#43 Perri King (Balanced Midfielder)
25/08/2003 | 170cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

In a surprise to no one, King became the first Tasmanian taken in the AFLW Draft, selected at Pick 43 by North Melbourne, continuing the link between the roos and the Apple Isle. A balanced midifelder who can win the hard ball or spread to the outside and use her running capacity, King has a perfect blend of offensive and defensive traits. She will burst out of a stoppage and burn off an opponent, or go forward and hit the scoreboard or set up teammates. As one who has already tasted VFLW experience, expect her to be not too far off an AFLW debut with the work the AFLW Academy member has already put in.


>> King eyes improvement beyond achievements

>> 2021 Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool: June 2021

#51 Jasmine Ferguson (Tall Defender)
26/05/1999 | 172cm
Collingwood / VFLW

The ex-Gippsland Power tall is an inspirational story of resilience in terms of not being drafted at first opportunity, but plugging away in the VFLW and working on her deficiencies to become one of the premier defenders in the state league competition. Not only did Ferguson provide consistency to help the Magpies remain undefeated and stingy in defence, but she showed some offensive capabilities too, attracting the eyes of North Melbourne to the point where they called her up to the AFLW program. Whilst Ferguson still has the chance to win a VFLW premiership in the black and white, she will be a readymade option in the back 50 to replace Gillespie-Jones who could play in that role too.

#56 Ella Maurer (Balanced Midfielder)
01/02/2002 | 169cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

A top-ager who missed out on being drafted last year, Maurer took her game to another level in 2021, tripling her output in terms of disposals (5.0 to 16.8) and then going to another level again for the Allies at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. Maurer averaged the 18 disposals and six tackles, as well as three clearances for the Allies, becoming a really impressive and consistent midfielder across multiple teams. In two games with North’s VFLW program, Maurer looked comfortable at the level, ticking the final box required of her to decide to call out her name with the Roos’ final pick in the AFL Women’s Draft.


>> Maurer thrives on Tasmanian team bond

>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft eligible surprise packets


North Melbourne produced some of the greatest steals in the AFLW Draft, whilst picking up readymade talent to further bolster its stocks for the 2022 AFL Women’s season. The trio of Craven, Slender and King were all taken under value, and were considered Top 10 players in our AFLW Draft Power Rankings. The Roos will be ecstatic to bring them on, as well as tall options Rennie and Ferguson who can provide an immediate boost, as well as another Tasmanian and big improver in Maurer. Overall, the Roos could be considered one of the biggest winners in this year’s draft without a doubt.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: GWS GIANTS

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with GWS GIANTS.

#37 Ally Morphett (Ruck)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Murray Bushrangers / NSW-ACT

A member of the AFL Women’s Academy, the Wagga Wagga talent had a consistent year through the ruck for Murray Bushrangers, GWS GIANTS Academy and then the Allies, a side which she captained throughout the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Possessing great strength and competitiveness in the air, Morphett has a penetrating kick to go with her strong hands, making her a potential key forward at the next level with her ruck work. She is someone who has the size on most others at 188cm and is hard to move once she has front position.


>> Morphett’s football journey all about enjoyment

>> Q&A: Ally Morphett & India Lehman (Murray Bushrangers) 

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

#49 Jess Doyle (Medium Forward/Midfielder)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Manly Warringah Wolves / NSW-ACT

A clean and composed user of the ball, Doyle came on in leaps and bounds in 2021, starting as a raw talent with plenty of potential, and finishing as one of the draft class’ top talents. The NSW-ACT AFL Women’s Academy member aligned to the Sydney Swans, captained the red and white in their first NAB League Girls game, and stood up under pressure to kick two goals to lead the to a win over eventual grand finalists, Geelong Falcons. She showed the same class and ball-handling ability at AFLW Under 19 Championships level, where she was one of the bet performing Allies players to earn All-Australian honours. Doyle also ran out with Williamstown in the VFLW for some extra senior league experience.


>> Competitive Doyle embraces “amazing opportunity”

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

#55 Brodee Mowbray (Balanced Midfielder)
02/09/2002 | 168cm
Southern Power / NSW-ACT

A tackling machine, Mowbray is a talent who has progressed through the GWS GIANTS Academy ranks after crossing to Australian rules football from netball and Oztag. She is a fierce competitor who loves the contested work, but often uses her high-level running capacity to have an impact on a wing or down the ground. She averaged a massive nine tackles and eight disposals at the AFLW Under 19s Championships, showcasing a high work rate and good speed to-boot. Mowbray is one who adds that extra toughness at the ball and around the ground with her attitude and work ethic.

#59 Georgie Fowler (Medium Forward)
19/12/2003 | 167cm
East Coast Eagles / NSW-ACT

A late bloomer who has overcome injuries, Fowler has put together a strong season for the East Coast Eagles in the AFL Sydney competition, where she has become renowned for her forward craft. Possessing a mix of power and speed on the lead, strength overhead and a reliable set shot for goal, Fowler’s delayed start to the season did not slow her down, earning a Rising Star nomination in Round 2 of the competition. As a December-born talent, Fowler still has plenty of upside and room for improvement in the future, and adds a different dynamic to the GIANTS’ forward line going forward.

#60 Casidhe Simmons (Medium Forward/Wing)
UNSW/ES Bulldogs / NSW-ACT

Simmons was a surprise pick out of the blue, with the GIANTS opting to give the former heptathlete a chance. Unsurprisingly, Simmons has elite-level athleticism and endurance which will help her work over opponents, she has been playing for the UNSW-ES Bulldogs in the AFL Sydney competition. Still only 26-years-old, Simmons has been utilised as a forward for the Bulldogs, and can play further up the ground along a way to really showcase her hard-running ability. One to watch for the long-term development and transition to the elite level.

#61 Erin Todd (Tall Defender)
03/02/1986 | 176cm
Inner West Magpies / NSW-ACT

With the final selection in the AFL Women’s Draft, the GIANTS redrafted Erin Todd, a former basketballer who played two games with the club in 2021. As a negating defender in the back half, Todd provides extra depth to the side, and at 35-years-old is one of the oldest players running around in the competition. Seemingly ageless though, Todd was running around for the Inner West Magpies and is a player who can make an immediate impact if chosen. Todd also played two games for Williamstown in the VFLW where she dominated, averaging 18.5 disposals.


GWS GIANTS can have their pick of the NSW-ACT zone as the sole team occupying the zone. Being able to pick up two AFLW Academy members in Morphett and Doyle adds extra strength and class to the side, and ones who they can add to the forward half of the ground. Scoring was clearly a key focus for the club going forward, picking up the exciting Fowler, along with Simmons and Mowbray who can both rotate forward or play through the midfield. Todd just provides that support in the back 50, and is an immediate replacement should injury strike the GIANTS’ defence. She showed she can win the ball at VFLW level so could play a more offensive role if needed.

2021 VFL Women’s Preliminary Final Preview: Geelong vs. Essendon

A GRAND Final spot is on the line tomorrow when Essendon hosts Geelong at Windy Hill in the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s preliminary final. Collingwood awaits the winner in the grand final, and has been waiting for a few weeks now after a fortnight out of football due to the Victorian lockdown. It has meant the AFL Women’s Draft has come and gone, and put a number of players in an unusual situation of playing against the team they have been drafted to for the 2022 AFL Women’s season.

Saturday, July 31 @ 12:00pm
Windy Hill

In the preliminary final we find the second placed Cats having to travel to the fifth placed Bombers as part of a quirk in the unusual VFL Women’s finals series. Geelong lost to Collingwood in the quarter finals, as Essendon upset Casey Demons, unlocking a double-chance for the Bombers who had to use it when they also fell to the unbeaten Magpies. Meanwhile Geelong kept its hopes alive by taking down Southern Saints in the do-or-die semi-final, but now head north to Windy Hill where they look to get another crack at Collingwood in the 2021 VFLW Grand Final.

Last time they met: Geelong 5.9 (39) defeated Essendon 2.4 (16)

In a four-quarter performance, Geelong kicked away at Deakin University to draw or win every quarter against the Bombers. Sophie Van De Heuvel and Richelle Cranston booted two goals apiece as the Cats kept Essendon goalless in the first half, and then extended their 15-point final break lead to a 23-point full-time margin. Claudia Gunjaca and Rene Caris were deemed the best for the Cats, whilst Alex Morcom, Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba, the latter of whom kicked one of the Bombers’ two goals, were among the best for the red and black.

Who are the AFL Women’s draftees?

The two with the strangest circumstance will be Top 10 picks, Georgie Prespakis and Zali Friswell. Both Calder Cannons products, playing for a team after being drafted by another was always going to be strange enough, but the fact the two Essendon VFLW talents are lining up against the Cats – the team they will play for next year – adds an extra unusual dimension to the mix. Prespakis has been named in Essendon’s ominous midfield, while Friswell has been named at half-forward.

Tahlia Gillard is also running around in the red and black after being picked up by Melbourne, while Richmond’s Emelia Yassir is also playing for the Bombers. Both will be expected to rotate through the forward line, with Gillard chopping out in the ruck. For the Cats, it is a little more straight forward, with Olivia Fuller and Gunjaca picked up prior to the AFL Women’s Draft as compensation selections, and Annabel Johnson drafted with Pick 15, the Cats’ last selection in the draft.

Essendon also has Elizabeth Snell (Western Bulldogs) on its list, but Snell has been named as an emergency, whilst Tara Slender (North Melbourne) was not selected. Similarly for the Cats, Annie Lee (Carlton) was not picked for the clash, but other draft hopefuls who unfortunately missed out on being picked up in Renee Tierney and Chloe Leonard (both Vic Country representatives) will don the blue and white hoops. For the Bombers, Vic Metro representative Kasey Lennox is another Calder Cannon named in the side.

Where will the game be won?

Both sides have star-studded midfields, with Georgia Nanscawen arguably the best player not on an AFL Women’s list, teaming up with top Victorian pick Prespakis, and fellow AFLW experienced talent Ruby Svarc. Barba rolls through the onball group. with Courtney Ugle providing some pace, and Ashley-Cooper another prominent player in there.

For the Cats, they have an AFL Women’s midfield, with Van de Heuvel, Darcy Moloney and Rebecca Webster roving to the recently upgraded Fuller. Add in Laura Gardiner off the bench, and the likes of Tamara Smith who can roll through there, and both sides have some serious talent to win around the stoppages.

Who will win?

Geelong deserve to be favourites, they finished higher, took control in the last game and have enough AFLW experience to hold the Bombers at bay. But the Essendon midfield is as good as a VFLW midfield gets, and the youth around the ground more than makes up for it. The Cats have more AFLW experience, particularly inside 50, but the Bombers share the goals around and no doubt Mia-Rae Clifford is a player who will be keen to impact the scoreboard for the red and black against her former side.

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
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

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
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
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.


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.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Fremantle

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Fremantle.

#17 Amy Franklin (TALL Utility)
04/02/2003 | 177cm
Claremont / Western Australia

The top key position player in Western Australia made her way to the purple army in what will no doubt create some serious headaches for opposition defences going forward. Possessing a rare blend of aerial ability and athleticism for her size, Franklin is hard to beat one-on-one and terrific at ground level. Teaming up with Roxy Roux inside 50 will be an entertaining show within the match itself, and Franklin is a talent who can still develop. Able to play at both ends, expect Franklin to settle in attack as that is where she does her best work, often able to turn a game with multiple goals in a short space of time.


>> Franklin’s crazy and rushed journey helps fast track development

>> WAFLW Player Focus: Amy Franklin (Claremont)

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

#31 Dana East (Inside Midfielder)
10/06/2002 | 167cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

One of the big improvers this season, East was a prolific inside ball-winner and a key cog in Swan Districts’ midfield. Possessing clean hands on the inside and an ability to go forward and hit the scoreboard, East put in a body of work in 2021 to prove to AFLW clubs that she could stand up at senior level. A clearance expert and a player who thrives on the contested ball, East had an impressive AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, where she reaffirmed that she was able to match it with the top players across the country.


>> East shines out west in rapid rise through the talent pathway

#38 Makaela Tuhakaraina (Small Utility)
23/08/2003 | 158cm
South Fremantle / Western Australia

An elite athlete coming from a rugby background, Tuhakaraina is a South Fremantle talent who has speed to burn. Clocking the fastest time at the West Australian AFL Women’s Draft Combine for agility, Tuhakaraina is an excitement machine. Whilst still raw with improvements to be made in fundamentals, Tuhakaraina takes the game on and is not afraid to power through opponents, or sidestep them with terrific evasion. Predominantly stationed forward, she can also play through the midfield or even behind the ball, using her acceleration to create separation on the open grounds out west.


>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft eligible surprise packets

#44 Airlie Runnalls (Outside Midfielder)
25/06/1998 | 164cm
North Melbourne / VFLW

The first mature-ager taken by the Fremantle Dockers was hard-working Runnalls who made a name for herself in North Melbourne’s VFLW lineup. Runnalls averaged 18 disposals, five marks and four tackles during the VFLW season, and was a consistent ball-winner in transition. The Dockers will look for Runnalls to translate that high work rate to AFLW level on a wing, expect her to be a readymade talent to slot in when required, and add to the great depth the Dockers have, whilst also replacing a number of players who have left the club or will miss the 2022 season.

#52 Jess Low (Balanced Midfielder)
05/11/1999 | 165cm
Claremont / Western Australia

After receiving an AFLW Draft Combine invite last year, Low put together a second consecutive strong season to warrant Fremantle taking a chance on the 21-year-old. Low is a hard midfielder who built on her running game to include more contested work this year, whilst also being stationed in defence at times. She has spent time forward of the ball as well, but her high work rate predominantly sees her through the midfield. A readymade talent who can impact from Round 1 if required, Low is generally a clean ball user, but her repeat contest work is what stands out.


>> From Amateurs to the combine, Low finds her place in footy

#52 Sarah Wielstra (Key Forward/Ruck)
22/06/1995 | 184cm
swan Districts / Western Australia

Much like Low, Wielstra received an AFL Women’s Draft Combine last year, but instead of being picked up, missed out and went back to work to continue developing her game. After another development season, Wielstra earned her chance by showcasing her athleticism for a tall and being an aggressive player. She can hit the packs, force the ball to ground and has good athletic traits, and while some fundamentals are a work in progress, she is someone who always gives 100 per cent and is an exciting project player.


Fremantle headed into the AFL Women’s Draft with the equal most selections of any club, and utilised all six. They picked up three Under 19s Academy talents, then topped up with three readymade mature-age players. Five of the six talents could easily step into Round 1 if required, and whilst many have come to the code as late starters, their development has been fast-tracked by playing at WAFL Women’s senior level.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Brisbane

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Brisbane.

#18 Maggie Harmer (Medium Defender)
12/04/2003 | 170cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

Tipped to be the Lions’ first selection, Harmer comes straight out of their Academy and has put together some terrific form in 2021. Whilst she only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game to play, Harmer’s work both for Queensland and Maroochydore over a body of work showed that she was more than capable of stepping up. With high-level athleticism and powerful running, Harmer could develop into a half-back for the Lions, or push up and play a wing role, with the tendencies to go inside if required. She is clean and a good user by hand or foot, so expect her to be a player that quickly adapts to senior level and has an impact for Brisbane.


>> Draft hopeful Harmer looks of find the best of both worlds

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

#35 Bella Smith (Inside Midfielder)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

To complement Harmer’s outside running ability, Smith provides that inside grunt that has seen her become one of the top hardened midfielders in the AFLW Draft pool. Clean on the inside with a nice burst to create separation out of the stoppages, Smith is a natural contested ball winner, and one who could slot straight into the team at AFLW level. It provides the Lions with more depth through the inside, with Smith no doubt set to add more strings to her bow such as more outside ball-winning capabilities. One of three past or present Maroochydore prospects to join the Lions after being in their Academy, Smith had a really strong 2021 season.


>> Smith taking things “week by week”

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

#46 Mikayla Pauga (Medium Forward)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Bond University / Queensland

A clean and dangerous forward, Pauga is the third player to have come through Maroochydore’s program in the past few years. Having made the move to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship of Excellence, Pauga opted to remain in the Brisbane nomination pool and the Lions were happy to snap her up. Having overcome a couple of spinal fractures in her bottom-age year, Pauga put together a terrific 2021 season for Bond Uni in the QAFL Women’s, playing as a high half-forward. Her endurance is an area to work on, but her natural football smarts, goal sense and creativity in the forward half comes to the fore and Pauga will be an exciting player to watch for many years.


>> Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga leads from the front in electric performance

#53 Luka Yoshida-Martin (Small Forward)
University of Queensland / Queensland

Everyone loves a left-field pick, and Brisbane’s certainly came in the form of ex-soccer player Luka Yoshida-Martin. A small forward who only took up Australian rules football in 2019, played a stellar role in University of Queensland’s QAFL Women’s premiership. Her effort as a small forward impressed enough for the Lions to call-up the 20-year-old to the AFLW list. Boasting impressive game sense, a knack for goals and some high upside, Yoshida-Martin is viewed as a prospect who can do a lot of damage inside 50 and could take another giant leap in development in an elite program.

#58 Lucinda Pullar (Medium Defender)
Bond University / Queensland

Another cross-coder who has only pulled on the boots for a few years, Pullar is a former Brisbane Roar representative who made the transition into Australian rules. Initially a part of the Queensland Emerging Talent Squad in 2019, and then earning a 2020 AFLW Draft Combine invite last year, the ex-soccer player finally got her chance to step up to AFLW level after an impressive showing as a defender. Potentially able to play further up the field, it was her one-on-ones and elite level athleticism that caught the eye of Brisbane recruiters, prompting them to pull the trigger and add the Bond University talent to their senior list.


Brisbane selected three of their talented Academy members with the first three selections, taking in Harmer, Smith and Pauga who could play three different roles for the club and cover each third on the ground. They then opted for a couple of fast-developing ex-soccer players with the final two selections, making it a mix of experience and athleticism. A couple of Academy members to miss out include the versatile Abby Hewett, and State captain Christine Okesene who will both continue to push for a spot on a list in the coming years.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Adelaide

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We start the club-by-club reviews with Adelaide.

#17 Zoe Prowse (Ruck)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Sturt / South Australia

The top talent in South Australia, Prowse has been a member of the AFL Women’s Academy for a number of years so it was no surprise to see her name read out first for this year’s draft. Standing at 177cm, Prowse is able to use her athleticism and footy smarts to her advantage to win plenty of hitouts to advantage, but she is also just as clever at ground level. Prowse could end up becoming a midfielder at AFLW level to force her way into a pretty strong Crows lineup, but she has played forward as well indicating her versatility. Her defensive pressure at ground level, and aerial ability never come into question, and the Crows have yet another outstanding talent on their hands.


>> Prowse set for a positional change in 2021

>> Prowse excels from being thrown into key role

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

#20 Brooke Tonon (Medium Defender/Wing)
19/09/2003 | 166cm
Glenelg / South Australia

Tonon’s drafting caps off a remarkable rise from the talented teenager, who went from playing a bit of everywhere in her debut season last year in the SANFL Women’s, to becoming a premier half-back for Glenelg in the Bays’ premiership season. A key cog running out of defence and pushing up to a wing, Tonon just uses the ball so well, reads it in flight and shows great courage around the ground. Her ability to make great decisions with ball-in-hand not only put her into draft projections, but selected as the second player overall in the South Australian pool. Whilst still light, Tonon packs a punch, and she will be one that teammates love to get the ball in the hands of, and once she irons out some composure, she will be a terrific player.


>> “Tenacious” Tonon shows massive development

>> SANFLW Player Focus: Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

#34 Abbie Ballard (Small Midfielder/Forward)
16/04/2002 | 159cm
West Adelaide / South Australia

Much like her West Adelaide teammate Rachelle Martin last year, Ballard did not get picked up in her draft year, but went back to work and did not drop her head to earn a spot a year later as a 19-year-old. There is not much of the small midfielder/forward at 159cm, but she is someone who attacks he contest ferociously, and never backs down. She has a potent left foot she can use to slice up opposition defensive zones, and her contested ball winning skills are superb. Clean at ground level and makes the right decisions, Ballard led the Westies into the SANFL Women’s Grand Final as acting captain and is a player who does exactly what coaches love – the team thing – which is something you can expect from the pocket rocket at AFLW level.


>> Ballard ready to take next step

>> AFLW U18s to Watch: Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)


Adelaide was able to dictate its own hand in the AFL Women’s Draft, selecting the three players it wanted with its three selections. The Crows had a smorgasbord of talented players to pick from, and in the end opted for three utilities – tall, medium and small – emphasising the importance to play various roles at the elite level. It meant that by selecting these three, the likes of AFL Women’s Academy member Gypsy Schirmer and All-Australian Zoe Venning missed out, though there is little doubt that with their determination they will get their chance at the top level, be it through an injury top-up or additional selection this year, or in the coming years through expansion.