Author: Peter Williams

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Brisbane

WITHOUT a doubt the team hardest hit by the expansion clubs was Brisbane, losing half of its list over the off-season. State rivals Gold Coast picked off seven players, including a number of young stars from last year’s draft and experienced heads. Nat Exon and Kate McCarthy were two of Brisbane’s best last season but departed for the Saints, Sabrina Frederick went to Richmond and McKenzie Dowrick headed home to Perth to fly with the Eagles. It meant all up, 11 players were lost to expansion clubs, while Bella Ayre and Ruby Blair retired and Megan Hunt and Krystal Scott were delisted. Adelaide’s Rheanne Lugg was the only established AFL Women’s player who joined the den. Brisbane had to head to the draft.

Head to the draft they did, picking up the two brightest Queensland talents available in Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes. Remember those names because the pair will no doubt have an impact in 2020, particularly Postlethwaite who captained her state Under 18s side and could well play midfield first up if given the chance. Catherine Svarc had a terrific season in the QAFLW and provides midfield strength, while the selections of Hannah Hillman, Tahlia Hickie and Lucy Bellinger give the Lions versatility in the key position spots. Selena Priest, Dakota Davidson and Maria Moloney earned a call-up after impressive QAFLW seasons, while they also pre-signed a couple of rookies in Orla O’Dwyer from Gaelic football and Greta Bodey from soccer. All in all, while Brisbane lost a lot of talent, they invested in the future, and wile they might be a year off contending, they sure are going to be an exciting team in 2020.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Rheanne Lugg (Adelaide), Orla O’Dwyer (Gaelic gootball), Greta Bodey (soccer), Lily Postlethwaite, Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore), Catherine Svarc (Wilston Grange), Hannah Hillman, Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo), Lucy Bellinger (Glenelg), Selena Priest (Coolangatta-Tweed Heads), Dakota Davidson, Maria Moloney (University of Queensland)
OUT: Tori Groves-Little, Paige Parker, Sam Virgo, Jacqui Yorson, Lauren Bella, Leah Kaslar, Emma Pittman (Gold Coast), Nat Exon, Kate McCarthy (St Kilda), Sabrina Frederick (Richmond), McKenzie Dowrick (West Coast), Bella Ayre, Ruby Blair (retired), Megan Hunt, Krystal Scott (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Ally Anderson
Lauren Arnell
Emily Bates
Lucy Bellinger
Shannon Campbell
Arianna Clarke
Gabby Collingwood
Sophie Conway
Dakota Davidson
Isabel Dawes
Jade Ellenger
Natalie Grider
Tahlia Hickie
Hannah Hillman
Jessy Keeffe
Breanna Koenen
Rheanne Lugg
Kate Lutkins
Maria Moloney
Lily Postlethwaite
Selina Priest
Catherine Svarc
Jesse Wardlaw
Sharni Webb
Jess Wuetschner
Jordan Zanchetta
Emma Zielke

Rookies: Greta Bodey, Brianna McFarlane, Orla O’Dwyer

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Jess Wuetschner – Kate Lutkins – Natalie Grider
HB: Rheanne Lugg – Lucy Bellinger – Lauren Arnell
C: Catherine Svarc
HF: Sophie Conway – Tahlia Hickie – Emma Zielke
F: Isabel Dawes – Jesse Wardlaw – Lily Postlethwaite
R: Hannah Hillman – Ally Anderson – Emily Bates
INT: Shannon Campbell – Arianna Clarke – Gabby Collingwood – Jordan Zanchetta – Breanna Koenen
EMG: Sharni Webb – Jade Ellenger – Jessy Keefe

DEPTH: Dakota Davidson, Maria Moloney, Selina Priest, Greta Bodey*, Brianna McFarlane*, Orla O’Dwyer*

Trying to guess the Lions’ best 21 is incredibly difficult for two reasons. First off, Brisbane has had such a list overhaul of changes, there will be some players in new roles or perhaps making way for the young stars to come in, and the balance between youth and experience will be a tough call for coach Craig Starcevich. The Lions drafted versatile talls with Hillman and Hickie able to rotate through the ruck or key forward which could be the way they opt to go, with Jesse Wardlaw also filling that role. Bellinger can play up either end, but given the strength of the forward half and a missing role at half-back, she could team up with Kate Lutkins as reliable key defensive posts. Jess Wuetschner has played in defence over the winter so expect her to fill that new role, while the experience of Lugg and Lauren Arnell will be crucial off half-back.

The forward half is quite inexperienced with Postlethwaite and Dawes capable of stepping straight in and while they are long-term midfielders, will probably play forward and relieve the likes of Ally Anderson and Emily Bates who made the midfield their own last season, while the mature-age Catherine Svarc could step into the role. Emma Zielke and Sophie Conway could rotate through there, but with Conway coming off a long term injury, it is fair enough to ease her back into it up forward. There is a lot of youth or players yet to really impact consistently at AFL Women’s level, but Nat Grider is a season in and expect her to own a defensive role, while the bench has plenty of versatility in terms of height and roles. It might be a challenging year for Brisbane in 2020, but they will be better for it because they could be back challenging in 2021 once the team has been established.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 40-21

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at the players we have ranked 40-21.

#40 Daniel Mott
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
01/05/2001 | 183cm | 80kg

The Calder Cannons’ midfielder improved his game in 2019, moving on from being a slick outside ball user in his bottom-age year, to win more of the hardball this season. While his start to the year was a little shaky, Mott built into the role nicely and by year’s end was performing consistently well for the Cannons during their run to the semi-finals. Averaging a handy 25.6 disposals per game with a 44.7 per cent contested rate, Mott was a high handball receive player, but one who could also do damage by foot. He was usually the second possession winner at a stoppage, tasked with putting boot to ball and trying to hit a target forward. While not overly athletic in terms of his speed, Mott has the smarts and precision kicking that when given time and space, can be a danger to the opposition. A captain at the Cannons, Mott is a leader as well which adds to his profile.

#39 Hugo Ralphsmith
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Midfielder/Forward
09/11/2001 | 188cm | 75kg

Rated by some clubs as a top 30 prospect, Ralphsmith is expected to land somewhere in that second or early third round range. Standing at a good size of 188cm, Ralphsmith is still quite light at 75kg, but has a high upside for the future with his ability to play forward or as an outside midfielder. Often roaming up and down the wing, the Dragons’ talent showed he can impact a game in a quarter, booting three first quarter goals against Calder Cannons in the semi-finals to effectively put the Dragons on their way to a winning effort in the low-scoring affair. While his four quarter consistency is still an area of improvement, athletically Ralphsmith competes with the best of them, possessing an 86cm running vertical leap and a 2.974-second 20m sprint. A longer-term prospect compared to some others, he has those neat traits with ball-in-hand that make him an attractive prospect to clubs.

#38 Sam Philp
Northern Knights/Vic Metro | Inside Midfielder
04/08/2001 | 186cm | 79kg

An inside midfielder who has bolted up the draft order with a consistent year, Philp put missing out on Vic Metro selection behind him to take out the Northern Knights Best and Fairest award this season. Not always showing it in the early days, Philp’s breakaway speed came to the fore in the mid and latter parts of the season, with his rare speed/endurance mix becoming a headache for opposition players. A pure inside midfielder, not many others possess both athletic traits, with Philp recording a 2.86-second 20m sprint and 21.5 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine. It basically means the Northern Knights speedster can burn off his opponents over games, as well as from stoppages with great separation. Areas he can improve include his kicking consistency and his outside game, but when it comes to an inside ball winner with plenty of tricks, Philp is a player who has flown under the radar this season. He is someone in the mid-part of the draft who can offer speed and competitiveness to any side through the middle.

#37 Ned Cahill
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Small Forward
11/01/2001 | 179cm | 78kg

A hard working small forward who has developed more and more through the midfield as the season went on, Cahill had a pretty consistent season when compared to other similar type players. While his four quarter consistency can still improve, Cahill was able to be a shining light for the Stingrays, averaging 1.4 goals per game from 18.3 disposals and 3.6 marks. Not overly strong, and sometimes he can make mistakes under pressure, Cahill has that touch of class when he goes near the ball and a high footy IQ that ensures he knows how to extract a ball from a tough situation. He will likely play as a small forward at the elite level because that is where he is most damaging, but he can also pinch-hit through the middle to some degree, and that will set him in good stead for the future.

#36 Harry Schoenberg
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Inside Midfielder
21/02/2001 | 182cm | 83kg

A real surprise packet this year, Schoenberg produced a consistent season, leading to his Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for South Australia at the Under-18 Championships. Playing in a midfield alongside highly touted prospects Dylan Stephens and Jackson Mead, Schoenberg was the most consistent of the lot, earning All-Australian honours and winning the ball more than everyone bar Larke Medallist, Deven Robertson. He can play inside or out, but is more prominent on the inside due to a lower athletic base, which includes a 3.13-second 20m sprint and 20.3 yo-yo test at the National Draft Combine. He does not need the athletic traits for the role he plays, which is often winning the ball in close and getting it out to runners on the outside. In seven games for the Eagles’ Under 18s side, Schoenberg averaged 24.4 disposals, 5.3 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.9 clearances and 4.1 inside 50s, with a contested possession rate of 49.4 per cent. He is a natural ball winner who plays a simple game to best advantage his team.

#35 Darcy Cassar
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Utility
31/07/2001 | 184cm | 82kg

Having had experience in all thirds of the ground – playing mid/forward as a bottom-ager last year, and as a defender/forward at points this season, Cassar has versatility on his side. He stepped it up in a mid-season purple patch for the Western Jets where he even racked up 40-plus disposals coming out of defence. Averaging 69.6 per cent by foot, Cassar was typically deployed as a rebounding defender who was the choice to dispose of the ball cleanly when moving in transition. He did only win the football in a contest 35.6 per cent of the time, but it was also his role that lead to this. Cassar does have power on his side in the way he moves, with a 3.01-second 20m sprint, as well as good endurance that helps him run out games. His upside is quite solid as well given what he has shown over the past 18 months, and depending on where AFL clubs might want to deploy him at the elite level, it will be interesting to see how his career progresses and what role he will play at the top level.

#34 Sam De Koning
Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country | Key Position Utility
26/02/2001 | 201cm | 86kg

An All-Australian key defender, De Koning’s top form came at the Under-18 Championships where the Vic Country tall was named at full-back for his consistent efforts across the carnival. He showed similar signs at NAB League level throughout different points, but still had some consistency issues. He is aerially very strong despite a lower vertical leap, reading the play in flight and positioning himself well inside the defensive 50. As he showed early in the season in Dandenong Stingrays’ draw with Geelong Falcons at Queen Elizabeth Oval, De Koning can be thrown forward and also kick multiple goals in a quarter. At 201cm, De Koning is a good size for whatever role he might play, and is similar to his brother Tom in terms of his versatility, but is more readymade for senior football. Still more likely to be a longer term prospect, De Koning could provide valuable support in a defence for a developing side, and outside the top 15 is the best key defensive prospect.

#33 Fraser Phillips
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Medium Forward
15/05/2001 | 187cm | 72kg

While inconsistency has plagued him and his endurance still needs improvement, Phillips’ upside is one of the highest of any player in the AFL Draft crop this year. He is exciting, can do the impossible when forward, moves well and can launch goals from outside 50 off a couple of steps like few others. At 187cm he is a good size for that forward-midfield role, though at 72kg he still has a way to go to build into his body. Once he can get into an elite program and add size to his frame and improve his endurance, he could be a great value pick-up for a club in the second or third rounds. In 2019, Phillips averaged 13.6 disposals, 3.9 marks and 1.9 goals per game, regularly hitting the scoreboard whilst laying three tackles per game to provide some defensive pressure as well. He looked his most damaging inside forward 50, and while sometimes his aim might be off when setting his sights on the big sticks, he always looked like having an impact.

#32 Kysaiah Pickett
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Small Forward
02/06/2001 | 171cm | 71kg

One of the smallest AFL Draft prospect running around, Pickett is the nephew of former North Melbourne and Port Adelaide premiership player, Byron. Possessing a similar toughness, as well as an appetite for goals, Pickett is a defensive pressure specialist inside 50 and ticks all the boxes you want from a pressure small forward. He chases, he tackles, he creates opportunities and he finishes. While not many pure small forwards get opportunities at the elite level these days, Pickett is the exception because of his traits that set him aside from most. At just 171cm and 71kg, he is never going to be a massive body inside 50, but his smarts come to the fore at ground level or when flying for a mark. His highlight reel will be one of the best from this draft crop, and while his versatility might be limited at the elite level, he is too good to pass up which is why he earned a National Draft night invite, indicating that clubs are considering him in that first round.

#31 Harrison Jones
Calder Cannons/Vic Metro | Key Position Utility
25/02/2001 | 196cm | 78kg

One of the most athletic talls in the draft crop when it comes to key position utilities, Jones offers plenty of tricks both on and off the field to clubs keen to secure a tall option that can develop nicely at the elite level. Having played as a key forward, key back and even through the ruck in season 2019, Jones averaged 12.4 disposals and 3.1 marks per game. Clunking a contested mark per game in 2019, Jones still has a way to go to build his strength even further, but with an elite endurance base, top vertical leap, sub-three second 20m sprint and among the best agility testers, Jones ticks most of the boxes when it comes to his athleticism. On the field he has to continue to build his consistency and just develop his overall game, but the way he has tracked he has developed at a rapid rate.

#30 Thomson Dow
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Midfielder/Forward
16/10/2001 | 184cm | 76kg

Another brother of a Carlton-listed player, Thomson Dow has a few unique traits that help him stand out from other midfielder/forwards in this draft crop. While he might only be the 184cm and 76kg, Dow is strong above his head, averaging more than a contested mark per game while drifting forward. His competitive nature to win the contested ball is a feature of his game, with Dow winning more than 51 per cent of his possessions at the coal face, while averaging the three clearances and 2.6 inside 50s per game. He is primarily a handball specialist out of congestion, and while he can hit the scoreboard – his one goal a game average speaks to this – he is at home in the middle of a stoppage. He finds a way to get out of trouble and bares similar traits to his brother Paddy in his movement and touch of class. Dow still has to improve his consistency, but he is a value pick in the second round.

#29 Elijah Taylor
Perth/Western Australia | Medium Forward
01/05/2001 | 188cm | 77kg

One of the excitement machines of the 2019 AFL Draft crop, Taylor provides a spark inside 50 and has proven to be capable of also fulfilling a midfield role. He is one of those talents that will be judged differently depending on the club, with a potential first round, or mid second round pick used on the high upside forward. While his athletic testing numbers to not leap off the page, Taylor has that on-field athleticism that makes him a slippery customer to bring down or contain. While he is inconsistent at times he showed against the Allies that if given time and space he can break a game open, such as three goals in the second half to help the Sandgropers get over the line. Another player with strong X-factor and capable of turning a game, Taylor might be a long-term prospect, but one who will be worth the wait.

#28 Jeremy Sharp
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Midfielder/Defender
13/08/2001 | 189cm | 79kg

Dual All-Australians at Under 18s level do not grow on trees, but Sharp fits the bill having been a top-end prospect over the last 18 months with his run-and-carry and ability to break down opposition zones. His versatility allows him to play in any third of the ground, but is predominantly utilised off half-back or along a wing where his penetrating kick can best come to the fore. His kicking can still improve, because he is a run-and-gun player who can hit a target 50m away, or occasionally spray the ball out on the full. He also averaged just over 20 per cent contested possessions over the past three years, the lowest of the National Draft Combine invitees, which will be the question mark going to the next level. Like many on this list, Sharp still has a way to go to reach his full potential, but given his good size of 189cm, he is well on the road to that and is a player that will never die wondering when it comes to taking the game on and trying to set his team up forward or centre.

#27 Jay Rantall
GWV Rebels/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
10/06/2001 | 185cm | 83kg

The former Australian basketballer progressed rapidly in season 2019, from a possible draft prospect, to a top 30 draft hope based around his elite endurance and ball-winning abilities in the GWV Rebels’ midfield. Playing on the inside, Rantall burnt opposition players into the ground with his running ability that saw him average 24.9 disposals per game at 45.6 per cent contested. While his kicking is still an area of improvement given his relative inexperience in the sport compared to others, he showed clean hands with 83.4 per cent of his handballs finding a teammate. Not testing as well as he showed on-field, Rantall has a great burst out of the stoppage to also work over an opponent, and can go forward and kick a goal as well – averaging almost a goal per game this year. With 6.5 tackles per game to accompany his 5.6 clearances and 3.3 inside 50s, Rantall is a tackling machine with good defensive attributes as well as offensive ones.

#26 Mitch O’Neill
Tasmania Devils/Allies | Small Utility
21/02/2001 | 176cm | 72kg

Similar to Sharp, it is amazing to think that a dual All-Australian could float under the radar, but a pesky ankle injury has restricted O’Neill over the past 12 months. He still put together a terrific national carnival which saw him earn All-Australian honours for the second time, in the midfield after making the bench in 2018. Throughout the four-game carnival, O’Neill averaged 20.3 disposals and 5.5 marks playing to his strengths as an outside runner with slick foot skills. He is not afraid to take the game on, and as he showed against Western Australia, sliced up the opposition defence with some penetrating bullets down the middle. At just 176cm and 72kg, O’Neill is a lightly built smaller player who is not overly defensively-orientated – just under two tackles per game – which are some of the knocks on him. But what he can do with ball-in-hand is very impressive and athletically he is solid, and can easily play a role up either end given his disposal and smarts.

#25 Cooper Stephens
Geelong Falcons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
17/01/2001 | 188cm | 83kg

Having missed the majority of the season due to a broken leg, Stephens still remains in contention for a top 25 selection given his bottom-age year form. A co-captain at Geelong Falcons, Stephens impressed in the first couple of games before going down early in the third match this season. At 188cm and 83kg, Stephens is readymade once he can build his match fitness and has elite endurance that will help him get there quicker than most that have missed a season of football. His leadership skills are among the best in the draft crop and despite knowing he would miss the entire Under-18 Championships, Stephens was named vice-captain of Vic Country, assisting in an off-field role. In terms of his strengths, Stephens is a penetrating kick who can play multiple roles, but is best suited to a congested situation where he can quickly fire out handballs to teammates, or extract the ball from a stoppage. With 62.5 per cent of his possessions won at the coal face, Stephens is no stranger to the contest and has an appetite for clearances and defensive pressure.

#24 Cam Taheny
Norwood/South Australia | Medium Forward
03/08/2001 | 185cm | 80kg

An exciting forward who like many other forwards this year has had inconsistency throughout the season, Taheny is a natural leader who has some elite traits that give clubs an idea he will develop nicely going forward. His low endurance base is a reason behind his inconsistency, but his damage in the air or ground level is very high, having played for Norwood’s League and Reserves sides this year – winning a flag with the latter. He has a penetrating kick, high goal sense and a knack for creating something out of nothing, Taheny is a player who might take a while to develop, but could be an exciting prospect to watch over the next few years, with the likely second round selection having plenty of tricks in the forward half.

#23 Dylan Williams
Oakleigh Chargers | Medium Forward
01/07/2001 | 186cm | 81kg

Similar to Taheny, Williams is a contested marking medium forward with a penetrating kick and an eye for the spectacular. Battling injuries at different points throughout the year and eventually putting the feet up after a match-winning effort against Eastern Ranges in July due to stress fractures in his back, Williams has high upside. He was one of the Chargers’ best in the finals series last year as a bottom-ager, almost being unstoppable as that one-on-one leading forward who could leap high and pull down a contested grab, or win the ball at ground level and kick an impossible goal. While his inconsistency has seen Williams drift down the order, he has enough in his game to suggest he could develop into one of the top-end prospects of this draft with time.

#22 Jackson Mead
WWT Eagles/South Australia | Balanced Midfielder
30/09/2001 | 183cm | 83kg

The son of Port Adelaide’s inaugural best and fairest winner Darren, Mead is a player who can play a multitude of roles, both on the inside or outside. While athletically Mead is not in the top echelon of players, he is built strongly for his age and capable of fending off opponents in midfield. He played three games for the Eagles’ League side, but looked most at home in the Reserves side while he continued to develop, playing 11 matches and averaging 20.2 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.4 clearances and 4.2 inside 50s at the level. He won 42.7 per cent of his disposals in a contest and while his kicking at times could improve, he has a penetrating kick through midfield and can hit targets down the field from long range. Overall, Mead has plenty of promising traits and provides a balanced approach to his football.

#21 Miles Bergman
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
18/010/2001 | 189cm | 83kg

The final player just outside the top 20 is the exciting medium forward in Miles Bergman, who grew to 189cm to be come that third tall option at half-forward. He is strong overhead, averaging one contested mark per game from his 5.3 average, while also averaging 14.0 disposals and 3.8 inside 50s. At times he could be inconsistent, but when he was up and about, Bergman showed some terrific signs playing inside 50. He had to overcome early injury concerns and battled away to build form in the second half of the season. While his field kicking could improve, Bergman constantly looked like applying scoreboard pressure, averaging almost a goal and behind per game, and also providing that defensive pressure with 4.3 tackles. His elite running vertical leap of 90cm, coupled with his sub-three second 20m sprint means he is capable of hurting the opposition both in the air or at ground level.

2019 AFL Draft Guide released

AFTER a successful 2018 edition, the Draft Central 2019 AFL Draft Guide has been released, with 130-plus pages detailing more than 200 potential draftees in the upcoming draft period.

All 79 National Draft Combine invitees have their own individual pages, with pocket profiles for every State and Rookie Me combine invitee. Additionally, each profile will be accompanied by a colour code with our rating of on-field and off-field attributes. Their off-field attributes are based around their testing results at either the combines, or in pre-season testing.

The profiles will be split into Top 30 Players to Watch, National Draft Combine invites, state-by-state combine invites, Rookie Me Combine invites, and a handful of other players to be aware of that did not receive a draft combine invitation.

In an AFL Draft Guide first, we also recap the AFL Women’s Draft with summaries of all the first round selections.

The 2019 AFL Draft Guide is totally free for download with just an email required. The reason we are asking for an email this year is because those who sign-up in 2019, will receive a discount off next year’s guide which further improved, will come at a small fee. So download it and share the link with all your family and friends, and most of all enjoy the guide which has had hundreds of hours of work put into it.

Draft Central Power Rankings: November 2019 – 60-41

AS the 2019 AFL National Draft is just around the corner, we work up to the November 27-28 event with a three-part Power Rankings series, counting down our top 60 players heading into the AFL Draft. We have not taken into account any draft selections or club needs, it is purely our opinion. Furthermore, given the evenness of the draft, there were plenty of unlucky players on the cusp of making it into the top 60. This edition looks at those players we have ranked 60-41.

#60 Lachlan Stapleton
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
14/04/2001 | 179cm | 73kg

The only State Draft Combine player in our Power Rankings, the Eastern Ranges ball magnet has been one of the more consistent players this year. One of the few unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invite, Stapleton has plenty of tricks despite his size, and can win the ball inside or out. In season 2019, Stapleton averaged 22.3 disposals, 2.5 marks, 5.2 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.1 tackles from 13 games, predominantly playing an inside role. His hands in close were very good, with athletic traits that are handy but could still improve such as his in-game acceleration – clocking a sub-three second 20m sprint at the State Combine, and his kicking consistency. A rough chance still, but should have done enough to find a place on an AFL list.

#59 Ryan Byrnes
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Balanced Midfielder
03/05/2001 | 182cm | 84kg

Mr Consistent, Sandringham’s fearless captain has been as reliable as just about anyone in the NAB League this season. Byrnes can play inside or out, wins the ball out of a stoppage and has a trademark five-step burst to create separation from his opponent and send the ball inside 50 to leading teammates. His kicking could certainly sharpen up, but he can use either foot which makes him more of an asset, and while he is shorter compared to some inside midfielders, he has the readymade frame to compete at senior level. Almost missed out on a bottom-age year at Sandringham and has been a workhorse to put himself in a position where he could be drafted. Just a no-fuss footballer who leads by actions and will be a popular player at a club should he be selected.

#58 Emerson Jeka
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Key Forward/Defender
18/09/2001 | 198cm | 90kg

On upside, Jeka is a lot higher, but it is just piecing all of his traits together for some consistency. He is an elite contested mark, is virtually an eight-second flat agility test and near three seconds 20m sprint candidate. This athleticism is something rare in players of his size, but the inconsistencies of the past few years, as well as finding his best position – between forward and back – means he is still a raw prospect who has to develop. Given his traits, if he can be put to work and learn off a more aggressive mentor at an AFL club, then he will add more to his game. He has the physicality to really worry opposition defenders when leading out, it is just showing it on a more consistent basis. His best is winning a game off his own boot, but it just happens in seldom, so the best is yet to come from the Western Jets tall.

#57 Louis Butler
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro | Defender
25/04/2001 | 185cm | 74kg

An interesting prospect, Butler at his best can be a damaging half-back who floats through the middle and wins plenty of the ball. When it comes to off-field testing, Butler’s numbers do not jump off a page. But when it comes to in-game work, he moves well and has the smarts to evade opponents with ball-in-hand and open up space for his teammates. He seems a confidence player, because when he starts hitting targets, he can hardly miss, but when he sprays the odd kick early, he can be a bit more error prone throughout the game. Showed plenty throughout his school footballing, and finished the NAB League season averaging 23 disposals and three rebounds a game.

#56 Josh Shute
Sturt/South Australia | Outside Midfielder
28/03/2001 | 187cm | 74kg

A lightly built, but talented outside midfielder with some good size, Shute is the stereotypical winger who likes to run and create from the back half going forward. Shute has nice foot skills with a touch of class, as well as a high work rate that sees him push up and down the ground. His endurance could still improve, as could his impact per possession, and while standing at 73kg, Shute could add size to his frame. Overall though, Shute has a nice outside game from which clubs can work with, and is one of the more prominent wingers available in the AFL Draft crop. He could go higher than this based on his ball use and outside run, but is still a developing talent.

#55 Flynn Perez
Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country | Outside Midfielder
25/08/2001 | 188cm | 81kg

One of the players hardest to rate this year, Perez has missed his entire top-age season after injuring his knee late last year at a Vic Country camp. From what he showed as a bottom-ager, Perez has some neat outside traits, and class when in close. He moves well and is a creator for his team, it is just about getting some consistency in both his disposal and game. At 188cm, Perez is a nice height for a midfielder, and when adding in his athleticism, the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder is unlikely to be forgotten by an AFL club come November.

#54 Nick Bryan
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Ruck
22/10/2001 | 202cm | 87kg

Considered a potential first rounder at the start of the year, Bryan has slipped down the order after an inconsistent year. He had a good finals series, particularly in the last couple of games which gave recruiters another glimpse at the highly athletic ruck. While he is far from the finished product, it is hard to imagine he will be overlooked based on his sub three-second 20m sprint and his size at 202cm makes him a valuable commodity. While he might not have the consistency of some of the other talls higher on the list, he has plenty of upside and a club could certainly find a need for Bryan should they be on the lookout for another ruck.

#53 Josh Honey
Western Jets/Vic Metro | Mid/Forward
17/10/2001 | 185cm | 82kg

Another player with great upside, Honey has the versatility to rotate between midfield and forward, and is an athlete to-boot. Honey was one of the more impressive performers at the National Draft Combine, clocking up times of 2.97 seconds (20m sprint) and 8.10 seconds (agility test). His consistency can be a worry at times, particularly when it comes to influence throughout long periods in games, with his accumulation lower than most other comparable players – 16.1 disposals per game. But when on his game, Honey has that hurt factor about him, with his clean hands and defensive pressure – 4.6 tackles per game – a feature, as well as his ability to hit the scoreboard regularly, contributing 12 goals in 14 games at NAB League level, and two from two at the Under-18 National Championships.

#52 Jake Pasini
Swan Districts/Western Australia | Key Defender
06/02/2001 | 193cm | 82kg

A really consistent and reliable defender, Pasini is a player who could step up and play from early on in his career. At 193cm, Pasini is a little undersized to match up against the bigger-bodied key forwards, so will likely fill out as a running defender who takes a third tall, or could play on smaller players if need be. He has the skill level to be that offensive running back, and he reads the ball in flight really well. Averaging 18.3 disposals and 4.1 marks at WAFL Colts level from seven games, Pasini also got a call-up to both the Reserves and League sides for Swan Districts where he did not look out of place in two and one games respectively. After playing for Western Australia at the Under-18 Championships as a bottom-ager, Pasini returned as a top-ager and again was able to provide a steadying influence, picking up his rebound numbers to average two per game.

#51 Mitch Georgiades
Subiaco/Western Australia | Tall Forward
28/09/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

Similar to Perez, Georgiades is one who is hard to read where he goes. On talent, he could be a top 30 pick, but the fact a quad injury has kept him out of action throughout his entire top-age year would be a concern. He is too talented and has too much upside to not be looked at, and with his vertical leap (85cm running) and acceleration (2.925 seconds 20m sprint), Georgiades is a headache for any defender. Once the air space is clear and there is a body in front of him, expect the high-flying forward to sit on their head and bring the ball down. While he has not been able to show any improvements this year due to injury, he could also improve his defensive attributes, with few tackles despite his obvious athletic talent. In terms of what he offers offensively however, Georgiades can be a dominant goal kicker both in the air and at ground level and be that X-factor that sets him aside from other tall forwards in this draft.

#50 Charlie Comben
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Forward/Ruck
20/07/2001 | 199cm | 84kg

A versatile player who could well end up as a key forward and second ruck, Comben is capable of playing either role to a high standard. His ruck craft itself is good, and his second efforts at ground level such as laying a follow-up tackle or providing a block or shepherd is impressive. He can float forward and lead out of the goalsquare with sticky hands and an ability to crash a pack if needed. He has had his fair share of injuries over the journey so is arguably a tad behind on his development. But the fact he has come such a long way in his top-age year means Comben has plenty of upside for the future and is one who clubs can look to for the long term if they are after a bigger body up forward who can play that second ruck role to a t. Could be the second ruck picked in the AFL Draft, depending on how clubs view his progress against Bryan’s and what they are looking for, but we have him here due to his versatility and greater consistency over the season, as well as impact at the Under-18 National Championships for Vic Country.

#49 Liam Delahunty
GWS GIANTS/Allies | Forward/Defender
13/02/2001 | 192cm | 91kg

A member of the GWS GIANTS Academy, where Delahunty ends up on draft night will be interesting considering the GIANTS’ picks in this year’s draft. With Pick 6 likely to be Tom Green, Delahunty could be matched with one of the later picks, potentially 59 or 60. If the GIANTS choose to trade up to grab a second elite talent to avoid using Pick 6 on Green, then matching Green with their few picks, they might struggle to match a bid. Either way, Delahunty has shown enough to suggest a club could use a player of his services, with his kicking ability and reliability up forward – or in defence at times. He is a strong mark and covers the ground well, and while he is undersized, he could develop into a midfielder with time if required, and given his smarts could be very handy there. He could improve his accumulation numbers from ground level with the majority of his touches coming from marks. Once he develops that area of his game, he can have an equal impact at ground level as he can in the air.

#48 Karl Finlay
North Adelaide/South Australia | Tall Defender
14/07/2001 | 193m | 90kg

The Under 16s Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner from the championships two years ago, Finlay has remained consistent across all areas. While his ground balls and decision making at times could improve, his work without the ball is top notch, able to intercept at will across half-back. He will likely play as that third tall defender, and has superb agility for a player of his size, and captained his school, Prince Alfred College (PAC) during the season. He reads the play well and is a dominant one-on-one player who could play from early on in his career if given the chance, but still has those areas to work on and will undoubtedly do so. A potent defensive weapon, Finlay might be the awkward size at 192cm, but he is a two-way player, nullifying an opponent and creating drive from half-back.

#47 Noah Cumberland
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies | Forward
15/03/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A player we at Draft Central are a fan of, Cumberland has some seriously great athletic traits. In particular his break-neck speed coming off a flank or charging down the ground, recording a 2.931-second 20m sprint and 8.208-second agility test at the National Draft Combine. Tied to the Lions’ Academy, Cumberland could well be the first Lion bid on in the AFL Draft, and his versatility and high upside would be something attractive to the club and other clubs. He is a great pressure player as well, with his aggression at both the ball and opponent, and with ball-in-hand or without. He averaged almost five tackles a game at the championships, and while he will want to lift his accumulation and kicking consistency – he averaged just the 11 touches per game – he has some great traits from which a club can develop.

#46 Brock Smith
Gippsland Power/Vic Country | Defender
13/03/2001 | 189cm | 82kg

As reliable and competitive as they come, Smith is a defender who can play both offensive and defensive roles, and almost always achieve the team requirement of him by the end of the game. Rarely having a game where he does not in some part contribute, Smith will attack contests without fear for his own safety, and also provide rebound out of the back half. He ticks a lot of boxes across the board, and while he could improve his speed, and add more dimensions to his game up the ground, his flexibility to play against taller or smaller opponents is a bonus. His one-on-one strength helps him take on the stronger players, while his competitive nature helps him challenge those with greater athletic traits. His rebounding and intercept marking, as well as his penetrating kick are other features of his game, and he is a player who will be loved by teammates, but bemoaned by opposition players.

#45 Dyson Hilder
North Adelaide/South Australia | Key Defender
31/03/2001 | 196cm | 91kg

There are not too many readymade key defenders in this AFL Draft, which makes Hilder a unique prospect for clubs. If an AFL club is contending and needs a key position player who is more prepared to tackle senior footy earlier in his career, then Hilder looms as a value mid-draft option. While he is not as agile as some others, and could work on his ground ball craft, Hilder is strong in the air, and composed with ball-in-hand in defence. Much like his North Adelaide teammate Finlay, Hilder has experienced all three levels of SANFL football this year, with eight games at Reserves level his predominant grade. He was as reliable as they came for South Australia at the national carnival, and is a nullifying defender who can take an opposition forward out of the game, averaging almost five marks from 12.5 disposals per game at the championships.

#44 Cooper Sharman
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro | Tall Forward
25/07/2000 | 192cm | 79kg

Another player who is difficult to rate and could go anywhere from 30 to 60 is Sharman, who had plenty of highlights this year since joining the Oakleigh Chargers program. Having made the move from New South Wales to Victoria and playing out at Balwyn, Sharman burst onto the scene with a few hauls of goals, including four against Eastern Ranges in a tight game. His goal kicking accuracy and marking is quite impressive, and while he has to build his endurance and other areas of his game to be more of a complete package, Sharman has that upside which clubs will hope to harness. For a player of his size with his smarts and X-factor, Sharman could play that third tall role inside 50 and with his athleticism, he is able to play as a leading forward out of the square.

#43 Jack Mahony
Sandringham Dragons | Small Midfielder/Forward
12/11/2001 | 178cm | 72kg

A smart player who knows how to find the ball and use it delicately to hit targets over short distances like very few can, Mahony is a bit of a unique option as a small utility. Predominantly used in the forward half, Mahony is still light, but can compete with players in contested situations, and with his footy IQ and creativity, Mahony rarely makes too many mistakes by hand or foot. In saying that, his size will always come into question as a sub-180cm player, with Mahony lacking that explosiveness that others have playing a similar role. He will likely become that half-forward who can rotate through the middle, mainly because of his ability to pinpoint players inside 50 with sharp 45-degree kicks in between a host of opponents. Importantly, Mahony does not try and go for too much outside his limitations and therefore is highly influential with the game he employs.

#42 Trey Ruscoe
East Fremantle/Western Australia | Tall Defender
03/11/2001 | 192cm | 87kg

A bit undersized to be a key defender at the elite level, Trey Ruscoe has proven to be a player who can easily play that role in the WAFL Colts, and while that is against lighter bodies, he will be challenged to do so against bigger-bodied forwards. In saying that, Ruscoe has great strength and the skills to also play as a running half-back. He has spent time in the midfield which is an area he can further develop and potentially become a readymade inside midfielder who can have an influence around the stoppages. Ruscoe is ultra-competitive and positions himself well in the defensive 50, but could play a midfield-defence hybrid role with his running capacity and versatility to play either position.

#41 Darcy Chirgwin
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Country | Inside Midfielder
25/07/2001 | 191cm | 80kg

A good sized inside midfielder who might be somewhat underrated compared to his peers due to injury issues that ruled him out of early season games then was injured in the opening quarter of his Under-18 Championships match. What he offers to a club is a big body with an appetite for winning the ball in the contest. His disposal (24.7), clearance (5.2) and tackling (7.9) numbers are right up there with the best, and his defensive approach to the game will certainly win him over at AFL level. His outside game and athleticism could do with some work, as could his ability to hit the scoreboard, but lock him in to be a inside midfielder who can provide a presence around the stoppages, especially once he has added more size to his frame in the coming years.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Collingwood

IT was a disappointing 2019 season for Collingwood, with a combination of rebuilding through youth and unlucky losses culminating in a Conference wooden spoon. The Magpies were competitive in all their cross-conference games and were unlucky not to potentially get an extra couple of wins, but ultimately could not match it with sides for the full four quarters. After a massive influx of youth walked into the club at the start of last season, it was a different approach 12 months later as Collingwood poached the player of the trade period by securing arch rival Carlton’s captain, Brianna Davey for most of the Magpies’ picks. With pick two and AFL Women’s Rising Star Chloe Molloy also returning after missing the entire 2019 season, the Magpies effectively have two elite talents walking into the Round 1 side.

Aside from Davey, Collingwood had a relatively quiet off-season, with Darcy Guttridge and Iilish Ross departing to expansion clubs, Cecilia McIntosh retired, while the Magpies also delisted a further five players. One of those – Jordan Membrey regained a spot on the Magpies’ list, picked up in the recent AFL Women’s Draft alongside Oakleigh Chargers’ speedster Alana Porter who spent the VFL Women’s season on Collingwood’s list, fellow speedster Machaelia Roberts, former GWS GIANTS’ player Ebony O’Dea and Casey Demons key utility, Kaila Bentveltzen. While the AFL Women’s season was fairly disastrous in terms of wins and losses, the VFL Women’s side took home the premiership, with plenty of AFLW-listed players standing out across the year. That belief, along with the vital inclusions are likely to spur the Magpies on to move up the ladder in season 2020.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Brianna Davey (Carlton), Aishling Sheridan (gaelic), Kaila Bentveltzen (Casey Demons VFLW), Alana Porter (Oakleigh Chargers), Ebony O’Dea (GWS GIANTS), Machaelia Roberts (NT Thunder)
OUT: Darcy Guttridge (St Kilda), Iilish Ross (Richmond), Cecilia McIntosh (retired), Nicole Hildebrand, Melissa Kuys, Georgie Parker, Holly Whitford (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Alexander
Jordyn Allen
Kaila Bentveltzen
Britt Bonnici
Ashleigh Brazill
Lauren Butler
Mikala Cann
Sophie Casey
Steph Chiocci
Sarah D’Arcy
Brianna Davey
Sarah Dargan
Erica Fowler
Emma Grant
Georgia Gourlay
Eliza Hynes
Jaimee Lambert
Stacey Livingstone
Katie Lynch
Jordan Membrey
Chloe Molloy
Ebony O’Dea
Alana Porter
Machaelia Roberts
Ruby Schleicher
Maddie Shevlin
Kristy Stratton

Rookies: Sharni Layton, Sarah Rowe, Aishling Sheridan

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Sophie Casey – Stacey Livinstone – Jordyn Allen
HB: Ash Brazill – Ruby Schleicher – Maddie Shevlin
C: Britt Bonnici
HF: Steph Chiocci – Sarah D’Arcy – Sarah Dargan
F: Chloe Molloy – Sophie Alexander – Katie Lynch
R: Sharni Layton* – Brianna Davey – Jaimee Lambert
INT: Eliza Hynes – Emma Grant – Mikala Cann – Georgia Gourlay – Ebony O’Dea
EMG: Sarah Rowe* – Kaila Bentvelzen – Lauren Butler

DEPTH: Erica Fowler, Jordan Membrey, Alana Porter, Machaelia Roberts, Kristy Stratton.

The Magpies’ best 21 is more stable than many other sides, with the draftees likely having to force their way into the side being later picks. Given O’Dea’s links with Steve Symonds through Norwood, the former GWS GIANTS midfielder could well play a specific role within the team and could be a Round 1 starter. The Collingwood defensive back six is pretty settled, with about the last two spots able to be rotated between a number of players, but the likes of Livingstone, Schleicher, Brazill and Casey are pretty set, with Allen and Shevlin able to fill there, or in each of the other thirds on the ground. Bentveltzen has transformed into a defender and could stake a case for a starting role, while Molloy can play at either end. We have her up forward with D’Arcy and Alexander who are the two locks inside 50, while captain Chiocci showed she can play that defensive half-forward role with scoreboard impact as well. Dargan and Lynch fill out the front six because of their upside and rotational ability on wings or through the middle.

The onball brigade is an interesting one. Given Layton’s form at VFLW level, she might well be given first crack at the ruck role, but it is expected they could play the two rucks and Collingwood’s number one ruck from last year – Hynes – will rotate both through that position and up forward. The three midfielders are fairly straight forward, with Davey, Lambert and Bonnici all offering different aspects to the team. The last five to seven spots between the bench and emergency is tough to pick, with the remainder of the list fairly even, and the newbies in Membrey and Roberts already readymade for senior football, while Porter will take some time but could get some games later in the year. Gourlay and Cann made our bench because of their continued improvement at VFLW level and the upside they have, while Grant is a terrific team player likely to be given an early crack to maintain her spot in there.

NTFL Women’s Premier League weekend preview: Round 5

A top four clash and some mid-table battles are among the games this weekend in Round 5 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League.

PINT vs. ST MARY’S
Saturday, November 2, 12.30pm
TIO Oval No. 2

In what could be a mid-table clash with ramifications for finals spots early in the season, the sixth placed Pint host the eighth placed St Mary’s at TIO Oval, No. 2. The sides are coming off very different results last week which makes up the one-win difference between the sides, following St Mary’s heavy 45-point loss at the hands of reigning premiers, Waratah, while Pint got up on the road with a 29-point victory over Nightcliff. The Saints’ Round 4 loss marked three consecutive defeats since their thrashing win over Big River Hawks in Round 1. Danielle Ponter is a key player for the Saints, having brought all of her experience from Adelaide’s AFL Women’s program, while Aailyah Bailey and Nikita Long have been among the able to get some consistency into the team. Pint has had a yo-yo start to the season, with two big wins, a heavy loss to Southern Districts, and a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Palmerston Magpies in Round 1. Adelaide’s Jasmyn Hewett let loose last week to boot three of her team’s seven goals in the victory, while Emma Greaves and Kristen Smits have also been sources of scoring in the opening rounds of the season. Pint goes in as favourite for this clash as it looks to stay in touch with the top four, while St Mary’s needs to win in order to maintain a place in the mid-table logjam and not fall too far behind.

DARWIN BUFFETTES vs. NIGHTCLIFF
Saturday, November 2, 12.30pm
TIO Stadium

The team to beat this season thus far is the Buffettes, with Darwin yet to lose in season 2019/20, sitting a win and a massive percentage clear of Waratah and Wanderers. The last two weeks have brought the Buffettes back to reality despite getting away with the points, defeating Palmerston Magpies (five points) and Southern Districts (10 points) after combined wins of 250 points in the opening two rounds against Tracy Village and Big River Hawks. Tikesa Docherty-Cole booted bags of four and three in her two games this season, while Machaelia Roberts was a massive talent but will be missed when she relocates to Victoria to play with Collingwood following being drafted into the AFL Women’s. Young talents, Dominique Carbone and Tayla Hart-Aluni have also been key to the Buffettes’ success thus far, booting three goals in four games each. On the other hand, Nightcliff has lost its past two games, smashed by Waratah (41 points) and then going down to Pint (29 points) after wins over Wanderers – the only team to do so thus far – and St Mary’s in the opening two rounds. Emma-Lou Wolsey and Laura De Hommel have been named among the best on every occasion, while Shantel Miskin-Ripia has only played a couple of games, but booted six goals, including four on one occasion. The Tigers will be keen to measure up against the ladder leaders in this game.

TRACY VILLAGE vs. SOUTHERN DISTRICTS
Saturday, November 2, 2.30pm
TIO Oval No. 2

Ninth placed Tracy Village will hope to bounce back from what has been an undesirable start to the season, losing three of the first four games by a combined 299 points. Luckily for the Razorbacks they managed to hold off newcomers, Big River Hawks by five points to grab a victory, but Southern Districts will be a tougher assignment in Round 5. The Razorbacks have had quite a number of players already pulling on the jumper this season, with the likes of Gabrielle Young, Tara Everett and Alexandra Biggs among the best, while Nickesha Jones is averaging a goal a game. The Crocs sit at 2-2, but one was a loss to Wanderers which was reversed after having an extra player on game day. Last week the Crocs took it right up to the Buffettes, going down by 10 points but showing they are every bit a finals contender. In 2019/20, Ebony Miller has booted eight goals in four games, with a game-high five goals to be a real influence up forward, while the youth of Mattea Breed and Bella Clarke has provided great enthusiasm throughout the season to-date. Southern Districts should win the game, but stranger things have happened.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES vs. BIG RIVER HAWKS
Saturday, November 2, 3pm
Palmerston Oval

Palmerston Magpies sit ahead of the bell curve in fourth, but are only marginally ahead of their nearest rivals, so a win here is non-negotiable against the struggling new side in Big River Hawks. The Magpies are competitive in every game, with the first three rounds decided by two, 10 and five points respectively, however the Magpies have gone down in two of those matches. The last time out in Round 4 was a different story, with a thumping 20-goal win over Tracy Village stamping the visiting side’s authority on the competition. A win here could also see them move to third with second placed Waratah and third placed Wanderers going head-to-head. Arthurina Moreen has been the hero up forward for the Magpies, booting seven goals in four games, five of which came last week. Janet Baird and Taylah Williams are among others who have enjoyed strong starts to the season thus far in the black and white. For the Big River Hawks, there has not been much joy this season, but one positive is the games are getting closer, with two smashings in the opening two rounds combining for a losing margin of 191 points. In the last two rounds, the losses totalled 25 points. Crystal Browne and Deanna Peckham have played every game this season and provided good support, while Jayde De La Couer has been strong in the forward half. Palmerston would be heavy favourites to take out this game.

WARATAH vs. WANDERERS
Sunday, November 3
Gardens Oval

After a shock loss in Round 1 to Southern Districts, reigning premiers Waratah have got back to business as usual in the past three weeks, notching up wins against Palmerston Magpies, Nightcliff and St Mary’s, with each win looking more impressive by the day. While their percentage is nowhere near that of Darwin’s, Waratah still has a gap on Wanderers, who they need to beat to ensure they stay in the top three. With Palmerston likely to win its match, Waratah could slide to fourth, or even fifth if Southern Districts can have a big upset win over Darwin. The Warriors have shared the ball around this season and in front of goal, with Julieanna Kerinaiua and Monet Hunter both slotting three goals, while Lisa Roberts has been an important source of leadership for the club. For Wanderers, they also bounced back from a disappointing loss to Nightcliff in Round 1, but their formline may be one to be wary with given they had a reversed win against Southern Districts in Round 2, and narrow wins over St Mary’s and Big River Hawks who are bottom four sides. This will be the biggest test in a few weeks, and the likes of Shekeine De Satge and Morgan Johnston will need to be at their best to get up. The likes of Sophie Armitstead and Kayliah Motlop could do some damage through the midfield and up forward, but will have to really step up in this game if the Eagles are to cause an upset against what has been the benchmark team over the past few years.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Western Bulldogs

AFTER claiming a maiden AFL Women’s premiership in 2018 and looking impressive from the get-go in 2019, the Western Bulldogs fell away in the second half of the 2019 season to finish wooden spooners in Conference A. There was far from any shame in that, because had they been in the other conference, chances are they would have played finals, but it is what it is and the Dogs missed out on finals in 2019.

The AFL Women’s most active team over the off-season – which is saying something considering there are four expansion sides – the Western Bulldogs had eight players walk out the door to other clubs, and made three further changes with Hayley Wildes the sole retiree. Of the 2019 departures, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti would sting the most, with both genuine top 10 players in the competition, but now will don the yellow and black in season 2020. It leaves the Western Bulldogs with one elite established talent in Ellie Blackburn, but unlike a lot of sides, the Dogs have plenty of next tier talent either ready to break into that elite group, or sub-elite group.

Given the departures over the off-season, the Bulldogs headed into the draft with eight selections having only brought in Melbourne’s Ashleigh Guest as part of a trade that saw reliable defender, Libby Birch off to the Demons. With four selections in the top 10, and a new coach in Nathan Burke at the helm, AFL Women’s Draft Day was always going to be an optimistic one. The recruiting team leaned on Vic Metro Under-18 coach Burke, with the seven selections taken on the day coming from his Metro squad. It not only meant the chemistry between coach and players would already be established, but the team cohesion would also be impressive.

Gabby Newton was picked out as the first selection in the draft and can play any role across the ground, but will likely start in the middle. She could be joined by Northern Knights teammate, Britney Gutknecht in there, while Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis has the versatility to play anywhere, particularly in that back half. Gemma Lagioia and South Adelaide’s Hannah Munyard – the latter of whom was taken post-draft after the Bulldogs passed and the Crows opted not to select her – running down the ground will be a sight to see for Dogs fans. The Bulldogs also addressed the fact they lost some talent inside 50, with father-daughter selection Isabella Grant and Nell Morris-Dalton providing an aerial presence, as well as ground support in the form of Amelia van Oosterwijck.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Ashleigh Guest (Melbourne), Katy Herron (rookie – Gaelic), Danielle Marshall (rookie – soccer), Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton, Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights), Gemma Laioia, Amelia van Oosterwijck (Oakleigh Chargers), Elisabeth Georgostathis, Isabella Grant (Western Jets), Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide).
OUT: Katie Brennan, Monique Conti (Richmond), Selena Karlson, Emma Mackie (St Kilda), Tiarna Ernst (Gold Coast), Belinda Smith, Kate Bartlett (West Coast), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Tessa Boyd, Jesse Davies (delisted), Hayley Wildes (retired).

2020 TEAM LIST:

Deanna Berry
Ellie Blackburn
Eleanor Brown
Nicole Callinan
Naomi Ferres
Ellyse Gamble
Elisabeth Georgostathis
Angelica Gogos
Isabella Grant
Ashleigh Guest
Britney Gutknecht
Bailey Hunt
Isabel Huntington
Gemma Lagioia
Kirsty Lamb
Brooke Lochland
Aisling McCarthy
Kirsten McLeod
Celine Moody
Nell Morris-Dalton
Hannah Munyard
Gabby Newton
Kim Rennie
Hannah Scott
Lauren Spark
Bonnie Toogood
Aisling Utri
Amelia van Oosterwijck
Rookies: Katy Herron, Danielle Marshall

POTENTIAL SIDE:

B: Nicole Callinan – Hannah Scott – Ashleigh Guest
HB: Eleanor Brown – Lauren Spark – Elisabeth Georgostathis
C: Gabby Newton
HF: Bonnie Toogood – Isabel Huntington – Aisling Utri
F: Aisling McCarthy – Isabella Grant – Brooke Lochland
R: Kim Rennie – Ellie Blackburn – Kirsty Lamb
INT: Angelica Gogos – Nell Morris-Dalton – Gemma Lagioia – Naomi Ferres – Britney Gutknecht
EMG: Deanna Berry, Hannah Munyard, Celine Moody

DEPTH: Kirsten McLeod, Amelia van Oosterwijck, Bailey Hunt, Ellyse Gamble, Katy Herron*, Danielle Marshall*

Trying to work out a best 21 for the Western Bulldogs in season 2020 is near impossible, with so many fresh faces coming into the side. It will be a challenge for Burke to balance experience with youth, given that naturally the youth coming through are more developed than their predecessors and could have a greater impact sooner. But the balance is there to ensure that they are not complete pups, and that there are experienced heads guiding the team. Of the new recruits, Ashleigh Guest could fill a role in defence, with the Dogs’ back six going to be interesting outside of Hannah Scott, Lauren Spark and Nicole Callinan, with Burke possibly looking to adopt a running game, which means Eleanor Brown, Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia could rotate through there, with all of them easily in that best 21. Gabby Newton should play from Round 1 with Knights’ teammate Britney Gutknecht also in the running, as could Isabella Grant and Nell Morris-Dalton, but the forward line structure will be one for the Bulldogs to try and work out given the depth of both talls and smalls up that end. Of the draftees to miss out at this stage, it was the later selections of Amelia Van Oosterwijck and Hannah Munyard, though all two could come in and play a role, with Munyard having tasted senior football, while van Oosterwjck is more of a long-term prospect, but a real goer inside 50. Of the five experienced Dogs we left out – Deanna Berry, Ellyse Gamble, Bailey Hunt, Celine Moody and Kirsten McLeod – Moody is one who could play depending if the Dogs opt for a second ruck with Kim Rennie, Berry is a player who could be in the starting line-up on talent, it is just finding that consistency, while McLeod played six games last season, but with the influx of talent coming in, will be competing for a pot. Hunt and Gamble were on the fringes last season but still managed the three games.

2020 AFL Women’s fixture announced

EIGHT home-and-away season rounds and three weeks of finals are what awaits the AFL Women’s sides in 2020 after the official fixture was announced this morning. The extra week during the regular season and extra week of finals means players will have extended the season by up to two weeks for grand final teams, and at least one week for every other side. The eight-round season will increase to nine and 10 rounds in the 2021 and 2022 seasons respectively.

The 14 teams – including four expansion sides – have been split into two Conferences, with five Vic Metro teams all included in one pool, along with the two West Australian teams, while Geelong, Richmond and North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos are in the other conference with the remaining non-Victorian sides. While the conference system was highly criticised last season given the wooden spooner in Conference A – Western Bulldogs – would have made finals had they been in Conference B with the same win-loss ratio – the talking point in season 2020 will be travel, with the heavily-stacked Victorian conference to have less travel than their counterparts – and non-Victorian sides in the opposite conference.

The three week finals series will begin on April 4-5 with semi-finals, followed by two preliminary finals on April 11-12, and a grand final on the weekend of April 18. In the finals, the minor premiers of each conference advance through to the preliminary finals, to play the winners of second and third in opposing conferences who face-off in the semi-finals.

The season will begin on Friday, February 7, with Richmond and Carlton to open the season at Ikon Park – matching the AFL Men’s tradition. Other matches in Round 1 featuring expansion clubs include West Coast making its AFL Women’s debut at Victoria Park against the Magpies, St Kilda hosting Western Bulldogs, and Gold Coast SUNS travelling to Blacktown to face the GIANTS. In the other three games, North Melbourne travel to Casey Fields to face Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide go head-to-head in a repeat of the 2017 AFL Women’s decider, and Fremantle host Geelong over in the west.

Other blockbuster matches include the Grand Final replay between Adelaide and Carlton on Sunday, March 1 (Round 4), a Western Derby on Saturday, February 15 (Round 2) and a Q-Clash on Saturday, February 22 (Round 3). The latter two games are played at Optus Stadium and Metricon Stadium respectively to attract the largest possible crowds.

Conference A:

Adelaide
Brisbane
Geelong
Gold Coast
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne
Richmond

Conference B:

Carlton
Collingwood
Fremantle
Melbourne
St Kilda
West Coast
Western Bulldogs

Each team will play every other side in its conference, as well as two sides from the opposite conference. The two crossover games are listed club-by-club below.

Crossover Games:

Adelaide: Carlton, St Kilda
Brisbane: Collingwood, Fremantle
Carlton: Adelaide, Richmond
Collingwood: Brisbane Lions, Geelong
Fremantle: Brisbane Lions, Geelong
Geelong: Collingwood, Fremantle
Gold Coast: Melbourne, West Coast Eagles
GWS Giants: West Coast Eagles, Western Bulldogs
Melbourne: Gold Coast, North Melbourne
North Melbourne: Melbourne, Western Bulldogs
Richmond: Carlton, St Kilda
St Kilda: Adelaide, Richmond
West Coast Eagles: Gold Coast, GWS Giants
Western Bulldogs: GWS Giants, North Melbourne

2019 AFL Draft Guide – Coming Soon

AFTER the successful introduction of the 2018 AFL Draft Guide produced by Draft Central, we have been hard at work over the past month compiling the 2019 edition. Given last year was our inaugural edition, we received and listened to feedback on the design of the booklet, and have gone out of our way to be bigger and better in 2019.

We’ll be releasing some screenshots of the new magazine via our social media channels throughout the week, so make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The edition to be released in early November will include:

* Expanded profile pages

– One profile per page for National Draft Combine invitees
– Expanded statistics
– Additional space for strengths and improvements

* A colour coding system to rate:

– Disposal (effectiveness)
– Contested (work)
– Consistency (of performance)
– Ceiling (potential scope)
– Speed
– Agility
– Endurance
– Vertical

For State Draft Combine profiles, three of the criteria will be used – Disposal, Consistency and Athleticism.

* 2019 AFL Women’s Draft recap
– Player summaries of first round selections
– Club-by-club recap of players selected

The edition will include profiles of more than 200 eligible draftees across National, State and Rookie Me combines, as well as a number of others who we’ve included as ones to consider.

2019 AFL Women’s Draft: Club-by-club selections

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted for another year, we look back at who each club selected, and summarise their drafts in three words, as well as have a brief look at what the clubs might have picked up yesterday.

ADELAIDE:

14. Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
37. Najwa Allen (Norwood)
46. Nicole Campbell (South Adelaide)
53. Jaimi Tabb (Woodville West Torrens)
68. Caitlin Gould (Glenelg)
83. Courtney Gum (South Adelaide)
100. Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
102. Chelsea Biddell (West Adelaide)

Three words: Height and experience

It is scary to think just how good this reigning premiers’ outfit could get and deserve to be premiership favourites to make it three flags in four years. Lose a ruck? Pick up the best one in the country. Lose an MVP to a long-term injury? Pick up another one. Need more midfield depth? Pluck the eyes out of the underrated SANFL Women’s competition. A remarkable haul, picking up some talls in Gould and Biddell as well as the incredibly talented McKinnon. Then going midfield depth with SANFL Women’s best and fairest Allen, as well as Campbell and Tabb, then All-Australian defender in Newman. Gum needs no introduction returning to the AFL Women’s. A few players were unlucky not to be picked too…

BRISBANE:

3. Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
15. Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
16. Catherine Svarc (Wilston Grange)
17. Hannah Hillman (Coorparoo)
20. Lucy Bellinger (Glenelg)
28. Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)
45. Selina Priest (Coolangatta-Tweed)
60. Dakota Davidson (University of Queensland)
75. Maria Moloney (University of Queensland)

Three words: Versatility the key

Picked up two of the best Under-18 available talents in Postlethwaite and Dawes who will provide a hard edge as well as slick skills and talent beyond their years. They opted for height, but versatile height with Tahlia Hickie able to play ruck but fill in up forward, while Bellinger can play a role at either end after her season in Glenelg. Add in the experienced Svarc, the highly rated Hillman, and then a couple of roughies late from the University of Queensland, and the Lions will have some genuine Round 1 starters from this haul.

CARLTON:

2. Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
13. Grace Egan (Richmond VFLW)
26. Brooke Vernon (Dandenong)
36. Sharnie Whiting (Williamstown)
44. Serena Gibbs (Eastern Ranges)
52. Vaomua Laloifi (Western Bulldogs VFLW)
59. Courtney Jones (Southern Saints)

Three words: Strength and defence

Whether it was accidental or not – highly unlikely – every player Carlton picked has somewhat of a hard or aggressive edge to their game. All seven selections have strong bodies made for AFL Women’s football, the vast majority play in the defensive half. Vernon, Laloifi and Egan could slot straight into the back six. Whiting could play at either end, Jones the same as a smaller option, Gibbs can rotate through the ruck or be that tall forward chopping out Darcy Vescio and Tayla Harris, and then there’s McEvoy who can do anything on the football field.

COLLINGWOOD:

67. Kaila Bentvelzen (Casey Demons)
74. Jordan Membrey (Hawthorn VFLW)
82. Alana Porter (Oakleigh Chargers)
89. Ebony O’Dea (GWS Giants/Norwood)
94. Machaelia Donna Roberts (NT Thunder)

Three words: Need for speed

With the picks Collingwood had, it was always likely to be mature agers, and all bar one were just that. Bentveltzen can play up either end but performed strongest as a defender, while Membrey makes her way back onto the Collingwood list after being delisted. O’Dea rejoins the ranks after previously playing at the GIANTS and has been coached by incumbent leader Steve Symonds at Norwood, while Porter and Roberts provide much needed speed to the Magpies’ outfit and will add to the stronger bodies acquired over the last couple of seasons, including Bri Davey.

FREMANTLE:

12. Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
21. Mim Strom (Swan Districts)
35. Ann McMahon (East Fremantle)
51. Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)
66. Sarah Garstone (Claremont)
81. Janelle Cuthbertson (Perth Angels)
85. Bianca Webb (Swan Districts)

Three words: Youth the priority

Snapped up the two highest rated top-age talents in Roux and Strom with their first two selections, then scooped up over-agers O’Driscoll and Garstone, as well as Webb late. It meant five of the Dockers’ picks were 18 or 19-year-olds giving them plenty to work with in the future. McMahon is highly rated over in Western Australia as a versatile midfielder, while Cuthbertson is the surprise packet, likely to provide a spark for the Dockers.

GEELONG:

11. Millie Brown – father-daughter selection (Murray Bushrangers)
34. Gemma Wright (Carlton VFLW)
50. Nicole Garner (Casey Demons)
65. Mia Skinner (Geelong Falcons)
80. Amy McDonald (Geelong VFLW)
98. Madison Maguire (Geelong VFLW)

Three words: Close ties important

With three players from the Geelong system – the VFL Women’s side and one of those from the Falcons – the Cats kept their local flavour alive in their selections. They had to pay up for Brown with their first pick, but the running defender was worth it. With the talented Skinner up the other end, the Cats looked to fill holes with experience, such as McDonald and Maguire, while Gemma Wright came in from Carlton, and Garner crossed the bay from Casey.

GOLD COAST:

18. Serene Watson (Bond University)
22. Hannah Dunn (Queanbeyan/Norwood)
38. Alexia Hamilton (Queanbeyan)
42. Brittany Perry (North Adelaide)
57. Cheyanne Hammond (South Adelaide)
69. Dee Heslop (Yeronga)
86. Jade Pregelj (Yeronga)
91. Georgia Breward (Coolangatta-Tweed)

Three words: Value for picks

If Mia King and Isabella Grant were rated as steals, then you have to consider Georgia Breward as one too. Highly rated junior coming off an ACL injury, she will be much better than her pick 91 suggests. The SUNS grabbed some great youth defensive talent in Heslop and Watson, the high-flying Hamilton who missed out last year after representing the Eastern Allies, and some experience from the SANFL Women’s in Dunn, Perry and Hammond. They are ready to compete from early on.

GWS:

4. Maggie Gorham (Belconnen)
23. Lisa Steane (Nelson Bay)
29. Annalyse Lister (Darebin Falcons)
61. Sarah Halvorsen (Newcastle City)
76. Emily Goodsir (East Coast Eagles)
90. Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
95. Tait Mackrill (UNSW Eastern Suburbs)
97. Rebecca Privitelli (UNSW Eastern Suburbs)
99. Lisa Whiteley (UNSW Eastern Suburbs)

Three words: Keeping it local

Like most years, the GIANTS always focus on the locals with obviously that being the accessible talent pool. It meant many of the players have represented the GWS GIANTS’ VFL Women’s side in Mackrill, Privitelli, Goodsir, Whiteley and Steane, while the speedy Gorham is highly rated and another Canberra player. Lister is the exception coming from Darebin, while Garnett is the highly rated youngster and future leader who is a steal at pick 90 – not that it matters given the standalone access to the draftees.

MELBOURNE:

54. Jacqueline Parry (Queanbeyan Tigers)
72. Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)
77. Gabrielle Colvin (Darebin Falcons)
78. Krstel Petrevski (Calder Cannons)

Three words: Nice defensive cover

The Demons picked out a number of surprise players with limited picks available, predominantly looking at the defensive end of the field. Tarrant is the pick of the Under-18 duo, named full-back in the All-Australian side hailing from New South Wales. Petrevski is the cousin of Carlton’s Sam Petrevski-Seton and Brisbane’s Cedric Cox so has footballing blood in the family, and while still raw has plenty of upside as a skilful midfielder-defender. Colvin can also provide defensive support as a tall option, while looking up the other end, Parry was AFL Canberra’s leading goalkicker in a premiership side.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

10. Ellie Gavalas (Western Bulldogs VFLW)
32. Sarah Wright (Carlton VFLW)
49. Mia King (Launceston)
64. Tahni Nestor (Melbourne University)
79. Abbey Green (Launceston)

Three words: King 49? Unbelievable.

You will not find a greater steal in this draft than Mia King at pick 49. A clear first-round talent, the Kangaroos have access to King through the club’s link to Tasmania and to grab the All-Australian inside midfielder with 49 is remarkable. They sprung a surprise picking up experienced midfielder Gavalas at pick 10 to buck the trend of the first nine, then went for experience outside of King, with Carlton’s runner-up best and fairest winner Wright, one from their own backyard in former Blue, Nestor, and Launceston’s Green to add to the Tasmanian link.

RICHMOND:

7. Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
25. Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
31. Ella Wood (GMV Rebels)
40. Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
43. Holly Whitford (Melbourne University)
55. Nekaela Butler (GWV Rebels)
58. Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
71. Laura Bailey (Richmond VFLW)
73. Emma Horne (Eastern Ranges)
84. Kate Dempsey (Richmond VFLW)
87. Ciara Fitzgerald (Northern Knights)
93. Emily Harley (Oakleigh Chargers)
96. Lauren Tesoriero (Richmond VFLW)

Three words: Rebels, Tigers, Knights

A really underrated draft by the tigers, they just targeted all areas of the field. First they looked at young talent, then experienced heads, keeping players from the same clubs together to ease the introduction into the AFL Women’s. The trio of Rebels lead by Molan will be superb, Sansonetti provides great defensive cover, McClelland can play anywhere and Saxon-Jones is arguably the best contested mark from the Under 18s. Add in some of their highly rated Richmond VFL Women’s players – including Horne who joins McClelland at the Tigers, and remarkably, the recruiting manager in Tesoriero who is coming off an ACL injury. Whitford gets a second chance after being delisted by the Pies too.

ST KILDA:

5. Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
24. Rosie Dillon (Hawthorn VFLW)
27. Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)
30. Tarni White (Coorparoo)
33. Tamara Luke (Hawthorn VFLW)
41. Hannah Priest (Norwood)
63. Pass

Three words: Speed and X-factor

This is going to be an exciting team, with St Kilda picking up one of the top three Victorians in Patrikios who will provide terrific outside ball use to compliment Dillon and the rest of the inside brigade, while Priest can play a multitude of roles in the defensive half. Xenos has that break-neck speed coming off half-back or on the wing, while White could be the pick of the bunch with the right development given her obvious talent as an Under 18s All-Australian at just 16-years-old. Luke will also add experience in the ruck for the new side.

WEST COAST:

19. Imahra Cameron (Swan Districts)
39. Sophie McDonald (Claremont)
56. Tarnee Tester (Subiaco)
70. Katherine Orme (Claremont)
92. Talia Radan (Hawthorn VFLW)
101. Chantella Perera (Hawthorn VFLW)

Three words: Defensive cover, check.

The defensive end was a clear target for the Eagles in this draft, picking up young cross-coding key defender Sophie McDonald – who they announced pre-draft they would select – as well as experienced tall Radan who crosses the Nullarbor for her third AFL Women’s opportunity, joined on the plane by Hawks’ teammate Perera. Tester is a highly rated goalkicker in Western Australia to break the trend, while Cameron provides that explosive pace and good skills to the team in the forward half. Outside of drafting your recruiter, your social media manager would be a close second in terms of remarkable stories, but experienced Orme can now have a more hands-on experience at training.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

1. Gabby Newton (Northern Knights)
6. Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
8. Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
9. Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
47. Isabella Grant – father-daughter selection (Western Jets)
48. Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
62. Amelia Van Oosterwijck (Oakleigh Chargers)
88. Pass

Three words: Hello again, Burkey.

They were never going to lose in this draft, and the Bulldogs stuck to what they know, with little doubt new coach Nathan Burke having a massive say in the draftees. It is rare that a coach at the elite level has the chance to have coached every single draftee, but that is the situation for Burke, who picked up seven Vic Metro Under-18 players from his undefeated team this year. Newton is as versatile as they come, Gutknecht and Georgostathis provide versatility in their halves as well as a hard-edge on the inside, Lagioia has that outside speed along with Van Oosterwijck who is a unique prospect as a pure small forward. Morris-Dalton was a bolter in the draft but the Dogs did not want to take any chances, and she joins Grant inside 50, of whom the latter was picked up for relative peanuts considering her upside, and the benefit of having so many top-end picks and a massive gap to the next selection.