Category: AFLW Draft

2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

AFTER announcing the inaugural AFLW Draft Power Rankings Victorian Pool, Draft Central is starting a new series – Positional Analysis. It takes a look across the nation and those players within a certain position, and the impact they have. Next up is tall and medium defenders, where the defender position is the more prevalent area for utilities and we have just looked at those above 160cm. Some defenders who are considered utilities will be in other AFLW Draft Positional Analysis. All opinions are of the individual author.

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

#1 Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

A really smart player who knows the game well and reads the play behind the ball, Anthony was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age talent last year. She showed why through an outstanding yet interrupted season, copping a couple of concussions – including in Vic Country’s win over South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – to still perform at a high level. She won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and proved through her actions to be an incredibly courageous player. Whilst standing at 166cm, Anthony is not afraid to go up in the marking contest and bring the ball down, and when she does have ball-in-hand, her kicking is outstanding. A talent who teammates can trust with ball-in-hand, and she has spent time up forward as well at times, kicking a goal in the Stingrays’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in finals.

>> Jaide Anthony VFLW Player Focus

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

Key strengths: Aerial ability, reading the play, kicking, footy IQ

The clever AFL Women’s Academy member is a Brisbane Lions Academy aligned player who has been a reliable talent in defence. Having also showed her wares in the midfield at times, Harmer predominantly is utilised as a rebounding defender who wins her own ball through intercepting opposition forward thrusts. Against Vic Country, Harmer had 15 disposals, five marks and five tackles, one of the shining lights in a big loss for the Sunshine State. Hoping to improve her ground ball work given her ability in the air, Harmer is a talent who knows how to position herself one-on-one in a contest, pull down the ball, then use it well coming out of defence to hit the long kick to an open target. She has the footy smarts to be able to make good decisions under pressure and knows when to go, or when to hold.

>> Maggie Harmer QAFLW Player Focus

#3 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/08/2003 | 169cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

The reliable rebounding defender barely put a foot wrong all season and was a player her teammates could rely upon to use the ball well out of defence. Her strengths were clearly her intercept marking, where she latched onto 5.1 marks per game to go with 16.9 disposals and 4.5 rebound 50s. Already she has managed the two games at VFLW level, and was outstanding for Vic Country in her three games, holding up the fort in defence well and providing some good rebound with almost five rebound 50s per game there. At 169cm she can play against tall or small opponents because she reads the ball well in flight and shows good composure when with it. As a whole, Lee just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what she is capable of doing.

#4 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
07/01/2003 | 175cm
Tall Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Speed, power, reading the play, intercepting

The running defender has some seriously eye-catching traits with her combination of acceleration and power making her hard to slow down when she is up and about. A traditional half-back, Dojiok can read the ball in flight with ease and float across contests to intercept, or drop into the hole when a high ball comes into defence. She knows where to stand when the play is headed towards her and her metres gained are massive compared to a lot of her contemporaries. She is often a get-and-go player, always looking to move on the ball, and whilst her kicking at times needs sharpening up, her development over the past few years at the Rebels has certainly improved and makes her one of the better intercept defenders going around.

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

Having predominantly settled in at half-back, Tonon is a player who can realistically play anywhere on the field, as she did in her debut SANFL Women’s season last year. The Glenelg premiership players has come on in leaps and bounds over the past 12 months, and has a nice balance of offensive and defensive traits. She can win the ball in the back 50, use her speed and evasion to propel it in transition, and then also win it back from the opposition through fierce tackling. Tonon’s versatility is key to being able to slot into any role, but the way she is able to get into the right spots and be able to hit targets down the field is valuable. One of the South Australian talents who did her chances no harm at SANFL Women’s or AFLW Under 19s level, where she averaged 15.5 disposals, 3.5 tackles and 2.0 rebounds from her two games.

>> Brooke Tonon SANFLW Player Focus

#6 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
06/03/2003 | 171cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Skills, composure, versatility, reading the play

A medium defender who runs off half-back, hits up targets and then roams along a wing, Vickers is a player with some great upside, and is another Oakleigh Chargers premiership player. She averaged the 13.5 disposals, 3.3 tackles and a well-balanced two inside 50s and rebound 50s per game, such was her ability to cover the ground. The Chargers did not see as much of it in their defence as other teams, so Vickers had to hold a high line at times and be that kick behind the ball ready to intercept. She is not a renowned marker, but she is one to receive the handball and go, and uses the ball well in transition. Still developing areas of her game, as an overall prospect Vickers has some great talent.

#7 Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
01/02/2002 | 168cm
Medium Defender/Midfielder

Key strengths: Consistency, accumulation, work rate, tackling

As safe a player as you could find, Leonard’s 2021 season was consistency bonafide. She hardly put a foot wrong all year for the GWV Rebels, averaging 19.4 disposals, 2.4 marks, 7.1 tackles and 4.0 rebound 50s playing between half-back and through the middle. Possessing courage and a hard edge with a high work rate, Leonard kept cracking in for four quarters every game and was amongst her team’s best players regular. A 2002-born talent who missed out last year, Leonard certainly stepped up this season, and has already made her VFLW debut, and looked good out of defence for Vic Country with 4.7 rebound 50s to go with 14.7 disposals and 5.0 tackles.

#8 Elizabeth Dowling
31/07/2003 | 171cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Defensive pressure, rebounding, aggression, reading the play

The Geelong Falcons defender has been a player who has progressed through the Falcons’ V/Line Cup program through to the Vic Country team and been a rock solid member in defence for a number of years now. In her Under 16s season, Dowling played nine games and showed plenty of potential, and has hardly missed a game since outside of Vic Country commitments, averaging around 11 disposals, four tackles and two rebounds per game. Not a huge marker, Dowling prefers to spoil and also win the ball one-on-one at ground level, or lay a strong tackle to wrap up the opponent or get it out to a teammate. She is able to use the ball consistently out of the back half, and is one who always puts her body on the line.

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

Key strengths: Overhead marking, defensive pressure, rebounding, kicking

The Claremont rebounding defender might be a 2002-born player, but she only scrapes into the 19th year by five days. A traditional footballer who just does everything right, Bennett is strong overhead, good at ground level and provides both the defensive pressure and offensive run required of a half-back. She puts her body on the line, and when having the chance of disposing of it, will generally use it well, with a lovely long kick down the field. By her own admission, endurance was a key improvement for her this season, but her consistency and weight of numbers across the WAFL Women’s and then AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – where she averaged an eye-catching 16.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 5.3 tackles and 4.0 rebound 50s – earned her a well-deserved AFLW Draft Combine invite this year.

>> Emily Bennett feature

#10 Grace Mulvahil
18/04/2003 | 172cm
Medium Defender/Utility

Key strengths: Kicking, acceleration, evasion, work rate

The Northern Territory talent has been a junior star in the NTFL Women’s competition, becoming the second youngest player to win the best on ground in the senior grand final last year. She also won the Rising Star award, and has been touted as a talent to watch for many years. Still developing and constantly getting better, Mulvahil’s standout trait is her kicking, able to pinpoint passes around the ground both under pressure and when in space. Her acceleration off the mark, and evasion makes her hard to stop, with a high work rate to boot. Standing at 172cm, Mulvahil is a good size to play as a half-back or even push up to the wing, but knows where the goals are too if thrown forward. She averaged the 10.5 disposals, 2.0 marks and 3.5 tackles at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, holding her own against stronger opponents and providing great run for the Allies.

OTHERS:

There are so many quality defenders it is hard to limit them down, with a plethora of West Australian talent that could easily squeeze into the top 10 such is the evenness of the group. Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut, Peel Thunder’s Bella Mann and Beth Schilling and Claremont’s Matilda Dyke all provide various traits and defensive options of all sizes. In the key defensive slots, Northern Knights’ Tarrah Delgado and Eastern Ranges’ Cadhla Schmidli are other Victorian talents, with Queensland duo Christine Okesene and Giselle Davies providing the run and height respectively that could interest the Sunshine State clubs.

Webster enjoying teamwork and physicality in footy

TASMANIAN Jemma Webster might be from a different sporting code to her now Australian rules football pathway, but it is not one you would expect – gymnastics. The former gymnast spent her childhood in the sport, then opted to transition into the oblong-shaped ball game and follow in the footsteps of her cousin, St Kilda’s Jimmy Webster.

“I was actually a gymnast for nine years then made the decision to go over to junior football at Claremont,” Webster said. “I played two years at junior level and then I made the transition to the state wide at Glenorchy and have played another two years there and now I’m in the state (team).”

Crossing from an individual sport like gymnastics, it was a change to be one small part of a big team, but something that Webster really enjoyed about football, along with the physicality that came packaged with the sport.

“The physicality is one of my main enjoyments of the game, especially coming from a gymnastics background, everything is different within the two sports but the teamwork as well,” Webster said. “Gymnastics is very individual sport so I love the enjoyment you get around the girls.”

Playing in a variety of roles, Webster said she is happy to slot in any of the three lines, but loves to run through the midfield or up forward. It helps with what she considers to be her strengths, which she named as her ground balls and contested work below the knees, as well as her ability to hit targets. As for her improvements, Webster said she was looking to improve her marking and confidence to be able to win more marks across the field.

Webster is one of a number of Tasmania Devils players who have come through the pathway, experienced the beltings on 2020 in the NAB League Girls, and come through the other side better for those losses. When asked what was the difference between the 2020 season and the incredible 2021 season – where they finished on top of the Vic Country/Tasmania pool, Webster said it was now former coach and Gold Coast Suns AFL Women’s senior coach Cameron Joyce.

“Our girls are very connected this season,” she said. “It’s hard because we’re in different states, but ‘Joycey’ really brought the team together and we had those Campbelltown sessions where we got to meet up and the connections I’ve built with the girls through this year have been amazing and something I’ll take along with me for the rest of my career.”

It is no surprise that Webster named her cousin Jimmy as her inspiration, and said he worked hard to reach the elite level, something she hopes to do long-term if it’s possible, but if not, then she just wants to develop into the best possible footballer she can and enjoy the ride that comes with it.

“I always wanted to play at the highest level I can, but just really enjoying the footy while I can,” Webster said.

2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

AFTER announcing the inaugural AFLW Draft Power Rankings Victorian Pool, Draft Central is starting a new series – Positional Analysis. It takes a look across the nation and those players within a certain position, and the impact they have. First up is rucks, where versatility and upside comes into play, though a number of the pure rucks have plenty of standout traits and everyone on this list is more than capable at the next level. All opinions are of the individual author.

#1 Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Ruck/Key Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Athleticism, versatility, clean hands, tackling pressure

The standout ruck across the nation is AFL Women’s Academy talent, Zoe Prowse. Though if you had just tuned in to the 2021 SANFL Women’s season, you might have mistaken her for being a ruck, having also played as a key forward and remarkably, a midfielder. She is the ultimate utility, whom at 177cm can play anywhere. Her athleticism around the ground is superb, and she can find the football as well as any midfielder which makes her one of the more readymade rucks coming through junior programs. Prowse’s vertical leap is massive, but she can also get her hands dirty, laying plenty of tackles and causing a real nuisance at ground level. At the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Prowse had to carry the ruck load given the Croweaters’ lack of talls and injuries to fellow rucks, to average 18.3 disposals, 2.3 marks, 22.3 hitouts, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and 2.0 rebound 50s in a complete performance across the board.

#2 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/09/2003 | 182cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, mobility, forward presence, high impact

The upside for father-daughter eligible prospect Georgia Campbell is quite impressive, with the talented ruck able to rest up forward for parts during games due to Eastern Ranges’ abundance of rucks. There she was still able to kick five goals in eight games to go with her 20.9 hitouts, and also slotted a goal for Vic Metro while averaging a higher 12 disposals, and 12 hitouts at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Western Bulldogs supporter is eligible to go to the Dogs, or Melbourne, and will be nominated in the near future. She has great mobility for a ruck and can get around the ground and be an option, and also provide a good presence when inside 50 which makes her difficult to contain. Compared to Prowse, Campbell is not as high of a ball-winner, but is a stronger presence one-one-one, is slightly taller and has been able to spend more time up forward.

#3 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
12/12/2003 | 190cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

The towering ruck/forward’s AFL Women’s Academy season makes it into the top 20 overall (third on these rankings) on the back of a solid overall season. Whilst she still needs to work on clunking more grabs above her head, Gillard’s work around the ground and ability to get to repeat contests for a ruck and running as a midfielder is really impressive. Often towering over her opponents, Gillard moves incredibly well, and is a tall that teammates are not afraid to use in transition, as she rotated between the ruck and full forward to average 11.3 disposals and 14.1 hitouts, as well as a couple of inside 50s per game. A December birth, Gillard has plenty of upside that with time could develop into a damaging tall. There is a running theme with athletic and versatile rucks, and Gillard might have some development to go, but with the extra height – 13cm more than Prowse for example – she can certainly dominate with her mobility.

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, vertical leap, clean hands, overhead marking

A little more raw than the three others, Lakay has developed her game coming from a basketball background at quickly learning the ropes at Swan Districts. The talented tall is just as athletic as the others in this list, and one of the stronger contested marks in the ruck crop. Both West Australian teams would have to be considering Lakay for her upside, particularly given she has the clean hands both at stoppages and around the ground. She moves well and has competed strongly at WAFL Women’s level, and whilst her ruck craft is still always improving and her fitness is another area she cited as a way to build her game, she is a player with exciting potential. At 186cm, Lakay is taller than most rucks, and whilst she even admitted that coming up against Prowse was a challenge at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, she acquitted herself well in the second game against Vic Metro, sharing the ruck load with Lauren Wakfer.

#5 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Ruck craft, strength, one-on-ones, work rate

The AFL Women’s Academy ruck is the strongest one on the list, able to compete against senior players with ease. Rather than beating them through athleticism like many of those in this group, Morphett has a point of difference in the fact that she is able to win through strength and power, happy to engage in one-on-ones. Whilst not likely to burst away quickly from a contest, Morphett will wear down opposition rucks with her work rate, and is one of the more pure rucks in the draft crop. She came second in the AFL Canberra Best and Fairest last year as a 16-year-old, and has not done too much wrong for the Bushrangers, GIANTS or Allies in their respective campaigns. Morphett has natural leadership to-boot, captaining the Allies at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, and with her superb ruck work, she is one that many can learn off at stoppages.

#6 Grace Matser (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
03/01/2003 | 186cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Footy IQ, ruck craft, endurance, kicking

If we are talking about points of difference, then Gippsland Power ruck Matser certainly has that in a ruck. Standing at 186cm, Matser is an early 2003 birth, but has been involved in the Power program since the V/Line Cup days, even as a developing tall back then. What really makes Matser stand out compared to other rucks is her footy IQ and her kicking. Being a left footer, Matser uses the ball well around the ground, so is a player that teammates are happy to give the ball to and dispose of, with her ball drop, technique and delivery inside 50 quite impressive. When watching Matser at stoppages, she always gets to the right position, and whether or not she wins the tap, she has made life difficult for her opponent. The area of improvement for Matser is her overhead marking, mostly because she does everything right – positioning, timing the ball drop and protecting the zone – but needs to hold onto the grabs. Around the ground in play, Matser is as influential as any ruck, and when she can clunk those grabs, will become a more influential key position tall at either end.

#7 Leah Cutting (Norwood/SANFL Women’s)
14/03/1992 | 185cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Tackling, strength, one-on-ones, consistency

Last but certainly not least of the AFLW Draft Combine invites is mature-age ruck Cutting out of Norwood. If the list was on readymade ability, Cutting would be number one by a long way, with the 29-year-old having cut her teeth in the SANFL Women’s level for many years. Obviously it goes without saying she had more than a decade on her contemporaries, so Cutting is perfect for a team looking for a readymade ruck replacement and someone who can slot straight into a side. Every time a Norwood player is mentioned it is hard to ignore the link with ex-Redlegs coach Steve Symonds, whose Magpies have lost two rucks – Sharni Norder and Abbey Green – for one coming in – Alison Downie – so they could look to another experienced body to join the program. At SANFL Women’s level, Cutting averages 12.7 disposals, 2.6 marks, 2.5 clearances, 2.2 inside 50s, 8.2 tackles and 30.1 hitouts at senior level, with remarkable consistency.

SUMMARY:

There are seven genuine ruck options available for AFL Women’s clubs from an AFLW Draft Combine invite perspective, with three of them being more pure rucks, and the other four a mix being rucks who rotate forward, and genuine utilities around the ground. In terms of overall Power Rankings, Prowse would be a top five pick such is her overall talent and upside, which she showed at the AFLW Under 19s Championships. The most readymade ruck is Cutting, and the cleanest ball user is Matser, with Morphett being the strongest, and Gillard, Campbell and Lakay being the most versatile after Prowse. In the end, it comes down to what type of ruck clubs are looking for, as they all offer different traits which makes it fascinating.

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

IN a Draft Central first, the inaugural edition of our AFL Women’s Draft Power Rankings highlights the some of the top AFL Women’s Draft prospects ahead of the 2021 draft on July 27. Between then and now there will be the two editions of the Power Rankings; this one a final one ahead of the draft following the state-based combines and completion of a number of state league competitions. Note that the Power Rankings to do not take into account any draft selections, and are more an opinion-based ranking system on the draft prospects.

For this Power Rankings, we have focused purely on the Victorian pool, so does not include those likely to zone to other states due to the limited teams and selections in those states. We have also not included any players who have previously been on an AFLW list, just undrafted or now draft-eligible players. Please note the rankings are the opinion of the author.

Georgie Prespakis

#1 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
13/03/2003 | 168cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Ball-winning, tackling, quick hands, footy IQ

The most consistent prospect across the board and has been touted as a star from her debut as a 15-year-old two and a half years ago. There she dominated up forward with 13 goals in 10 games, averaging a massive 22.6 disposals and 5.6 tackles to win the league best and fairest at just 16 years of age. Her numbers have remained consistent going into the middle, and whilst she almost always gets close attention from the opposition, Prespakis is a renowned tackler with 8.8 per game in her top-age season. Her ball winning ability and strength to win the pill at the stoppage and extract it away, as well as have an impact forward of centre, are among her strengths. In terms of improvements, sometimes she can rush the kicks around her body, but she is able to get to enough repeat stoppages, to have more influence than most others.

Charlie Rowbottom

#2 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
22/01/2003 | 178cm
Inside Midfielder/Tall Forward

Key strengths: Contested marking, tackling, strength, upside

The powerful, tall inside midfielder has already proven to be a difficult player to try and contain across four quarters, able to win a game off her own boot when up and about. So strong in the air and at ground level, Rowbottom averaged 7.1 tackles to go with 17.6 disposals and 2.8 marks in season 2021, also booting 10 goals in 11 games. Whilst long-term the sister of Sydney’s James will become a midfielder, expect her to be a tall forward who can kick multiple goals in a game. Her upside is one of the best in the draft crop, and her versatility makes her damaging. Her kicking both in-field and on goal is an area of improvement, but her ability to do all the hard stuff – from winning the ball, tackling and clunking the important marks – more than makes up for the ironing out process that will happen with time. An exciting talent for the future.

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

Key strengths: Versatility, contested marking, footy smarts, positioning

Despite a somewhat interrupted season for the AFL Women’s Academy member, playing only the five games due to injury and AFLW Under 19s Championships commitments, Slender still showed why she is a top-end prospect; stepping up from her role as a rebounding intercept defender, to be a forward and midfielder this year in a remarkable display of versatility. Arguably the NAB League Girls’ Most Valuable Player for her side, the Pioneers were a far better team with her in it, and averaging a massive 4.2 marks as well as 5.2 tackles along with her 16.2 disposals shows she has no trouble winning the ball in the air, one-on-one or at ground level. A natural leader co-captaining the Pioneers, Slender could fill any role at AFL Women’s level and has some great upside for the future as well.

#4 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
10/09/2003 | 173cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, spread, skills, goal sense

A natural ball-winner with a slick left foot and smooth-moving ability, Reid has proven she can play on all three lines of the field. Starting off half-back and pushing up to a wing, Reid finished her season up forward and ended up slotting 15 goals in 11 games, including three in Oakleigh’s premiership win. She averaged 1.4 goals for the season from 20.1 disposals, 4.5 marks and 3.2 inside 50s per game, looked to as a key player to move the ball in transition. She used it well by hand or foot and was able to find space with ease. Multiple times a game Reid would make you wonder how she got in so much space even when tearing it up, but credit to her work rate and smarts to be able to find the open space and then punish the opposition through either her disposal or on the scoreboard.

Ella Friend

#5 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
30/12/2003 | 175cm
Tall Forward/Wing

Key strengths: Contested marking, mobility, upside, penetrating kick

The top contested marking player in the draft crop, Friend will be a highly sought after talent for her ability to not only clunk the big grabs, but use her penetrating left boot in both the midfield and forward lines. Transitioning from centre half-forward to a wing in the second half of the season, Friend showcased her mobility and her knack for for winning the ball in multiple areas of the field. Only two days away from being a bottom-ager, expect Friend to have plenty of upside left in her and would be a great target for a team needing a key target up forward who can also work hard up the ground. She averaged the 16.0 disposals, 4.3 marks and 2.9 tackles per game in the 2021 season, and slotted two goals on debut for the Western Bulldogs’ VFLW side. A good size at 175cm to play anywhere on the ground.

#6 Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

A really smart player who knows the game well and reads the play behind the ball, Anthony was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age talent last year. She showed why through an outstanding yet interrupted season, copping a couple of concussions – including in Vic Country’s win over South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – to still perform at a high level. She won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and proved through her actions to be an incredibly courageous player. Whilst standing at 166cm, Anthony is not afraid to go up in the marking contest and bring the ball down, and when she does have ball-in-hand, her kicking is outstanding. A talent who teammates can trust with ball-in-hand, and she has spent time up forward as well at times, kicking a goal in the Stingrays’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in finals.

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

Key strengths: Clearances, accumulation, consistency, footy IQ

Arguably the best pure inside midfielder in the Victorian pool, Craven has had quite the season for the Falcons. She won the Falcons’ best and fairest award, averaging 21.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.3 inside 50s, 2.0 rebound 50 and 3.9 tackles, then played the two games with Vic Country for 20.5 disposals, 6.0 clearances and 5.0 tackles. She is an inside ball winner and one who can extract it out of the contest going forward. She is smaller than other inside midfielders at 163cm, but she can gain separation at the stoppage and has the footy smarts to be able to use the ball well under pressure. She is also clean and gets her hands dirty at ground level, which is something that stands out in her game at any level.

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

Key strengths: Clean hands, acceleration, endurance, work rate

The first 19th year prospect to feature in this list, Ling has had an outstanding season and shown why the move to an Under 19s competition was important. Despite standing at just 161cm, she is hard to bring down, very slippery in tackles and always able to get her hands free. She is really clean with her hands, and can burst away with a mix of acceleration and endurance, capped off by a high work rate through the midfield. She averaged 17.9 disposals, 2.2 marks, 6.5 tackles and 3.2 inside 50s in season 2021 for the Oakleigh Chargers, whilst playing the two games for Vic Metro thus far, averaging 16 disposals and six tackles. Already managing a game at VFLW level for Port Melbourne and not looking out of place, Ling showed she is a big-game player by taking home the best afield medal in the 2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final.

Annie Lee

#9 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/08/2003 | 169cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

The reliable rebounding defender barely put a foot wrong all season and was a player her teammates could rely upon to use the ball well out of defence. Her strengths were clearly her intercept marking, where she latched onto 5.1 marks per game to go with 16.9 disposals and 4.5 rebound 50s. Already she has managed the two games at VFLW level, and was outstanding for Vic Country in her three games, holding up the fort in defence well and providing some good rebound with almost five rebound 50s per game there. At 169cm she can play against tall or small opponents because she reads the ball well in flight and shows good composure when with it. As a whole, Lee just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what she is capable of doing.

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

Key strengths: Acceleration, tackling, clearances, accumulation

The sole Tasmanian AFL Women’s Academy member has the best balance between offensive and defensive capabilities, not only able to average 19.7 disposals and 4.2 inside 50s, but she amassed a whopping 9.4 tackles per game for the Devils in the NAB League Girls competition. On debut for North Melbourne VFLW she laid another seven tackles to go with 15 touches, and had the 10.5 tackles with 14.5 disposals, at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. But there is more to King than just ball-winning and tackling, with the athletic talent able to burst out of the stoppage and extract from tight situations. At times could add a touch more composure with her kicking, but her upside compiled with her well-balanced, two-way running is what makes her an outstanding prospect and rounding out the top 10.

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

Key strengths: Speed, work rate, accumulation, outside game

The premier pure wing in the NAB League Girls competition bounced back from a quiet game against Vic Metro in the AFLW Under 19 Championships, to really dominate in her final two outings against South Australia and Queensland. She knows how to find the ball and is a natural running wing which she showcased all year for Murray Bushrangers. Another player whom given an extra month would be a bottom-ager, really impressed in her draft-eligibly year, averaging 20.7 disposals – almost double what her prior two seasons were. She drove the ball inside 50 four times per game, and had more than two rebound 50s per match as well, providing great run and carry down the wing going forward, something that really caught the eye on a regular basis.

#12 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/09/2003 | 182cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, mobility, forward presence, high impact

The upside for father-daughter eligible prospect Georgia Campbell is quite impressive, with the talented ruck able to rest up forward for parts during games due to Eastern Ranges’ abundance of rucks. There she was still able to kick five goals in eight games to go with her 20.9 hitouts, and also slotted a goal for Vic Metro while averaging a higher 12 disposals, and 12 hitouts at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Western Bulldogs supporter is eligible to go to the Dogs, or Melbourne, and will be nominated in the near future. She has great mobility for a ruck and can get around the ground and be an option, and also provide a good presence when inside 50 which makes her difficult to contain.

#13 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
07/01/2003 | 175cm
Tall Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Speed, power, reading the play, intercepting

The running defender has some seriously eye-catching traits with her combination of acceleration and power making her hard to slow down when she is up and about. A traditional half-back, Dojiok can read the ball in flight with ease and float across contests to intercept, or drop into the hole when a high ball comes into defence. She knows where to stand when the play is headed towards her and her metres gained are massive compared to a lot of her contemporaries. She is often a get-and-go player, always looking to move on the ball, and whilst her kicking at times needs sharpening up, her development over the past few years at the Rebels has certainly improved and makes her one of the better intercept defenders going around.

Emelia Yassir

#14 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
25/09/2003 | 160cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Contested work, aggression, disposal, high impact

Bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old during Calder Cannons’ run to the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Yassir played 11 games in her debut season to hold her own against much older opponents. In her top-age year, Yassir lifted her numbers to 16.7 disposals, 3.9 tackles and 3.1 inside 50s to be a crucial player in the Cannons’ forward half of the ground. Her contested work and aggression around the football makes her a player that would do anything to win the football and shows a high level of football nous, along with high impact in the games. She will generally use it well going forward, and whilst she might only be the 160cm, could settle as a midfielder or defensive forward with her traits and skillset.

#15 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
12/11/2003 | 169cm
Medium Forward/Ruck

Key strengths: Vertical leap, penetrating kick, aggression, upside

Standing at 169cm you would not expect someone to be listed as a ruck, but such is Featherston’s leaping ability that she has indeed become a secondary ruck at NAB League Girls level. Pinch-hitting in there to average 4.3 hitouts per game, Featherston is at her most dominant around the half-forward line where she can lead out, clunk grabs and show great courage in the air or at ground level. Whilst she could improve her composure around goal – she had plenty of chances that were opportunities which went begging – her ability to have so many chances and create opportunities is impressive. She is a raw talent with plenty of upside, and with a long, penetrating kick and strong hands, she is a valuable addition to any forward line.

#16 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/07/2003 | 153cm
Small Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, goal sense, composure, accumulation

A really impressive small midfielder, Schaap might be the smallest one going around at 153cm, but she packs a punch and has some unbelievable traits. Her best trait is her clean hands, rarely making a fumble at ground level and able to dish off to teammates in order to create goal-scoring opportunities. As a forward, Schaap slotted eight goals in nine games, often finding space where few could to snap around her body in big moments. She also slotted three goals in her three Vic Country games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and laid plenty pf tackles along the way. Her defensive pressure is right up there with her other key strengths, though it is hard to look past her ball-winning skills, composure and goal sense, and is a perfect pressure forward who can push up into the midfield.

Meagan Kiely

#17 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne/VFLW)
15/12/1994
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Footy IQ, kicking, clean hands, consistency

The first mature-ager and VFLW player to make it into the Power Rankings, Kiely would have to be one of the favourites for the Lambert-Pearce Medal after a dominant display for North Melbourne this season. Relocating from Tasmania, the Roos would be keeping a close eye on the 26-year-old, who could slot straight into any midfield with her natural ball-winning skills, work rate and leadership. As good as any readymade midfielder outside the AFLW, the North captain has lead the competition across disposals and marks this year, showing she can win it at the coal face, or on the outside, with her clean hands and kicking impressive, but most of all her footy IQ shining through. Averaging a massive 22.8 disposals, 4.7 marks and 5.6 tackles from her 12 games, she is the premier VFLW player at this stage.

#18 Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 176cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, X-factor, athleticism, marking

A player with plenty of upside, Houtsma becomes the remarkable fifth Falcon in the top 18 players showing just how deep the Falcons’ side was this season. She does not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact, her Houtsma’s athleticism across the ground as a 176cm enabling her to play on a wing, or in a key position player at either end. Strong overhead, and able to win it at ground level, Houtsma attacks the ball at speed on a lead, and generally uses it well when in possession. Still ironing out consistency within games, the versatile utility has already spent time at centre half-back, centre half-forward and on the wing, which is a huge feather in the cap for the teenager.

#19 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
12/12/2003 | 190cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

The towering ruck/forward AFL Women’s Academy season makes it into the top 20 on the back of a solid overall season. Whilst she still needs to work on clunking more grabs above her head, Gillard’s work around the ground and ability to get to repeat contests for a ruck and running as a midfielder is really impressive. Often towering over her opponents, Gillard moves incredibly well, and is a tall that teammates are not afraid to use in transition, as she rotated between the ruck and full forward to average 11.3 disposals and 14.1 hitouts, as well as a couple of inside 50s per game. A December birth, Gillard has plenty of upside that with time could develop into a damaging tall.

Brooke Hards

#20 Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs/VFLW)
19/07/2002 | 167cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Footy smarts, versatility, athleticism, kicking

The former Bendigo Pioneers co-captain rounds out the top 20 in our Power Rankings and the second VFLW player to feature. The soon-to-be 19-year-old excelled as an inside midfielder at junior level, but chose to step up to VFLW level where she improved on the areas that saw her overlooked. Hards moved to the outside playing every role under the sun from forward, to back and wing, able to win the ball and most importantly build up metres gained with her run and carry. Boasting enormous upside and great footy smarts, when able to get-and-go, Hards is damaging with ball-in-hand and has well-balanced athleticism, mainly her acceleration. While her numbers might be lower than at junior level, her game-impacting moments have been higher making her a valuable prospect.

#21 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
29/10/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: X-factor, upside, clearances, tackling

The Eastern Ranges talent was one who really stepped up in 2021 after only managing the one game in the shortened season last year, so not much was known about what she was capable of. Sherar not only stepped up to be a prime ball-mover for the Ranges – particularly in the absence of Olivia Meagher in the second half of the season and Tarni Brown after she was drafted last year – but earned a Vic Metro jumper for her troubles. Averaging 14.8 disposals, 3.4 inside 50s and 4.8 tackles, Sherar is a forward runner with great tackling skills and extraction out of the contest, can move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 well to set up scoring opportunities. One to watch who can add a point of difference to a midfield.

#22 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
06/03/2003 | 171cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Skills, composure, versatility, reading the play

A medium defender who runs off half-back, hits up targets and then roams along a wing, Vickers is a player with some great upside, and is another Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership player. She averaged the 13.5 disposals, 3.3 tackles and a well-balanced two inside 50s and rebound 50s per game, such was her ability to cover the ground. The Chargers did not see as much of it in their defence as other teams, so Vickers had to hold a high line at times and be that kick behind the ball ready to intercept. She is not a renowned marker, but she is one to receive the handball and go, and uses the ball well in transition. Still developing areas of her game, as an overall prospect Vickers has some great talent.

Maeve Chaplin

#23 Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
22/08/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder/Defender

Key strengths: Inside work, clearances, strength, reading the play

A dominant ball-winner who became the focal point of the Knights’ midfield brigade this year, Chaplin is a natural contested ball winner, and someone who can slot straight into an inside midfield. Only playing VFLW post-NAB League Girls, Chaplin has managed the three straight games for the Blues at the level, also juggling Vic Metro commitments as well. Able to play off half-back as she did in past years, Chaplin did it for Vic Metro, whilst playing the inside ball winner for the Knights. She averaged the 17.3 disposals and 5.0 tackles, with a lot of her possessions coming in close, and then working hard to spread to the outside and thump the ball forward to give her team the advantage.

#24 Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne VFLW)
15/10/1999
Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Forward craft, accumulation, versatility, consistency

Another VFLW player who might not have earned a Draft Combine invite but simply has to be in the mix to be drafted is a second Tasmanian playing for North Melbourne in Skinner. She has transitioned from being a forward and the TSLW’s best player and consistent talent, into one of the best in the VFLW, showing she can lift at any level. Still only 21-years-old, Skinner has had some huge numbers since primarily staying in the midfield, picking up 18.1 disposals, 3.8 marks and 4.8 tackles for the Roos. It is her ability to play forward or through the midfield and adapt to the play, creating goal scoring opportunities for either herself or her teammates. Skinner is a plug-and-play typer who the Roos would be considering, but other teams would have to be keeping an eye on too.

Elizabeth Snell

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

Key strengths: Tackling, speed, evasion, forward craft

After not getting a Draft Combine last year, Snell stepped up to have a huge season with the Bendigo Pioneers, showing off the traits she has always had, but with greater consistency week to week. The thing with Snell has always been having some seriously top-end traits when it comes to her athleticism – particularly her speed and evasion – and tackling pressure, but it is about building on other areas of her game such as her accumulation and kicking. Whilst her kicking is still an area to keep building on, her numbers went through the roof this year, averaging 20 disposals to go with her 8.8 tackles per game, prompted by a move into the midfield. She showed she can handle any level, averaging 16.5 disposals and 8.5 tackles for Vic Country, and 12.8 disposals and 8.0 tackles for Essendon VFLW. Simply a tackling machine.

#26 Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
01/02/2002 | 168cm
Medium Defender/Midfielder

Key strengths: Consistency, accumulation, work rate, tackling

As safe as a player as you could find, Leonard’s 2021 season was consistency bonafide. She hardly put a foot wrong all year for the GWV Rebels, averaging 19.4 disposals, 2.4 marks, 7.1 tackles and 4.0 rebound 50s playing between half-back and through the middle. Possessing courage and a hard edge with a high work rate, Leonard kept cracking in for four quarters every game and was amongst her team’s best players regular. A 2002-born talent who missed out last year, Leonard certainly stepped up this season, and has already made her VFLW debut, and looked good out of defence for Vic Country with 4.7 rebound 50s to go with 14.7 disposals and 5.0 tackles.

#27 Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Collingwood VFLW)
21/12/2002 | 157cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Contested work, balance, strength, accumulation

Another player who went back to her NAB League Girls club Eastern Ranges after missing out on being drafted despite a Draft Combine invite, Meagher spent three games with the Ranges before making the transition into Collingwood’s VFLW team. There she improved her versatility to play inside and outside after being a dominant contested ball-winner for the Ranges in 2020. She is damaging forward of centre, and despite not having high mark numbers, she is strong overhead for her sub-160cm size. She is someone who could play in transition between midfield and forward, and is a fierce player with a great attitude and would be one the Magpies – or another team – could consider calling up to their AFLW list.

#28 Sophie Locke (Port Melbourne VFLW)
24/04/2001 | 166cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, goal sense, high-impact, one-on-ones

Much like Hards, Locke has transformed her game at VFLW level with Port Melbourne, but in a different way. Playing as a reliable lock-down defender who had enough traits to suggest she could develop into a more offensively-minded player, Locke switched ends from her days in defence with the Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country, to become a prominent forward for the Borough this season. A year off did not impact Locke who showed she can be damaging inside 50 and has the capacity to play at both ends, averaging the 9.3 disposals, 2.2 marks and 1.1 goals per game. She was even further ahead prior to a mid-season injury, leading the competition goalkicking at that stage, and before the return of the AFLW players. Received a Draft Combine invite for her season.

Zali Friswell

#29 Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
30/12/2003 | 165cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Key strengths: Kicking, balance, footy smarts, defensive pressure

A well-balanced midfielder who thrives on the inside of the contest, Friswell has been thrown around all over the field across multiple levels. She has played as a forward for Essendon VFLW and as a back pocket during her game with Vic Metro, but the midfield role is where she is best suited to. The impact difference is noticeable, with Friswell genuinely among the better midfielders in the draft crop, averaging 15.6 disposals, 6.9 tackles and 2.9 inside 50s for the Cannons in the NAB League Girls. Only two days away from being a bottom-ager, Friswell has nice balance, uses the ball well and good footy smarts to hit pinpoint passes down the field. If drafted to be a midfielder, then Friswell is an exceptional talent.

#30 Maykaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
18/07/2003 | 171cm
Wing

Key strengths: Athleticism, speed, upside, hurt factor

The AFL Women’s Academy member continued her trajectory of showing some serious highlights, whilst still trying to build some consistency in her game. Not a huge ball winner, Appleby usually has at least one run down the wing with a couple of bounces a game to break open the opposition zones and rack up the metres gained. She moves well, uses the ball well and really hurts the opposition when she gets it. If she begins to get it more consistently, then she will be an even bigger threat, but on the outside, Appleby has strong hands and can impact playing off a wing.

OTHERS IN CONTENTION:

The evenness of the AFL Women’s Draft in the Victorian pool makes it very difficult to judge, but expect some of the taller options to be considered such as Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser, key defenders Tarrah Delgado and Cadhla Schmidli, and versatile talents Neve Crowley and Jemima Woods thereabouts. Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling is one of the more reliable defenders running around, with Ash Richards, Tahlia Meier and Eliza James the forward options in the mix. From a VFLW standpoints, Casey Demons’ forward Imogen Milford, Collingwood’s Matilda Zander, and Essendon’s Alana Barba are also considered as ones to keep an eye out for in the upcoming draft.

Draft Central to release inaugural AFLW Draft Power Rankings

TOMORROW marks a new milestone in AFL Women’s Draft coverage. For the first time since the introduction of the AFL Women’s, Draft Central will release a Top 30 Power Rankings for the Victorian pool. Whilst no a national draft yet, the Victorian pool will feature the most available draft selections compared to the other states given the eight teams in that state. Whilst we will be taking a look at state-by-state draft previews in the lead-up to the AFL Women’s Draft, the Power Rankings – which is purely opinion-based will just feature the Victorian or Tasmanian players as they are the ones vying for spots in the largest draft pool.

In a sneak peak of tomorrow’s Power Rankings which will be released at 8pm, the breakdown of Top 30 players will see four pure VFL Women’s players in there, with plenty of NAB League Girls talents who have stepped up to the top level. With the release of AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, those with an invite, and those mature-age talents from the state league competitions will feature prominently, but there will also be a mention of others to keep an eye out on.

The Power Rankings will be the first of two, with a second edition to come at the conclusion of the VFL Women’s season just prior to the draft. Of the June Power Rankings, one Victorian club will have five players in the top 18 and another having four in the top 22, and two players born prior to 2000 in the Top 30. Keeping in mind that the rankings do not necessarily indicate draft order – indeed it only includes those from the expected Victorian pool – but rather ability based on opinion, with such an even draft crop making it difficult to split.

Some players chosen in the Power Rankings might go lower in the AFL Women’s Draft, but would therefore be considered value selections for the clubs that pick them. But one thing is for sure, much like Draft Central’s AFL Draft Power Rankings, it is incredibly difficult to select the order given the wide array of talent across the NAB League Girls and VFL Women’s competitions.

Keep your eyes out for 8pm tomorrow night as the first ever AFLW Draft Power Rankings drop on Draft Central.

2021 AFL Women’s Draft Order: Post trade-week

AS AFL Women’s Trade Week was completed on Wednesday, the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft selections were confirmed. Though clubs can add more at the end of the draft depending on the amount of selections they need to pick, the first four rounds are sorted.

In terms of pure numbers, the GWS GIANTS had by far the least in those first four rounds with just two selections at pick 37 and Pick 56, though it mattered little given they have their state-based draft and will fill out their list from relevant nominees. By comparison, grand finalists Adelaide has its own pool to pick from, but have five selections, starting at Pick 17, but the pick numbers ultimately are not a huge factor in a one-club state for the league.

The prized number one selection is held by Gold Coast, which means a Queenslander will be picked with the first pick in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft. Suns’ Academy talent Teagan Levi is a name to remember ahead of draft night, set to join sister Maddison at the top level. The Suns have four of the first five Queensland-based selections, and whilst Brisbane Lions have first access to their zone for the players that nominate, the Suns can select anyone who nominates all of Queensland.

Over in Western Australia, Fremantle will have to wait and see what West Coast does with Pick 3, or the first selection in that state draft, with the likely choice between key position talent Amy Franklin, and smooth-moving midfielder Courtney Rowley. The Eagles have a couple of selections after the Dockers’ first pick in the draft, so can scoop up three of the best four talents, of which the majority are midfielders or smaller forwards.

The Victorian pool will always draw the most intrigue, with 38 picks currently listed, though depending on club numbers that can increase (or even decrease). With the restrictions placed upon trading the first five selections, Geelong holds picks 1, 4 and 5, with only St Kilda and Richmond having selections in between. Georgie Prespakis and Charlie Rowbottom are names touted at the top of the draft, but talls such as Ella Friend and Tara Slender, inside midfielder Tess Craven and versatile utility Stella Reid are all among those in that top bracket.

The Western Bulldogs moved picks around to be finished only one selection after Melbourne – the final team to take its first pick – reads out a name for the first time. Likewise Collingwood traded down to enter the draft and read out three consecutive names. North Melbourne has access to the top Tasmanian talent if it chooses, with AFL Women’s Academy member Perri King the top selection from that cohort.

Georgia Campbell is one of the more interesting selections, with the mobile ruck and Western Bulldogs supporter able to go to the Dogs or Demons under the father-daughter rule due to her dad Adrian. Another potential father-daughter selection is Jorja Livingstone, who could follow in her father Tim’s footsteps. At this stage, Collingwood holds the final pick in the AFL Women’s Victorian draft pool, with Pick 62 or the 38th in that pool. Expect a few more selections to be added at the end once Free Agency is completed and list lodgements are in.

CLUB-BY-CLUB PICKS:

Adelaide: 17, 20, 34, 47, 63
Brisbane: 18, 35, 50, 64
Carlton: 10, 11, 23, 26, 40, 58
Collingwood: 29, 32, 33, 62
Fremantle: 14, 31, 38, 46, 60
Geelong: 2, 7, 9, 15, 52
Gold Coast: 1, 6, 8, 30, 51
GWS: 37, 56
Melbourne: 42, 44, 49, 61
North Melbourne: 13, 19, 28, 45, 59
Richmond: 5, 16, 55, 57
St Kilda: 4, 12, 36, 39, 48, 54
West Coast: 3, 21, 24, 41, 53
Western Bulldogs: 22, 25, 27, 43

STATE-BY-STATE POOL:

NSW/ACT:
GWS: 1, 2

QLD:
Gold Coast: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8
Brisbane: 4, 6, 7, 9

SA:
Adelaide:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

VIC:
Geelong: 1, 4, 5, 10, 31
St Kilda: 2, 8, 22, 23, 29, 32
Richmond: 3, 11, 33, 34
Carlton: 6, 7, 14, 16, 24, 35
North Melbourne: 9, 12, 18, 28, 36
Western Bulldogs: 13, 15, 17, 26
Collingwood: 19, 20, 21, 38
Melbourne: 25, 27, 30, 37

WA:
West Coast: 1, 3, 4, 7, 9
Fremantle: 2, 5, 6, 8, 10

AFLW Draft Combine invites announced as draft date set

THE 2021 AFL Women’s Draft will take place on Tuesday, July 27 at 6:45pm in a landmark announcement from AFL House today. In a huge day for the future of women’s football, the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitees were announced.

A total of 35 players from Victoria earned places at the Draft Combine which is yet to be announced, with all bar one player born this century, and the oldest two being Casey Demons’ Imogen Milford (21 years-old) and Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke (20-years-old).  Tasmania’s Perri King was the sole nominee from the Apple Isle as 11 players from Queensland, eight from South Australia, six from NSW/ACT and three from Northern Territory. Western Australia had the clear second most overall with 15 in total.

The oldest player to receive a nomination was Norwood’s Leah Cutting (29 years-old), with Claremont’s Tessa Doumanis (21-years-old) the other one born prior to 2000. The full list of nominees including a host of AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships representatives is below:

2021 NAB AFL Women’s Draft Combine Invitees

VICTORIA
Amanda Ling 9/07/2002 Oakleigh Chargers
Annie Lee 28/08/2003 Geelong Falcons
Ashleigh Richards 22/10/2003 Dandenong Stingrays
Aurora Smith 13/12/2003 Murray Bushrangers
Brooke Vickers 6/03/2003 Oakleigh Chargers
Charlie Rowbottom 22/01/2003 Oakleigh Chargers
Chloe Leonard 1/02/2002 GWV Rebels
Eliza James 1/10/2003 Oakleigh Chargers
Elizabeth Dowling 31/07/2003 Geelong Falcons
Elizabeth Snell 14/03/2002 Bendigo Pioneers
Ella Friend 30/12/2003 GWV Rebels
Emelia Yassir 25/09/2003 Calder Cannons
Gabbi Featherston 12/11/2003 Geelong Falcons
Georgia Campbell 1/09/2003 Eastern Ranges
Georgie Prespakis 13/03/2003 Calder Cannons
Grace Matser 3/01/2003 Gippsland Power
Imogen Milford 2/12/1999 Casey Demons
Ingrid Houtsma 20/11/2003 Geelong Falcons
Jaide Anthony 20/11/2003 Dandenong Stingrays
Jemima Woods 28/05/2003 Western Jets
Keeley Sherar 29/10/2003 Eastern Ranges
Maykaylah Appleby 18/07/2003 Northern Knights
Olivia Meagher 10/12/2002 Eastern Ranges
Poppy Schaap 28/07/2003 Geelong Falcons
Stella Reid 10/09/2003 Oakleigh Chargers
Tahlia Gillard 12/12/2003 Calder Cannons
Tahlia Meier 19/10/2003 GWV Rebels
Tara Slender 11/03/2003 Bendigo Pioneers
Tarrah Delgado 22/08/2003 Northern Knights
Tess Craven 23/12/2003 Geelong Falcons
Zali Friswell 30/12/2003 Calder Cannons
Nyakoat Dojiok 7/01/2003 GWV Rebels
Cadhla Schmidli 6/06/2003 Eastern Ranges
Maeve Chaplin 22/08/2002 Northern Knights
Sophie Locke 24/04/2001 Port Melbourne VFLW
TASMANIA
Perri King (TAS) 25/08/2003 Tasmania/Glenorchy
QLD
Maggie Harmer 12/04/2003 Maroochydore
Mikayla Pauga 10/04/2003 Bond University
Abbey Hewett 12/04/2003 Wilston Grange AFC
Bella Smith 5/10/2003 Maroochydore
Casey Wynne 8/06/2003 Coolangatta
Christene Okesene 3/09/2002 Yeronga AFC
Giselle Davies 17/03/2003 Bond University
Madison Goodwin 7/03/2000 Yeronga AFC
Teagan Levi 14/08/2003 Bond University
Steph O’Brien 22/09/1993 University of QLD
NT
Ashanti Bush 18/08/2002 NT Thunder
Bella Clarke 22/05/2001 NT Thunder
Grace Mulvahil 18/04/2003 Southern Districts
SA
Abbie Ballard 16/04/2002 West Adelaide
Brooke Tonon 19/09/2003 Glenelg
Gypsy Schirmer 18/02/2003 South Adelaide
Lauren Breguet 14/02/2003 Central Districts
Leah Cutting 14/03/1992 Norwood
Tahlita Buethke 30/04/2002 South Adelaide
Zoe Prowse 30/07/2003 Sturt
Zoe Venning 4/11/2003 West Adelaide
NSW/ACT
Brodee Mowbray 2/09/2002 Southern Power
Georgie Fowler 19/12/2003 East Coast Eagles
Jessica Doyle 15/09/2003 Manly
Maddy Hendrie 17/07/2002 UNSW
Teagan Germech 24/09/2002 Belconnen Magpies
Ally Morphett 11/11/2003 Murray Bushrangers / Wagga
WA
Amy Franklin 4/02/2003 Claremont
Charlotte Thomas 5/09/2003 Subiaco
Courtney Rowley 24/09/2003 Peel Thunder
Bella Mann 16/08/2003 Peel Thunder
Beth Schilling 1/12/2003 Peel Thunder
Chloe Reilly 12/10/2003 East Fremantle
Dana East 10/06/2002 Swan Districts
Emily Bennett 26/12/2002 Claremont
Emma Nanut 4/06/2003 Swan Districts
Makaela Tuhakaraina 23/08/2003 South Fremantle
Matilda Dyke 21/02/2002 Claremont
Melisha Hardy 24/42003 Swan Districts
Nyra Anderson 24/11/2001 Swan Districts
Sarah Lakay 20/02/2003 Swan Districts
Tessa Doumanis 10/10/1999 Claremont

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

IN the next edition of our Ones to Watch series, we take a look at those players from Victoria who for one reason or another missed out on being picked up in last year’s draft despite being eligible. We name 10 players as Ones to Watch who have stepped up in 2021 to put their best foot forward through both NAB League Girls and Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competitions.

>> DRAFT SURPRISE PACKETS
>> NON-AFLW U19S VFLW PERFORMERS
>> SANFLW MATURE-AGERS

Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights/Carlton VFLW)
22/08/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder/Defender

After having a solid start to the 2020 season, Chaplin has built on her performances in past years to become a dominant inside midfielder. Stronger than most opponents, Chaplin not only won plenty of contested ball and clearances, but was able to hit the scoreboard on occasions too. She finished the NAB League Girls season averaging 17.3 disposals, 5.0 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s, providing plenty of drive going forward, but also showing she can play off half-back too, something she has done in the past.

Zoe Garth (Geelong Falcons/Williamstown)
04/04/2002 | 168cm
Medium Forward

Playing nine games for Geelong Falcons, a couple for Williamstown and squeezing her way into the Vic Country team for the state’s final AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships match against Queensland, Garth has tested herself against plenty of different opponents. Whilst not a natural high possession winner, Garth is a fierce tackler who plays as a high half-forward and someone who is able to play a role in the forward half. Averaging 8.8 disposals and 6.1 tackles per game for the Falcons, the 168cm talent brings the heat when out on the field.

Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs VFLW)
19/07/2002 | 167cm
Medium Utility

The only player on the list not to play in the NAB League Girls competition this year, Hards has not missed a match all season for the Western Bulldogs in the VFL Women’s competition. One of only two players to achieve the feat for the red, white and blue, Hards has been utilised in all three areas of the ground, but has been most damaging off half-back and pushing into her familiar role on the inside midfield. Her athleticism and footy smarts are what stand out on the footy field, and the ex-Bendigo Pioneers captain has been building confidence as the season has progressed.

Abbey Jordan (Dandenong Stingrays/Southern Saints)
08/09/2002 | 168cm
Balanced Midfielder

After plying her trade as a wing and outside runner in her first draft-eligible year, Jordan honed in on her inside craft this season, to earn a spot on Vic Country’s list and play every AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships match. She has also been able to play a couple of games for the Southern Saints in the VFL Women’s competition, showing she can step up to the more senior level. A lot of her good work comes from her remarkable work rate, where she covers the ground like few others, and along with her speed and natural leadership, stands out across the ground.

Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels/Geelong VFLW)
01/02/2002 | 168cm
Defender/Midfielder

The consistent Rebels ball magnet has hardly put a foot wrong in the 2021 season, also choosing to represent Geelong in the VFL Women’s, and made her debut against the Southern Saints. Able to win the footy across those competitions as well as the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Leonard laid a massive 7.1 tackles per game across nine matches in the NAB League Girls, as well as 19.4 disposals, 2.4 marks and 4.0 rebound 50s, playing between defence and midfield, often mopping up and clearing the ball from danger. An ultra-consistent player where you know exactly what you are going to get each match.

Grace McRae (Gippsland Power/Hawthorn VFLW)
15/07/2002 | 166cm
Inside Midfielder

Another consistent player who toiled away in a side that did not have a lot of luck in Gippsland Power, but it did not stop McRae putting in regular four-quarter performances. One of Vic Country’s better players across the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, McRae has developed into that consistent contested ball-winner, backing up the glimpses she showed in 2020 to average 16.6 disposals and 7.0 tackles at NAB League Girls level, then picking up 21 disposals in a game for Hawthorn VFL Women’s, for a three game average of 12.7 disposals and 7.0 tackles. A tackling machine.

Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Collingwood VFLW)
21/12/2002 | 157cm
Balanced Midfielder

After missing out on being drafted last year, Meagher went back to the Ranges where she played three games before stepping up to represent Collingwood at VFL Women’s level. There she became a consistent performer, even earning a place in the Anzac Day winning side, and averaging 14.5 disposals per game across six matches. She put up numbers of 18.7 disposals, 4.7 inside 50s and 5.3 tackles for the Ranges earlier in the season, and at 157cm is strong overhead. She has proven she can play inside or outside, and is a natural ball winner with defensive and team-orientated goals.

Taylah Morton (Oakleigh Chargers/Port Melbourne VFLW)
23/06/2002 | 158cm
Small Forward

The pocket rocket from the Chargers won a premiership at NAB League level, returning from injury just in time to play a role in Oakleigh’s assault on the flag. In 10 games, Morton predominantly played deep forward and was deployed as a small who could bring he pressure around the ball and create scoring opportunities. Though she did only kick the three goals, Morton was able to lock the ball in and force turnovers from the opposition, and has already played the three games for the Borough, where she has averaged a higher 12 disposals and four tackles in her time there.

Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers/Essendon VFLW)
14/03/2002 | 165cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Another tackling machine who has proven she can stand up at both junior and senior level, Snell had a really impressive 2021 year. She averaged 20 disposals, 3.5 marks and 8.8 tackles, which was made all the more impressive given she won a lot of her ball at the coal face, before spreading hard to the outside where she was able to provide separation from her opponents and pull down plenty of marks. Strong overhead, with elite athletic and defensive traits, Snell certainly did her draft chances no harm with her season, and managed to play a couple of games for Vic Country at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships too.

Renee Tierney (Geelong Falcons/Geelong VFLW)
23/05/2002 | 166cm
Medium Forward

Tierney is a unique player in the sense that despite being smaller than most leading forwards, her strong hands and powerful one-on-one capacity make her more of a tall than a medium forward. She is able to create scoring chances out of nothing, and is a reliable set shot for goal, booting 11 majors in eight games at 1.4 per match for the Geelong Falcons. She also averaged the 13 disposals, three marks and two inside 50s, showing she can work up the ground and even pinch-hit in the midfield if required. Most dangerous close to goal, Tierney has also managed the two games for the Cats at VFL Women’s level this season, laying 4.5 tackles to go with 8.5 disposals and 3.0 marks per game.

OTHERS:

A number of other players who received AFLW Draft Combine invites last year who have gone on to play at one or both NAB League Girls and VFL Women’s level include key defender Zoe Hill (Dandenong Stingrays/Southern Saints), Jemma Finning (Bendigo Pioneers/Essendon VFLW) and Amber Micallef (Carlton VFLW). Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power/Carlton VFLW) is a year older, but played at both levels this season.

SANFLW mature-age talent continues to flourish

READYMADE mature-age talent is something AFL Women’s clubs are often searching for in order to fill needs, or potentially top up areas of depth that they can exploit at the elite level. Last year the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s contribution to the AFL Women’s Draft might have flown under the radar a little because of the view of the current zoning system, but a remarkable 10 players actually got drafted.

It might not seem like a lot in the scheme of things, but in an elite level league which is still not a full-time job, the fact that clubs across the country are taking advantage of the SANFL Women’s for it’s growth and development of talent is a huge tick for the competition and the eight clubs involved. Naturally Adelaide has a smorgasbord of options, picking up young gun Teah Charlton, along with mature-age talents Rachelle Martin and Ash Woodland, whilst another teenager in Indy Tahau went to Brisbane.

By the end of the AFL Women’s Draft, four players had been picked up from the SANFL Women’s. At that stage it might have looked like a low number, but then in came the rookie draft options, with all four free spots on club lists – Collingwood, St Kilda and West Coast (two) – were used on South Australians. North Adelaide duo Lauren Gauci and Amber Ward went to West Coast, Tahlia Meyer headed to the Saints, and Norwood’s Bella Smith teamed up with ex-Redlegs coach and mentor Steve Symonds at the Pies. They were not done yet though, with Sturt’s Georgia Bevan heading to Gold Coast and another North product Katelyn Pope joining her Roosters teammates at the Eagles as replacement players.

The reality is, there is too much South Australian talent to just be filtering into one team, and the other AFLW clubs are well aware of that fact based on the draft results. For players moving interstate, their relocation costs are covered for them if taken after the AFLW Draft, or in other words, if a state they do not nominate opts to select them. Hence only Tahau – who hand family in Queensland – would have needed to cover relocation costs. It is a win-win for clubs and players, with the extra spots available post-draft and mature-age talent being able to live out their dream even if it means moving interstate.

So with that in mind, let us fast forward to the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft. South Australia has two AFL Women’s Academy members in Zoe Prowse and Gypsy Schirmer. Prowse is clearly the standout ruck across the country in terms of this year’s top-age crop and not only that, her versatility to play forward and through the midfield makes her a terrific young talent. Schirmer might be a bit more raw, but her athleticism and attack on the contest, along with her forward ability and upside, make it easy to see why she was included in the AFLW Academy.

The Crows currently have four selections in the AFL Women’s Draft, though with Trade Week still underway, and list lodgements yet to be confirmed, there is still enough in play to be unsure of how many picks they take. West Adelaide’s Zoe Venning and Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon have put in a body of work this year, whilst the likes of South Adelaide’s Tahlita Buethke and Norwood’s Alana Lishmund have also impressed at different stages over the course of their junior careers.

One thing in the mind of South Australians is the fact that with the recent announcement of the AFL Women’s expansion to include all 18 teams, Port Adelaide is anticipated to potentially have a club entering the competition following the 2023 season, meaning players that are looked over even now, could well be considered for the Power in a couple of years time. With 18-year-olds in this year’s draft set to be 20-21 by the time the first round of AFL Women’s in 2024 starts – providing as expected Port does have a team – then they have built up some great consistent state league football in the meantime.

But rewinding back to the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft, we saw the likes of Martin, Meyer and Pope selected having missed out on multiple drafts prior, but then doing enough to suggest they could transition to the elite level. So, in 2021, who could be those players who have missed out on multiple drafts, ie. are – or turning – 20-years-old (or more) that have put in some great consistent efforts in the SANFL Women’s to be considered for the top level?

West Adelaide’s Sharni Whiting has to be near the top of the list. Not only is the key defender – who can play key forward – a lovely contested mark and booming kick, she has proven to do it on the big stage with a standout effort for the Bloods in their loss to Glenelg on the weekend. Whiting played all 14 games, averaging 14.6 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.1 rebound 50s and kicked at an elite 89 per cent. As a readymade key position player, Whiting came out of the Western Jets and Williamstown, having played as a key forward in the VFL Women’s, and now predominantly key back in the SANFL Women’s. Turning 21-years-old in August, she could step straight into a side.

One-time Adelaide Crows key in Katelyn Rosenzweig continues to be a name who could make the step up again. Booting 11 goals in 11 games this season, the Central District prospect who turns 21 at the end of the month, is a readymade contested marking talent. In 2021, Rosenzweig averaged 11.6 disposals, 3.8 marks and 2.0 tackles per game, also taking a contested mark in every match she played, for almost two per game on average. For teams needing a target inside 50, she has the talent and strength to make a difference, but would be a sure target for the Power in a couple of years.

From a midfielder’s perspective, there are a couple of names – among many – that standout. A proven performer at the top level, Sophie Armitstead played four games for the Crows in the inaugural seasons, 2017-18. Injuries played a part in her short career, but she remains one of the more versatile players going around in the SANFL Women’s, averaging 13.4 disposals, 5.8 tackles, 3.7 clearances and 2.2 inside 50s, able to play just about anywhere. She turns 27 in October, so an older option compared to the other names, but one who could slot straight in.

The other midfielder who has also proven capable of playing in multiple positions is Glenelg’s Jess Bates. Making the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year and being co-captain in the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year, Bates enjoyed a terrific second season in the competition, averaging 15.4 disposals, 2.2 marks, 2.2 inside 50s, 3.1 clearances, 1.7 rebound 50s and a massive 8.5 tackles. She is a two-way runner who can impact the play going forward, or winning the ball back from the opposition.

There are plenty more options across the competition who could easily make the step up, with the likes of Erica Greet, Isobel Kuiper and Tessa Kohn all making the starting midfield of the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year following fantastic seasons. Leah Cutting was the standout ruck in 2021, with Norwood’s Morgan Johnston another readymade defender with good composure and had her best season thus far.

Given the success of the SANFL Women’s in fostering talent to the elite level last season, it will be fascinating to see what happens in 2021.

Picture credit: Scott Starkey

2021 AFL Women’s Trade Wrap: Week 1

AFTER a huge first trade on day one, the AFL Women’s first week of Trade Period slowed to a grinding halt, as just one more trade was completed over the next five days to make two in the opening week. Ahead of the second week of Trade Period, we take a look at the trades that were completed and how it affected both the teams and the draft order.

COLLINGWOOD:

In: Sabrina Frederick, Pick 26, Pick 55
Out: Maddie Shevlin, Pick 16, Pick 48

RICHMOND:

In: Maddie Shevlin, Poppy Kelly, Pick 16
Out: Sabrina Frederick, Pick 26, Pick 55

ST KILDA:

In: Pick 48
Out: Poppy Kelly

The big-name trade to kick off the Trade Period was Sabrina Frederick getting her wish to be traded to her third AFL Women’s club in Collingwood. The trade allows the Magpies to pick up a tall target up forward and provide extra height in the ruck given the retirement of Sharni Norder at the end of the 2021 season. Frederick was traded with a second round and fourth round pick, in exchange for Maddie Shevlin, and Collingwood’s first and third round selections.

As the Magpies finished higher than any other Victorian team, they had Pick 10 in the Victorian draft pool (Pick 8 before priority picks were handed out to Geelong), which now gives the Tigers two selections inside the Top 10. Whilst Richmond is unable to trade Pick 5 – effectively third in the Victorian pool – they can still deal that Magpies selection if need be, as they did with Pick 48.

That third round selection was sent to St Kilda in order to acquire another tall, with Poppy Kelly landing at Punt Road in a straight swap for the selection. It will enable Kelly more opportunities, and gave the Saints another draft selection to use. Whilst the Magpies did trade out Pick 10 in the Victorian pool, they effectively received Pick 13 back from the Tigers, so it was not a huge drop despite being 10 picks apart in the overall scheme of things.

Richmond’s Trade and Draft selection period will be one to watch, holding the third pick which could shape how the draft forms. With Vic Metro duo Charlie Rowbottom and Georgie Prespakis likely to land in the opening couple of selections, the Tigers will have the chance to pick between talls or smalls, with some AFL Women’s Academy members such as Tara Slender and Ella Friend providing the height, or potentially look to spoil the party for Geelong who hold the next two Victorian selections, with Falcons inside midfielder Tess Craven, or one of the Oakleigh Chargers standout midfielders in Stella Reid or Amanda Ling.

An action packed last three days of Trade Period commences today and closes at 2pm on Wednesday. From there, the first list lodgement opens, whilst a re-signing period will begin next Wednesday. A Delisted Free Agency period also takes place for a week as the AFL Women’s Draft order is confirmed on Friday, June 25.

Picture credit: Collingwood Women’s