Category: AFLW

McLeay’s GIANT opportunity

VERSATILE tall Isadora McLeay has earned her chance at the elite level after GWS GIANTS chose her to replace Emily Goodsir this week. Goodsir, who announced her pregancy post AFLW Draft, was placed on the inactive list for the 2022 season, allowing the GIANTS to select another player to fill their list. They opted to go for the 2021 AFLW Under 19 All-Australian full-back who enjoyed a great carnival for the Allies.

McLeay averaged 16.5 disposals, 3.0 marks and 2.5 rebound 50s during the two-game carnival, though her offensive output was still an area she was looking to build. GIANTS fans will enjoy watching her one-on-one ability, with a powerful, accurate kick and a reliable set of defensive traits. She is also strong overhead, and capable of playing up either end, making her a valuable talent for the orange and charcoal.

Turning 18 next week, McLeay stands at 178cm and will likely fill a key position role in defence, but can swing forward if required to do so. Draft Central spoke to McLeay at the 2021 AFLW Under 19 Championships after the Allies’ loss to Western Australia, ahead of their game with South Australia.

See the full interview below.

2022 AFLW Ones to Watch: Rene Caris (Geelong)

AS we edge closer towards the start of the AFL Women’s pre-season, Draft Central will analyse a number of individuals we believe could take the next step in their development in 2022. Be it through opportunity, returning from injury or perhaps a role change late in the 2021 season, we predict players who might take that next step up in their AFL Women’s careers.

Our first player to look at is Geelong ruck, Rene Caris.

RENE CARIS BIO

DOB: March 18, 1999 (22-years-old)
HEIGHT: 184cm
POSITION: Ruck

Rene Caris is an exciting ruck who has come out of the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. Originally from the Horsham region, Caris was also an elite-level netballer going through the Netball Victoria pathways, representing her state at junior level. Caris was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy, earned the honour of TAC Cup Team of the Year, played for Carlton in the VFL Women’s, and was selected with Pick 35 in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft.

STRENGTHS

Caris has always had a great leap that has helped her win the hitouts, and towered over opponents at junior level. With her leap and mobility to move around the ground, as well as a higher endurance level due to her multiple elite level sports, Caris has always been someone that from a physical attributes standpoint, has been able to compete for long periods of time.

IMPROVEMENTS

Compared to many AFL Women’s rucks, Caris came in with a lighter frame, and whilst her athleticism would help her get a jump on perhaps less mobile rucks, around the ground stronger bodies could knock her off it. Taller players always take longer to adapt to senior level, and the Cats have eased her into the program, instead allowing her to hone her craft at VFLW level.

STATISTICS:

AFLW

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC
2019Geelong4812084113101022.04.06.00.06.50.50.023
2020Geelong4610155423105022.03.05.00.511.52.00.029
2021Geelong212243424216341155154.24.48.60.86.81.20.241
2022Geelong000000000000000000000
Total-29366553730117013511193.24.07.20.67.81.20.193

VFLW

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC
2019Geelong Cats VFLW55581131400332090004115.05.310.31.319.03.00.451
2021Geelong Cats VFLW586011821002213413155196.46.713.12.314.92.40.163
Total-113118231350055343131555205.75.911.61.817.22.80.3114

AFLW CAREER TO-DATE:

Caris has played nine games thus far in her AFL Women’s career. In her three seasons in the blue and white hoops, Caris managed two, two and five games respectively from 2019-2021. Learning under Aasta O’Connor – whom Caris worked closely with as part of the AFLW Academy – the up-and-coming ruck has been able to be exposed to the elite level, without being thrown in the deep end too early. In 2021, her numbers rose across her five games, averaging 8.6 disposals – at around a 50/50 split for kicks and handballs, with her hitouts standing at 6.8 per game. It might not sound like a lot, but what stood out was her clearance numbers, where she had more than two per game, showing off her confidence, and even kicked her first AFLW goal.

WHAT IS IN STORE FOR 2022?

The reason Caris fits the bill is the recent retirement of O’Connor, which naturally opens the door for the apprentice to take over the master’s role. What the Cats have done which is very clever, is allow Caris to work alongside Olivia Fuller at VFL level, who is that similar marking option to O’Connor, and then rewarded Fuller with a senior list spot. Whilst not experienced at AFLW level, Fuller provides the additional ruck cover and stronger body at the elite level. The only other player to record double-figure hitouts was Olivia Barber, who will be better suited as that key forward.

SUMMARY:

Rene Caris has an opportunity to grab the number one ruck role at the Cats, with support from Fuller who she has paired with well at VFL Women’s level this season. With Barber able to pinch-hit when required, the Cats have a couple of genuine young talls who will only flourish further with greater exposure and increased responsibility.

 

Picture credit: Geelong Cats

2022 AFLW early look: Western Bulldogs

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Wrapping up the series is Western Bulldogs, who finished narrowly outside the top six, four points and percentage behind, but strung four wins together early in the year.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 8th
Wins: 5
Losses: 4
Draws: 0
Points For: 300 (9th)
Points Against: 340 (9th)

No doubt Western Bulldogs fans might have wondered ‘what if?’ they had been able to knock off St Kilda in the opening round of the season, instead going down by nine points, They got on a roll to win the next four games – including a memorable 13-point win over the Demons – before having a couple of wakeup calls against Collingwood (in the second half) and Adelaide which hurt their percentage. A narrow loss to North Melbourne in Round 7 effectively handed the Roos sixth spot, though the young Pups showed they have plenty to look forward to in the coming years.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Elle Bennetts (GWS), Richelle Cranston (Geelong), Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers), Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers), Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Outs: Angelica Gogos, Lauren Spark, Amelia Van Oosterwijck (retired), Katy Herron, Danielle Marshall, Kim Rennie (delisted)

Inactive: Nil.

The Western Bulldogs were able to have a relatively low-key off-season in terms of movement, with Elle Bennetts being the only trade target coming into the club, welcoming the outside runner from the GIANTS and shuffling back down the pick order. There they were able to make three selections in five picks to welcome in some young troops to replace the outgoing retirees and delistees. Katy Herron and Danielle Marshall were two of the three delisted players, with the latter in particular a surprising cut, with Kim Rennie unable to get a deal done to the Roos in trade week, and instead was picked up by North Melbourne in the AFLW Draft. Three players retired with Angelica Gogos and Lauren Spark having memorable careers, whilst youngster Amelia Van Oosterwijck also decided to call time. Post-trade week, Richelle Cranston was quickly snapped up from the Cats as a delisted free agent to add extra punch to the Bulldogs’ lineup inside 50, and then the Dogs went about getting the need for speed in the AFLW Draft. With their three selections, they picked up Oakleigh Chargers’ best on ground in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, Amanda Ling. Tipped to go as high as Top 5 leading into the draft, Ling slid into the second round where the Dogs scooped her up with fellow top-ager, Elizabeth Snell. Aurora Smith completed the trio of speedsters, with an outstanding season playing on a wing for Murray Bushrangers.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Deanna Berry
Elle Bennetts
Ellie Blackburn
Eleanor Brown
Richelle Cranston
Naomi Ferres
Jess Fitzgerald
Ellyse Gamble
Elisabeth Georgostathis
Isabella Grant
Ashleigh Guest
Britney Gutknecht
Sarah Hartwig
Bailey Hunt
Isabel Huntington
Gemma Lagioia
Kirsty Lamb
Amanda Ling
Brooke Lochland
Katie Lynch
Kirsten McLeod
Celine Moody
Nell Morris-Dalton
Gabby Newton
Isabella Pritchard
Hannah Scott
Aurora Smith
Elizabeth Snell
Annabel Strahan
Bonnie Toogood

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can the Western Bulldogs force their way into finals in 2022?
  • Will the inclusion of Cranston allow less pressure on their key position options?
  • Will the dominant VFLW talents like Britney Gutknecht (six total AFLW games), Isabelle Pritchard (four) and Isabella Grant (two) take that next step and become AFLW regulars?

PREDICTION:

Western Bulldogs are a side that will be one to keep an eye on over the coming years. There is every chance the Pups graduate into finalists, and should at the very least, contend for AFLW finals again. They will likely be another year off being a title contender, but they are certainly building in the right direction, and their core of youth is as good as any other side in the competition. If they continue their upward trend, expect them to arrive sooner, rather than later.

Picture credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: West Coast

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is West Coast, who finished 12th overall with two wins for the season, narrowly getting past Gold Coast (one point) and then smashing Geelong (39 points) to rightfully sit above those teams on the table.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 12th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Draws: 0
Points For: 229 (12th)
Points Against: 432 (13th)

West Coast managed to move the equivalent one spot higher than their 2020 Conference wooden spoon, walking away with a 12th placed finish in 2021. They had a number of talents continue their rise in tandem with the side, lead by young gun Mikayla Bowen who took out the club’s best and fairest award. After Hayley Bullas won the leading goalkicker award in 2020 with a measly two goals, Grace Kelly became a consistent source of scores with seven for the season, though the West Australian side will be looking for more in 2022 in order to rise up the ladder. Losing star midfielder Dana Hooker to injury certainly did not help the Eagles’ cause either.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Evie Gooch (Fremantle), Aimee Schmidt (GWS), Charlie Thomas (Subiaco), Courtney Rowley, Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder), Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts), Emily Bennett (Claremont)
Outs: Mhicca Carter, Beatrice Devlyn, McKenzie Dowrick, Brianna Green, Alicia Janz, Demi Liddle, Julie-Anne Norrish, Kate Orme, Chantella Perera, Katelyn Pope (delisted)

Inactive: Nil.

West Coast had plenty of list turnover through the AFLW Draft, with a focus on bringing in the most talented teenagers they could. Whilst the Dockers balanced between youth and experience for their draft selections, the Eagles went straight to replenish the youth, with a key focus on class and height, which were areas that the young West Australian side lacked throughout the 2021 AFLW season. They delisted 10 players at the end of the season, with a number of first-year experienced players amongst them. In the process, the Eagles picked up Dockers talent Evie Gooch to assist with some replenishment of experience, whilst the GIANTS’ Aimee Schmidt made the cross-county trip to run out with the blue and gold. Then, the Eagles headed to the draft with three of the first four selections, and wrapping up their picks midway through Fremantle’s draft haul, giving them best chance to select top-end talents. Despite only playing one game for the year, Subiaco’s Charlotte Thomas was plucked out with the Eagles’ first selection, and then was joined by fellow AFLW Academy member Courtney Rowley. Both provide class and skill around the ground, as well as crucial versatility. Tall timber Sarah Lakay and Beth Schilling are contested marking options and athletic players around the ground, while Emily Bennett is a tough defender with great natural footballing ability.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Ashlee Atkins
Emily Bennett
Mikayla Bowen
Tayla Bresland
Hayley Bullas
Imahra Cameron
Melissa Caulfield
Maddy Collier
Shanae Davison
Lauren Gauci
Kellie Gibson
Andrea Gilmore
Evie Gooch
Courtney Guard
Ashton Hill
Dana Hooker
Grace Kelly
Niamh Kelly
Sarah Lakay
Parris Laurie
Bella Lewis
Aisling McCarthy
Sophie McDonald
Courtney Rowley
Beth Schilling
Aimee Schmidt
Belinda Smith
Emma Swanson
Charlie Thomas
Amber Ward

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How much can the elite youth drive the Eagles up the ladder in 2022?
  • How will West Coast limit the opposition from scoring moreso than last season?
  • Where will Courtney Rowley be utilised? Inside, outside or on a flank at either end?

PREDICTION:

West Coast are still a little way off competing for an AFLW flag, but are on the right track and the youth the Eagles have assembled over the last few years will be ready to stand up against quality opposition more and more. If they can reduce the damage and apply more potency on the scoreboard in 2022, then they will provide hope for future seasons. The Eagles should be an exciting team, lead by the five first-year teenagers walking into the club who will immediately provide a boost for the West Australian team.

Picture credit: (Retrieved from) West Coast FC

2022 AFLW early look: St Kilda

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: Richmond

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Richmond, that after collecting the 2020 wooden spoon, rose up to 10th on the AFL Women’s ladder.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 10th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Points For: 312 (8th)
Points Against: 369 (10th)

Richmond certainly showed plenty of improvement in 2021, with a young side building and winning their first ever matches after going winless in the 2020 season. The Tigers were able to score more fluently than the season before, and whilst at times they still struggled defensively, were able to finish outside the bottom four and only a couple of wins behind finals aspirants Carlton and the Western Bulldogs, and will now look to build on that effort to go into 2022.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Maddie Shevlin (Collingwood), Poppy Kelly (St Kilda), Jess Hosking (Carlton), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons), Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons), Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne VFLW)
Outs: Sabrina Frederick (Collingwood), Alice Edmonds, Emily Harley, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Cleo Saxon-Jones, Holly Whitford, Phoebe Monahan, Alana Woodward (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

Richmond was able to remain fairly active during the off-season with the first two, and last deals done throughout the trade period. Maddie Shevlin switched her white stripes for a singular yellow one coming from the Magpies, in a deal that saw tall, Sabrina Frederick head to Collingwood. Richmond also brought in Poppy Kelly to replace the loss of height at the club, with the former Saint, and Carlton’s Jess Hosking the other players from opposing AFL Women’s teams. Hosking was a deadline deal to join her sister Sarah at the Tigers after a year apart. Richmond was not going to go easy on its list however, with eight delistees, and three of them found homes at AFLW level again. Akec Makur Chuot was redrafted by the Tigers with their last selection, while Phoebe Monahan was signed by Brisbane, and Alana Woodward heading to the Saints. Some young tall timber in Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones were delisted along with first-year player Luka Lesosky-Hay, ex-Magpie Holly Whitford, and ruck Alice Edmonds. Richmond then headed to the draft where they were able to pick up high quality youngsters, starting with Oakleigh Chargers’ utility Stella Reid who will provide the outside class, whilst Calder Cannons hard-nosed midfielder Emelia Yassir will add that inside pressure. Geelong Falcons’ Ingrid Houtsma is another tall utility giving the Tigers flexibility, whilst North Melbourne VFLW captain Meagan Kiely was also rewarded for her outstanding season, drafted by the Tigers.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Christina Bernardi
Maddy Brancatisano
Katie Brennan
Hannah Burchell
Monique Conti
Harriet Cordner
Sarah D’Arcy
Sarah Dargan
Kate Dempsey
Jess Hosking
Sarah Hosking
Ingrid Houtsma
Kodi Jacques
Poppy Kelly
Meagan Kiely
Tessa Lavey
Akec Makur Chuot
Laura McClelland
Ellie McKenzie
Hannah McLaren
Rebecca Miller
Sophie Molan
Stella Reid
Iilish Ross
Sarah Sansonetti
Gabby Seymour
Maddie Shevlin
Tayla Stahl
Courtney Wakefield
Emelia Yassir

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can Richmond make the next step and challenge for a finals spot?
  • How will they address the defensive woes of 2021?
  • Is the midfield now one of the better young crops for the future?

PREDICTION:

Richmond showed significant progress in 2021 after a rude awakening in 2020. The Tigers were able to blood a number of young talents to drive the club forward, and with some experience added to the side again, expect the women from Punt Road to continue that trajectory. The defence still has a question mark over it, as does the talls after losing – through trade and delisting – four key position players and only gaining one genuine one – Kelly – back, but they have the speed to go with a quicker lineup, and will be likely looking to adopt that style once again in 2022 as they strive to challenge for finals.

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: North Melbourne

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is North Melbourne, a team that scraped into the last finals spot, but were not far off the minor premiership either, and ranked in the top three defensively.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 6th
Wins: 6
Losses: 3
Draws: 0
Points For: 379 (5th)
Points Against: 202 (3rd)

North Melbourne have perpetually been considered a contender in the AFL Women’s competition, and 2021 was no different. Despite finishing sixth, the Roos were only one win and percentage off top spot such was the evenness of the competition, and a result here or there could have changed the finals outlook. As it stood, the Roos were beaten by a fast-finishing Collingwood in the finals series, though were able to match-up against most sides, with the Magpies causing them the most trouble during the season. The ranked inside the top five for both points for and least points conceded, with very few holes across the board, and a title-winning side on paper. It might not have gone the way they would have liked, but the Roos were able to provide young players with more games as they did during the VFLW season.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons), Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers), Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs), Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW), Perri King, Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)
Outs: Vivien Saad (Gold Coast), Jasmine Grierson (GWS), Katelyn Cox, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Georgia Hammond, Beth Lynch, Tahni Nestor (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

North Melbourne had a fairly uneventful trade period, with only a couple of players departing the club and none arriving in that time. Ruck Vivien Saad headed north to play with the Suns, and Jasmine Grierson found her third club at the GWS GIANTS. The Roos tried to get Western Bulldogs ruck Kim Rennie into the club during the trade period, but the clubs could not come to terms, though North Melbourne eventually got their player via the AFL Women’s Draft. There, they also picked up mature-age talent Jasmine Ferguson to replace key defender Kate Gillespie-Jones, with the latter among five players to be delisted. Those included inaugural Roo Beth Lynch, Tahni Nestor, and first-year Roos Katelyn Cox and Georgia Hammond, the former taken as an injury replacement player prior to the 2021 AFLW season. Heading to the draft and having access to the Tasmanian zone, North Melbourne were able to pick up AFL Women’s Academy member Perri King and her Devils’ teammate Ella Maurer. King would have a case as the biggest steal of the draft, though she was far from the only one for the Roos. Tess Craven was touted to go top 10 and Tara Slender was another terrific first round prospect, and the Roos were able to snap up both for below value. Able to add extra elements to their midfield, forward and defence, North Melbourne was able to nail the draft well.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Abbatangelo
Kaitlyn Ashmore
Daria Bannister
Daisy Bateman
Brooke Brown
Nicole Bresnehan
Jenna Bruton
Grace Campbell
Tess Craven
Jess Duffin
Bella Eddey
Jasmine Ferguson
Jasmine Garner
Ellie Gavalas
Britt Gibson
Aileen Gilroy
Danielle Hardiman
Emma Kearney
Elisha King
Emma King
Mia King
Perri King
Ella Maurer
Alice O’Loughlin
Tahlia Randall
Kim Rennie
Ash Riddell
Tara Slender
Amy Smith
Sarah Wright

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can North Melbourne finally make the next step and reach the AFLW Grand Final?
  • How many of their first-year young guns will crack into the senior side in 2022?
  • What percentage of the game will Emma King play forward compared to ruck next season?

PREDICTION:

North Melbourne has very few flaws in its team, so expect the Roos to be right up there when the whips are cracking. After initially building a side to win in 2019, North has steadily filtered in more youth to replace outgoing players and has a list that will compete with the very best. Led by Emma Kearney, Jasmine Garner and Ash Riddell in the midfield, on paper North Melbourne could easily be favourites for the title, but premierships are not won on paper. Expect the new kids on the block to be more readymade than ever before, and the Roos to be an incredibly exciting side to watch in 2022.

Picture credit: Michael Dodge / AAP

2022 AFLW early look: Melbourne

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Melbourne, a side that despite being young and losing a lot of experience over the previous off-season, were able to match it with the best and finish top four, and win a final.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 2
Draws: 0
Points For: 382 (4th)
Points Against: 293 (6th)

Melbourne fast-tracked what appeared to be a long rebuild, by bringing in the young guns they drafted and giving them opportunities, as well as shuffling around the magnets for their experienced talents. Having lost a number of key players for draft selections the previous off-season, not many would have predicted Melbourne to stay around the mark, and they not only did that but remained a premiership threat, only going down to Adelaide in the preliminary final. They still had areas to tighten up such as consistency in their defence, but they were able to match it with the best sides and with further experience added this off-season, the Demons are one of the genuine title contenders.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Olivia Purcell (Geelong), Tayla Harris (Carlton), Eliza West, Alison Brown (Casey Demons), Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges), Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
Outs: Tegan Cunningham, Meg Downie, Niamh McEvoy, Shae Sloane (retired), Chantel Emonson (Geelong), Mietta Kendall (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

Much like the previous season, there were plenty of names leaving the club, highlighted by inaugural Demons, Tegan Cunningham and Meg Downie, who joined a quartet of retirees including Niamh McEvoy and Shae Sloane. Chantel Emonson also headed to the Cats in a deal that netted them star young midfielder Olivia Purcell, whilst first-year defender Mietta Kendall was the other player to cut by the club. Along with Purcell, the Demons were able to haul in a Cunningham replacement in the higher-profile Tayla Harris who found her way to the Demons in the most publicised talking point of the trade period. Harris provides the additional height and strength in the forward half, something that draftees, Tahlia Gillard and Georgia Campbell do as well. Campbell is a father-daughter selection who picked the Demons over the Bulldogs, whilst Gillard is an AFL Women’s Academy member, and both can play through the ruck or forward. Gillard’s 190cm size was the tallest of any AFLW draftee, and the pari will make a formidable duo for the future. The Demons also picked up ex-Blue and Saint Alison Brown to come to her third club after some strong performances for Casey Demons in the back-end of the season. She joined VFL Women’s teammate and former basketballer Eliza West who had an amazing season, in the red and blue.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Alyssa Bannan
Libby Birch
Alison Brown
Maggie Caris
Georgia Campbell
Gabby Colvin
Megan Fitzsimon
Maddi Gay
Tahlia Gillard
Sinead Goldrick
Tayla Harris
Tyla Hanks
Shelley Heath
Kate Hore
Sarah Lampard
Lauren Magee
Eliza McNamara
Lily Mithen
Jackie Parry
Karen Paxman
Daisy Pearce
Lauren Pearce
Krstel Petrevski
Olivia Purcell
Shelley Scott
Casey Sherriff
Isabella Simmons
Brenna Tarrant
Eliza West
Eden Zanker

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How will the Demons shape their forward line with so many talls potentially capable of sliding in?
  • How much impact can Olivia Purcell having coming off an ACL?
  • Will Maggie Caris be given the reins to more and team up with Eden Zanker there?

PREDICTION:

Melbourne is arguably the dark horse for the AFL Women’s competition. They are one of the younger teams going around, with a sprinkling of veteran talents led by Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman who are still elite talents themselves. With the youth filtering through, the Demons have the opportunity to build a long-term successful side, and will be a team to watch in 2022. Whilst all the youth will make team selection very difficult, expect them to have plenty of options going into the future, with a potent forward line and an elite midfield.

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: GWS GIANTS

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is GWS GIANTS, who were competitive throughout the season, but were unable to replicate the finals place of the year before, finishing ninth overall with a 4-5 record.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 9th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5
Draws: 0
Points For: 240 (11th)
Points Against: 324 (7th)

The GIANTS might not have made finals, but came close to a 50 per cent win-loss record, also ranking highly for defence, seventh overall in the competition. Offensively they lacked some firepower despite some consistent performers, which is what they addressed in the AFL Women’s Draft, as well as some further AFLW experience in the off-season. The GIANTS have been thereabouts over the first few seasons of the AFLW, never really bottoming out, but also never really looking like a genuine contender, which is something they will look to change going forward.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Chloe Dalton, Katie Loynes (Carlton), Jasmine Grierson (North Melbourne), Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers), Jess Doyle (Manly-Warringah Wolves), Georgina Fowler (East Coast Eagles), Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power), Casidhe Simmons (UNSW-ES Bulldogs)
Outs: Elle Bennetts (Western Bulldogs), Jess Dal Pos (Carlton), Aimee Schmidt (West Coast), Taylah Davies, Sarah Halvorsen, Jodie Hicks, Britt Tully (delisted)
Inactive: Jess Allan, Yvonne Bonner, Emily Goodsir

GWS GIANTS will head into the 2022 season with plenty of change after a big off-season in terms of players leaving or placed on the inactive list. The most recent of those was Emily Goodsir who announced her pregnancy and will sit out the 2022 AFLW season, joining Yvonne Bonner as two players expecting potential future GIANTS supporters. Jess Allan will also miss due to work commitments, whilst Jess Dal Pos was the biggest loss of the off-season with the inaugural GIANT heading to the Blues. They gained experience Blues duo Katie Loynes and Chloe Dalton in that trade however, and also picked up North Melbourne’s Jasmine Grierson to offset the losses of Elle Bennetts and Aimee Schmidt to rival clubs. Four additional players were delisted, meaning the GIANTS brought in five new faces via the draft alongside the redrafted Erin Todd. Two AFLW Academy members in dynamic forward-midfielder Jess Doyle and ruck-forward Ally Morphett will add extra top-end talent to the side, while high-impact forward Georgia Fowler and tackling machine Brodee Mowbray also suit up for the orange and charcoal, as will elite athlete Casidhe Simmons. Due to Goodsir’s recent pregnancy announcement, the GIANTS will have an additional spot to select another player ahead of the upcoming season.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Nicola Barr
Rebecca Beeson
Chloe Dalton
Jess Doyle
Alicia Eva
Tarni Evans
Georgina Fowler
Georgia Garnett
Emily Goodsir**
Libby Graham
Jasmine Grierson
Tanya Hetherington
Annalyse Lister
Katie Loynes
Tait Mackrill
Erin McKinnon
Ally Morphett
Brodee Mowbray
Alyce Parker
Emily Pease
Rebecca Privitelli
Pepa Randall
Casidhe Simmons
Katherine Smith
Brid Stack
Cora Staunton
Lisa Steane
Louise Stephenson
Erin Todd
Haneen Zreika

** inactive player yet to be replaced

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Will the new inclusions provide the GIANTS with enough firepower to kick a winning score more often than not?
  • Will the likes of Katie Loynes, Chloe Dalton and Jasmine Grierson cover the experience lost over the off-season?
  • How will the GIANTS manage their list post 2022 with the Sydney Swans entering the league?

PREDICTION:

The GWS GIANTS are a side you expect to be competitive once again and are probably favoured to finish around the middle of the table. Their defence is solid, and led by the likes of Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva in midfield, the midfield can win its own football going forward. With a young forward line, the GIANTS will continue to grow, and if they can hold their core together in the coming years with the threat of their cross-state rivals the Swans coming in, they are building a list with potential for the future.

Picture credit: GWS GIANTS

2022 AFLW early look: Gold Coast

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Gold Coast, a side coming off a wooden spoon, winless season, but greater optimism after a successful draft period including nabbing their next coach, the successful Tasmania Devils mentor Cameron Joyce at the helm as they look to ascend the AFLW ladder.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 14th
Wins: 0
Losses: 9
Draws: 0
Points For: 176 (13th)
Points Against: 482 (14th)

Unfortunately for the newest Sunshine State side, the 2021 season was not as fruitful as their finals appearance in their debut 2020 season, finishing rock bottom on the ladder with a percentage of 37. They went winless throughout the season, and while they did score more than the 13th placed Cats, conceded an average of 34.4 points per game which hurt their chances. In 2022, they will look for a fresh start under a new coach and plenty of young talent walking through the doors, including some readymade experience.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Claudia Whitfort (St Kilda), Vivien Saad (North Melbourne), Alana Barba (Essendon VFLW), Tara Bohanna (Southern Saints VFLW), Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers), Teagan Levi, Giselle Davies (Bond University), Ashanti Bush (Darwin Buffettes)
Outs: Sally Riley, Sam Virgo (retired), Georgia Bevan, Jordann Hickey, Leah Kaslar, Paige Parker, Molly Ritson (delisted)
Inactive: Annise Bradfield, Emma Pittman

Gold Coast will pick itself off the canvas in 2022 and the only way is up, which they should see some great improvement next year. Under coach Joyce, the Suns could follow a similar trajectory to the Devils who were well beaten one year, but became more than competitive in the NAB League Girls the next season, rising to the top of the Country pool. They are still quite young, losing experience like Sally Riley, Sam Virgo, Jordann Hickey and Leah Kaslar, looking more to the future and bringing in a core of youth to drive the side up the table. Top pick from last year’s draft Annise Bradfield will miss the year as she recovers from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear, whilst Emma Pittman has work commitments. Holding pick one in the draft, the Suns were able to coax Victorian Charlie Rowbottom up to the Sunshine State, with the Oakleigh Chargers talent in line for the top Victorian pick, and the Suns were able to nab her with the overall first selection. Along with fellow young gun midfielder Teagan Levi, the pair will provide an immediate fix to the forward half of the ground and bigger bodies around the stoppages, while another Suns Academy graduate in Giselle Davies will be the extra tall in defence to try and plug the leaks. Up the other end, Tara Bohanna and Vivien Saad provide the height and can rotate between ruck and forward, while Alana Barba and Claudia Whitfort can play in multiple positions and add extra strength through the onball. The talented Ashanti Bush caps off the cream of this year’s draft crop as that damaging forward who can hurt opposition defenders with her footy smarts and goal sense.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Lauren Ahrens
Janet Baird
Alana Barba
Lauren Bella
Tara Bohanna
Ashanti Bush
Daisy D’Arcy
Giselle Davies
Ali Drennan
Hannah Dunn
Tori Groves-Little
Cheyenne Hammond
Ellie Hampson
Dee Heslop
Kalinda Howarth
Bess Keaney
Maddison Levi
Teagan Levi
Sarah Perkins
Brittany Perry
Jade Pregelj
Wallis Randell
Charlie Rowbottom
Vivien Saad
Lucy Single
Jamie Stanton
Kate Surman
Serene Watson
Claudia Whitfort
Jacqui Yorston

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How many wins can Gold Coast secure in 2022?
  • What style of football will the Suns adopt under new coach Cameron Joyce?
  • Will top pick Charlie Rowbottom be utilised as an inside midfielder or key forward?

PREDICTION:

The only way is up for the Gold Coast Suns in 2022, and they have recruited and drafted well to suggest that pendulum will swing in their favour. With a great coaching appointment and two of the top players in the overall AFL Women’s draft crop, the Suns will be an exciting team to watch, and while finals might not be on the immediate horizon, seeing greater competitive efforts, and development through their second and third year players will be key as to just how far they can go, and whether or not they can turn themselves into a contender in a few seasons.

Picture credit: Gold Coast SUNS