Category: Gold Coast Suns Academy

2021 AFLW U19 Championships: Six top-agers to watch

THE AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships has got underway with Vic Country and South Australia victorious over Vic Metro and Western Australia respectively in the past fortnight, but now the full week of matches – two match days – takes place in Melbourne. As an additional preview for the tournament, we take a look at a top-ager to keep an eye on from each side. Top-agers are 19-year-old – or turning 19-year-old – prospects who for one reason or another missed out on being drafted last year, and have returned to the junior pathways for another crack at standing out and representing their state.

ALLIES: Jayde Hamilton (North Melbourne VFLW)

The NSW-ACT hard nut received a Draft Combine invitation last year and showed in her bottom-age year at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships that she was not afraid to crack in and win the contested ball. Fast forward to 2021, and whilst she missed out on gaining a place on an AFL Women’s list, she has joined her sister Lexi – ex-Gold Coast Suns tall – at North Melbourne in the VFL Women’s. As someone who is good on the inside around the clearances, she will no doubt crack in once again for the Allies.

“I’m very competitive, so I always want to win which is probably bad and good,” Hamilton told Draft Central last year. “But it’s having fun, I think that’s still the main part of enjoying it and every moment on the field.”

 

QUEENSLAND: Keyshia Matenga (Coolangatta Tweed)

The speedy over-age talent is one of a number of Queensland players who have garnered attention over the past 18 months, providing great run and carry throughout the QAFL Women’s competition. A member of grand finalists Coolangatta Tweed last season, Matenga is a player who has the perfect balance of power and speed having come from a touch football and Rugby Sevens background, as well as karate and swimming as a youngster.

“I feel like my speed is more better in that area instead of in the midfield where the ball will just be hit down and I’m quite small as well so I can just be wrapped up,” Matenga said to Draft Central last year. “(I want to work on) just hitting targets more and scooping up the ball through the offensive play or transition play, or transitioning from defence to offence.”

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Jade Halfpenny (Norwood)

South Australia has a ridiculous amount of top-age talent given it just feeds the one club in its state, and the talent overflows into other states for the elite level. Jade Halfpenny is one of a number of talents this season who have gone to another level, adding an inside midfield string to her bow, with the athleticism and contested marking ability she has as a 175cm tall forward. Throw in her remarkable speed and second efforts with her fierce tackling, and she has quite the package that will likely standout at the championships.

“I never thought I’d be able to do what I’ve already done and so if this was as far as I got then I would be happy with that,” Halfpenny told Draft Central. “But to get the furthest I can and maybe if I can have a shot at AFLW would be a dream, but at the end of the day I’m happy with what I’ve done and if that’s as far as I get, then that’s as far as I get.”

 

VIC COUNTRY: Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)

The Bendigo Pioneers midfielder/forward has been one of the most consistent players across the NAB League Girls competition, and has some elite traits that standout at any level. Whilst still working on some areas of her game, Snell’s athleticism – in particular her burst speed and agility – sets her aside from most other midfielders, whilst also having great goal sense when inside 50. She might be a future pressure forward who can roll through the midfield in future years, but Snell is someone who has progressed to be a very important player for both the Pioneers and Vic Country.

“We’ve got two girls from Bendigo who have been training with us quite a lot as well, Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning, they’re both 19th-year players with Bendigo,” Essendon VFLW operations manager Charlotte Miller told Draft Central during preseason. “They’re playing in the NAB League season but we’re going to try and get them in games down here as soon as we can. “They’ve been training really well, their attitude is great and they’re bringing everything they can to the sessions.”

 

VIC METRO: Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights)

A dominant inside midfielder, Chaplin is just a natural ball-winner who can take control on the inside for her side, and also hit the scoreboard. On multiple occasions this season, Chaplin was able to just step up when she was required to do so, and whilst she has copped a couple of knocks this year, has the potential to add to the Vic Metro midfield. A player who will have no issues whatsoever stepping up to the VFL Women’s competition, Chaplin has been outstanding for the Knights and a real driving force at the coalface.

“I definitely tried to use (the lockdown period) to my advantage and I really worked on myself mentally,” Chaplin told Draft Central last year. “It was a big thing for me because I didn’t really have the time like I do now to just focus on myself. “It was a time for me to understand that I really do want to get far in footy and that I am prepared to play at a professional level. “In order to do that I really wanted to mature in those areas.”

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Dana East (Swan Districts)

Of everyone on this list, East stands alone in the sense that 12 months ago she was not playing at the same state level as many of her contemporaries. The now-Swan Districts standout midfielder was dominating for Donnybrook Football Club in the South West Football League. She has since moved due to further studies, and took up the chance to play at Swan Districts, and has starred at the WAFL Women’s level for the unbeaten Swans. Throughout multiple games this season, East has been clean by hand and smooth-moving through the midfield, able to hit the scoreboard as well.

West Australian Female Talent Manager Clint Degebrodt commented throughout a Swans’ game earlier in the season that East worked so hard during the off-season that the State Academy coaches could barely hold her back, and it is showing in her performances this season.

2021 QAFL Women’s Round 4 preview: Hornets and Devils to face-off in blockbuster clash

NOT too often do you get a scenario where the reigning premiers and reigning wooden spooners will create a highly-anticipated matchup the very next season, but the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition offers just that. Reigning premiers, Yeronga South Brisbane will travel to Aspley where they face the Hornets at Graham Road, in a game that will be a measuring stick for both teams. In other matches, the unbeaten University of Queensland hosts Coorparoo fresh off its first win of the season, whilst Coolangatta Tweed – having been forced into a bye last round – will lock horns with the fellow winless side, Maroochydore. In the sole Sunday game, a fresh Bond University will head to Hickey Park where they take on Wilston Grange.

Unfortunately the recent COVID-19 scare in Queensland stopped the Under 19 State Academy members from flying down and competing in Victoria last weekend, which meant a number of top teenagers will have gone without the competitive match. Aspley has a number of talented youngsters in their ranks, with Lucia Liessi back in the side and named at half-forward, with Kadie Fletcher (wing) and Charlotte Mullins (half-forward) also earning state honours. They take on a Yeronga side stacked with talent, and goalscorer Zimmorlei Farquharson named up on a wing, allowing the likes of Emmii-Lee Zanker Close and Lexia Edwards to hit the scoreboard. Starting in the ruck, Queensland Under 19s representative Christine Okesene will be hoping to impress against Angela Lingard while the midfield battle because Luca Mason and Courtney Daniec, and Madison Goodwin and Jordan Zanchetta will also be key within in the match.

Lauren Middleton has earned Queensland Under 19s state honours and will be hoping her University of Queensland side can remain unbeaten up against Coorparoo in their clash. The Kings are coming off a thrilling one-point victory over Maroochydore last week, and they were made to work for the win, with the likes of Madi Crowley-Long and Lucinda Benjamin in great form. Macie Brown (interchange) and Kalista-Jayne Shiner (emergency) are the Kings’ representatives in the state side. The Red Lionesses had a great upset win over Yeronga South Brisbane last week, and Mia Teubler was impressive, as has been Megan Hunt all season. The Kings will look to Chelsea Chesterfield and the returning Emma McKenzie as a source of goals in the match as they hope to cause an upset themselves against the in-form Red Lionesses.

In the battle of the winless sides, Maroochydore has loaded up on its elite young talent, with AFL Women’s Academy members Bella Smith and Maggie Harmer back in the line-up and midfield for the clash. They will rove to the in-form Jacqueline Dupuy, while Chloe Gregory and Jya Epstein round out a strong midfield. Brianna McFarlane and Makeisha Muller are others up forward who could cause some headaches for the Bluebirds. Coolangatta Tweed have a ridiculous amount of Queensland Under 19 representatives, with eight making the final 29-player squad. Keyshia Matenga (onball), Imogen Evans (centre half-forward), Casey Wynne (onball), Faith Alchin (back pocket), Sally Evans (half-forward), Sophie Ure (forward pocket), and the Cockatoo-Motlop twins in Laquoiya and Litonya (midfield) all made the final cut this week. In terms of young talent, this is the game to watch.

In the final match of the round, all eyes will be on Bond University after a week off, with the young guns returning to the team to face Wilston Grange. AFL Women’s Academy member Mikayla Pauga is back at half-forward, with top talent Teagan Levi coming off the bench, but is sure to impact the contest. The inside midfield is stacked with Ellie Hampson returning to the side, and then the likes of Georgia Brehmer and Shannon Danckert also in. Jasmyn Davidson (ruck), Lily Tarlinton (forward pocket) and Giselle Davies (back pocket) are the other Sharkettes to make the state side. For the Gorillas, Abbey Hewett will look to have her say in the midfield with Mackenzie Findlay following Hewett being named in the state squad, as was full-forward Brooke Sheridan. Rheanne Lugg and Ruby Svarc are other Gorillas who could use their experience to have a real say on the result.

QAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 4 FIXTURES:

Saturday, March 20:
Aspley vs. Yeronga South Brisbane @ Graham Road, Aspley, 2pm
Maroochydore vs. Coolangatta Tweed @ Maroochydore Multisports Complex, 3.45pm
University of Queensland vs. Coorparoo @ UQ, 3.45pm

Sunday, March 21:
Wilston Grange vs. Bond University @ Hickey Park, 2.00pm

NAB League Girls Round 6 preview: Academy teams arrive for bumper clashes

ALL four Northern Academy teams will arrive in the NAB League Girls competition, with the Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns playing in Victoria, while GWS GIANTS meet the Murray Bushrangers in Lavington, New South Wales.

In a huge boost for the NAB League Girls, the clash between Geelong Falcons and Sydney Swans Academy, and the double-header featuring the Queensland Academy teams and Northern Knights and Eastern Ranges, will not only be streamed via the NAB League app, but also feature live commentary. We preview all the Round 6 games below.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY
Saturday, March 13 @ 10am
Lavington Sports Ground

The first NAB League Girls game of the year to be played in New South Wales takes place between Murray Bushrangers and GWS GIANTS Academy. It also marks the first game of what will be four across the weekend, introducing the Northern Academy sides to some Victorian opposition. Murray Bushrangers are yet to win a game in the NAB League Girls, and their AFL Women’s Academy player Ally Morphett will suit up in the orange and charcoal against the Bushrangers’ other towering ruck in Lily Kozuharoff. After making her debut for North Melbourne VFL Women’s last week, Jayde Hamilton will be back at Under 19s level, roving the taps and going head-to-head with bottom-age jet Keeley Skepper onball.

Grace Hay is a critical inclusion in defence for the Bushrangers, teaming up with the likes of Mindy Quade, Chloe Locke and Kristy Whitehead forming a strong half-back line. They will need to contain teammate Lily Sharp who also switches jumpers for this clash, while Hayley Macdonald slotted three goals in the big 49-point win over Sydney Swans Academy a fortnight ago. She was named best on ground in that victory, with Sophie Trewartha another impressive forward on the day, Eleano Bishop and wing Brodie Mowbray others named amongst the best. India Lehman will take to the field for the GIANTS against her Bushrangers teammates, while Murray will look to in-form wing Aurora Smith to go head-to-head with Jessica Whelan in a matchup to watch. Zara Hamilton, Sophia McCarthy and Olivia Cicolini are others who can create scoring opportunities for the home side.

Murray has the experience at this level, but the real contest will be the interesting factor watching the GIANTS Academy making their debut at NAB League level with a number of Bushrangers to face off against their NAB League teammates.

 

GEELONG FALCONS vs. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY
Saturday, March 13 @ 11am
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

Heading much further south, another Academy team arrives in Victoria for a clash against the red-hot Geelong Falcons. The Falcons are 3-0 so far this season and have taken care of all their opponents thus far. Sydney has played two matches against the GIANTS Academy, splitting the results with a 20-point win, before a 49-point loss. Given Geelong could take out the entire title, this will be a great challenge for the Swans to partake in as they hit the field for the first time at NAB League Girls level. The Falcons head in without the in-form Annie Lee in defence, or leading goalkicker Renee Tierney up forward as they look to continue their stints at VFL Women’s level. Otherwise the Falcons will be relatively stable across the field and look to continue their form against the Swans.

The Falcons midfield of Tess Craven, Ash Van Loon, Poppy Schaap and Charlotte Simpson has been rock solid this year, and will be hard to beat. It will be a fantastic test for the likes of Ruby Sargent-Wilson and Hannah Cerezo who both stood out in the Academy matches recently. Up forward, Jessica Doyle slotted four as the sole AFL Women’s Academy for her state, but also the only one in the match. She will be the crucial player to watch up forward, though Willow Smith, Kyla Tracey and Jade Jarrett have all proven to be scoring options for the red and white side. Elizabeth Dowling will be the player her teammates look to with distribution outside the defensive 50, while Analea McKee and Ava McKeegan will look to drive the ball down the field from half-back. Ingrid Houtsma provides some X-factor on the win, and Mia Van Dyke has been thrown forward for this game, with reliable targets, Lucy Were and Gabbi Featherston making life difficult for the opposition. Other Swans who impressed in the Academy games include Kiara Beesley – who received a Draft Combine invitation last year – Maddy Hendrie, Ella Morris, Kahli Gilchrist and Ella Heads who will hope to make a good impression in this encounter.

Geelong is one of the teams to beat this season, but the Swans will get a great hitout ahead of next month’s AFL Women’s Under-19 Championships.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday, March 13 @ 12.30pm
Penguin Reserve

Playing in the third state for the day’s action, Tasmania Devils host Dandenong Stingrays at Penguin Reserve. The Devils are coming off back-to-back wins in Victoria after their narrow defeat at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers a fortnight ago. If there is one team that can sympathise with them about losing to the Chargers in a nail-biter it is the Stingrays, who went down to the Chargers by a solitary point a week ago. Tasmania sits at 3-1 for the season, while the Stingrays have one less game under their belts for a 2-1 start, but could draw level with a win here. The Devils really ran out the final term against Bendigo Pioneers last Saturday, then managed to restrict Western Jets to just one point, meaning in their last seven quarters, the Devils’ defence has conceded just one behind. That will be important against a dangerous Stingrays’ forward line that contains Amber Clarke (three goals against Oakleigh) and the rotating Ashleigh Richards and Mackenzie Eardley who can be thrown there too.

Much like the Devils, the Stingrays have a really strong defensive outfit, with Eardley and Zoe Hill the twin towers in the key positions and the likes of Jaide Anthony and Jemma Radford providing the run. Amy Prokopiec has looked lively up forward this season, with her season-best four goals coming in Round 1, while Amy Bissett and Amy Edmand have also proven to kick multiple goals in a game through tight contests. The Devils midfield has been firing on all cylinders, withe speed of Perri King, class of Claire Ransom and hardness of Ella Maurer providing a nice balance on the inside. Given the Stingrays will be without the injured Emily Shepherd, it will be up to Richards and Felicity Crank to step up with Abbey Jordan in that onball group. Aprille Crooks, Priscilla Odwogo and Jemma Blair can provide the run out of defence for the Devils, while Meghan Gaffney never stops running.

This has all the hallmarks of being a thriller and being at home, Tasmania Devils might have the slight edge, but it is hard to look past the Stingrays who are just as well balanced as any side, but it shapes as the match to watch this weekend.

 

GWV REBELS vs. WESTERN JETS
Sunday, March 14 @ 11am
MARS Stadium

Taking to the field for their second game in four days, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will host the Western Jets – who only have a six-day break themselves – at MARS Stadium on Sunday morning. The Rebels trialled key forward Ella Friend on a wing and she has been named there again in what could be an absolute blockbuster of a matchup against Jets’ talent Charlotte Baskaran. The one-on-ones across the ground are superb, with Lilli Condon set to go up against Montana Ham, and though the height difference might be substantial, neither player will take a backwards step. Paige Scott booted three goals against the Bendigo Pioneers on Wednesday, her second three-goal haul of the year, and will be the danger player inside 50. The smaller defenders in Paige Ryan, Laura Elliott and Kate Maxwell have done well in moving the ball in transition, and will need to stem the flow of inside 50s from the Rebels midfielders.

Up the other end, Nyakoat Dojiok is a brick wall with her ability to read the ball in flight and intercept mark a treat, and Molly Walton is one of the more consistent bottom-age talents running around back there, already tasked with the kick-in duties. Chloe Leonard could slot back onto half-back, but will start onball against Trinity Skenderis, while Ally Trigg and Tahlia Meier both have the capacity to roll from the midfield forward. Kensley Ward has brought the defensive intensity up forward in her two games thus far, while Caitlin Sargent and Jemima Woods are the key forward targets inside 50. Krystal Russell has enjoyed a strong debut season as well through the ruck, and will go head-to-head against Kalani Scoullar.

If the Rebels get up, they move to 3-2 for the season, while the Jets sit at 1-3 currently and would join the Rebels with a 2-3 record if they can topple the home team up in Ballarat.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday, March 14 @ 11.30am
Ronald Reserve, Morwell East

Over east, Gippsland Power host Calder Cannons with the home team searching for its first win of the season, while the Calder Cannons are hoping to go back-to-back after a strong win over Northern Knights 10 days earlier under lights at Highgate Recreation Reserve. The Power have become comfortable at Ronald Reserve in Morwell East, with this fixture being their third consecutive match at the venue having played Northern Knights and Sandringham Dragons there in recent weeks. The Power put in their best effort last week against the Dragons, with their lowest losing margin of 58 points, but also slotting three goals in the process. The battle to watch will be in the midfield where Grace McRae could go head-to-head with fellow hard nut Emelia Yassir, while Yasmin Duursma and Macie Gilmour go up against Olivia Manfre and Reese Sutton onball. Georgie Prespakis has been thrown forward in a huge one-on-one contest with Lily-Rose Williamson which will be a great test for the bottom-ager given she possesses similar powerful traits.

Shanara Notman returns to the Power side to provide that tall intercepting target in defence, but could also be thrown forward, with Matilda Van Berkel and Holly Booth named in the key position forward spots though both have become reliable defenders in past years. Indiana Makai has been in good form of late, with Sunday Brisbane and Calder’s Mali McLeod also capable of taking grass with ball-in-hand a long a wing. Neve Crowley will be a crucial key tall for the Cannons up forward, with Alisa Magri (three goals against Northern) and Jessica Zakkour both damaging options inside 50. Up the other end, Kasey Lennox is rock solid at full-back, while Zali Friswell and Tahlia Gillard have both been named on the bench but can roll on and play in multiple positions, quite usually relieving the midfield.

Calder Cannons will be looking for a big win here, but Gippsland will be up for the fight, it will just be about keeping possession and getting the ball forward to their keys, then trying to capitalise on the transition.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY
Sunday, March 14 @ 12.45pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

In the first of a double-header at La Trobe University, Northern Knights will host Brisbane Lions Academy in what is poised to be a fantastic contest. The Lions Academy might be underrated, but they have three AFL Women’s Academy members out on the park, with Maggie Harmer, Mikayla Pauga and Bella Smith all running out for the Lions in their first NAB League Girls game. Harmer and Pauga will start through the midfield, though the latter could go forward and join Smith in the front six, while Harmer is more than capable of dropping back and being a reliable rebounding defender as well. The Lions have plenty of versatile players in their outfit, with Chelsea Chesterfield and Lucia Liessi both able to front up in the forward line, but will start in defence for this match.

The Knights have been able to create plenty of marking targets inside 50, with Megan Girolami enjoying a fantastic season this year, and the likes of Ella Smallacombe and Simone Mooney being the key talls in there. Trinity Mills has been a tough player to contain, while wings Maykaylah Appleby – Northern’s AFL Women’s Academy member – and Brooke Plummer have created driving runs and pumping the ball inside 50. Grace Wake returns from injury for the Knights for her first game of the season, teaming up with Tarrah Delgado in the back 50, while Ava Jordan has been a sensational find as an 05-born talent this season. An injury to Maeve Chaplin last week means she will miss out, but the Knights have plenty of depth through the side. Other Lions youngsters who have impressed in the Queensland colours or at QAFL Women’s level before include Macie Brown, Tiarna Jericho and Izzy Kotatis, while Phoebe Baird battling with Appleby as two smooth movers will be a matchup to watch.

Northern will be favourites for this clash, but Brisbane Lions could be the pick of the Academy sides this weekend, so if there is to be an upset, it could be this one.

 

EASTERN RANGES vs. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY
Sunday, March 14 @ 2.45pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

In the second game at the revamped La Trobe University, Eastern Ranges will hope to bounce back from their first loss two weeks ago when they take on the other Queensland Academy side in Gold Coast Suns. The Ranges will be without Olivia Meagher who will continue her stint at Collingwood’s VFL Women’s side tonight against Western Bulldogs, which means another midfielder will need to try and contain Queensland’s top draft prospect in Teagan Levi. The sister of Gold Coast’s Maddison, Levi is a terrific inside midfielder who can play in multiple roles, but will bullock the ball out of the stoppage with good burst and power. She is hard to match up on, but Bridget Deed looks to be the one set to go head-to-head with her. The Eastern midfield is a strong one, with in-form ruck Georgia Campbell, and midfielders Keeley Sherar and Ruby O’Dwyer both in good form ahead of this clash. A trio of Ranges return from VFL Women’s duty with Isabelle Khoury (wing), Matilda Hardy (half-forward) and Jess Grace (interchange) all named for the clash.

The Suns have some great talent across the board, with key forward at QAFL Women’s level Jasmyn Davidson named at full-back for this clash showing off her versatility. Up the other end is Lily Tarlinton, with her and Faith Alchin filling out the key position posts. Keyshia Matenga has speed to burn and expect her to come off the bench to roll onto a wing against either Khoury or Jorja Livingstone, while twins Laquoiya and Litonya Cockatoo-Motlop provide a family bond within the team. Alyssia Pisano is a name to keep in mind for the future as a damaging ball user in side 50, while Caitlin Thorne is another Suns player named at half-forward who could create some havoc inside 50.

Eastern Ranges have shown to have the depth to beat most teams and will be favourites here, but led by Levi, the Suns will hope to win plenty of clearances and get the ball forward for scoring opportunities.

2020 AFL Draft recap: Gold Coast SUNS

GOLD COAST took great strides in 2020 and became one of the more enjoyable sides to watch, with a raft of young talent helping the Queensland-based team to 14th place after consecutive bottom-two finishes. The Suns came into this draft having done most of their work beforehand, making the most of concessions afforded to them by the AFL to pre-list a couple of top 25 academy talents and rookie three more, while also snaring a genuine slider with Pick 7. Some senior names were also given extended chances through the Rookie Draft, making what looks like a slender draft haul at first glance a rather deep and valuable one for the rising Suns.

GOLD COAST

National Draft:
#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

Pre-listings:
Alex Davies (Broadbeach/Allies)
Joel Jeffrey (NT Thunder/Wanderers/Allies)

Rookies:
Jacob Townsend (Essendon), Jack Hombsch (Re-listed), Jordan Murdoch (Re-listed), Aiden Fyfe (Broadbeach/Academy), Rhys Nicholls (Labrador/Academy), Hewago Paul Oea (Cat B)

It was a rather short and sweet National Draft for Gold Coast – the same could not be said for viewers who stayed the course – with Pick 7 its only live selection. Elijah Hollands, a dynamic midfielder/forward with top three value, was the Suns’ man having slid down the order when North Melbourne’s selection of Will Phillips saw the dominoes fall differently than expected. The Murray Bushrangers product has exactly the kind of star quality which Gold Coast looks for at the top end, and while he may not see any game time for the first half of his debut season as he recovers from an ACL tear, he could well become the best player out of this year’s crop down the line.

He joins pre-listed academy guns Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey on the Suns’ primary list, essentially meaning three top 25 prospects were landed for the price of one. Davies is a big-bodied inside midfielder who excels at the contest with his clean hands and poise in traffic, which made him Queensland’s top talent from a while back. Jeffrey comes in via the Suns’ access to the Darwin zone and brings terrific athleticism as a swingman. He will likely start in defence but could just as easily utilise his aerial nous as a lead-up forward with serious speed and goal sense.

Among the other academy graduates to hit the bigtime were Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe. Both were pre-listed rookie selections but had their names called out in that draft, while International Scholarship holder Hewego Paul Oea earned Category B status prior to the draft. Nicholls and Fyfe are both aggressive forward runners who can play off half-back or the wing, while ‘Ace’ Oea is a Papua New Guinea native known for his exciting speed and raw talent in the forward half. All three are prospective picks who should provide decent squad depth in the long-term.

The Suns also snared a fresh face, but one familiar to the competition in Jacob Townsend through the Rookie Draft. The 27-year-old joins his fourth AFL club and will add some experience to the forwardline. Meanwhile, Jack Hombsch and Jordan Murdoch were also taken with rookie picks as re-listed players who have been granted another chance in the Suns’ squad. The primary listing of Davies and Jeffrey pushed a number of senior names onto an extended rookie list, which again ties into concessions afforded by the AFL.

Featured Image: The SUNS’ pre-listed Academy talents | Credit: SUNS Media

Quartet shine bright as Gold Coast confirms pre-listed players

GOLD Coast Suns have confirmed their four pre-listed players today with Aiden Fyfe, Alex Davies, Joel Jeffrey and Rhys Nicholls all committing to the club ahead of the 2020 AFL Draft. Under the AFL rules that came in prior to the 2019 AFL Draft the Suns were able to pre-list players without having to match bids on them, and have opted to select these four talented players.

Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey were long touted as Top 25 prospects and were expected to be pre-listed from very early on in the year. For Aiden Fyfe and Rhys Nicholls, it is a reward for effort throughout 2020, having had sensational seasons with Broadbeach and Labrador in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) competition respectively.

Here is all you need to know Suns’ fans:

AIDEN FYFE DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION:
 Outside Midfielder/Defender
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Fyfe is a tall winger who is arguably better suited at half-back where he can take the game on in transition”

ALEX DAVIES DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION: Inside Midfielder
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Davies is a strong inside midfielder with clean hands, poise, and agility, making him one of the prime extractors in this year’s cohort”

JOEL JEFFREY DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION: Key Position Utility
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Jeffrey is an exciting key position prospect who utilises his terrific reading of the ball in flight and athleticism at either end of the ground”

RHYS NICHOLLS DRAFT PROFILE
POSITION: Medium Defender/Outside Midfielder
DRAFT ANALYSIS: “Nicholls is a quick, clean midfielder/defender who showed some promising signs in 2020”

Picture: Gold Coast Suns

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Gold Coast Suns

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Gold Coast, a side on the up after improving from last in 2019 to finish 14th this year. While the Suns will not have the power of wielding picks one and two with their upcoming intake, the opportunity snare another top 10 selection presents on top of the continued draft concessions they have been afforded. Academy products Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey, both of whom are considered top 30 talents will automatically be placed on the Suns’ senior list, essentially granting the club three top talents at the cost of one. With a promising young list forming and an accelerated rate of improvement evident, Gold Coast could become a finals factor within the next five years.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 5, 27, 76, 84

2021 PICKS*: GCS Rd 1 | GCS Rd 2 | CAR Rd 3 | GCS Rd 4, ESS Rd 4

* – denotes as of November 26

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

ELIGIBLE ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Alex Davies, Joel Jeffrey, Brodie Lake, Rhys Nicholls, Max Pescud (all Academy)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Midfield depth
Key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 5)

A lot rides on which direction Gold Coast opts to go with pick five, though the selection could depend largely on what other clubs do beforehand. Growing noise has signalled that the Suns may be looking at a midfielder with their first choice, putting Will Phillips and Tanner Bruhn up as the two key names in contention. Phillips is expected to be snapped up by the likes of Sydney or Hawthorn by then, so Bruhn may be the Suns’ man. He is a 183cm ball winner out of the Geelong Falcons who gains great meterage from the contest and is all class in possession. One knock on him has been a lack of exposure, not only due to the COVID-19 situation in Victoria, but also given repeat injuries saw him manage just two NAB League outings last year.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

The Suns could be a club looking to trade out of this year’s draft after Pick 5, especially considering the depth of academy talent at their disposal. A raft of senior players have been shifted onto the extended rookie list to make room for that pick, as well as Davies and Jeffrey. A third academy pre-listing may be in the offing, but the Suns would likely prefer to snare the likes of Brodie Lake, Rhys Nicholls, or Max Pescud as rookies – if at all. That could mean that Gold Coast only takes one player in the National Draft and parts with pick 27 to bolster next year’s hand, while passing on its later picks.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

How many players will Gold Coast pre-list?

Is Gold Coast looking for an inside midfielder with pick five?

Will other clubs look at the Suns Academy players who are not pre-listed?

Will Gold Coast rookie list any Academy players who slide past the National Draft?

Will Pick 5 be Gold Coast’s only selection in the National Draft?

Featured Image: Joel Jeffrey in action during this year’s Academy Series | Credit: RF Photography

2020 AFLW Draft review: Gold Coast Suns

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with Gold Coast, a side that added the most draftees of any team, with a mix of youth and experience coming into the program for 2021 after reaching finals in their inaugural year.

Gold Coast:

#7 – Annise Bradfield (Southport/Queensland)
#23 – Sarah Perkins (Hawthorn VFLW)
#50 – Maddison Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
#54 – Janet Baird (Palmerston Magpies)
#57 – Lucy Single (Bond University)
#58 – Elizabeth Keaney (Southern Saints VFLW)
#60 – Daisy D’Arcy (Hermit Park/Queensland)
#61 – Wallis Randell (Bond University)

The Suns were able to make the most of a giant draft hall by picking up three AFL Women’s Academy members, a couple of mature-agers and even a forward with AFL Women’s experience by the time they had finished on draft night.

Annise Bradfield ended up being the Suns’ first selection with the talented midfielder one of the three AFL Women’s Academy members. Bradfield is capable of also playing forward and looks up to Katie Brennan as a similar player through both roles and their journeys – featuring setbacks. She will be one who can slot straight in if required.

Another player who can slot straight in is former Adelaide and Melbourne AFL Women’s forward, Sarah Perkins. Playing in her third state in as many years, Perkins nominated for Queensland and landed at the Suns’ with their second selection. She could provide that extra spark inside 50 and energy around a group of younger players, not to mention a key forward target.

Also inside 50, expect to see top-age AFL Women’s Academy key forward Maddison Levi alongside Perkins. With strong hands and a powerful kick, she represents a bargain at Pick 50, in the first of six selections by the Suns that were uninterrupted by their Queensland rivals, Brisbane.

Up the other end, is former Southern Saints defender Elizabeth Keaney. The 28-year-old will play off half-back and provide some drive for the Suns, while providing crucial experience from her time at the Saints and Melbourne University over the past few years.

A midfielder who has been known to role through defence, teenager Lucy Single hails from New Zealand having tried a number of sports including rugby sevens. An elite athlete, Single is readymade to come into the line-up after a huge season with Bond University in 2020.

The third and final AFL Women’s Academy member selected by the Suns is elite runner, Daisy D’Arcy. Capable of reaching the elite level in any sport she put her mind to, the midfielder can play in attack or defence as well. Whilst small in stature, D’Arcy could outrun and outwork just about any opponent with her ridiculous fitness base.

Janet Baird is a mature-age prospect who has been in draft calculations for a few years, but after some consistent form in the NTFL Women’s competition, has earned a place on the Suns’ list. She has clean hands at ground level or in the air, and some tricks up her sleeve making her a tricky player to contain whether it be through midfield, attack or defence.

Finally the eighth selection in the draft was Mackay’s Wallis Randell who has come through the Suns’ Academy. Another defender possessing great speed and neat decision making, Randell has transitioned from basketball to football. An over-ager who represented Bond University, she has come on quickly in a couple of years.

Overall the Suns picked up a bit of everything and will have even better depth coming into the 2021 AFL Women’s season.

Picture: Tertius Pickard/Gold Coast Bulletin

2020 AFLW Draft review: Club-by-club picks

THE dust has settled on the exciting 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Over the next week we will be delving into each club’s selections and detailing more information about those players who earned places at the elite level. Below we have listed each club’s selections from last night’s draft if you are waking up to check out who your newest stars are.

Adelaide:

#4 – Teah Charlton (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#45 – Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide)
#47 – Ashleigh Woodland (North Adelaide)

Brisbane:

#8 – Zimmorlei Farquharson (Yeronga South Brisbane/Queensland)
#37 – Indy Tahau (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#38 – Ruby Svarc (Essendon VFLW)

Carlton:

#12 – Mimi Hill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#28 – Daisy Walker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#36 – Winnie Laing (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Collingwood:

#19 – Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#25 – Amelia Velardo (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
#26 – Joanna Lin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#31 – Abbi Moloney (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 – Pass

Fremantle:

#14 – Sarah Verrier (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
#30 – Mikayla Morrison (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#46 – Tiah Haynes (Subiaco)

Geelong:

#10 – Darcy Moloney (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#20 – Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#21 – Olivia Barber (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
#27 – Stephanie Williams (Geelong Falcons/Darwin Buffettes)
#39 – Carly Remmos (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 – Annise Bradfield (Southport/Queensland)
#23 – Sarah Perkins (Hawthorn VFLW)
#50 – Maddison Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
#54 – Janet Baird (Palmerston Magpies)
#57 – Lucy Single (Bond University)
#58 – Elizabeth Keaney (Southern Saints VFLW)
#60 – Daisy D’Arcy (Hermit Park/Queensland)
#61 – Wallis Randell (Bond University)

GWS GIANTS:

#9 – Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/ACT)
#29 – Emily Pease (Belconnen Magpies/Eastern Allies)
#42 – Libby Graham (Manly Warringah Wolves)

Melbourne:

#5 – Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#15 – Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#17 – Maggie Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#35 – Megan Fitzsimon (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#41 – Mietta Kendall (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#48 – Isabella Simmons (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

North Melbourne:

#13 – Bella Eddey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 – Alice O’Loughlin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#44 – Georgia Hammond (Darebin Falcons VFLW)
#49 – Brooke Brown (Launceston)
#55 – Amy Smith (Aberfeldie)

Richmond:

#1 – Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#43 – Tessa Lavey (WNBL)
#52 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons/Richmond VFLW)

St Kilda:

#6 – Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
#24 – Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#34 – Renee Saulitis (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#40 – Jacqueline Vogt (Southern Saints VFLW)
#51 – Pass

West Coast:

#3 – Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)
#18 – Shanae Davison (Swan Districts/WA)
#32 – Julie-Anne Norrish (East Fremantle)
#53 – Andrea Gilmore (Claremont)
#56 – Pass
#59 – Pass

Western Bulldogs:

#2 – Jess Fitzgerald (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#11 – Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#16 – Isabelle Pritchard (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Brisbane Lions & Gold Coast Suns

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Queensland, in Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns.

Brisbane Lions – Queensland pool

Draft selections: 8, 37, 38, 51, 52

Off-season summary:

Brisbane had a relatively quiet off-season, picking up just the one player in Queensland Taylor Smith who crossed from their southern neighbours in Gold Coast, whilst also gaining picks 37 and 51, losing Pick 24. In terms of their list changes, the Lions delisted Bri McFarlane and Hannah Millman, whilst Arianna Clarke retired.

This made for minimal chances on the primary list, effectively only losing two on difference. The Lions also picked up Courtney Hodder who as a former AFL Women’s National Academy member, could be a huge inclusion taking up the sport again from rugby union. Unlikely to use all their picks at the draft due to list numbers, the Lions will head into the draft second in the pecking order from their state.

A draft look:

The name who has been talked up the last few years at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships and is finally in her top-age year is Zimmorlei Farquharson. The most exciting player in the draft, Farquharson is capable of the impossible in the air or ground level, and while she has been piecing together consistent games over the past few seasons, she has been playing at the elite junior level for a few years now. Her huge game for Yeronga South Brisbane on the weekend helped the Devils reach the 2020 QAFL Women’s Grand Final.

Other Lions Academy players who have stood out at QAFL Women’s’ level this season include Maroochydore’s Chloe Gregory, Coorparoo’s Chelsea Chesterfield and Aspley’s Izzy Kotatis. Of course they could look to bring in some extra experience such as versatile Yeronga and former Carlton VFL Women’s co-captain, Courtney Bromage. She has enjoyed a consistent season and is still only 21-years-old, while Madison Goodwin has been another Devils forward shining this season.

Gold Coast Suns – Queensland pool

Draft selections: 7, 23, 56

Off-season summary:

Like Brisbane, Gold Coast remained a relatively settled side after making finals in the Suns’ first season in the AFL Women’s. They made a number of list changes by delisting Georgia Breward, Alexia Hamilton, Tayla Thorn and Kitara Farrar, while Maddy Roberts retired. Smith headed north to the Lions and Charlotte Hammans flew south to join Carlton, while St Kilda’s Alison Drennan was the sole inclusion for the Suns during the trade period.

It has allowed the Suns to be fairly flexible when it comes to picking up new players, with the AFL Women’s Sarah Black reporting that former Adelaide and Hawthorn forward, Sarah Perkins had nominated Queensland as her state of preference, so she could well be on the Suns’ radar as a forward target. They need more experience to add to their youth, and she could be a good fit inside 50.

A draft look:

In theory, the Academies do not guarantee only players from their respective academies, so the Suns holding the first selection in the draft could swoop on Farquharson or anyone they wish in the open Queensland draft. Though they also have the player with the largest endurance base across the board in their Academy with Daisy D’Arcy a standout prospect. She is a consistent all-round player and won the yo-yo test in the preseason by so much, she was left doing laps by herself for some time. The male and female testing is done differently, but her score was the equivalent of a 22.1 – absolute elite.

Another couple of AFL Women’s National Academy members who earned Draft Combine invites are Bond University’s Maddison Levi, and Southport’s Annise Bradfield. Both have come through the Queensland pathway system and have shown great promise in the AFL Women’s Under 18s level in past seasons. Also standing out in the QAFL Women’s competition was Coolangatta Tweed’s Ebony Peterson who also earned a Draft Combine invite. Throw in the likes of fellow Academy members Jasmyn Davison, Annie Muir and Keyshia Matenga who all had strong seasons, and the Suns Academy have plenty to pick from.

As an overall look at other Queensland options, Beth Pinchin is a lynchpin defender who captained the Suns Academy and could be ready to make the next step up, whilst a couple of dual-sport academy members Lucy Single (rugby 7s and karate) and Laura Blue (soccer) both earned invites, as did Coorparoo’s inside midfielder, Brooke Spence.

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors Grand Final preview – Broadbeach vs. Morningside

AFTER nine regular season rounds and two enthralling weeks of finals, it all comes down to this. Undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach meets Morningside (2nd, 7-1) in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Grand Final on Saturday afternoon, and there is plenty of young talent primed to impact on the big stage.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns in action across the two best sides in the competition, including a bunch of Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy products. We take a look at who shone when the sides previously met in 2020, while also touching on the strengths of some budding AFL Draft prospects in action.

2020 QAFL Grand Final

Broadbeach vs. Morningside
Saturday, September 26 | 2:30pm
Leyshon Park, Yeronga

Previous meeting…

Round 9 – Broadbeach 13.16 (94) def. Morningside 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Broadbeach: C. Nutting 3, C. Cameron 3, J. Moncrieff 2, J. Fisher 2, R. Gilmore, B. Chadwick, B. Reeves
Morningside: L. Edwards 2, M. Hammelmann, S. Crozier, E. Mallan, B. Coleman

BEST:

Broadbeach: K. Boakye, E. Reeves, M. Lower, C. Cameron, B. Lowe, S. Mills
Morningside: W. Pendlebury, E. Mallan, L. Russ, R. William, B. Kethro, H. Joyce

It took until the final home-and-away round for the season’s two undefeated outfits to meet, with Broadbeach the side which would stand clear after a statement-making 50-point victory. The Cats’ range of scoring options ensure they pulled away strongly in the second half, overcoming some early woes in front of goal to put Morningside to the sword. Usual suspect and former Gold Coast forward Connor Nutting booted three goals in the winning effort, with fellow SUNS Academy graduate Ryan Gilmore and Bailey Reeves also hitting the scoreboard. For the Panthers, who showed plenty of room for improvement, current Brisbane Academy prospects Saxon Crozier and Blake Coleman also found the big sticks, but 24-year-old leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann was kept to just one major in a big tick for Broadbeach’s defence.

The finals journey…

After both earning a week’s rest as the top two ranked teams, the preliminary finals proved a relatively straightforward stage for either side. Broadbeach scrapped to beat Sherwood, who employed some defensive tactics, to the tune of 43 points to book its spot in the decider. It should prove a handy tune-up for the Cats as their defence held up well, though the finishing up forward could do with some sharpening. Meanwhile, Morningside held off a pesky Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) to advance via a 19-point victory. Crozier, Coleman, and Hammelmann were all again among the goals, but Victorian recruit Matthew McGannon was named best afield for his efforts through midfield. The Panthers will need another big effort from their forwards this coming Saturday.

Ones to watch…

A race against time will determine whether leading Queensland draft prospect Alex Davies returns to action for Broadbeach. The big-bodied inside midfielder has only managed one outing for the Cats in 2020, and is recovering from an elbow injury which saw him miss the Academy Series. It could be a risk to play him ahead of next month’s draft combine, but he would add clean extraction skills in what is usually the most hotly contested game of the season.

Conversely, another current SUNS Academy player in Aiden Fyfe promises to break the game open for Broadbeach, with his sharp ball use by foot and outside run making for valuable assets when the Cats are in need of a spark. Set to be stationed either off half-back or on the wing, Fyfe looms as a good counter to some of Morningside’s runners. Namely, Saxon Crozier‘s capacity to penetrate on the outer will be a key to much of the Panthers’ success, along with Blake Coleman‘s creativity in attack. Both make up two of the leading Lions Academy prospects for 2020, and have adjusted well to senior football.

Staying with the midfield battle, Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves has a good mix of ball-winning traits both inside and out, and should battle well against the likes of Toby Triffett and Matthew McGannon, two of Morningside’s prime movers. Up forward, livewire small Josh Gore will look to go big having turned heads in his over-age year. The SUNS Academy graduate should keep a Panthers defence which boasts Nathan Colenso busy alongside the likes of Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore. Both Gore and Nutting have booted 17 goals this season.

Tip: Broadbeach by 15

Featured Image: Broadbeach young guns Alex Davies and Josh Gore celebrate after a goal | Source: Russell Freeman Photography