Category: North Adelaide

Out to impress: SANFL Grand finals

A HOST of teenaged and mature-aged draft prospects will be in action on grand final weekend of the 2020 SANFL season. At league level, the minor premiers, Woodville-West Torrens will be looking to win the clubs first Thomas Seymour Hill Trophy since 2011. But standing in their way are the 2018 premiers, North Adelaide, who booked their place in the decider with a 15-point win over the Eagles a fortnight ago.

Potential top ten draft pick Lachie Jones will once-again be expected to curtail one of the Roosters dangerous forwards. Jones has caught the attention of recruiters across the nation for his performances at senior level this year. The strong-bodied defender has been named on the half-back flank and provides plenty of flexibility for Eagles coach Jade Sheedy. Fellow youngsters Jacob Wehr and Rhyan Mansell have also been key components of the league’s most dour defensive unit.

Clare product Lachie McNeil has been a revelation through the midfield for Woodville-West Torrens, providing the side with plenty of run and carry between the arcs. North Adelaide simply must restrict the influence of superstar small forward James Rowe if senior coach Jacob Surjan is to win a flag in his first season at the helm. Rowe, who was the joint leading goalkicker during the minor rounds, broke open last weekend’s preliminary final by booting three goals in under seven minutes to start the second half. AFL recruiters will no doubt be eager to see him perform in the biggest game of the season.

With question marks looming over the fitness of dependable backman Tanner Smith, the Roosters have named young key defender Dyson Hilder on the extended bench. If selected, he would team up in defence with fellow teenager Karl Finlay, who has impressed in his first full season at senior level.

The Roosters and Eagles will also do battle in the reserves grand final, set to take place earlier in the afternoon. After finishing the home and away season in second place, the Eagles beat minor premiers Central Districts by 22 points in the semi final to earn a spot in the decider. It has been a longer road for the men from Prospect, who narrowly beat Sturt then overcame the Bulldogs to make it to the final weekend.

Eastern-suburbs rivals Sturt and Norwood have been the pace-setters of the SANFL under-18 competition all season, and have both thoroughly deserved their place in the grand final. The midfield battle looms integral to the outcome of this one, with both clubs boasting a host of draft prospects. The Double Blues will be led by consistent on-ballers Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain, while the Norwood on-ball brigade is headlined by pocket-rocket Henry Nelligan, gut-runner Jack Saunders and arguably the competitions best ruckman, Nathan Hearing.

Sturt will be relying heavily upon talented bottom-ager Morgan Ferres, who has been named at centre-half-forward. Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase will line-up on the forward flank, but could easily be thrown down back if the Redlegs start to get on top. Defenders Malachy Carruthers and skipper Ned Walter will be hoping to control proceedings down back, as they have done all season.

Meanwhile, Norwood’s Finn Heard has been the competitions best key forward for much of the season and will demand plenty of attention from the Sturt defenders. Talented tall Ned Carey has also been included in the Redlegs side, along with skilful utility Michael Cavallaro and speedy bottom-ager Cooper Murley, who finished second in the McCallum Tomkins Medal voting earlier in the week, behind the aforementioned Powell.

FIXTURES

League:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 18, 3:00pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 18, 11:30am @ Adelaide Oval

Under-18s:

Norwood vs. Sturt | Saturday October 17, 11:30am @ Thebarton Oval

2020 AFLW Draft review: West Coast

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 West Coast, a team that had the one win over in the west last year and whilst did not manage to get going too much in their debut season, was able to bring in some more experience to the lineup and position itself well heading into the draft.

West Coast:

#3 – Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)
#18 – Shanae Davison (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#32 – Julie-Anne Norrish (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#53 – Andrea Gilmore (Claremont/Western Australia)
#56 – Amber Ward (North Adelaide/South Australia)
#59 – Lauren Gauci (North Adelaide/South Australia)

West Coast had a balanced draft, picking up a couple of young stars, some experienced West Australian talents and a couple of SANFL Women’s premiership talents. They managed to get three teenagers all up, and three that have had more experience under their belt as they look to rise up the ladder in 2021.

The Eagles’ first pick in the draft came at Pick 3 when they snapped up Claremont’s Bella Lewis. The hard midfielder who can also play at half-forward had an outstanding year that came off a memorable AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last year. A member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Lewis is one who will join fellow tough nut, Mikayla Bowen in the middle and really create headaches for opposition sides.

Fellow AFL Women’s Academy member Shanae Davison caught attention with her massive hanger earlier in the year, but the Swan Districts product put in a consistent season all up, showing clean hands in the air or at ground level, even in challenging conditions. She will likely play forward with an eye to work into the midfield in the coming years, but is an exciting talent for the future.

Julie-Ann Norrish was consistency personified in the WAFL Women’s competition this year. The East Fremantle defender was a persistent rebounder for the reigning premiers, hardly putting a foot wrong with her intercepting and running ability. Good one-on-one with her positioning and reading the ball in flight, expect her to walk into the starting side.

Andrea Gilmore is a former West Coast Fever netballer who turned her attention to football of late and was a train-on player with the club. The 31-year-old forward/ruck is a towering presence at 183cm and has terrific athleticism. Needing a forward target, the Eagles could look to Gilmore to make an immediate impact, providing further depth to that end after completing a consistent season with Claremont this year.

The Eagles passed their final two selections, but ended up using them on North Adelaide duo, Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci. Ward is an over-age tall defender with a powerful kick and great hands that make her a brick wall at centre half-back. Like Norrish, she could slot straight into the back 50 and provide some resistance for the Eagles, earning a spot after year another brilliant year in a premiership-winning SANFL Women’s outfit.

Gauci was alongside her with the slick ball user also in the back 50. The 23-year-old is one who loves to run off intercept possessions and played in the Roosters’ defence alongside Ward and former Eagle Talia Radan. The glowing reviews gave the Eagles enough to select the pair and allow them to move west together.

Overall the Eagles managed to grab some extra depth in both the front and back halves as well as elite midfield talent which will hold them in good stead for the future.

Picture: West Coast Women’s Twitter

Out to impress: SANFL Preliminary Finals

BOTTOM-AGED superstar Jason Horne will take to Adelaide Oval when his Panthers clash with Woodville-West Torrens for a place in the SANFL Grand Final. The 17-year-old, who kicked the sealer for South Adelaide in their semi-final win last weekend, has been named on the bench for the Sunday afternoon match.

Canberra-born key defender Tom Highmore will once again be expected to handle one of the oppositions key forwards – a task he has excelled in throughout his first season at SANFL level. Victorian import Daly Andrews has been named on the half-back flank, after he gathered 17 disposals and three marks in the victory over Glenelg.

Meanwhile, Eagles teenager Ben Jungfer is in line to return to the senior side after being included on the extended interchange bench. If dashing defender Rhyan Mansell is unable to recover from his concussion sustained in the semi-final loss to North Adelaide, Jungfer looms as a likely inclusion. The aggressive tackler made his League debut earlier in the season and immediately looked at home at the level. Eagle forward Sam Lowson has also been named on the extended bench and is a chance to rejoin Ken Farmer Medalist James Rowe in attack.

Central Districts draft hopeful Corey Durdin has been named in the reserves for the Bulldogs’ semi-final clash with the Roosters. Durdin will be a valuable inclusion, after having missed several games this season with hamstring issues, which also prevented the forward from testing at the recent draft combine. He will be joined by Lachlan Grubb, who has been a regular in the reserves throughout the year.

At under-18s level, Sturt has named a strong side for their encounter with Woodville-West Torrens. Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase has been named on the half-forward flank for the Double Blues and looms as a potential match-winner. Malachy Carruthers will look to generate plenty of drive from half-back and midfield trio Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will need to perform strongly if Sturt is to keep their season alive, following a disappointing loss to Norwood last weekend.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have named a settled side for the clash, after recording a narrow and controversial victory over South Adelaide last weekend. Tall forward Henry Smith will look to be a focal point at centre-half-forward, with the likes of Taj Schofield and Jack Wheare also out to impress in the must-win clash. In the middle, Zac Phillips will lead the ruck division, with Jase Burgoyne, Max Lister and Caleb Poulter looking to gain the upper hand in the contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. South Adelaide | Sunday October 11, 3:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Central Districts vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 11, 12:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Under-18s:

Sturt vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday October 10, 11:30am @ Thebarton Oval

South Australian draftees double as AFL Women’s lists are finalised

FOUR more South Australians made their way onto AFL Women’s lists over the last 48 hours to round out the last of the players to enter the competition for 2021. Norwood’s Bella Smith, South Adelaide’s Tahlia Meyer and North Adelaide duo, Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci were all offered AFL Women’s contracts as part of the post-draft selections.

Smith was the first to be announced as an additional signing following the four passes from the AFL Women’s Draft, chosen to reunite with former Redlegs coach, Steve Symonds at Collingwood. Earlier yesterday, Meyer filled the vacant spot at St Kilda, whilst both Ward and Gauci prepared to head west as they were signed by West Coast.

The quartet followed on from Teah Charlton, Rachelle Martin and Ashleigh Woodland (Adelaide) and Indy Tahau (Brisbane) who were drafted on Tuesday night. It meant eight South Australians were drafted, with grand finalists, North Adelaide and South Adelaide making up three apiece, with one each from the other finalists, West Adelaide and Norwood.

Smith is a reliable key position player who can fill a role at either end, though has predominantly played as a centre half-back this season. Her strength overhead and ability to clunk grabs has been a highlight for her, playing in her second season at the level after coming through the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships where she represented the Central Allies.

Meyer was one of the most underrated players in the SANFL Women’s competition with her ability to link up in transition superb. She did not always win as much of the footy as others, but rarely wasted it, with her ability to hit those 45-degree kicks going inside 50. Her skill and decision making was superb and she has very much earned a place at the top level.

Ward is a tall defender who like Smith, was strong in the air and has a great ability to rebound. After an impressive top-age year last year, the North Adelaide defender took her game to another level in 2020, and along with her intercepting ability was able to utilise her penetrating kick to advantage. Still a teenager, Ward is only one year out of the draft class and showed the benefits of playing an extra year at senior level.

Gauci has become another reliable defender for the Roosters, with her slick footskills often used coming out of defence. She has proven to be a talented ball winner and one that teammates are happy to get the ball in the hands of. A member of the stringent Roosters’ back six, Gauci is also capable of playing up the field, and will provide some reliability with ball-in-hand.

Overall the four inclusions to the AFL Women’s provide their respective clubs with readymade players and will no doubt do everything to stake their case for a Round 1 spot. Furthermore it shows the talent on show in the SANFL Women’s and why it is such a prestigious competition.

Picture: West Coast Eagles Twitter

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)

Out to impress: SANFL Semi Finals

TEENAGE sensation Lachlan Jones will return to the Eagles senior side for their semi-final clash with North Adelaide. The Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect rolled his ankle in Woodville-West Torrens’ round 13 victory over West Adelaide, preventing him from taking part in the final match of the minor round. Jones did not test in the South Australian draft combine during the week out of precaution, but is expected to make his return after being named on the half-back flank.

Fellow teenager Ben Jungfer is also a possibility of taking part in his first SANFL finals series, having performed well in the senior side since debuting in Round 13. He has been named on the extended interchange, along with Tasmanian defender Rhyan Mansell. 

Roosters defender Karl Finlay is also set to get a taste of finals action when he lines up at full-back for Jacob Surjan‘s men. Fellow tall Dyson Hilder has been named on the extended bench.

Canberra import Tom Highmore has been named at centre-half-back for South Adelaide when they take on the reigning premiers, Glenelg, in the second game of an Adelaide Oval double-header. Exciting small forward Beau McCreery has been named in the forward pocket after he wasn’t risked for the clubs final minor round match. 17-year-old future star Jason Horne has been included on the extended bench.

Meanwhile, Glenelg defender Luke Parks (back pocket) and utility Callum Park (wing) have both been named on the field for the Tigers as they look to defend their crown.

Sturt defender and Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase has been included in Sturt’s reserves side for their clash with North Adelaide at X Convenience Oval on Saturday morning, alongside wingman Josh Shute and key forward Tom Emmett.

Ball-magnet Tom Powell will return to Sturt’s under-18s side for their semi-final clash with Norwood, after he missed last weekend’s encounter with Glenelg and the draft combine testing with calf tightness. He will re-join the consistent Mani Liddy and Will Spain in the engine room for the minor premiers. Malachy Carruthers has been named on the half-back flank and exciting bottom-ager Morgan Ferres at centre-half-forward.

The Redlegs have also named a strong side for the all-important clash with their eastern suburbs rivals. Prolific pocket-rocket Henry Nelligan and dynamic goal-kicker Jack Saunders will lead the Norwood midfield unit into battle, supported by bottom-ager Cooper Murley and classy utility Michael Cavallaro. Gun forward Finn Heard will provide a dangerous target in attack, having booted 20 goals in just six games during the minor rounds. At the opposite end of the ground, the club will be hoping defensive duo Daniel Fairbrother and Sam Duke can intercept and set-up the play for the Redlegs off half-back using their clean foot skills.

The Eagles under-18s have named a settled line-up for their semi-final with South Adelaide. Power father-son prospect Taj Schofield performed strongly at the combine during the week and has been named in the forward pocket, alongside tall Henry Smith (centre-half-forward) and club leading goalkicker Jack Wheare (half-forward flank). Caleb Poulter has been named in the centre, with ruckman Zac Phillips, bottom-aged ball-magnet Jase Burgoyne and the consistent Max Lister also named in the starting midfield rotation.

South Adelaide draft bolter Brayden Cook will be looking to replicate his match-winning performance the last time the clubs met, back in Round 8. Cook, who booted a competition-high 26 goals in 12 minor-round games, has been named on the wing, with versatile AFL Academy member Nick Kraemer selected at half-forward. The Panthers will also be hoping dynamic bottom-ager Arlo Draper (forward pocket) and the talented Liam Hamilton (half-forward flank) can help the club kick a winning score. After winning 33 disposals in his first under-18s game of the year last weekend, Zac Dumesny will provide the side with flexibility and skill. Will Verrall is set to lead the ruck division, with 17-year-old Matthew Roberts and the big-bodied Harry Spacie to do the roving.

FIXTURES

League:

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg | Sunday October 4, 12:15pm @ Adelaide Oval
Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 4, 3:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Sturt vs. North Adelaide | Saturday October 3, 11:00am @ X Convenience Oval
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday October 3, 1:30pm @ X Convenience Oval

Under-18s:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. South Adelaide | Saturday October 3, 11:00am @ Thebarton Oval
Sturt vs. Norwood | Saturday October 3, 1:30pm @ Thebarton Oval

Successful basketballer Eldridge focuses on footy

FORMER national representative basketball player, Jorja Eldridge made a decision last year to give up years of basketball and focus on an Aussie rules career. The talented baller had been playing since she was 11-years-old and represented the South Australian state country team on five occasions, then went to a national championship a further three times. Despite this, Eldridge realised the lack of opportunities in the sport and went down a different path.

“In the middle of last year, the middle of 2019, was my last national tournament as a top-age under 18 player,” Eldridge said. “So from there, there’s not too many opportunities from basketball. “Other than like the under 20 state team, which includes SA country and metro. “But from there, I kind of fell out of love with the game and then, yeah, one of my mates was just like, ‘Oh, do you wanna come trial for this football? like, play in a Whyalla combined girls’ team?’. “So I did that. “And then yeah, from there, I loved it. I got more into the system, I have just been getting better from then.”

While her decision to change codes was one thing, playing at a North Adelaide Under 17 girls carnival in Port Augusta in August last year was another. The Roosters liked what they saw and Eldridge slotted into the youth side.

“I played in the Under 17 North Adelaide team in 2019 mainly as a centre half-back and then I was selected in the Under 18s state squad and ended up being in the M36 before COVID happened,” she said. “Then I was also travelling for the women’s North Adelaide team. “But from there, I made the train-on squad and then moved up into the squad during the COVID time. “And then the shut down of the SANFL season happens. “But then when it came back, I actually debuted in Round 5 in 2020 and also played in Round 6.”

Whilst she might have had a lack of senior experience heading into the season, Eldridge worked hard during the COVID-19 pandemic break to earn a debut and finish with two games playing for the undefeated Roosters in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s.

Yeah, honestly, it was quite a surprise to me,” Eldridge said of her selection. “But I did work extremely hard in the COVID off-season time, because I thought I might as well try as best as I can. “And then even if I didn’t get a game, I was planning on moving to Adelaide next year and hoping to get more into it. “Then from that Krissie (Steen, North Adelaide coach)… I got a FaceTime call from North Adelaide on a Wednesday night when they were announcing the team and yeah I made the team for my first game, so that was pretty exciting for me.”

Travelling from Whyalla to Adelaide is around a four-hour drive, something that is never easy. Luckily for Eldridge, she had supportive parents and they had familiarised themselves with the drive due to the teenager’s basketball commitments.

“It definitely has that drive that will kill you, and especially when I was playing basketball, my national trainings were actually at Murray Bridge. So that was even further,” Eldridge said. “We had to go, but then because of the basketball, my parents were used to doing that. “So then they were more than happy to do that with football as well. “So even though I’ve got my licence and I am 18 they’re still taking me down because they love it. “Just as much as I do.”

While Eldridge had made a decision that the 2019 basketball season would be her last, she decided to still take to the floor for one last dance prior to her big move to the capital city.

I actually wasn’t going to (play another season),” Eldridge said. “So when I was playing football, I was just playing football. “I did play netball locally but if I ever like the two games I played (clashed), I just missed out on playing netball that weekend. “But I wasn’t going to play another season of basketball. “But it’s just recently started, and I am playing one last season before I moved to Adelaide next year. “But that’s that’s just at a local level. “That’s not anything higher.”

Basketball has also helped Eldridge adapt to football with a number of different traits she was able to transition from the court to the field.

“My strength, I would say as, like, my agility, my athleticism and my speed and I actually do have good hand-eye coordination as well,” Eldridge said. “So I’m able to use those skills that I’ve developed over the years to then put that into it Just the football aspect. “It is a different knowledge of the game. “Definitely there are some parts of similar like, but basically like in defence, if you’re like man on man or, if you like, in zone like, it’s kinda similar. “But yeah, it’s definitely some things that I mean to keep looking into more for football to strengthen my knowledge of the game.”

For Eldridge, the COVID-19 pandemic put her new footy career on hold for a while, and while she admitted it was “difficult” during that time, she was determined to make the most of the time off and come back better than ever.

It was probably harder for the girls who started off playing in the season because I didn’t have my game until after the COVID break,” Eldridge said. “However, we still did zoom calls with Krissie and the strength and conditioning coaches and we had our road running and strength programs made up that we still had to continue with and I think that’s why I did get a run because I followed through with those schedules and what she wanted us to do. “And I worked closely on my skills and yeah, I think I have definitely improved my fundamental skills over the course of that time as well.”

The debutant said while she was new to the sport and did not have a huge inspiration from a football perspective, she admired the likes of Tayla Harris and Erin Phillips. As for her journey, she could not be more grateful for the path she had taken, and owed it to a number of people and clubs who had supported her along the way.

“I would also like to thank North Adelaide, particularly Sambo (Emma Sampson) and Krissie for the amazing opportunities they’ve given me. “When I actually couldn’t go down and train with North Adelaide, I was luckily enough to train with the Roopena football club in Whyalla. “And then my local club, my family club was North Whyalla who actually sponsored me for the 2020 season of North Adelaide.”

Eldridge is currently studying her Certificate IV in Fitness as she aspires to become a personal trainer. By making the move to Adelaide, she will extend her knowledge in the area by studying exercise physiology. But the additional benefit of the move would be closer to Prospect Oval where she can focus on her football and trying to cement herself in the side each week.

“Next year, I’m wanting to really concentrate on getting in every game in the SANFLW like in the North Adelaide team. and from there, I’ll see where it takes me,” Eldridge said. “But I would really love to play in the AFLW whether that’s starting the end of next year. “So the start of the 2022 seasons or maybe it might be a little bit longer because I’m still only new to playing.”

Picture: AFL Media

Clark dares greatly and follows coach’s mantra to Roosters’ flag

NORTH Adelaide’s Julia Clark by her own admission is quieter than most and despite being told of her abilities and how she can influence a game, Clark was just happy to play her role in 2019. She was happy to do her bit each week as the Roosters reached the grand final, only to fall to reigning premiers South Adelaide. Fast forward 12 months (and a little more thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Clark is instead on the winning end of a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider.

“Yeah it was amazing,” Clark said of the premiership. “I learnt a lot in this season. “Last year was good, but this season I’ve learnt so much and I guess the feelings at trainings was always intense, but it was always good fun. “You always got something out of it, and being around such talented people and having to work harder than I had to work last year just to get into the team every week just really pushed me beyond where I thought I could go.”

Clark said the 2019 grand final loss was a motivating factor for the team in 2020, but said she personally felt she did all she could in that loss. However it was not until master coach Krissie Steen arrived at Prospect Oval that Clark noticed a massive difference in her game.

“Yeah I think definitely for the team it was a big motivator, especially as most of them had lost the finals the year before that and the year before that as well,” Clark said. “I think I was very tentative last season and I just sort of played my role and what I was told to do. “I didn’t really do anything extra, so when it came to the Grand Final knowing it would be my last game of the season, I think I just threw it all out there and personally I think that was my best game.

“So I came out of that loss not feeling bad personally, but knowing that I wanted to work extra hard this year and I think with Krissie’s mentality and really emphasing ‘Dare Greatly’ that really changed my thinking around how my season went last year and how I didn’t do that and what I wanted to put into my season this year.”

Indeed, it was Steen that gave the teenager confidence to take the game on and back herself in her role playing in defence.

“Yeah I think as I said before I’ve learnt so much and I think it’s all because of her (Steen). “It’s great having a female in that role and just like she knows what she’s talking about and you always know that she’s right and she also knows what’s right for you personally and as a team. “If something goes wrong, she can blame herself and I think just vulnerability and you don’t shy away from mistakes, you just focus on the next time you have to do something and just being better.”

Rewinding back a few years, Clark came through the pathway and was always involved with the Roosters in some capacity, and then got the call-up to make her debut in 2019 and has hardly missed a beat since.

I think my first real taste of footy was at North Adelaide in the Under 14s comp,” Clark said. “The four-game comp. “And that was in 2015 and then in 2016 I went out to Hope Valley because they were the closest club with a girls team and I played Under 16s for one season there and then we managed to get a team in Broadview which is my local suburb. “From there, I kept playing the North juniors in the coming years and I kept getting nominated for the North juniors once that started happening and then went from there.”

Like many young girls, Clark came from a netball background, but once she switched into footy, she loved it and the challenges associated with it, particularly playing in defence.

I think coming from netball, I think it was just a lot more freedom playing footy and it was something new that I just got to run wherever I wanted and just a whole lot of freedom,” Clark said. “There’s so many things to keep improving on and I just like the challenge of it.

“I definitely find defence at the higher levels a bit easier to cope with than forward. “In the local league (playing) forward’s alright, but back is definitely more natural in my head in the higher levels anyway.”

Clark rates her composure with ball-in-hand and decision making as amongst her best traits. Whilst not a massive accumulator, she does not make too many mistakes and is one player that can be relied upon to hit targets out there. She positions herself well in defence, and said she is just hoping to build even greater confidence to take the game on more, and back herself with tackling and growing her overall fitness base.

While Clark’s side did finish the 2020 season undefeated, the defender admitted it was not until the final few seconds of the grand final that she knew her team had it in the bag.

“Maybe a few seconds before the siren went,” Clark said. “But definitely when there was still time left in that last quarter, it was very tense and it was mainly after the siren where you could sort of relax and just celebrate.”

Clark has been in the South Australian State Academy the last two seasons, and it has also been a huge factor in building her confidence.

“It’s been really good,” Clark said. “I think I’m very harsh on myself and I think sometimes I need to remind myself I am a good player and I think the State Academy really helps you realise how good you and how good all the other people around you are. “It’s just amazing to have friends and get up to this level.”

As the SANFL Women’s season usually finishes in May, Clark headed back to her local club last year to maintain fitness and work on areas of her game to be fit and firing for the 2020 season.

“Coming off last season after North Adelaide I went back to Broadview and just wanted to build up my confidence again and coming back to North this year I wanted to take my fitness which is how I maintained place in the team last season,” Clark said. “I just brought that in this season and just really tried to keep my confidence up and with Krissie’s mentality of ‘Daring Greatly’ I just had to push myself every training and every trial game just to make sure I was confident and made sure I was outside of my comfort zone than I was last year. 

“Think in future, definitely keeping my confidence up and building my confidence to keep daring and using my voice more and trusting myself more is what I’m aiming to do in the future.”

Rather than another individual, it is Clark’s internal determination that has spurred her on to follow the pathway and chase her dream of playing at the elite level.

“I think my drive has always been that, I’m pretty good at a lot of things and so when I find something challenging, my mentality that I have to master it,” she said. “I have to do everything I can to do everything to be the best I can at it. “So I think that internal drive is what keeps pushing me to keep going and get better and better.”

Out to impress: SANFL Round 14 Preview

THE final round of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) action is here, with a host of young talent looking to impress for what could potentially be the final time on the field this year.

Bloods midfielder Bailey Chamberlain has been forced to wait patiently for his League debut after being named in the selected side for several weeks without managing to make the final cut. However, the draft hopeful from Roxby Downs has been named on the wing for West Adelaide’s final game of the season. Joining him in the senior side is defender Jye Sinderberry, who is also in line to make the step up to League level after spending time in the reserves and under-18s throughout the season. Strong overhead for his size, Sinderberry has been named on the half-back flank for the Bloods’ Friday night clash with Norwood at The Parade.

Promising key forward Luke Young will lead the Bloods forward-line into battle for one last time in 2020 when they take on the Redlegs at ACH Group Stadium in the under-18 competition, The Faulkner-brothers, Ed and Thomas, will also front-up for West Adelaide, alongside promising bottom-aged midfielder Cade Kennedy and hard-nosed defender Edward Van den berg.

Norwood teenager Daniel Fairbrother has performed well at senior level since debuting several weeks ago. Although he has been excluded from the Redlegs League side due to personal reasons, the defender has been included in the club’s under-18 squad. With the Redlegs well-placed ahead of the under-18 finals series, Fairbrother will reunite with midfield trio Jack Saunders, Cooper Murley and Henry Nelligan. Dominant key forward Finn Heard and defenders Alastair Lord and Michael Cavallaro will also front-up for the Redlegs, who boast an impressive core group.

Woodville-West Torrens teenager Ben Jungfer has retained his place in the Eagles side as they look to continue their winning ways against the Bulldogs before tackling the finals series. The Northern Territory native and Sacred Heart College product performed well on debut last week, winning 19 disposals and looking comfortable against seasoned campaigners.

The Eagles won’t risk potential top ten draft pick Lachie Jones, who suffered a slight ankle injury in the resounding victory over West Adelaide last round. Woodville-West Torrens have named a strong under-18s side for their clash with the Bulldogs. Currently sitting in third place on the ladder with eight wins, the Eagles’ league-high percentage sees them perched narrowly above the Roosters and Panthers, who will go head-to-head in a tantalising match-up at Prospect Oval.

Despite playing in the All Schools Grand Final with Henley High School during the week, Taj Schofield, Jase Burgoyne and Zac Phillips will all be expected to play a major role, as will Caleb Poulter, who returns to the side after spending a couple of weeks with the reserves.

Victorian Jack Toner has been named on the bench for Central Districts when they take on the high-flying Eagles at their native Elizabeth Oval. Lachlan Grubb will again play with the Bulldogs reserves, who sit at the top of the ladder approaching the finals. At under-18s level, imposing ruckman Wyatt Ryan, highly-impressive 16-year-old Austin McDonald and smooth-moving on-baller Luigi Mondello will do battle for the final time this season, missing out on a finals berth despite victory over Glenelg last weekend.

Sturt wingman Josh Shute could play his first League game in the famous double blue when the club locks horns with Glenelg at the friendly confines of Peter Motley Oval. However, James Borlase will not feature at any level this round, after leading Prince Alfred College to victory during the week. The Double Blues under-18s will be without ball-magnet Tom Powell for their ACH Group Stadium encounter with the Tigers. In his absence, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will look to continue their strong seasons as the side readies itself for finals football.

Glenelg have promoted speedster Xavier Robins to the reserves after he impressed upon returning to the SANFL ranks in the loss to Central Districts. He joins fellow draft-hopefuls Cooper Horsnell, Luke Edwards, Hagan Wright and school-mate Riley Holder in the squad. Following a standout showing in the All Schools competition with Prince Alfred College, Harry Tunkin will look to back it up at under-18s level, alongside Cooper Beecken, Harry McInnes and Nasiah Wanganeen.

In the final match of the home and away season, the Panthers will host fellow finalists North Adelaide. South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne will miss the match with a calf strain, but defender Tom Highmore has been named to return to the side after he missed last round with a minor thigh issue. With the Panthers under-18s required to beat the Roosters in order to qualify for the finals, utility Zac Dumesny has returned to play his first under-18s game of the year. Named on the interchange bench, he joins the likes of match-winning forward Brayden Cook, impressive bottom-aged midfielder Matthew Roberts, ball-winner Max Clifton and forward-flankers Liam Nye and Liam Hamilton in the selected side.

The Roosters have thrown their support behind the tall defensive duo Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder, who have both spend considerable time at League level this season. The white-hot North under-18s have named a settled side for their must-win clash. James Willis, Matthew Borg and Jayden Davison will do much of the heavy-lifting in the midfield, with the likes of Kyle Brazell and Zyton Santillo looking to wreak havoc on the wings and up forward. Crows Academy duo Lam Simon and Blayne O’Loughlin will hold back the fort in defence, leaving the dangerous Tariek Newchurch, strong-marking key forward Leo Coates and talented small Kallis Freer to impact the scoreboard in attack. The ruck combination of Adam Heath and Isaac Keeler is also set to play a major role in what shapes up as a thrilling contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 7:40pm @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 2:10pm @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 2:20pm @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 2:15pm @ Flinders University Stadium

Reserves:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 5:00am @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 11:15am @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 11:40am @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 11:35am @ Flinders University Stadium

Under-18s:

West Adelaide vs. Norwood | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ ACH Group Stadium
Woodville-West Torrens vs. Central Districts | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ Prospect Oval
Glenelg vs. Sturt | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ ACH Group Stadium
North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ Prospect Oval

Passion and resilience key for Zbierski

NORTH Adelaide player Andie Zbierski has not always had it easy when it comes to football. Delayed beginnings, recurring injuries and four hour car trips are all parts of her journey, but she says her love for the game has made it all worthwhile.

“I love the adrenaline rush I get from playing and how everyone gets around each other,” Zbierski said. “When one person drops their head, they’ve got the whole team, support staff and coaches to pick them up. We’re all together as a team and even after the game we all come together, it’s such an inclusive environment.”

Due to the limited opportunities to play women’s football when she was younger, Zbierski only started competing four years ago.

“I played my first year close to home at Roopena Football Club in Whyalla,” she said. “I was too old to continue playing there the next year, so I moved to Salisbury Football Club in Adelaide.”

She played a key role in Salisbury’s 2018 Division One Adelaide Women’s Football League premiership. Given the lengths the Whyalla local went through to play in that side, no one could question her passion for playing the game.

“I was driving down to Adelaide with my parents four hours there and four hours back every weekend,” she said. “The drive got a bit boring and repetitive, but it’s not a bad drive.”

Zbierski says she has fantastic parents that are fully supportive of her football career.

“Dad has always taken me out to trainings and also down to one of the ovals near our house to just work on little things and get my skills up,” she said. “Mum would always drive me down to Adelaide for my Salisbury and North Adelaide games. They’re both really passionate about my football and they always encourage me to do the right thing.”

As the only other family member with football experience, Zbierski says her dad is her biggest inspiration. He has supported all of her sporting ventures and offered her important personal guidance during matches.

“Even in the earlier days when I played basketball and netball as well, my dad would always come out, support and give me little pointers,” she said. “I just take that a bit more to heart when dad’s saying it because he knows me, he knows how I play and he knows exactly what he needs to say to me to get me to understand.”

Zbierski started playing for North Adelaide’s SANFLW side at the beginning of 2019, and she has learnt a lot about the senior style of football.

“They play very differently to country football, which is what I first got taught,” she said. “The main differences are the structures and extra level of competitiveness. Even Division One compared to SANFLW is a big difference, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really good.”

Due to recurring injury issues, Zbierski’s love for the game took a hit last year and she decided to take some time away from football after the 2019 SANFLW season.

“I had a couple of back injuries, a few repetitive groin strains and some ankle injuries that took a toll on me,” she said. “I was beating myself up because I wasn’t 100 per cent and I wasn’t playing games. Not training for a few months and moving to a different club for fun definitely helped.”

That new club was Division One’s Old Ignatians. Zbierski moved there at the beginning of this year in the hope that she could play a full season away from senior level.

“I moved to Adelaide at the end of 2019 to pursue my football career, and there’s a few girls that live at a college with me who play for Old Ignatians,” she said. “I asked mum if I could move to that club because I didn’t really play last year, it’s not a proper season because of COVID and I want to go out and just play for fun to get my love back for the game.”

While she didn’t play any SANFLW games for North Adelaide this season, Zbierski continued to spend time at the club working with their strength and conditioning coaches to get her body right.

“I did a lot of agility and changing direction training to help my ankles, and I did extra strength work through different circuits that didn’t put anything too heavy on my back,” she said. “I also did some running with a focus on changing pace and slowing down.”

Thanks to this extra effort put into looking after her body, Zbierski was able to play a full season of amateurs for the Old Ignatians in 2020. She played predominantly as a ruckman, a role that she has excelled in since her first year playing football.

“Back home at Roopena I was pretty much the tallest one out there, so since then ruck has always been my preferred position,” she said. “I would say rucking is my biggest strength, along with my tackling.”

Since she usually has a height advantage, Zbierski is strong defensively despite her lack of experience regarding how to play that role.

“Down in Adelaide I am probably average height and I was chucked in the deep end playing centre-half back during a few games this year,” she said. “I haven’t previously been taught much defensive craft, so I definitely need to work on that during pre-season.”

Zbierski has a career plan that entails one more SANFLW season before moving up to the big league.

“I hope to play a full season at SANFL level next year,” she said. “After that, I want to put my name down to be drafted for AFLW.”

 

For more AFLW and SANFLW news, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.