Category: VFLW

Tasmanian Statewide Women’s Grand Final: Glenorchy vs. Ulverstone

THE best of the best women’s football teams in Tasmania have been decided, with the Southern Football League (SFL) premiers Glenorchy taking on the Northern Women’s Football League (NWFL) premiers Ulverstone this weekend. The Magpies defeated Claremont in the SFL Grand Final last weekend despite only having 15 players onfield, and will be looking to take out the entire statewide trophy with a win as favourites against the Robins. Ulverstone has earned its place in the decider following a 29-point win over Launceston in the NFWL-NTFA Preliminary Final.

GLENORCHY vs. ULVERSTONE
Sunday, September 19 @ 1:00pm
North Hobart Oval

Ulverstone is yet to lose a game all season, going through 12 matches undefeated in the NWFL as the clear benchmark tea, finishing five wins ahead of second placed Penguin, and then knocking off the Wynyard Cats by 45 points in the grand final. The Robins have some former AFL Women’s talent in Libby and Chloe Haines who have been reliable talls for them. Libby has played every game in the red and black, booting 26 goals in 14 games for the Robins in the NWFL, leading the goalkicking by six from talented top-ager Amy Bissett. The crafty small forward has booted 20 from eight, and added another one to her tally in the preliminary final, with Hannah Martin (15 goals) and Haines (14) other key goalkickers.

Ruby Mitchell won the NWFL Women’s Best and Fairest for her season, and was one of a number of outstanding players for the winning side last week. Teaming up with Devils duo Candice Belbin and Meghan Gaffney, they controlled the midfield against Launceston and had the damaging forwards to do the rest of the work. Whilst the accuracy was not always there, they had enough about them to get the job done and constantly look dangerous as captain Meg Thompson, and forward Georgia Anderson (two goals) were others who caught the eye.

Glenorchy will be tough to beat though with a star-studded outfit. Having had experience at North Melbourne VFL Women’s and impressing, Sarah Skinner is a player the Robins simply have to find a way to contain. She is among a host of Tasmania Devils talents, with Jemma Webster, Georgia Clarke and Brooke Barwick among other names on the list. This season Tiarna Ford has been the crucial goalkicker, slotting 29 majors in nine games in the SFL, 15 more than her next highest teammate in Elise Barwick and finishing third overall in the goalkicking. Molly Mitchell (12 goals) rounds out the top three for the Magpies.

Like Ulverstone, Glenorchy has not lost a game all season, going through the season undefeated from 11 games, and finishing eight points clear of Clarence. To further show their stranglehold on the on the competition, they won by 67 points over Clarence in the first week of finals, then six goals last week against Claremont. With greater exposure to the top level in VFLW this season, the Magpies will be deserving favourites, though the fascination will be when the Devils players go head-to-head with the likes of Webster and Gaffney, whilst the Haines twins will be that elite level experience for the Robins.

Picture credit: The Mercury

2021 VFL Women’s Grand Final cancelled

AFTER multiple attempts to play out the final game of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season, the AFL has officially pulled the pin on the competition, meaning the 2021 season will join 2020 as years without an official premier. Collingwood and Geelong had both reached the grand final and were hopeful of playing off at some stage to determine a champion, but with the inconsistent community lockdowns, it had become too difficult.

Aside from the obvious restrictions of lockdowns preventing fans from celebrating a grand final, and the difficulty in finding a suitable venue that met requirements, the fact that neither team had played in over a month – Geelong July 31 and Collingwood July 10 – meant the sides would need suitable time to prepare for a match to determine a premiership. Collingwood being situated in metropolitan Melbourne was particularly impacted by the community lockdowns, with regional Victoria getting a couple of reprieves to train, though on a whole both sides have had limited opportunities.

In the end it was the clubs who confirmed to the AFL saying it would prove too difficult to field a VFL Women’s team given the lengthy break and preseason requirements for the AFL Women’s listed players, as well as those needing post-season treatment such as surgeries. It is heartbreaking for both sides, and particularly unfortunate for the Magpies who went through the season undefeated as minor premiers, and defeated Geelong three times – including in the first week of finals – to reach the decider. None of their head-to-heads were blowouts however, and the Cats were confident of a fourth time lucky had they been given a chance.

Collingwood VFL Women’s captain Caitlin Bunker said she was proud of the group that produced the Magpies’ third consecutive minor premiership season.

“Our whole group is absolutely devastated that we won’t be able to play the VFLW Grand Final this year and have the opportunity to play for the Premiership in front of our Collingwood fans, but we understand and are supportive of the decision,” she said. “The decision was best to ensure for the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the broader community. “Having missed last year’s season and having to adapt with further lockdowns this year has been hard for our players, coaches, staff and fans who have all shown immense dedication and commitment to our program and the competition.

“For the third season in a row, Collingwood were crowned minor premiers and remained undefeated throughout the season and finals series. While our group is disappointed that we won’t have the opportunity to play the Grand Final, I’m still extremely proud of what our group has been able to achieve in 2021.”

Geelong VFL Women’s captain Claudia Gunjaca said the Cats were heartbroken, also understood the bigger picture.

“As a group, we have remained hopeful and focused throughout the uncertainty and while it’s not the outcome we were hoping for, we understand and support the decision that’s been made,” Gunjaca said. “As disappointing as it is, it doesn’t take away from how proud we are of what we’ve been able to achieve this season.”

AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions Tristan Salter expressed sadness at the decision after what had been a terrific and resilient year of football.

“The rebel VFLW Competition has been a foundation league in Victoria for many years and an exciting pathway for young girls. The 2021 season has been a challenge to everyone connected to football. The AFL is very proud of how all VFLW clubs, players, officials, supporters and corporate partners managed through a difficult year and kept their communities connected,” Salter said.

“To play 90 VFLW games during a COVID-interrupted season is a testament to the resilience and commitment of the whole industry – all clubs, players, coaches, umpires and officials. “Our clubs and the League have made a difficult decision and we sympathise with their players and coaches and their legion of fans and supporters. Everyone is aligned and united in this decision and we will come through this together.

“In 2021 we celebrate 40 years of women’s football in Victoria and we reflect on the contribution of all women to our great game. Participation for women and girls has exploded and the VFLW has added a vibrancy and excitement to our game that we have sorely needed in these challenging times. “We congratulate all clubs on a successful year of football and look forward to returning for the 2022 season.”

Planning will commence for the 2022 VFL Women’s season, with the next year anticipated to start earlier than usual to align with the pushed forward AFL Women’s competition.

Picture: AFL Photos

2022 AFLW Ones to Watch: Rene Caris (Geelong)

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

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

RENE CARIS BIO

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

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

STRENGTHS

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

IMPROVEMENTS

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

STATISTICS:

AFLW

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

VFLW

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

AFLW CAREER TO-DATE:

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

WHAT IS IN STORE FOR 2022?

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

SUMMARY:

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

 

Picture credit: Geelong Cats

2022 AFLW early look: Richmond

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: North Melbourne

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Michael Dodge / AAP

2022 AFLW early look: Melbourne

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: Gold Coast

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Gold Coast SUNS

2022 AFLW early look: Geelong

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central delves into each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Geelong, a team that will suit up with a new coach in 2022 after being the lowest ranked Victorian team in 2021, picking up just one win – in the final round – to be 13th overall on the ladder.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 13th
Wins: 1
Losses: 8
Draws: 0
Points For: 164 (14th)
Points Against: 408 (12th)

It was a forgettable season for Geelong finishing in 13th overall, and also through missing players due to injury such as Nina Morrison and for the most part, Olivia Purcell, leaving the Cats exposed. They averaged just 18.2 points per game in season 2021, the lowest of any side, which prompted them to search for forward options in the AFLW Draft and off-season. Whilst not a heap to smile about last season, the Cats did pick up a win in the final round against fellow winless team Gold Coast to avoid the wooden spoon and provide hope for the future with a lot of Cats getting their chance at AFLW level in 2021.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Chantel Emonson (Melbourne), Chloe Scheer (Adelaide), Olivia Fuller, Claudia Gunjaca, Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW), Georgie Prespakis, Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons), Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons), Rachel Kearns (Gaelic)
Outs: Olivia Purcell (Melbourne), Aasta O’Connor (retired), Maddie Boyd, Kate Darby, Nicole Garner, Rebecca Goring, Mia Skinner, Richelle Cranston (delisted)
Inactive: Millie Brown, Denby Taylor

Geelong will head into the 2022 AFLW season with significant change after a big off-season. The largest loss was 2020 club best and fairest winner Purcell departing to join rising club Melbourne, with the Cats able to move up the draft order and pick up Chantel Emonson as an experienced replacement. The Cats will also be without fellow former Vic Country representatives Denby Taylor and Millie Brown who will sit out the 2022 season, leaving some gaps in defence. Along with Aasta O’Connor retiring and Richelle Cranston among six delistings, the Cats will be missing a fair chunk of experience for the upcoming year. Chloe Scheer‘s recruitment should give Geelong fans plenty to smile about, with the talent able to dominate up forward or through the midfield and is exactly what they need as a young player with experience. Picking up the best available Victorian prospect in Georgie Prespakis, and her Calder Cannons teammate Zali Friswell will give the midfield a much needed boost, as will rewarding the Cats’ VFLW footballers in Annabel Johnson and Claudia Gunjaca who were incredibly impressive in 2021. Olivia Fuller presents the immediate solution for O’Connor’s departure in the ruck as Rene Caris looks to take over the reigns full-time, whilst Gabbi Featherston adds an extra dimension up forward, and former Gaelic player Rachel Kearns is some raw X-factor for the blue and white hoops.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Olivia Barber
Rene Caris
Georgia Clarke
Julia Crockett-Grills
Chantel Emonson
Gabbi Featherston
Zali Friswell
Olivia Fuller
Laura Gardiner
Renee Garing
Claudia Gunjaca
Danielle Higgins
Jordan Ivey
Annabel Johnson
Rachel Kearns
Maddy Keryk
Madisen Maguire
Darcy Moloney
Amy McDonald
Meg McDonald
Maddy McMahon
Phoebe McWilliams
Nina Morrison
Georgie Prespakis
Georgie Rankin
Carly Remmos
Chloe Scheer
Sophie Van De Heuvel
Rebecca Webster
Stephanie Williams

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can Geelong improve their win-loss record in 2022 off the back of a big AFLW Draft haul?
  • Can Georgie Prespakis have a similarly immediate impact at Geelong as her sister Maddy did at Carlton?
  • Could Chloe Scheer prove to be the recruit of the year if she can be that extra target inside 50 the Cats crave?

PREDICTION:

Geelong is now at the bottom staring at the climb up the mountain. The Cats on paper had unbelievable young talent last year, but a combination of factors including injury, did not help their cause. Once again Geelong has a side that on paper has a really impressive starting lineup, but the losses of Purcell, Taylor and Brown in particular will hurt, so the weight of expectation on their first round picks, as well as Scheer will be particularly large as to where they end up next season. Few fans would be expecting finals given the jump they would need to make, but if they can pick up a few more wins and really challenge the premiership contenders, then the Cats can build the foundations for bigger and better things in 2023 and beyond.

Picture credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

One for all and all for one: Hawks set to join AFLW

HAWTHORN will compete in the AFL Women’s for the first time in the 2022/23 season after their license was granted by the AFL. 

They will join Port Adelaide, Sydney, and Essendon as the final four clubs to enter the AFLW for the start of season seven, meaning the now 18-club competition is in line with the men’s game.

VFLW mentor Bec Goddard was last week announced as Hawthorn’s first AFLW head coach.

Goddard is already a premiership coach with Adelaide in the inaugural women’s season in 2017, but as a passionate Hawks fan she cannot wait for this new opportunity.

“It’s an enormous honour, especially at the footy club that I grew up supporting… it’s a real honour to be part of something new that completes the whole family,” Goddard said

Hawthorn did not apply for a licence ahead of the 2017 season, and their bid was rejected as new clubs entered the competition in 2019 and 2020, but Goddard said last week’s news is something everyone at Hawthorn should be excited about.

“It doesn’t matter what gender diversity you are, as a fan of the Hawthorn Football Club now, you can support both teams, and have your passion for all parts of the year, not just for the part where the guys are in competition,” Goddard said.

The introduction of Hawthorn’s women’s team also opens a brand-new pathway for young kids that Goddard said never used to exist.

“I look at my childhood growing up, I never had that vision of ‘oh one day I’ll be able to play for Hawthorn’, but now young people, no matter what their backgrounds are, can dream of playing football at their favourite football club like Hawthorn,” she said.

Another exciting aspect for Hawks supporters is the possibility of seeing the names of club legends running around in the brown and gold, with the addition of the women’s team opening the door for Hawthorn to select father-daughter prospects in future drafts.

The league has already seen some great stories with the likes of Tarni Brown and Alice Burke following in the footsteps of their legendary fathers Gavin and Nathan, but now Goddard said it is an exciting time for Hawthorn football families.

“It’s bloody amazing, isn’t it? That’s what I’m talking about. It’s the opportunity to go where your family is and be part of that family,” she said.

Goddard also said she has her eyes on any existing Hawthorn fans across the AFLW.

“Up until this point, daughters of Hawthorn greats were having to go to other footy clubs and some really big Hawthorn fans are currently playing at other clubs, and don’t worry I’m doing my research on them to see if we can get them over to the mighty Hawks,” she said.

The club’s licence is a huge step for Hawthorn who are already well invested in the growth of the women’s game after they were the first team to obtain a VFLW license in 2017, and develop talent pathways through a collaboration with the Eastern Football Netball League (EFNL)’s Eastern Region Girls competition.

In 2018, Hawthorn was the first to AFL club to acknowledge the need to pay players at VFLW level to ensure equity with the men’s VFL program. They also won the 2018 VFLW premiership.

The club has additionally committed $1 million to renovate Waverley Park to provide an equal training facility for both male and female footballers. CEO Justin Reeves emphasised Hawthorn’s long-term focus on equality.

“The club’s vision for the future is clear, to create a club that is successful, sustainable, socially inclusive and equally focused on both men’s and women’s programs,” he said via the AFLW website.

While it is an exciting new chapter for the club, they still have one more year in the VFLW to prepare for their first season at the top level.

Goddard will not be leading the team in next season’s VFLW due to work commitments, however she said she will be heavily involved in the club’s program for next season.

“We want to take the program to some different levels in terms of personnel and looking at who in that side [VFLW team] is actually good enough to play at the standard of AFLW,” Goddard said.

“We’ll be trying out some different ball movement and things like that which could stand the rigours of AFLW, so there will definitely be some changes made.

“We’re very grateful to the players who have contributed over the last few years at Hawthorn in the VFLW program, and now it will be a real test of who wants to go to the next level.”

Hawthorn will certainly enter their first season looking to make their mark on the league, and with the leadership of a great coach and the support of thousands of fans in the stands, anything is possible for this club.

Image Credit: Hawthorn Media

AFLW Expansion look: Hawthorn

WITH four new teams accepted into the AFL Women’s competition, it means there will be at least 120 new players stepping up to the elite level. So just where might the clubs look outside the junior pathway? Draft Central casts an eye over each of the clubs through either their state league team or Academy that might help them get off to the best possible start.

Whilst the makeup of lists and how much compensation the expansion clubs will get is unknown, we take a look at it from a broader sense and who might be some names to remember. The series continues with Hawthorn, a side that was highly competitive in the VFLW and have already announced the return of AFLW premiership coach Bec Goddard as the one to lead the brown and gold into the 2022-23.

Hawthorn has long being an ultra-competitive neutral VFLW team, able to bring in ex-AFLW talent that help develop the younger core around it. In 2021, Tamara Luke was a huge influence in the ruck since coming from the Saints, alongside Alison Drennan, whilst ex-Magpies Kristy Stratton and ex-Roo Katelyn Cox also stepped up to suggest the Hawks could pre-list quite a bit of experienced talent ahead of the season.

Firepower up forward is never an issue for the brown and gold, able to get Cats key forward Phoebe McWilliams back for a couple of games at the end of the season, whilst Georgia Bevan continued her playing stint under Goddard. Jess Trend unfortunately tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Round 1, but a full season behind her in 2022 – depending on VFLW dates – and she could be an immediate inclusion.

From a VFLW perspective, Jenna Richardson, Olivia Flanagan and Jessie Williams are names that would have to be considered to make the jump as they cover each respective third of the ground in defence, midfield and attack. Catherine Brown produced a consistent season in her nine games, while Dominique Carbone keeps getting better with more senior football, and Maddi Shaw is another natural leader who has been a rock in defence when running around.

From a top-age perspective missing out this year, Grace McRae showed she can match it with experienced players and held her own in the midfield, with fellow Ranges, Jess Grace and Matilda Hardy joining Vic Metro representatives Bridget Deed and Cadhla Schmidli as others who have tested themselves at senior level.

It would be a surprise not to see Goddard use her South Australian contacts and premiership experience not to ask the question to some Crows or top-line SANFL Women’s talents who are willing to relocate, with the power of working under someone with Goddard’s experience the pulling power for the brown and gold.

Overall the Hawks should not have any troubles building a competitive list, with plenty of ex-AFLW talent running around in the brown and gold, and with links to Eastern Ranges, the Hawks could add some eye-catching talent to the experienced core to be up and running almost immediately for the 2022-23 season.