Tag: afl women’s draft

AFLW Draft: 10 Top-agers to watch in 2022

EVERY year there are some unlucky players who missed out on being picked up in the AFL Women’s Draft. The good news is, there is always another year, and with the likes of Abbie Ballard, Ashanti Bush, Dana East, Ella Maurer, Elizabeth Snell and Amanda Ling among those all being selected across the nation, there is more reason than ever to suggest that just because a player misses out on the first chance of being drafted, the dream is far from over. Here are 10 top-agers to watch in 2022 with their draft summary, and what they might need to do to take their game to the next level.

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

A really smart player who knows the game well and reads the play behind the ball, Anthony was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age talent last year. She showed why through an outstanding yet interrupted season, copping a couple of concussions – including in Vic Country’s win over South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – to still perform at a high level. She won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and proved through her actions to be an incredibly courageous player. Whilst standing at 166cm, Anthony is not afraid to go up in the marking contest and bring the ball down, and when she does have ball-in-hand, her kicking is outstanding. A talent who teammates can trust with ball-in-hand, and she has spent time up forward as well at times, kicking a goal in the Stingrays’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in finals. Without a doubt the biggest surprise not to be picked up, but a big preseason behind her and Anthony could prove a lot of people wrong in 2022.

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

The running defender has some seriously eye-catching traits with her combination of acceleration and power making her hard to slow down when she is up and about. A traditional half-back, Dojiok can read the ball in flight with ease and float across contests to intercept, or drop into the hole when a high ball comes into defence. She knows where to stand when the play is headed towards her and her metres gained are massive compared to a lot of her contemporaries. She is often a get-and-go player, always looking to move on the ball, and whilst her kicking at times needs sharpening up, her development over the past few years at the Rebels has certainly improved and makes her one of the better intercept defenders going around. While it was a bit of a surprise to see Dojiok still on the board at the end of the draft, her areas to continue to improve are still there, and an extra year in the Under 19s could do her wonders.

Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 162cm
Medium Utility

There might not be much of Hewett at 162cm, but the talented utility can play anywhere on the field. She knows how to win the ball inside or outside, reads it well in the air or ground level, and whilst she does her best work in close, can play as an outside player too. There are questions over where she will slot in at AFLW level, and she does have to learn to find the ball more often, but that is only because she can do so much damage with ball-in-hand, be it winning it in close and distributing it to the outside, using it in transition, or finding it close to goal and hitting the scoreboard. Hewett was unlucky not to be picked up, but perhaps being able to solidify a position in 2022 and raising her accumulation will put her in a better position.

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

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

Grace Mulvahil (Southern Districts/Northern Territory)
18/04/2003 | 172cm
Medium Defender/Utility

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

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

A really impressive small midfielder, Schaap might be the smallest one going around at 153cm, but she packs a punch and has some unbelievable traits. Her best trait is her clean hands, rarely making a fumble at ground level and able to dish off to teammates in order to create goal-scoring opportunities. As a forward, Schaap slotted eight goals in nine games, often finding space where few could to snap around her body in big moments. She also slotted three goals in her three Vic Country games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and laid plenty of tackles along the way. Her defensive pressure is right up there with her other key strengths, though it is hard to look past her ball-winning skills, composure and goal sense, and is a perfect pressure forward who can push up into the midfield. Along with Anthony she was the next most unlucky one not to be picked up from the Victorian pool, but no doubt will go back and continue to get better and be a quality Under 19s player next season, and get more VFLW games under her belt too.

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
18/02/2003 | 178cm
Tall Utility

A versatile tall with terrific athleticism, Schirmer is capable in all thirds of the ground, Starting as a forward throughout her bottom-age years, Schirmer proved she could be damaging around goal be it winning possession in the air or at ground level. Over the past 12 months, Schirmer pushed into the midfield, predominantly on the wing, but also won plenty of contested ball in close. Being able to win the hard or loose ball, Schirmer then went into defence late in the year for South Adelaide where she showcased her breakneck acceleration and was able to create fast ball movement in transition. Expect her to be more of a forward to start with at the top level, but she certainly has potential to become a midfielder long-term. One of only two AFLW Academy members not to be picked up, it was a surprise given her rapid development, but with the expansion of the AFLW and Port Adelaide set to come in very soon, Schirmer – along with the abundance of South Australian talent capable of stepping up to the next level – will be in the Power’s sights.

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
12/10/2003 | 163cm
Medium Forward/Medium Defender

When you watch Reilly for the first time, you do a double-take at the listed 163cm height, because whilst she might be smaller than her opponents, quite often she is able to either leap higher than them, read the ball better than them, or clunk grabs better than them. Her one-on-one ability is quite impressive as is her overhead strength. Couple these traits with her powerful kicking, and Reilly has enough about her to suggest she could play at either end, which she has done this season at WAFL Women’s level for East Fremantle. Primarily a forward though, Reilly has great aggression at the ball and does not take a backwards step, almost having the chance to win the game for Western Australia against Vic Metro after the siren, and whilst that did not work out, Reilly still had a solid carnival, booting two goals and averaging 11.3 disposals, 2.0 marks, 1.7 inside 50s, 2.0 rebound 50s and kicking a couple of majors in an all-round effort. Ironing out some consistency and building her endurance further could be the key for Reilly who was not too far off in her draft-eligible year. Only turning 18 in October, Reilly is one who can stand up and have a big 2022 and put her hand up to be drafted like a number of mature-age WAFL Women’s players did this season.

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)
04/11/2003 | 168cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Venning is a player who enjoyed a terrific season, not only standing out for West Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s, and representing South Australia at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, but picking up a host of accolades along the way. Venning won All-Australian honours as well as the West Adelaide best and fairest – claiming the latter ahead of teammate and league best and fairest winner Lauren Young – to be one of the more consistent players all season. Her inside game and defensive pressure is superb, and whilst still working on her kicking, Venning has improved over the past couple of years, and has a great balance of athleticism between endurance, speed and agility to impress at the top level. Similar to Schirmer, Venning was more the victim of such a strong draft pool, and with Port Adelaide on the horizon, it seems a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ to get to the elite level. Another year of developing the areas of her game to improve and Venning could be more potent with ball-in-hand in 12 months time.

Jemima Woods (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
28/05/2003 | 174cm
Tall Forward/Utility

The talented tall forward has come on in leaps and bounds this season, developing her game to play further up the ground in season 2021, and even pinch-hitting in the ruck. At 174cm she is able to compete well one-on-one with a high work rate and clever leading patterns to find the ball inside 50 thanks to her athleticism. More often than not though, Woods has found herself being the first target in the forward half, then looking for options inside 50, with more than three inside 50s per game to go with her four goals from eight matches. Averaging almost 12 touches per game at NAB League Girls level, Woods burst onto the VFLW scene with three goals on debut for the Western Bulldogs, and whilst the going has been tougher since, still has some great upside for the future. Definitely the raw talent in the group, but Woods could be a promising top-age talent next season, and spending more time in a VFLW program like she did for a few games with the Bulldogs, will further fast-track her growth.

22 in 2022: AFLW Draft Ones to Watch

WHILE the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted for another year, clubs quickly turn their attention to 2022, having followed the potential draft prospects for many years. Whilst there will be at least 12 months until the players begin to hear their names called out, Draft Central will throw up 22 names to remember for 2022, in alphabetical order. This does not necessarily mean that the 22 named will be the top 22, but some of many who have already impressed across the board.

Charlotte Baskaran
Balanced Midfielder
09/12/2004 | 162cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

One of the best kicks going around, Baskaran is a potent inside/outside midfielder who is able to find space and do a lot of damage with ball-in-hand. A high impact player, Baskaran has remarkably already played three seasons at the Jets, making her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. Over the past two seasons, she has averaged more than 20 disposals and around six tackles per game, but it is her pinpoint passes inside 50 that make her a clear standout amongst the top Victorian talents.

Mia Busch
Medium Defender
18/05/2004 | 166cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

The skilful defender burst onto the scene this year with an impressive consistency, averaging 15.1 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.5 tackles and 3.5 rebounds. She caught the eye with her ability to use the ball well by foot coming out of the defensive half, and has equal measures of defensive and offensive traits that can set up play down the field. Won Eastern Ranges’ best and fairest award this season, and will be expected to push into the midfield next year to showcase her versatility.

Amber Clarke
Medium Utility
22/12/2004 | 169cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

In a very talented Stingrays lineup, Clarke has likely pushed herself to the front of the cue thanks to her enormous upside. Arguably the fastest player in the Victorian pool, once she gets goalside, it is all over for any opponent hoping to catch her. Impossible not to see with her ability to just get and go, Clarke can play at either end, booting 10 goals in six games in 2021. That tally would have been more, had injury not struck in the Vic Country championships game against Vic Metro.

Octavia Di Donato
Tall Utility
23/02/2004 | 172cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

After showing glimpses in her first season (one that was albeit cut short), Di Donato stepped up in 2021 to showcase terrific versatility from defence, to attack and eventually through the midfield. That latter role is what is likely to be her goal in 2022, and she showed she can win the ball, averaging 15.4 disposals, 3.6 marks and 3.3 inside 50s. Possessing a booming kick, Di Donato is a high-impact player forward of centre, and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to what she could produce at the next level.

Mackenzie Eardley
Key Position Utility
13/01/2004 | 180cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

The second Dandenong player on the list, Eardley shapes as a top key position option, credit to her versatility at both ends. Still refining her marking itself, Eardley is quite an athletic player with good ground level work. She can be on the last line or in attack, and moves well for a player of her size. She has pinch-hit in the ruck too, and with another preseason behind her, expect her to be one of the prominent key position players in the draft, stepping up to play two games with the Vic Country Under 19s squad already.

Hannah Ewings
Inside Midfielder
17/03/2004 | 167cm
North Adelaide / South Australia

The only player on this list not to play AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships this year, Ewings was a late out due to an ankle injury in the SANFL Women’s. Her form in the 18 months leading up to that moment was nothing short of sensational, and the North Adelaide player won the Breakthrough Player Award in the SANFLW in 2020, becoming a premiership player at 16-years-old. Similar to Ellie McKenzie, Ewings has a booming kick, is strong in the air and at ground level, and is an unbelievable contested ball-winner.

Jasmine Fleming
Midfielder/Forward
05/11/2004 | 165cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Not making her debut until the final round of the NAB League Girls season, Fleming – the daughter of Australian cricket champion Damien – came in and dominated. Only turning 17 at the end of the year, Fleming averaged 20 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and booted three goals to collect a premiership medal along the way. With eye-catching athleticism out of the stoppage and superb skill, Fleming is one of those players that will only get better with time, and is a natural sportsperson, sharing the load with – you guessed it – cricket.

Alana Gee
Balanced Midfielder
20/04/2004 | 170cm
Coolangatta Tweed / Queensland

If clean and composed with ball-in-hand is what you are after, then Gee is the type of player to catch the eye. A good size at 170cm, Gee covers the ground well and is able to use either foot. Her work rate to win the ball in all thirds is impressive, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, was the outside receiver to get-and-go forward, playing between a wing and in defence, but she is a natural inside midfielder who will take over from the recently drafted Teagan Levi and Bella Smith in the Queensland program.

Montana Ham
Inside Midfielder
29/03/2004 | 178cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

The other key Western Jets talent is dominant clearance player Ham, who has been catching the eye since her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. A very different prospect to Baskaran, Ham has a lot more height, and has been utilised in just about every role, but her best is inside where she wins the ball and thumps it on the boot with a penetrating kick. She played two of Metro’s games at Under 19s level and did not look out of place, averaging 15 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s. One of the taller options to keep an eye on next season.

Cynthia Hamilton
Inside Midfielder
02/04/2004 | 178cm
GIANTS Academy / NSW-ACT

Hamilton is the top NSW-ACT prospect for 2022 after taking out the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Racking up a whopping 21.5 disposals, 3.0 marks, 10.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s and booting two goals in her two games, Hamilton is a fierce player at the ball, and puts her body on the line time and time again. She is one who at her size can add more strings to her bow and refine a few areas of her game, but in terms of her natural footballing ability, it is there to see.

Bridie Hipwell
Inside Midfielder
15/06/2004 | 174cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

After a starring role early in her Round 1 game for the Dragons, Hipwell hurt her ankle and missed several weeks. She finished the NAB League Girls season averaging 12.5 disposals and around three inside 50s and three tackles, then played the one Metro game at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. A strong inside midfielder with good hands, Hipwell is someone who is capable of going forward and providing some height as well when required.

Sofia Hurley
Balanced Midfielder
30/01/2004 | 166cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

An eye-catching midfielder with great spacial awareness through traffic, Hurley reads the ball off hands so well and is able to burst away fro stoppages. Possessing a nice balance of athleticism and skill, Hurley is the type of player who can turn a game when on-song, using the ball so well from half-back to half-forward. A high running capacity saw her average 18.1 disposals, 4,7 tackles, 3.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s, finding the ball in all thirds of the ground, and looms as one of the top Victorian midfielders.

Keeley Kustermann
Medium Utility
17/04/2004 | 166cm
West Adelaide / South Australia

Another South Australian prospect to keep an eye on is the smooth-moving Kustermann who is well-balanced and able to use the ball so well under pressure. Having impressed as a 15-year-old at SANFL Women’s level last season in defence, Kustermann played further up the ground in 2021, and even played inside at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. An injury early in the game against the Allies ended her championships early, but Kustermann eventually returned to state league level where she took to the field in a grand final.

Charlotte Mullins
Forward/Midfielder
28/10/2004 | 165cm
Aspley / Queensland

Impressing in both her Academy game against Coorparoo, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships against Vic Country, Mullins is a lively player who can find the ball and apply good defensive pressure to the opposition. She works herself into space, wins the ball and can create goal-scoring opportunities for both herself and her teammates. Likely to be more of a midfielder in 2022, Mullins has proven she can play as a high half-forward and then push up the ground to get involved when the game is not on her team’s terms.

Claire Ransom
Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2004 | 169cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

The standout prospect from the Apple Isle next year is Ransom, a player who can best be described as class personified. As clean as they come on the inside, Ransom picks the right option time and time again, and her ball use by hand or foot is exquisite. Standing at 169cm, Ransom is a good size to play inside or outside, but she is best utilised winning the ball and using her smarts to sidestep and opponent then hit a target under pressure. Does not need to win a lot of the ball to do a lot of damage.

Ella Roberts
Tall Forward
17/12/2004 | 175cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

Yet to turn 17, Roberts already has an AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships MVP under her belt. Averaging a massive 24.3 disposals, 5.7 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and booting four goals in three games, Roberts showed what anyone familiar with the WAFLW already knew – she is a star in the marking. Winning a grand final off her own boot at 15, Roberts translated that form into 2021, and showed she has few flaws between her aerial and ground work, and athleticism to boot. Right now, Roberts is the top player in the 2022 AFL Women’s draft class.

Paige Scott
Medium Forward
25/06/2004 | 166cm
GWV Rebels / Vic Country

The X-factor in the draft crop, Scott is an unbelievably dynamic forward who can turn a game off her own boot. Slotting 15 goals in nine games for the GWV Rebels in the NAB League Girls, then seven goals in three games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – including turning the game around against South Australia – she is a natural footballer inside 50. The scary thing was despite being such a dominant goalkicker, inaccuracy plagued her at times and she could have kicked even more. A fierce contested player, Scott is strong overhead and great at ground level too.

Emily Shepherd
Inside Midfielder
05/04/2004 | 164cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

Having three players inside the top 22 at this stage emphasises just how strong the Stingrays will be next year, and Shepherd is that inside midfielder who can win clearances with great body positioning and strength. She throws the ball on the boot going forward, but wins a lot of contested ball and can extract it from the stoppages. Able to go forward and kick goals as well, Shepherd was injured mid-season and missed a fair chunk of football before returning to play all three Vic Country games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, averaging 11.3 disposals.

Keeley Skepper
Inside Midfielder
15/03/2004 | 163cm
Murray Bushrangers / Vic Country

When it comes to penetrating, few put the boot to ball like it owes them something quite like Skepper. Possessing enough speed to run out of the clearance, Skepper has one mode of kicking and that is with ultimate power. She racks up clearances time and time again, also amassing a high volume of inside 50s, averaging 4.7 per game to go with 16.7 disposals, 2.3 marks and 4.9 tackles. Once she is able to pinpoint those penetrating kicks, look out because her ability to win the ball and create separation is terrific.

Tara Stribley
Outside Midfielder
22/03/2004 | 165cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

Western Australia’s top rated midfielder is Stribley out of Swan Districts, where she is clean and composed with ball-in-hand and creates run and carry on the outside. A lightly-built player, the 165cm wing is able to roam up and down the ground to find the ball. Definitely an outside receiver, it plays to Stribley’s strengths which are her ball use and decision making, as well as her vision, though she can also play off flanks and create opportunities for teammates down the ground or inside 50, which makes her a point of difference in the role she plays.

Lauren Wakfer
Ruck
23/04/2004 | 180cm
South Fremantle / Western Australia

The top ruck in the AFLW Draft pool at this stage is Wakfer out of the South Fremantle program, where she has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Averaging 12 hitouts and 10.3 disposals at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Wakfer is just as impressive at ground level, with great athleticism and turn of speed for a tall. She laid 5.3 tackles per game at the championships, and can also play as a key forward as she has at times in the WAFLW. Still adding more strength, Wakfer has high-level upside for the future.

Lily-Rose Williamson
Medium Defender/Midfielder
25/08/2004 | 166cm
Gippsland Power / Vic Country

A member of the Gippsland Power program for many years now coming through the V/Line Cup, Williamson is a high-potential project player who took her game to another level in 2021. Showing glimpses of her capabilities that come with unbelievable acceleration and power, Williamson would set the world record for most fend-offs in a season and probably only need a couple of games to do so. She can use the ball well when winning it, but it is her defensive pressure and metres gained that stands out, and once it all clicks consistently, watch out.

OTHERS TO WATCH:

The depth in the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft is exciting and unbelievable. When making the list, there were many more names that could have squeezed in. Calder Cannons’ Abbey McDonald is a smooth-moving small midfielder with good defensive and offensive traits and one who was the next in line to be named. Looking across Victoria, GWV Rebels defender Molly Walton and Gippsland Power midfielder Yasmin Duursma are another couple to remember for 2022, with another Rebels talent in ruck, Kalani Scoullar likely to be among the best rucks in the draft crop. Geelong Falcons have a number of even prospects such as Charlotte Simpson and Ashleigh Van Loon who will lead the midfield brigade, while Mia Van Dyke has been a highly touted tall for a number of years. Northern Knights’ Brooke Plummer showed strong signs as a wing in 2021 and will be another that catches the eye in 2022, while J’Noemi Anderson is a Sandringham Dragons and Allies representative hailing from the Northern Territory. With names aplenty, a few more who impressed at Victorian Under 17s level were Alisha Molesworth, Felicity Crank and Grace Hay who are all in the mix. Calder Cannons pocket rocket Reese Sutton and Western Jets’ Krystal Russell proved some highlights at ground level and in the air respectively.

Moving north, Ella Smith in Queensland is a notable performer in her bottom-age year, as is Fleur Davies, the taller sister of recently drafted, Giselle. Amelie Borg is a tall option playing between defence and pinch-hitting in the ruck as a Croweater to keep an eye on. Norwood inside midfielder Lana Schwerdt is a ball-winner to remember for 2022, while tall forwards Astrid Gooley and Jorja Hooper are also promising key talents. In Western Australia, Emily Gunton has had a strong end to the WAFLW season and could be a bolter early in 2022, while Ash Reidy, Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wright are dangerous players in the forward half.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Brisbane

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Brisbane.

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

Tipped to be the Lions’ first selection, Harmer comes straight out of their Academy and has put together some terrific form in 2021. Whilst she only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game to play, Harmer’s work both for Queensland and Maroochydore over a body of work showed that she was more than capable of stepping up. With high-level athleticism and powerful running, Harmer could develop into a half-back for the Lions, or push up and play a wing role, with the tendencies to go inside if required. She is clean and a good user by hand or foot, so expect her to be a player that quickly adapts to senior level and has an impact for Brisbane.

MAGGIE HARMER CONTENT:

>> Draft hopeful Harmer looks of find the best of both worlds

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

#35 Bella Smith (Inside Midfielder)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

To complement Harmer’s outside running ability, Smith provides that inside grunt that has seen her become one of the top hardened midfielders in the AFLW Draft pool. Clean on the inside with a nice burst to create separation out of the stoppages, Smith is a natural contested ball winner, and one who could slot straight into the team at AFLW level. It provides the Lions with more depth through the inside, with Smith no doubt set to add more strings to her bow such as more outside ball-winning capabilities. One of three past or present Maroochydore prospects to join the Lions after being in their Academy, Smith had a really strong 2021 season.

BELLA SMITH CONTENT:

>> Smith taking things “week by week”

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

#46 Mikayla Pauga (Medium Forward)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Bond University / Queensland

A clean and dangerous forward, Pauga is the third player to have come through Maroochydore’s program in the past few years. Having made the move to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship of Excellence, Pauga opted to remain in the Brisbane nomination pool and the Lions were happy to snap her up. Having overcome a couple of spinal fractures in her bottom-age year, Pauga put together a terrific 2021 season for Bond Uni in the QAFL Women’s, playing as a high half-forward. Her endurance is an area to work on, but her natural football smarts, goal sense and creativity in the forward half comes to the fore and Pauga will be an exciting player to watch for many years.

MIKAYLA PAUGA CONTENT:

>> Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga leads from the front in electric performance

#53 Luka Yoshida-Martin (Small Forward)
University of Queensland / Queensland

Everyone loves a left-field pick, and Brisbane’s certainly came in the form of ex-soccer player Luka Yoshida-Martin. A small forward who only took up Australian rules football in 2019, played a stellar role in University of Queensland’s QAFL Women’s premiership. Her effort as a small forward impressed enough for the Lions to call-up the 20-year-old to the AFLW list. Boasting impressive game sense, a knack for goals and some high upside, Yoshida-Martin is viewed as a prospect who can do a lot of damage inside 50 and could take another giant leap in development in an elite program.

#58 Lucinda Pullar (Medium Defender)
02/07/1998
Bond University / Queensland

Another cross-coder who has only pulled on the boots for a few years, Pullar is a former Brisbane Roar representative who made the transition into Australian rules. Initially a part of the Queensland Emerging Talent Squad in 2019, and then earning a 2020 AFLW Draft Combine invite last year, the ex-soccer player finally got her chance to step up to AFLW level after an impressive showing as a defender. Potentially able to play further up the field, it was her one-on-ones and elite level athleticism that caught the eye of Brisbane recruiters, prompting them to pull the trigger and add the Bond University talent to their senior list.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Brisbane selected three of their talented Academy members with the first three selections, taking in Harmer, Smith and Pauga who could play three different roles for the club and cover each third on the ground. They then opted for a couple of fast-developing ex-soccer players with the final two selections, making it a mix of experience and athleticism. A couple of Academy members to miss out include the versatile Abby Hewett, and State captain Christine Okesene who will both continue to push for a spot on a list in the coming years.

2021 AFLW Draft: Bolters & Sliders

EACH year the AFL Women’s Draft throws up plenty of surprises, with players going higher or lower than many might have predicted. Through a combination of club needs or other factors that change plans, there are always players who rise up the boards or slip back on the night.

BOLTERS:

Pick 3 – Charlie Thomas (West Coast)

It was always evident that the talented utility was going to go in the first three West Australian picks such was her ability shown over the past few years. But having been restricted to just one game this year, the Eagles read her name out first in the West Australian pool, with some thought that the Dockers might pounce with their first. West Coast still got the player many expected to land at this pick – Courtney Rowley – with the next selection anyway, and the Eagles will be able to use both the skilful players around the ground such is their versatility.

Pick 7 – Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons)

It was terrific to see the skilful onballer earn her named called out in the Top 10, with her inside work and combination of speed and endurance making her such a damaging prospect. Originally touted as a first round prospect thanks to those traits, Friswell was thrown around the ground at both the AFLW Under 19 Championships level and VFLW level, and the worry was that perhaps clubs were focusing too much on versatility. With Geelong able to bring in another midfielder, expect Friswell to star in that role, though not before she funnily enough has to take on the Cats this weekend in the red and black.

Pick 15 – Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW)

It was Geelong’s last selection, so it might not quite be the same as some others, but it is a terrific story nonetheless. Johnson only picked up a footy last year, and played her debut season with the Cats in the VFL Women’s, averaging 14.6 disposals, 2.7 marks and laying 4.8 tackles. Still only 20-years-old, Johnson has plenty of time to develop, and is another who will get set for a big preliminary final this weekend, her first VFL Women’s game as an AFLW-listed Cat, providing an extra element for her and the team.

Pick 51 – Jasmine Ferguson (North Melbourne)

As a player who has come through the pathways, it has been quite the journey for Ferguson, a dual footballer and netballer. Standing at 172cm, she has had an outstanding season for the Magpies, improving on her past years at the club. Originally a raw talent back at Gippsland Power, Ferguson has done what every AFLW Draft prospect should do, and chip away at areas to improve and let the rest take care of itself. She still has a finals campaign ahead of her, but as a player who has taken the long road to reach the elite level, it will be great to see what she can produce.

SLIDERS:

Pick 19 – Tara Slender (North Melbourne)

The Roos feature again, and whilst Tess Craven might be considered a little bit of a slider too, Slender is going to prove enormous value at Pick 19. The tall utility who can play anywhere had an inconsistent season, but is a clear Top 5 player on potential, and to get out to the start of the second round was a touch surprising. North Melbourne will have the potential to play her anywhere they want such is her versatility, and this might be the pick that is the pick of the draft. Once she irons out some consistency, she will be a very good player.

Pick 22 – Amanda Ling (Western Bulldogs)

Tipped to go as high as St Kilda at Pick 4, and certainly in the Top 10, Ling remained on the board until the second round when the Bulldogs decided enough was enough and read it out. She had an outstanding top-age season with clean hands on the inside and a quick sidestep that can burst away from opponents, expect the slick midfielder to add extra pace and defensive pressure to a Bulldogs side that loves it. Ready to go from Round 1 if picked, so gives the Bulldogs immediate depth.

Pick 42 – Tahlia Gillard (Melbourne)

It is always tricky to know exactly where talls are going to land such is the unpredictability of clubs and picking up raw talents, and deciding between teenagers and mature-age prospects. Not many would have thought Georgia Campbell (who was always going at Pick 42 given the father-daughter bidding) was going to end up the first picked teenage ruck/forward at that selection, but Gillard ended up having to wait until the pick after, giving the Dees some serious height. With plenty of experience coming into Melbourne this off-season, they can afford to wait a bit and the 190cm talent will be one to watch for the future.

2021 AFLW Draft preview: GWS – Western Bulldogs

TODAY is the day. The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft takes place tonight and the 14 clubs are preparing to welcome a host of new players into the elite system. Draft Central has split its club-by-club draft previews into two parts, starting with the first seven clubs of Adelaide to Gold Coast which was in yesterday’s edition, with the GWS GIANTS through to the Western Bulldogs in this second part. We take a look at the selections your club has, and some of the names who could replace outgoing players, or add something new to the table.

>> 2021 AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW: ADELAIDE – GOLD COAST

>> FINAL SIREN PODCAST: AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW

GWS:

Picks: 37, 49, 55, 59, 60, 61

The GWS GIANTS have the equal most selections of any team in the draft with six, and will be looking to top up after clearing out the list with five delistings, including Aimee Schmidt who signed as a delisted free agent with the Eagles. On top of that, Elle Bennetts and Jess Dal Pos both departed the club, and Jess Allan and Yvonne Bonner were made inactive for the 2022 season, whilst Blues duo Chloe Dalton and Katie Loynes, and North Melbourne’s Jasmine Grierson came in. It left the GIANTS with a host of later selections, coming into the draft second last at Pick 37.

That Pick 37 seems to be a toss up between AFLW Academy member and ruck Ally Morphett, and slick forward and Sydney Swans Academy captain Jess Doyle. Morphett is home grown through the Academy and immediately provides ruck support, with Doyle a highly talented, versatile forward with plenty of upside and viewed as a long-term player, also a part of the AFLW Academy. From there, four NSW-ACT representatives received AFLW Draft Combine invites with Brodee Mowbray a tackling machine, Maddy Hendrie and Teagan Germech tall options who represented the Allies, and Georgie Fowler who has been cutting it up for East Coast Eagles in AFL Sydney. Additionally, All-Australian Isadora McLeay is a defender the GIANTS could look at, with Hayley Macdonald another player who impressed in her GIANTS Academy games as a leading forward.

MELBOURNE:

Picks: 41, 42, 45

After being arguably the most active team in last year’s draft after a trade period that received mixed reviews for plenty of older players leaving the club, Melbourne’s 2021 off-season could not have been any different. Whilst Meg Downie, Tegan Cunningham, Niamh McEvoy and Shae Sloane all retired, the Demons only lost Chantel Emonson via trade, and instead picked up two of the biggest names on the trade table in Geelong’s Olivia Purcell and Carlton’s Tayla Harris, giving them a huge boost in midfield and forward. Later, they signed Casey Demons’ Eliza West who impressed for the VFLW side after crossing from basketball. They first pick in the third round at Pick 41, and then have three selections in five picks – only four are in the Victorian pool and North Melbourne’s selection could well be a Tasmanian meaning three consecutive picks – where they can quickly get in and out with a trio of players they need.

One pick is already decided in Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro’s Georgia Campbell, a ruck who is coming to the club under the father-daughter rule and is a first round prospect on value. The Demons have picked up a highly talented tall, and can be versatile with the other selections. With Melbourne looking at a flag tilt, they could well bring in the returning Leah Kaslar who nominated Victoria, or keep an eye on VFLW talent such as Casey’s Imogen Milford, or perhaps a readymade midfielder in Alana Barba or Georgia Nanscawen from Essendon. The Demons are not afraid to pic country players, and could grab a slider if the likes of Ingrid Houtsma, or Maykaylah Appleby being utilities who can run with ball-in-hand. Jemima Woods is another developing talent, with Tarrah Delgado and Cadhla Schmidli some key position defensive options. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing are two recycled players who played with Casey Demons late in the season.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

Picks: 13, 19, 28, 43, 51, 56

North Melbourne enter the draft with six selections, and a terrific draft hand to use given their draft zone with Tasmania. The Roos delisted five players including Kate Gillespie-Jones, whilst also trading away Jasmine Grierson and Vivien Saad in deals. They did not bring anyone to the club in what was a quiet overall off-season, though Kim Rennie is predicted to head to the Roos, likely with a late selection. Holding the Tasmanian zone link, expect at least two Tasmanians under the rule have their name read out, with AFLW Academy member Perri King the standout junior Tasmanian and one who will be a steal at a later selection for the Roos. Sarah Skinner is commuting from Tasmania each week to play for North’s VFLW side and is one who will be likely to land at the club after a sensational year.

The Tasmanian talents can be taken late in the draft, with the duo and Rennie expected to be in those last three selections. Other Tasmanian players who have run out for the Roos’ VFLW team including Ella Maurer, Jemma Blair and Amy Bissett, whilst the captain of the side Meagan Kiely is one North might be hoping lands at their pick. It will mean North Melbourne at least have a couple more selections from the open Victorian pool, and have versatility to select players on best available, but also potentially grabbing a tall forward. Tahlia Gillard can provide that height if available at their selection, with Imogen Milford or Imogen Barnett readymade goalscoring options if the Roos want to pounce. Gabbi Featherston is a smaller, but athletic option inside 50, whilst Emelia Yassir and Poppy Schaap are clean players they could look at. If Ella Friend was available expect the Roos to read out her name very quickly, whilst GWV Rebels teammate Nyakoat Dojiok, or Geelong Falcons’ Annie Lee could be defensive options around the Roos’ picks.

RICHMOND:

Picks: 5, 16, 48, 50, 54

Richmond is another side with plenty of picks, with five open selections this year after taking the bare minimum three picks – including the number one – last year. They delisted four players early on including key position talents Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones, with Alice Edmonds, Phoebe Monahan and Alana Woodward also delisted in June. Akec Makur Chuot was the Tigers’ final delisting though could be picked up again late in the draft. In the trade period, Richmond shipped off Sabrina Frederick to the Magpies for Maddie Shevlin, and picked up Poppy Kelly from St Kilda for that immediate ruck support, before snaring Carlton’s Jess Hosking in a deadline deal to join her sister Sarah at the club. With another Top 5 pick, and third overall in the Victorian pool, the Tigers can pick best available, with some seriously talented talls in that region.

Given the key position players will be off the board by their second pick, expect the Tigers to look at someone like Tara Slender or Ella Friend with the early pick, knowing Geelong and Carlton would both have multiple chances before Richmond can read out another name. Tess Craven is potentially one of the best available from a midfield perspective at Pick 5, whilst Stella Reid is another hard to overlook. The Tigers will have one more early selection at Pick 16, which is expected to be a best available scenario, with Jaide Anthony and Aurora Smith both Port Melbourne talents who have been carefully watched by Richmond with that alignment. Emelia Yassir is another in that region, with Poppy Schaap and even Tahlia Gillard if still on the board, options at the pick. Later on, Sophie Locke would have to be a consideration for the Tigers after a sensational year for Port Melbourne, with a slider or two coming into play for the Tigers. Maykaylah Appleby would be an apt pick for Richmond with her run and carry, whilst Jemima Woods is a late tall option should they opt for smaller players at the front end. Maeve Chaplin and Elizabeth Snell are other midfielders who could be in contention.

ST KILDA:

Picks: 4, 12, 36

St Kilda had plenty of draft selections after trade week but could only utilise three of them, with Selena Karlson retiring, and the likes of Alison Brown, Nadia von Bertouch and Tamara Luke delisted early, and Clara Fitzpatrick the last player in the competition to be cut. Poppy Kelly and Claudia Whitfort both headed to opposition sides, with the Saints shuffling up the order to grab an another early Victorian selection, then signed Alana Woodward from Richmond and added highly talented up-and-coming basketballer Paige Price. With Pick 4 in the draft, the Saints will grab the second best Victorian on their board, with Georgie Prespakis tipped to go at Pick 3. Amanda Ling is the favourite for the selection, able to fill that need on the inside after a sensationally-consistent year, whilst Tess Craven is another consideration as an inside player ready to impact immediately.

Pick 12 is the eighth pick in the Victorian draft, so the Saints can grab another highly-talented player, potentially a key forward such as Ella Friend if she remains on the board. Whilst unlikely, Tahlia Gillard is a perfect option for the red, white and black, with Tara Slender also unlikely to be there, but could be another name they hope for. Jaide Anthony is one to provide some slick skills out of the back half and could head to the Saints with the pick if they opt for a best-available scenario. With the other selection, St Kilda could pair Anthony up with a Dandenong Stingrays teammate be it Ash Richards or Jemma Radford, the latter who has been impressing for the Saints’ VFLW side. Tahlia Meier is a small who could add to their stocks inside 50, whilst Maeve Chaplin, Chloe Leonard and Keeley Sherar are other options at the pick to improve immediate midfield output if available.

WEST COAST:

Picks: 3, 21, 24, 40, 47

West Coast enter the 2021 AFLW Draft with the first West Australian selection in the pool. They head up with Pick 3, and then have two of the next three selections as well, making it a strong hand with five overall picks. They delisted eight players all at once on June 9, with Chantella Perera and McKenzie Dowrick – the latter who had been inactive for the 2021 season – also exiting the club. They grabbed Evangeline Gooch from the Dockers, and signed Aimee Schmidt as a delisted free agent from the GIANTS, in an overall quiet trade period. With Pick 3, the Eagles are tipped to select AFLW Academy member and skilful midfielder Courtney Rowley. The smooth-moving excitement machine can play on any line which makes her so versatile. Key position utility Amy Franklin is the other option for the Eagles, providing them with the best tall in the draft pool.

Depending on what the Dockers do with the next selection, West Coast could still get, though unlikely, Franklin to pair with Rowley, whilst Charlie Thomas is the other AFLW Academy member who has great versatility as a 175cm forward. Midfielder Dana East and ruck Sarah Lakay are other chances with those early picks, depending on the tall/small balance the Eagles wish to go with from their selections. Makaela Tuhakaraina is another player tipped in the first half of the draft with her elite athletic traits, while the Eagles have some readymade forward options available in Tessa Doumanis, Nyra Anderson and South Australian Jade Halfpenny later in the draft. Up the other end, the likes of Emily Bennett, Emma Nanut and Mel Hardy could be options for the Eagles. Airlie Runnalls and Thereisa Meissner are VFLW players heading west who could be looked as immediate fixes.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Picks: 22, 25, 27

The final team in our AFLW Draft preview are the Western Bulldogs who come in at Pick 22 and have three picks in six selections, similar to Melbourne but earlier on in that second round. Amelia van Oosterwijck, Lauren Spark and Angelica Gogos all retired from the kennel, with Danielle Marshall one of three delistings. Kim Rennie is expected to join the Roos via the draft after that trade could not be facilitated, and the Dogs grabbed GWS GIANTS’ Elle Bennetts and shuffled back in the draft order. They then picked up Richelle Cranston through the delisted free agency in what seemed like a great get, and have three available list spots for players.

As the selections are close together, the Bulldogs will get a sense of multiple options all at the one time. Ella Friend played for their VFLW side but will not be there at that pick, whilst Nyakoat Dojiok could be a possibility if she slides out of the first round. Tahlia Meier is another Bulldogs representative and Vic Country representative who ran around for the Dogs, with VFLW player Brooke Hards a utility with great athleticism, and one of only two players to play every game a possibility to make the transition up to the elite level. From a non-Bulldogs perspective, Chloe Leonard is a player with great versatility able to have an impact through the middle or half-back, with Maykaylah Appleby a possibility to continue the Northern Knights trend at the club. Annie Lee and Ingrid Houtsma are other possibilities as marking players, though the former is unlikely to be there. Elizabeth Snell, Brooke Vickers and if she somehow slid, Jaide Anthony are other running players able to provide some good speed across the ground.

Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Nationwide: July 2021

AFTER releasing the Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool last month, we have gone one step further to include the entire nation. Not only will the Power Rankings feature the Victorians from last month, but the top stars from across the country to give an indication of where they might be rated if the AFL Women’s Draft was truly national. Note that the Power Rankings to do not take into account any draft selections, and are more an opinion-based ranking system on the draft prospects.

We have also not included any players who have previously been on an AFLW list, just undrafted or now draft-eligible players. Please note the rankings are the opinion of the author.

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

 

Georgie Prespakis

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

There was always the weigh up for Geelong between Prespakis and Rowbottom with the pair the two clear standout Victorian talents. Now that Rowbottom has opted to go to Queensland, the Cats are expected to pounce on Prespakis with Pick 2.

Charlie Rowbottom

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

Key strengths: Contested marking, tackling, strength, upside

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Rowbottom pulled off the surprise of the AFL Women’s Draft when it was announced she would nominate Queensland, opening the door for Gold Coast with Pick 1. Expect the Suns and new coach Cameron Joyce to be thrilled to pick up Rowbottom with Teagan Levi to bolster the midfield.

Teagan Levi

#3 Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
14/08/2003 | 169cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Athleticism, strength, kicking, game sense

Touted as the top Gold Coast Suns Academy member, Levi has been an exciting talent for a couple of years now. A bottom-age AFLW Academy member, Levi has all the traits to become a really dominant inside midfielder. A more precise kick than the top two Victorians, Levi also has the athleticism to boot, and whilst she does not have the versatility that Prespakis and Rowbottom have yet, Levi is such a complete inside midfielder with high-level footy smarts that will enable her to add more strings to her bow as she develops. Unfortunately, Levi only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game, picking up 17 disposals, six clearances, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds in Queensland’s loss to Vic Country.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Levi was hot favourite to be selected with Pick 1 until Rowbottom nominated Queensland, but it will not matter to the talented midfielder, with the pair set to help fast-track Gold Coast’s rebuild up the AFLW ladder.

Courtney Rowley

#4 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
24/09/2003 | 167cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Speed, clean hands, marking, kicking

Heading west for the fourth placed spot, Peel Thunder’s Courtney Rowley is similar to Levi with a more outside than inside ability. Whilst the talented teenager proved she could also play inside at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, her ball use and athleticism lends itself to be a slick outside talent who can go inside when needed a la Georgia Patrikios. With such a well balanced profile from her ball use, evasion, overhead strength and versatility – being able to play in any third of the ground – Rowley is definitely one of the more complete players going around. Ready to step straight up to senior level having already won a club best and fairest at Peel Thunder at 15-years-old and played through back-to-back premiers sides – though only won the one flag due to injury late this season – Rowley can compete against bigger-bodied players.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite being the standout West Australian talent in our eyes, West Coast will weigh up whether to go tall or small with the first pick, with Amy Franklin the other considered. Rowley is very deserving of the first West Australian selection, but if not, then her name will be off the board at the next WA pick to the Dockers.

Zoe Prowse

#5 Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Ruck

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

Able to get it done in the air or at ground level, Zoe Prowse is just as capable at any role thrown at her. Whilst traditionally being a ruck credit to her athleticism and clean hands, Prowse has trialled as a midfielder at SANFLW level, and also up forward as a marking tall. Able to clunk big grabs, and if not, bring the ball to ground and lay fierce tackles, Prowse is the most complete ruck in the draft. Despite standing a touch under the average ruck height at 177cm – in fact two centimetres smaller than midfielder Rowbottom – Prowse more than makes up for it with her vertical leap. Having the ruck smarts to get the ball to advantageous spots for her teammates, expect the Sturt prospect to be really clean when getting her chance at AFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Adelaide do not need to compete for any players, and whilst curve balls can be thrown at state-based drafts, expect Prowse’s name to be the one the Crows look to first as the player who has been the most consistent over the past few years.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Slender is one of the most unique and versatile players in the AFLW Draft crop. Whilst the first handful of picks might be midfielders, Slender has already shown she can roll through the midfield if need be, and should not be off the board too long.

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

Key strengths: Versatility, spread, skills, goal sense

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Slender, Reid is as versatile as they come, but from an outside sense. She can play at half-back, half-forward or on a wing, and hits the scoreboard regularly, and that will appeal to clubs. It is anticipated she will be in the first half-dozen Victorian picks alongside her teammates Rowbottom and Amanda Ling.

Ella Friend

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Friend is the dominant key position forward available in the draft, and with safe hands and athleticism to move up the ground, she could easily be considered in the first couple of selections. With the Cats on the lookout for a tall and having multiple picks in the region, she will no doubt be on their radar.

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

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

The Vic Country MVP winner is one of the better ball users in the Victorian crop and with Carlton among those with back-to-back picks early, Anthony could be a player the Blues look to in order to fill that need.

Amy Franklin

#10 Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)
04/02/2003 | 177cm
Key Position Utility

Key strengths: Athleticism, overhead marking, versatility, upside

The other West Australian vying for the first picked from the state is the high-upside, talented tall in Franklin. Able to pull down some strong grabs at either end of the field, Franklin has athleticism rarely seen in a tall and is a marquee talent long-term. Still raw in some areas and looking to improve her ground balls, Franklin’s ability to mark, turn and go, not only able to keep distance on opponents but often create separation, is remarkable for a player of her size. She has a long kick and is able to hit the scoreboard regularly when inside 50. Whilst still able to impact in defence, and is more than capable of taking on a task at either end of the field, she looms as a future key forward, and her forward craft is very good, able to judge the ball in flight, outbody her opponent then get goal side to kick majors.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

No doubt Franklin will come into consideration for West Coast’s first selection given how hard talented, athletic key position players are to find. If the Eagles swoop on Rowley, expect the Dockers to very quickly read out Franklin’s name, and a pairing of Franklin and Roxy Roux is nightmare-fuelled for any opposition defence.

Jess Doyle

#11 Jess Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Medium Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, one-on-ones, competitiveness, forward craft

The smooth-moving Sydney Swans Academy member out of the Manly Warringah Wolves has that touch of class about her whether it is inside 50 or through the midfield. Possessing clean hands and an ability to create space for herself, Doyle can win the ball on the lead or at ground level and do a lot of damage. Eyeing off improving her endurance for the future, her competitiveness and forward craft inside 50 makes her such a talent for the future. Still plenty to learn, expect her to play from early on to fast-track her development against senior bodies as she has already developed at a rapid rate competing at the next step up from local football through the AFLW Under 19 Championships. One to watch for the long-term and no doubt one that the Swans will be eyeing off when they enter the league.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Without Sydney having a team as of yet, the talented Doyle falls in the GIANTS hands for now, and will be an incredible steal given the GIANTS do not have a pick until the third round. Expect Doyle to either be taken with the first or second pick, depending if the GIANTS opt for their own Academy talent in Ally Morphett first.

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

Key strengths: Clearances, accumulation, consistency, footy IQ

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Geelong holds the number one Victorian pick in the draft crop, and whilst they do tend to look to local talent, expect them to gamble Craven will be there with their next selection. Having multiple picks inside the first round, the Cats could bring Craven in straight away to step up, but the question will be whether another club such as St Kilda or Carlton look to pounce and derail the Cats’ plans.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #7

AFLW Draft notes:

Expect Ling to be the bolter of the AFLW Draft. Whilst long considered inside the Top 10 Victorian prospects at the close of the NAB League Girls season, the 19-year-old Ling could well be taken second in the Victorian pool with St Kilda strongly considering the young gun. If they choose not to, it is hard seeing her slip past Carlton with the Blues’ back-to-back picks given Ling’s obvious appeal and meeting their clean inside needs.

Annie Lee

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

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #8

AFLW Draft notes:

One would think Geelong would be eyeing off Lee as another home grown talent, but with so many Falcons and other clubs ready to pounce, it will be interesting to see where he lands. Very consistent and in our Phantom Draft lasted to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 22, which anything in that range is a steal. Expect her to be snapped up earlier, however.

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

Key strengths: Acceleration, tackling, clearances, accumulation

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #9

AFLW Draft notes:

Whilst King fits a different nomination under the Tasmanian group, she is still included in this as the ninth top prospect for the state. All that means is that North Melbourne – who can take her at any stage given the Tasmanian link – will walk away with a steal. In the Phantom Draft she was taken at Pick 45 as an example of where she could go in the draft, but ignore the number, she is right in the mix among the top players.

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

Key strengths: Reading the play, intercepting, marking, athleticism

The talented Maroochydore prospect and AFL Women’s Academy member is a well-balanced talent who has a mix of offensive and defensive traits. She reads the ball well in flight, is able to hold onto grabs and is able to drive the ball forward in transition. Setting up at half-back, Harmer is a good size at 170cm to beat most opponents one-on-one, and whilst she is hoping to build her ground ball ability more, her aerial work is strong. A handy athleticism with a balance of speed, agility and endurance make her hard to stop, and she is someone who can roll onto a wing and then provide that key link moving the ball inside 50, able to pinpoint passes well. There is a lot of upside with Harmer making her one to watch for the long-term as well as the short-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With the top two Queensland pool talents in Rowbottom and Levi heading to the Suns, Harmer is in the mix to be the first called out for the Brisbane Lions on AFLW Draft night. Along with Mikayla Pauga, Harmer is also an AFLW Academy member and one whop has shown great signs over the years, so expect no hesitation from the Lions to bring her into their senior program.

Gypsy Schirmer

#17 Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
18/02/2003 | 178cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, goal sense, contested work, overhead marking

A versatile tall with terrific athleticism, Schirmer is capable in all thirds of the ground, Starting as a forward throughout her bottom-age years, Schirmer proved she could be damaging around goal be it winning possession in the air or at ground level. Over the past 12 months, Schirmer pushed into the midfield, predominantly on the wing, but also won plenty of contested ball in close. Being able to win the hard or loose ball, Schirmer then went into defence late in the year for South Adelaide where she showcased her breakneck acceleration and was able to create fast ball movement in transition. Expect her to be more of a forward to start with at the top level, but the AFL Women’s Academy member certainly has potential to become a midfielder long-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Prowse, Adelaide can select Schirmer unopposed, and as another AFLW Academy member and player with high upside, expect her to be one the Crows snap up with their selections.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #10

AFLW Draft notes:

Smith is one of the best outside running options in the draft, and one would expect a team like Carlton or Richmond to look at the Murray talent, with her finding a home somewhere in the first two rounds given her unique traits and ability to break the game open from that specialist wing position.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #11

AFLW Draft notes:

Already signed by Melbourne after the Western Bulldogs supporter opted for the Dees, Campbell will be taken with Pick 42 in the draft – the Demons first – under the father-daughter matching rules. It will be one of the steals of the draft given in an open draft, Campbell could well have been snapped up in the first round.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #12

AFLW Draft notes:

The athletic defender will attract plenty of attention as the quickest half-back with height available in the Victorian pool. She could end up with her VFL Women’s side the Western Bulldogs, though Richmond is another side that is in the Dojiok range that could look for speed and see her as a tall midfielder of the future.

Mikayla Pauga

#21 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University/Queensland)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Medium Forward

Key strengths: Clean hands, ground balls, acceleration, game sense

The Maroochydore talent moved to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship to study, and has enjoyed a more consistent 2021 after being plagued by injuries of late. She has the class and cleanliness by hand or foot to do a lot of damage in the forward half, and whilst Pauga needs to build her endurance, she has high footy IQ that makes her read situations well when roaming inside or outside of the forward 50. Able to win the ball aerially or at ground level, Pauga is one who had more of a decision on her hands that most Queenslanders having made the move to the Gold Coast despite being in the Brisbane Lions Academy, but has opted for the Lions zone, continuing her pathway through the club over the years.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Having nominated Brisbane as her zone, Lions staff and supporters will be relieved and pleased to pick up the AFLW Academy member be it with their first or second selection alongside fellow AFLW Academy Harmer.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #13

AFLW Draft notes:

Yassir is a player who could go first or second round depending on the club’s needs. She has a lot of potential for the future and might be one Carlton looks to with its back-to-back picks, with North Melbourne and Richmond around the right region, and even the Western Bulldogs having a few selections together.

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

After being a bit-parts player all over the field for Glenelg in her bottom-age year, Tonon found her home off half-back and playing up on a wing at times. Her ability to read the game, win the ball and use it well out of defence became her niche, and she went on to have a sensational year, cementing her place in the Bays’ best side and winning a SANFL Women’s flag in the process. Whilst her AFLW Under 19 Championships was cut short following a red card from a tackle, Tonon showed enough to suggest that she has built a profile more than capable of stepping up to the next level both with ball-in-hand and off the ball.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

After the two AFLW Academy members, the Crows have quite the decision on their hands, but on form in 2021, Tonon is a player who has arguably stepped up the most to be third in the ranks with her clean ball use and decision making off half-back or further afield. Included in the Academy as a late entry post-championships, the medium defender has plenty to like for the future.

Gabbi Featherston

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #14

AFLW Draft notes:

Featherston has the potential to be a bolter or slider in the draft depending on where clubs see her. She has enormous potential given her athletic traits, and ability to play anywhere. Geelong might want to bring in another Falcon, though with so many Falcons in the pool, Featherston might be on that a team such as North Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs look to for a forward option. No doubt Collingwood with their three consecutive Victorian pool picks would be considering a player with her skillset too.

#25 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)
05/09/2003 | 175cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Kicking, clean hands, reading he play, decision making

Had it not being for a pesky wrist injury ruling out her 2021 season, Thomas would undoubtedly be higher on this list. Luckily for the tall talent who predominantly plays forward and can roll through the midfield, she has plenty of runs on the board. An AFLW Academy member, Thomas is the third one from Western Australia in the Academy, and as she showed in her bottom-age year, uses it so well with precise ball-use and decision making. Able to assess the situation well, Thomas is a player who could slot in anywhere on the field, and whilst she has spent most of 2021 recovering, she will be right to go for the start of the AFLW season.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With Rowley and Franklin expected to go in the first two spots, Thomas will likely be the next name to be read out, though if the Dockers were willing to put all chips in based on previous years form, then Thomas could end up second, otherwise it is expected she will head to the Eagles with West Coast holding three of the first four selections.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #15

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Geelong Falcon who the Cats could look to bring through the program, but is a target for anyone looking for a clean forward inside 50. The Kangaroos, Tigers and Bulldogs all have picks in Schaap’s expected draft range, and might consider the reliable talent.

Meagan Kiely

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #16

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite hailing from Tasmania, Kiely is now relocated to Melbourne, so falls under the Victorian rather than Tasmanian zone. Regardless of the fact she will not be a free hit for the Roos, North Melbourne would be certainly considering bringing their VFLW skipper up to the AFLW program, but there will likely be one or two clubs in the mix for an immediate midfield boost. Carlton and Collingwood are two sides that could grab another midfielder with one of their many picks.

#28 Dana East (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
10/06/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Inside game, clean hands, acceleration, contested ball

The most consistent of the West Australians throughout the entire WAFL Women’s season, East shot up into draft projections early in the season with some outstanding performances for Swan Districts. The inside midfielder is just so clean with her hands on the inside, and thrives on the contested ball, shovelling it out to teammates, or tucking it under the arm and bursting away with her quick first few steps. She has offensive and defensive pressure in equal measures, and is someone who can impact a game from the midfield. East has also spent time resting forward and can hit the scoreboard, though she is a future inside midfielder with a great balance of inside and outside traits. After the AFLW Academy members, East looms as the safest option, but also the one that could slot straight in if required, even with some areas to iron out such as her kicking consistency.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Regarded highly in the West Australian State Academy, she could be paired up with Rowley through the midfield at the Eagles, or might slide to Fremantle’s next pick if indeed the Dockers go tall with Franklin. Either way, East is one who would be top of mind for both West Australian clubs, and is someone who could impact from early on in her AFLW career.

Brooke Hards

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

Key strengths: Footy smarts, versatility, athleticism, kicking

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #17

AFLW Draft notes:

Like a number of VFLW performers, showed more signs in the last couple of rounds, and much like North Melbourne with their VFLW performers, the Western Bulldogs would have her among their thoughts to bring up from the VFLW to AFLW program after playing every game this season. Providing versatility and speed around the ground as well as the ability to impact through the midfield, Carlton or Collingwood are other clubs that might look at a talent with an extra year of senior experience.

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

Key strengths: Forward craft, accumulation, versatility, consistency

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #18

AFLW Draft notes:

Travelling over from Tasmania each week has proved valuable for Skinner who has had a sensational year for the Roos in the VFLW. As a player the Roos can take towards the back-end of the draft, Skinner is a valuable talent who adds both midfield and forward prowess, and much better value than what North Melbourne would pay in an open draft.

Abby Hewett

#31 Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 162cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Contested ball, clearances, goal sense, versatility

There might not be much of Hewett at 162cm, but the talented utility can play anywhere on the field. She knows how to win the ball inside or outside, reads it well in the air or ground level, and whilst she does her best work in close, can play as an outside player too. There are questions over where she will slot in at AFLW level, and she does have to learn to find the ball more often, but that is only because she can do so much damage with ball-in-hand, be it winning it in close and distributing it to the outside, using it in transition, or finding it close to goal and hitting the scoreboard. Whatever she ends up becoming, Hewett is one of the more underrated prospects in this year’s draft given Queensland’s lack of AFLW Under 19 Championships, but no doubt the two Queensland clubs eyes are all over her given her performances at QAFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

A Brisbane Lions Academy member, Hewett will likely be a third or fourth option for the Lions with Bella Smith being the other Academy member having had an impressive season this year. Brisbane has its own zone to pick players from, so the Wilston Grange product will find a way there, and it will be interesting to see how the Lions chose to utilise her.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #19

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like her Falcons teammate Feathertson, Houtsma is one who could bolt or slide given her raw attributes, but she has a lot to like about her game. A player who could be taken second round onwards, Houtsma represents value for any side that picks her up given her size, athleticism and versatility. Geelong might look at her, with the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda bringing plenty of youth through their programs, and Collingwood looking for a versatile tall.

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

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #20

AFLW Draft notes:

With Campbell already off to the Dees, Gillard looms as the best ruck prospect in the Victorian pool. She can play as a key forward too, and standing at 190cm, she is also clearly the tallest prospect in the AFLW Draft pool. Whilst still rounding out her game, Gillard is one who clubs could pounce on early, with the AFL Women’s Academy member having developed over the past few years, and has plenty of scope for the future. Carlton could be prime for Gillard as a tall target, with Western Bulldogs also likely to want to grab a tall, whist Collingwood would snap her up pretty quick if available given she fits the Magpies’ exact need.

Sarah Lakay

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

Key strengths: Ruck work, vertical leap, marking, defensive pressure

The standout West Australian ruck and a big improver in this year’s AFLW Draft crop, Lakay has come a long way in the past 12 months. From a basketball background, it is no surprise to hear of Lakay’s athleticism, and it was certainly no shock to see her smash the vertical jump records at the recent AFLW Draft Combine. Lakay is a high leaper with clean hands and great upside, able to tap the ball to advantage for her teammates. She is strong overhead, and good at ground level with great defensive pressure, and despite needing to improve her endurance to impact for longer, Lakay has plenty of potential to become a first choice ruck at AFLW level at 186cm.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

West Coast will likely use one of its two picks in the second round to pick up Lakay, especially if paired up with Rowley and Thomas. If the Eagles land Franklin, Lakay may slip to the Dockers who are more than happy to add another talented tall to their list, but both clubs would be very keen to pick up the athletic ruck.

#35 Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Queensland)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Strength, power, contested ball, clean hands, inside game

The fact Smith is potentially the sixth best player in the Queensland pool speaks volumes for the state and its footballing programs. The hardened inside midfielder could easily be rated in the top few, such is the evenness of the overall pool, with her inside game the second best behind top pick, Levi. She does not quite have the outside game that others do, but her contested ball-winning ability, clearance work and strength is what makes her the player she is. Able to dominate on the inside and extract the ball to the outside, Smith is the prototype inside midfielder and one who could play from early on in her career. She has the power to create separation from her opponents, and can distribute well by hand when exiting the congestion.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Brisbane Lions Academy member, it does not matter what order the Lions take them in, but they have a plethora of great youngsters to pick up, and Smith will only add to their inside brigade.

#36 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, penetrating kick, contested marking, competitiveness

Whilst the rucks so far in this Power Rankings have been athletic talents who utilise their around the ground speed and vertical leap to impact the contest, whereas Morphett offers a different skillset. Whilst able to still leap high, it is her body positioning and strength that helps her beat opponents, and despite not being as athletic as some of the others, she is the best contested mark of the rucks, and her competitiveness in the air or at ground level is superb. The other way Morphett has an advantage is her ability to play forward, where she can clunk contested marks and unleash her penetrating kick to effect. Being a part of the GIANTS Academy and NSW-ACT zone, Morphett is one who fits a need for the GIANTS as another tall, and would be more likely to start as a key forward and pinch-hit in the ruck.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

The GWS GIANTS may well read Morphett’s name out first given the Murray Bushrangers talent is the top pick in their Academy, but either way her name will come off the board, with the AFLW Academy member a player capable of impacting from early on, and working alongside Erin McKinnon at the GIANTS.

Keeley Sherar

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #21

AFLW Draft notes:

At this stage it is hard to work out where players might end up, with Sherar heading to the Pies in our Draft Central Phantom Draft. Eastern Ranges have a good relationship with the Magpies, and expect Collingwood to consider the midfielder, with Melbourne having some good value picks, and St Kilda also looking for a midfielder on the inside with some good pace to send Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith to the outside.

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #22

AFLW Draft notes:

Like Sherar, it is difficult to exactly calculate where Vickers might land given the amount of even talent at this point in the draft, but the skilful defender and outside runner is likely to have a number of possibilities. The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Melbourne are all teams that like to play quickly with speed, so Vickers would be a name to watch out for there.

#39 Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)
04/11/2003 | 168cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Key strengths: Contested ball, inside game, defensive pressure, endurance

Venning is a player who enjoyed a terrific season, not only standing out for West Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s, and representing South Australia at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, but picking up a host of accolades along the way. Venning won All-Australian honours as well as the West Adelaide best and fairest – claiming the latter ahead of teammate and league best and fairest winner Lauren Young – to be one of the more consistent players all season. With the Crows having so much strength at their disposal, and a smaller draft pool, Venning is one who has shown enough to be on a list, and it will come down to list spots and preferences. Her inside game and defensive pressure is superb, and whilst still working on her kicking, Venning has improved over the past couple of years, and has a great balance of athleticism between endurance, speed and agility to impress at the top level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Following the announcement of the finalised AFLW Draft order, Adelaide only had three selections in its hand, and Venning is considered the fourth one in these rankings. However it indicates where Venning would go in an open draft, and could easily be sourced by interstate clubs, or indeed picked ahead of one of the other three if the Crows find the need for Venning’s role.

Makaela Tuhakaraina

#40 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
23/08/2003 | 158cm
Small Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, agility, power, defensive pressure

A raw potential player with huge upside, Tuharakaina is another West Australian who has come on in leaps and bounds the past 12 months. Cementing her self in South Fremantle’s best side from a rugby background, Tuhakaraina’s acceleration and agility is hard to beat, and the combination might be the best of anyone in the AFLW Draft pool. Despite standing at 158cm, Tuhakaraina is able to do a lot of damage by breaking up the opposition defensive zones, and she can play in any third of the ground. Often up forward running from a high half-forward inside 50, Tuhakaraina is still developing fundamentals of her game which is understandable, but her power and ability to burn off opponents gives clubs a raw canvas to work with going forward. With her defensive ability and offensive switch to burst away, she is a talent who will naturally catch the eye.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Both clubs could do with her athletic profile, and she is ranked sixth here in this Power Rankings, but she could easily go higher with what she could become. Tuhakaraina might not have the game-on-game consistency of some of the others above her, but her sheer talent and upside would have both West Coast and Fremantle assessing their options.

Others:

Victorian Pool:

Holding the next two places in our rankings from Victoria are GWV Rebels’ Chloe Leonard and Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin. Top-age talents Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell and Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher are thereabouts, as is Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke, and AFLW Academy member Maykaylah Appleby. GWV Rebels’ Tahlia Meier, Oakleigh Chargers’ Eliza James, Gippsland Power’s Grace Matser, Calder Cannons’ Zali Friswell, Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling and Dandenong Stingrays’ Ash Richards are others in contention.

Western Jets’ Jemima Woods, Casey Demons’ Imogen Milford, Eastern Ranges’ Cadhla Schmidli and Northern Knights’ Tarrah Delgado round out the AFLW Draft Combine invites who have the most interest. From a non-Combine invited look, Essendon’s Alana Barba, Collingwood duo Imogen Barnett and Matilda Zander – and as an outside roughy after a good year Marla Neal – are those who might be considered to make the step up, as North Melbourne’ Molly Eastman and Southern Saints’ Tara Bohanna have also enjoyed good seasons.

The Power Rankings do not include past AFLW players who are a chance of regaining a chance such as retirees who have backflipped to return playing such as Tegan Cunningham and Leah Kaslar, and ex-North Melbourne now Essendon VFLW skipper Georgia Nanscawen. Hawthorn VFLW also have plenty of players worthy of another chance, with the likes of Georgia Bevan, Nadia von Bertouch and Kristy Stratton among those in the brown and gold able to step in and make an immediate impact. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing both crossed from their respective clubs to run around with Casey Demons in the hope of being redrafted.

From a Tasmanian perspective, top-age talents Ella Maurer and Jemma Webster, as well as consistent draft-eligible talents Jemma Blair, Amy Prokopiec and Amy Bissett would be among those who have done the most to put their hands up for North Melbourne (and the wider Victorian pool).

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POOL:

South Adelaide speedster Tahlita Buethke, Central District powerful forward Lauren Breguet and small forward/midfielder with the deadly left foot in Abbie Ballard are all very even in terms of whether they might get called up to the Crows or a club takes a look interstate. Ruck Leah Cutting is one you would expect to attract interest from interstate with Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and the West Australian teams always able to add another tall to the mix.

WEST AUSTRALIAN POOL:

East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly is next in line out west, with mature-age left foot forward Tessa Doumanis, defender Emily Bennett and slick utility Melisha Hardy among the even contingent being considered. Peel Thunder duo Bella Mann and Beth Schilling have good scope for improvement, with Swan Districts duo Emma Nanut and Nyra Anderson and Claremont’s Matilda Dyke the other West Australians to keep an eye on. Norwood’s Jade Halfpenny has chosen West Australia as her nominating state and would be in the Top 60 overall as that athletic forward/midfielder, whilst VFLW talents North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Geelong’s Theresia Meissner are among the others having nominated the state. Sandringham Dragons’ Pia Staltari has nominated the state she grew up in and could be a slick ball user off half-back or on the outside for one of the West Australian sides.

QUEENSLAND POOL:

Giselle Davies is in the next few in our Power Rankings, with the Queenslander a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, and could even be taken in those first few picks. The Suns also have access to the Northern Territory talent including AFLW Academy member Ashanti Bush, and talented, athletic Grace Mulvahil who also would have made it into the Top 50 of the Power Rankings. The 20-year-old Bella Clarke received a Combine invite, as did mature-age Madison Goodwin and Steph O’Brien, whilst Brisbane Lions Academy members Christine Okesene and Casey Wynne are also in the mix to be picked up after their invites.

NSW-ACT POOL:

In our Phantom Draft, top-age tackling machine Brodee Mowbray found her way to the GIANTS and would be next in line with the talented forward in Georgie Fowler. The GIANTS have a number of late picks and with no competition for the Pool, could look to other top-age talents Maddy Hendrie or Teagan Germech who also received and AFLW Draft Combine invite.

2021 AFLW Draft preview: Adelaide – Gold Coast

ONE more sleep remains until the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft and the 14 clubs are preparing to welcome a host of new players into the elite system. Draft Central has split its club-by-club draft previews into two parts, starting with the first seven clubs of Adelaide to Gold Coast in this edition, with the GWS GIANTS through to the Western Bulldogs published tomorrow morning. We take a look at the selections your club has, and some of the names who could replace outgoing players, or add something new to the table.

ADELAIDE:

Picks: 17, 20, 34

The Crows enter the draft with three selections, and an abundance of talent at their disposal. Going all the way to the AFL Women’s Grand Final for the third time, the Crows do not need a great deal of anything in particular, and more can grab best available talent. With Rhiannon Metcalfe ruled inactive for the 2022 season, it opens the door for Zoe Prowse to come in, with fellow AFLW Academy member Gypsy Schirmer capable of playing a similar role to the outgoing Chloe Scheer as well. Both players are expected to take up two of the Crows’ three selections.

From there it gets a little tougher, but there are five genuine South Australian options who could fill roles, with Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon – SANFLW premiership player and late addition to the AFLW Academy post-championships – and Zoe Venning – All-Australian and West Adelaide best and fairest winner – the two front runners. Tahlita Buethke adds a point of difference and could be that athletic type the Crows swoop on, whilst Lauren Breguet is a powerful forward that could play the Scheer role if Schirmer is destined for another position, and Abbie Ballard being that pinpoint left foot mid-forward with hardness.

BRISBANE:

Picks: 18, 35, 46, 53, 58

Brisbane coming off its inaugural flag has a fair bit of experience out the door with captain Emma Zielke and the experienced Lauren Arnell among the retirements, as well as Jordan Zanchetta and Rheanne Lugg also departing. They picked up Phoebe Monahan as a free agent from the Tigers, but will be looking to top up with some terrific talent around the field. Luckily for the Lions, their Academy is brimming with talent. AFL Women’s Academy members Maggie Harmer and Mikayla Pauga are the two names at the top of the list, with Harmer a half-back with a capacity to push up to a wing thanks to her strong running power, and Pauga a clever half-forward with clean hands and a nous for goals.

Outside those two, the likes of Bella Smith and Abby Hewett standout, with Smith that inside bull who will put her body on the line each and every contest, while Hewett can play wherever is required from inside, to outside, forward to back, and has versatility very few have. The quartet have been the standout players this season, with Queensland captain and half-back Christine Okesene a chance with her booming boot, and Casey Wynne another member of the Academy who received an AFLW Draft Combine invite. Steph O’Brien is a mature-age tall with a long netball career.

CARLTON:

Picks: 10, 11, 23, 26, 39

Carlton had a busy trade period, and not in terms of incoming players. They lost serious experience in overhauling the list, as Alison Downie, Katie Loynes, Tayla Harris and Jess Hosking all left, though Jess Dal Pos joined the Navy Blues to regain a bit of readymade experience. Whilst the Blues have Pick 10 and Pick 11 in the overall draft, it equates to Pick 6 and Pick 7 in the Victorian pool. Expect the Blues to pick up a tall and a small with the selections if available, with a midfielder on their radar. Whilst unlikely to slip through two Geelong picks, Tess Craven would be high up on the radar to replace Hosking, with Tara Slender and Ella Friend two key position talls who could play the versatile – even more so – role that Harris did.

With a couple of handy mid-20s picks as well, the Blues would look at Tahlia Gillard – at either set of picks – if Slender and Friend are both unavailable – whilst Stella Reid and Brooke Vickers are a couple of slick ball users that the Blues could bring in. For their last selection, the Blues might grab an experienced VFLW player such as Meagan Kiely, Brooke Hards or Alana Barba to immediately fill a hole through the middle, with the Blues known for picking up other VFLW teams’ players.

COLLINGWOOD:

Picks: 29, 32, 33

The Magpies are coming off a great season, getting within a kick of an AFLW Grand Final and pushing the eventual premiers Brisbane all the way. The Magpies will be in and out of the draft quickly once they start, with three consecutive picks in the Victorian pool. Collingwood will almost certainly look to bring in a tall option given the retirements of Sharni Norder and Abbey Green, though Sabrina Frederick and Alison Downie coming into the side gives them some cover in that area. They might want a tall forward option who can roll through the ruck as a long-term solution, which means Tahlia Gillard is a potential player who they bring in, though they could also look internally at VFLW leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett who is right under the Magpies’ nose.

Other Collingwood VFLW players who have stepped up this year include Jasmine Ferguson and Marla Neal, with Matilda Zander and Olivia Meagher among the most consistent talents for the black and white. From a NAB League Girls perspective, the Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers have a good connection with Collingwood, and Keeley Sherar or Brooke Vickers could be options for the Magpies. Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser, or Dandenong Stingrays forward Ashleigh Richards are others who could fill needs for the Pies. Ex-Demon Tegan Cunningham is a readymade Round 1 replacement inside 50 as a forward/ruck.

FREMANTLE:

Picks: 14, 31, 38, 44, 52, 57

Fremantle has a lot of list options with six selections given he high volume of outs compared to ins over the trade period. Sabreena Duffy and Ashley Sharp are unavailable next season, with a further five players also exiting the club without bringing anyone in, meaning the Dockers have plenty of room for a mix of youth and experience. The big question mark will be whether or not they go tall or small at their first selection, with West Coast having first dibs on a West Australian prospect. The Eagles are tipped to go Courtney Rowley, which means the Dockers would lean to key position utility Amy Franklin. If the Eagles pick up Franklin, the Dockers will grab Rowley, though Charlotte Thomas is the other possibility, with the AFLW Academy member missing the majority of the 2021 season through a wrist injury.

After their first selection, the Dockers will have a fair bit of free rein at the back-end of the West Australian Pool, with five of the last six picks in that Pool. Dana East is a talented inside midfielder who could be still on the board at the Dockers’ second selection, with Sarah Lakay a ruck potential if the Eagles do not snap her up first. Jade Halfpenny is a Norwood talent choosing to take a chance in Western Australia and is readymade to impact inside 50, whilst Emily Bennett, Bella Mann and Beth Schilling can all play behind the football, and Nyra Anderson and Tessa Doumanis inside 50. Chloe Reilly is a versatile utility with potential to step up to the next level, whilst North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Geelong’s Thereisa Meissner are those from the VFLW opting to head west.

GEELONG:

Picks: 2, 7, 9, 15

Geelong will be quick to finish off its draft given the Cats hold four picks inside the first nine Victorian selections. Knowing they have the first Victorian pick, they will be able to replace the experience like retiring Aasta O’Connor, and a dozen of delisted players headlined by Richelle Cranston. Olivia Purcell headed to the Dees, and Denby Taylor will sit out the year, whilst Chantel Emonson and Chloe Scheer provide much needed experience back into the line-up. Holding the first pick in the AFLW Draft, the favourite is Calder Cannons Georgie Prespakis, who will immediately provide an improvement to the onball brigade, also able to play forward as a strong one-on-one player. She is tipped to be the one chosen at the selection given her standout season, and following in the footsteps of sister Maddison.

As for the remaining three Geelong selections, a tall is tipped to be somewhere in there, with Ella Friend and Tara Slender both likely to be on the radar, whilst a handful of Geelong Falcons would be considered. Tess Craven is a name that jumps off the page, but whether or not the inside midfielder is still there, is yet to be seen, but another few choices include defender Annie Lee and clean forward/mid Poppy Schaap, with Gabbi Featherston another potential local pick. If looking for an additional ruck, Tahlia Gillard is one the Cats might turn to with their final selection.

GOLD COAST:

Picks: 1, 6, 8, 30

Gold Coast kick off proceedings tomorrow night and should have a fairly predictable draft hand for the first two selections. Sally Riley, Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar all departed the club, with experience such as Jordann Hickey among a host of delisted players. St Kilda’s Claudia Whitfort and North Melbourne’s Vivien Saad came into the fold late, and left the Suns with four selections – as well as the opportunity to pick a couple of mature-age talents if required. The first pick is predicted to be Oakleigh Chargers’ Charlie Rowbottom who opted to go to Queensland ahead of her home state Victoria, and the Suns will duly reward her with the first pick in the draft. The other consideration is Suns Academy member Teagan Levi, with both players being talented inside midfielders who can impact with their size around the stoppages.

With the first two selections done and dusted, the Suns have some choices after that, with key defender Giselle Davies one player who might get chosen for Gold Coast as a tall option, whilst Madison Goodwin is another big-bodied midfielder who can impact. Having access to the Northern Territory zone, the Suns would consider 18-year-old Grace Mulvahil out of Southern Districts to provide some run and carry off half-back, whilst dangerous forward Ashanti Bush – eligible for an over-age selection – is another top prospect, with Bella Clarke – a 20-year-old who has come through the junior representative programs – the other AFLW Draft Combine invite this year.

AFLW Draft Player Diary II: Brooke Hards

THE road to the AFL Women’s is not always straight forward, and for the 2020 draft-eligible players, a global pandemic was thrown in the mix. For aspiring Victorian AFLW Draft players, their top-age year was effectively thrown out the window, not able to play any competitive matches after March, and even were limited with training sessions. In this exclusive Player Diary, we get an insight into one of those player’s journeys.

Like every footballing journey, it starts somewhere and last Thursday, the first of a two-part AFLW Draft Player Diary, ex-Bendigo Pioneers and now Western Bulldogs VFLW Player Brooke Hards outlines the highs and lows of her footballing journey from when she first picked up a ball, to the AFL Women’s Draft.

In this part two, will feature Brooke’s 19th year in the VFLW and how she has adapted to playing senior football. It will also get a few thoughts on the upcoming AFLW Draft.

>> BROOKE HARDS PLAYER PROFILE

2020

AFLW Draft recap from Part I

Night of the draft was a lot of emotions and feelings coming through, my family and best friend Annabel Hocking came over to my dad’s house. I had the closest people to me there supporting me, sadly I did not get drafted. I was down and put out of routine for a bit but was slowly finding my way back into it. Year 12 was becoming to an end and I was waiting to see if I got into university whilst waiting, I got a fair few phone clubs from different clubs wanting me to play VFLW for them and I had a lot of decisions I had to make. Had two meetings with two different clubs and had to make my decision. I got into Victoria University so I chose the Western Bulldogs VFLW team to go to, it was going to make things a lot easier for me and I was super excited.

>> RECAP PART I HERE

Brooke Hards with her first touch in the VFLW against Hawthorn in Round 1.

2021

Bulldogs VFLW

I played all 14 games, played all the positions on the ground, I was very lucky to play against some AFLW players that has helped me grown into the footballer I am today and developing my skills on a larger basis. Playing with such a friendly inspiring team made me feel so comfortable coming into a new team and club. Sean Kavanagh was a great coach, he always pushed us all and his speeches before the games always made me so keen to get out on the ground, it was motivating.

Also, I was very lucky to have Nathan Burke on the sidelines for majority of games helping and using his loud voice to direct us at times when we need it. The coaching staff were incredible and always tried getting the best out of each of us because they’re also so passionate as well as us players. Playing with some top talent for the AFLW Bulldogs team, I learnt a lot off them and look up to them as well. Kicking a goal against St Kilda with Jess Fitzgerald and I doing the double cobra was such a highlight of that particular game.

Upcoming draft 

Upcoming draft will be different, with a lot of talent not getting picked up last year and has played a year of VFLW whilst everyone has improved in their skills. As like everyone, I’m excited but always keeping a level head if the same thing happens like it did last year. The Western Bulldogs improved my skills and I’m only going to keep improving and that is exactly what excites me the most. I would love to be drafted, mainly because I want to continue to improve, and I want to excel. There will always be nerves and stress, but you can only control what you can control and this point of time I can only focus what I can control, which is continuing on trying to be the best version of myself. I will be surrounded by family who have non-stop supported me throughout the process and it will continuously be there no matter what the outcome is on the 27th of July.

Brooke Hards in action against Casey Demons in the final round of the VFLW season.

Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

AFL Women’s Academy member Mikayla Pauga admits she is in a unique situation. The 18-year-old moved to Bond University for the start of the year to continue her studies, and therefore resides on the heart of the Gold Coast. Despite being around plenty of Gold Coast Suns, Pauga is a Brisbane Lions Academy member and one who has enjoyed coming through the program.

“It’s been pretty good I’ve recently moved to the Gold Coast, so it’s been a bit of an odd experience being in the Gold Coast region but playing for the Lions but I think it’s been really good,” she said.

Compared to many other aspiring footballers, Pauga describes her footballing journey as “quite short”. She first tasted it playing in high school and decided to take it up more seriously at Maroochydore, where she played for a couple of years in the seniors. There, she caught the eye of the Queensland talent pathway, not only running around for the Lions, but being selected in the AFLW Academy. With the move to university, Pauga had to switch Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s clubs from the Roos to the Sharkettes.

Ahead of a clash against her former teammates at her old stomping ground at Maroochydore, Pauga said she was excited and a little nervous, but told Draft Central it was great to catch up with some former teammates pre-game.

“I’m actually kind of excited, I haven’t seen the girls since probably Round 1, so getting to play with them again, will be a bit harder because they know how I play and I know them well, but excited for the clash today,” she said.

Pauga’s journey has not only involved making the switch south from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast, but she had to overcome two separate spinal fractures and also had surgery to insert plates into her hand and wrist. The injuries did not deter the pocket rocket who came back bigger and stronger than ever.

“It was a bit difficult, I had two quite similar injuries six months apart so it was just working that fitness back up and the mindset mentality back was a bit hard, but I feel like I’ve come a long way since then so it doesn’t really bother me now,” she said.

Pauga can play high or deep forward, or roll through the midfield, but admitted she hopes to increase her fitness to play more minutes up the ground, and also continue developing her overall game.

“I think I play like a small forward, so I’m close to the ground and pick up the crumbs a little bit and just little explosion plays I’d say,” she said. “I’d like to be able to run around a little more, and just reading the play.”

Over the journey, Pauga identified a former teammate and now Brisbane Lions youngster as a player she has looked up to as an inspiration and role model.

“I would say one of my role models, which would be a bit weird as I played with her for a few years, would be Lily Postlethwaite,” Pauga said. “Just seeing her journey, how hard she’s worked through the years and obviously she’s had her fair share of injuries doing her ACL this year, but yeah just seeing how hard she works and just because you have an injury doesn’t mean you can’t keep going.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft approaching, Pauga has her sights set on reaching the elite level, but also has some long-term goals to go with her more immediate future.

“Short-term would probably be drafted, and the draft is really close, they’ve pushed it a lot earlier this year, so definitely working towards that,” she said. “And just helping build the club reputation and the AFL Women’s in general.”

2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

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

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

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

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

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

>> Jaide Anthony VFLW Player Focus

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

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

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

>> Maggie Harmer QAFLW Player Focus

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

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

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

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

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

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

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

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

>> Brooke Tonon SANFLW Player Focus

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

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

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

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

Key strengths: Consistency, accumulation, work rate, tackling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Emily Bennett feature

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

Key strengths: Kicking, acceleration, evasion, work rate

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

OTHERS:

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