Tag: AFL Womens

2022 AFLW early look: St Kilda

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: Richmond

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: Melbourne

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: Gold Coast

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Gold Coast SUNS

2022 AFLW early look: Geelong

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

LAST SEASON:

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

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

OFF-SEASON:

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

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

2022 TEAM LIST:

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

KEY QUESTIONS:

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

PREDICTION:

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

Picture credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

AFL Women’s season pushed back until January

AFTER initially hoping to launch the new AFL Women’s season in December to run over summer, the AFL and AFL Players Association officially declared on Thursday that the 2022 season will instead commence in the first weekend of the New Year. The extra month to prepare – with preseason initially expected to begin in September – was provided due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic and various stages of state lockdowns.

The eight Victorian sides and the GWS GIANTS would be unable to hold preseason training at this stage, and therefore the move to delay the start of the season will allow a greater chance of not only all teams having an equalised preseason in the lead-up to the competition, but also a greater chance of allowing as many fans into matches as possible. Along with the delayed start, the preseason training start date has also been shifted back to October. The season will still contain an extra round compared to 2021 – 10 – which is also the final season of 14 sides.

AFL General Manager Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said the decision was made around the health and safety of all stakeholders involved in the AFL Women’s competition.

“This year’s NAB AFLW Competition saw the best season yet with the quality of the game continuing to attract supporters and inspire hundreds of thousands of girls and women to play football,” Ms Livingstone said.

“The 2021 season was also the most challenging yet due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affecting all but two rounds of the Competition.

“As we prepare for Season Six, we know the nature of playing professional sport in a pandemic means we will continue to be presented with challenges in the lead up to and during the season and, as a result, have made the decision for the NAB AFLW Competition to commence in January next year.”

AFL Players’ Association Chief Executive Officer Paul Marsh thanked the clubs for understanding the decision and said given the current landscape not only from a football point of view, but an overall environment point of view, it was the only sensible choice to make.

“The AFLPA and players understand the challenges that COVID is currently presenting to society and our industry. The decision to push back the start of the season is a sensible one in the current circumstances and has been worked through with AFLW player leaders,” he said.

“The players’ ongoing flexibility is to be commended and we appreciate the AFL’s willingness to in turn work with us to recognise the impact of these changes on the players’ non-football lives in the agreement we have reached with them.”

The 2022 AFL Women’s fixture will be determined once there is more clarity around the state-by-state government orders.

AFLW Expansion look: Sydney

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

Whilst the makeup of lists and how much compensation the expansion clubs will get is unknown, we take a look at it from a broader sense and who might be some names to remember. The series concludes with Sydney, a side that broke barriers last season to play its first NAB League Girls game – and win – allowing a number of future AFL Women’s talents to showcase their ability for when the Swans’ expansion side comes in.

Sydney’s list makeup will likely be the toughest to determine, as the Swans have some quality youngsters going about, but the main league in Sydney – the Women’s Premier League  – whilst having some AFLW experienced talent, do not have the same volume of elite-level players as other states. This means from an experience point of view, the Swans will need to attract players from other states – as well as convince some GWS GIANTS to come across the the Harbour City and pull on the red and white in the inaugural year.

One of those GIANTS high on the Swans list would be Academy captain Jess Doyle, who came through the Sydney Academy, though as a draft-eligible player this year, was picked up by the GIANTS in the most recent draft. A silky forward-midfielder, the young gun had a huge season and would no doubt be one that the red and white would so dearly love to have back in their colours for the 2022-23 season. Talented forward Georgie Fowler was the other Academy member to be picked up, having impressed as a lead-up forward in the AFL Sydney competition this year and landing at the GIANTS. Of the other Swans Academy players who impressed, Maddy Hendrie, April Devine and Isadora McLeay are all versatile tall talents that could be looked at, with Danika Spamer, Ella Heads and Ruby Sargent-Wilson among the others to show off what they have at Academy level.

Among those future names to keep an eye on, the father-daughter potential selections of Tallulah and Memphys Kirk have been front and centre around promoting the AFLW bid. The Kirk twins hope to follow in the footsteps of their father Brett, a 241-game Swans champion and premiership player. Southern Power player Kiara Beesley earned an AFLW Draft Combine invite in 2020, and whilst she ultimately missed out on being selected, could be another Academy member close to making the step up, while Hannah Cerezo is a late developer to the code and impressed in the Academy games.

Overall the Swans have some developing talents, and as shown by their upset of NAB League Girls grand finalists Geelong Falcons, are a well-coached and well-drilled unit despite having less exposure to high-level underage football compared to their opponents. Next year will be a big year for the club in the female football space, as they go to work to try and attract current and mature-age talent to join the junior ones coming through the Academy.

Picture credit: Sydney Swans FC

AFLW Expansion look: Port Adelaide

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

Whilst the makeup of lists and how much compensation the expansion clubs will get is unknown, we take a look at it from a broader sense and who might be some names to remember. The series continues with Port Adelaide, a side that has a rich amount of talent in its Next-Generation Academy (NGA) particularly for the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft, but a state league that is incredibly strong with readymade talent to compete and try and knock their state-based rivals Adelaide off its perch.

Looking ahead to the future of the Power, the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft could be a promising one if they are able to get their hands on their Academy talent, headlined by 2021 AFLW Under 19s Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) for South Australia, Lauren Young. The 15-year-old talent is not eligible in next year’s draft, but looms as an incredible prospect ahead of the 2023-24 AFLW season. The tall utility can dominate in any line at senior level, and still has a couple of years to hone her craft further.

But outside of Young, Port Adelaide have some other great talents yet to be exposed at Under 19s state level, with Shineah Goody the next best South Australian prospect for the 2023 AFLW Draft also in the Academy. The Woodville-West Torrens product is a smooth mover who can play on all three lines like Young, and along with sisters Chloe (2023 AFLW Draft) and Jemma Whitington-Charity (2024).

Marlie Fiegert (2023) has a special tie to the the club, with the talented Eagles prospect a potential Port Adelaide father-daughter selection. Her father Nigel played 19 AFL games for the Power, and 168 SANFL games at the Magpies between 1996-2004. Speaking of father-daughter selections, who could forget the time Erin Phillips committed to Port Adelaide six years ago prior to the start of the AFL Women’s. Having already starred for the Crows, the daughter of eight-time premiership player Greg would be the top of the list for the Power from not only a playing sense, but a marketability sense.

Whilst picking potential current AFLW talents might be tricky 12 months out, some players who were right in contention for the most recent AFL Women’s Draft include AFLW Academy member Gypsy Schirmer, and Under 19s All-Australian and West Adelaide Best and Fairest winner Zoe Venning. Both would be strong selections for the Power, whilst Lauren Breguet and Tahlita Buethke were other AFLW Draft Combine invites who could be looked at for the state’s newest club.

In terms of top-age talents, Port Adelaide might look to its rival Adelaide’s Academy in 2022, with North Adelaide duo Hannah Ewings and Amelie Borg, and West Adelaide’s Keeley Kustermann looming at the three top picks in the state 12 months out from the draft. Whilst South Australia has plenty of depth in the crop, the trio are top-end talents, with Ewings a Breakthrough Award winner, and Kustermann and Borg both capped at Under 19s level – a carnival Ewings missed due to an ankle injury.

Across the league, the likes of Sharnie Whiting as a key position player, and Jessica Bates and Ellie Kellock out of Glenelg’s premiership side could be readymade talents, and Central District duo Katelyn Rosenzweig – a one-time Crows listed player – and Chantel Reynolds up forward who both impressed inside 50. Jorja Hooper is a draft-eligible talent tall forward out of South Adelaide who might come in as a consideration, whilst the likes of Tessa Kohn, Isobel Kuiper and Shelby Smith have played consistent football over the last couple of years as inside ball-winners.

There is no shortage of talent in South Australia, and Port could well be immediately competitive in the AFL Women’s, with a great blend of experienced and young talent, particularly if Phillips is that headline marquee player.

Picture credit: Port Adelaide FC

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.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Western Bulldogs

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 conclude the club-by-club reviews with Western Bulldogs.

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

After missing out on being drafted last year, Ling put together an ultra-consistent season for the Oakleigh Chargers, racking up the ball consistently and being a force through the midfield. In a team littered with stars, Ling stood out when it counted most, winning the best on ground medal in the Chargers’ premiership win over Geelong Falcons. Also impressing at VFLW level, Ling has the athleticism and hardness, as well as high-level endurance to step straight into the AFLW midfield if required.

AMANDA LING CONTENT:

>> Ling praises team effort in best on ground performance

>> Bond credits “focused” team in NAB League Girls Grand Final win

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

Another ultra-consistent performer, Smith produced an outstanding year, winning Murray Bushrangers’ best and fairest and being one of the most dominant wings in the NAB League Girls competition. That led her to step up to the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for Vic Country where she had outstanding games against South Australia and Queensland to earn All-Australian honours. With pace to burn, a clean user by hand or foot, and one who can go inside if required, Smith is a talent who has come on in leaps and bounds and is predicted to make even more strides now she is at the elite level.

AURORA SMITH CONTENT:

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

#27 Elizabeth Snell (Inside Midfielder/Forward)
14/03/2002 | 165cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

A second top-age player who missed out last year, the Western Bulldogs were attracted to her hardness at the contest, and athleticism around the ground. Able to play midfield or forward, Snell has terrific acceleration and defensive pressure, with high-volume tackles. Able to accumulate the ball well, Snell won the Bendigo Pioneers’ best and fairest off just five games in 2021, and was a standout each time she took the field. Stepping up to the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for Vic Country, and VFLW for Essendon, Snell did not look out of place, and earned her spot on the Bulldogs’ list with their last pick in the AFLW Draft.

ELIZABETH SNELL CONTENT:

>> VFLW Player Focus: Elizabeth Snell (Essendon)

>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft Victorian top-age talents

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Western Bulldogs addressed their need for speed and defensive pressure, with all three players able to run with the ball in transition. Ling and Snell provide the inside hardness, whilst Smith is the outside runner who can evade opponents easily like the others. Having all represented Victoria and played at VFLW level already, the trio are capable of slotting in against senior opposition and Ling and Snell having the extra year of NAB League Girls football has them particularly set to impress.