Tag: AFL Womens

AFL Women’s – What could the Conferences look like in 2021?

ASSUMING the AFL Women’s competition runs in an identical format next year as it has in 2020, questions are asked about what the Conferences may look like in 2021. We know that due to travel the two West Australian sides and the two Queensland sides will be in opposite conferences, but from there it is all up in the air. We take a look at a possible way they might structure the conferences next year.

Based on the rules from last year, the top two teams from 2020 – in this case it is Fremantle and North Melbourne – are in opposite pools. From there, we seeded the next two sides (based on wins and also the fact they won their finals) in Carlton and then Melbourne in opposite pools. It leaves the four losing finalists that round out the top eight. Due to the fact both Brisbane and Gold Coast should be in the same Conference, we have placed them in Conference B, meaning the GIANTS and Collingwood head to Conference A.

Looking at the six remaining sides, the next strongest performers were St Kilda, then Geelong and Adelaide. The Saints head to Conference B with the Crows as one might perceive that Conference as slightly weaker giving both the Queensland teams are still young and building, while Geelong heads to what shapes to be a dangerous Conference A. They are joined by the next best side in the Western Bulldogs there, which means the two sides south west of Melbourne are in the same conference. Rounding out the Conferences are West Coast and Richmond with the Eagles naturally joining Fremantle in Conference A, leaving Richmond to join Conference B.

See the two hypothetical conferences below:

Conference A:

Fremantle
Melbourne
GIANTS
Collingwood
Geelong
Western Bulldogs
West Coast

Conference B:

North Melbourne
Carlton
Brisbane
Gold Coast
St Kilda
Adelaide
Richmond

Looking at how the teams performed this year and possible improvement from some of the younger sides, there could be eight or nine contenders for the title. The likes of Fremantle and North Melbourne deserve favouritism, but the next group should be Melbourne, Carlton and Adelaide – with their top two players returning from injury. After that group, you cannot discount Collingwood who pushed a number of the top-end sides in 2020, and they might be in that B+ tier if you like, with Geelong and Brisbane not far behind. The Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and St Kilda are the three that could really improve in season 2021, but they are still young so are probably another season away from being a premiership contender – though you never say never. West Coast and Richmond are still feeling themselves out and had some promising moments in 2020, but are realistically the two underdogs heading into 2021.

The Conference system could provide the league with numerous possibilities, but next year if all teams are fully fit to begin 2021, it could be the most competitive year so far. With more and more talent coming through the junior AFL Women’s pathway, it is an exciting time in women’s football.

Of course we all want to see a 13-round season where each team plays every other team, but until that happens, then the best scenario is as many great games as possible across the two conferences. Next year will be a must-watch.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #2 Madison Prespakis

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we reveal the played ranked second for their efforts this year, a youngster who has already reached the highest heights in terms of individual honours despite completing just her second year in the competition.

Any guesses as to who will be number one?

#2 MADISON PRESPAKIS

7 GAMES AVE: 21.3 disposals*, 2.7 marks, 3.0 tackles, 4.3 clearances*, 3.3 inside 50s*, 1.3 rebound 50s, 0.4 goals (3)

*Denotes club-best

This year’s AFL Women’s best and fairest comes in second on out list of the top 50 players, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of opportunity in future for her to take out the top spot. At this point – only two years into her career at the elite level – Prespakis has everything bar a premiership medal in her trophy cabinet as the leader of a new generation which seems to be in an unstoppable hurry.

The tough, diminutive midfielder is already as decorated a player as they come, earning back-to-back All Australian and club best and fairest honours, the 2019 Rising Star award, and now the ultimate league-wide recognition. She is a player who can turn games, carry her side on her back through sheer determination and the will to win.

It was evident as early as in Round 1 this season, as the young gun picked up right from where she left off in 2019. Against Richmond, Prespakis ripped the game apart in with a memorable third term to set the tone for the remainder of her campaign, combining her unmatched ability to find the ball with scoreboard impact. Prespakis loves a goal, if her celebrations did not make that abundantly clear enough.

The 19-year-old, who has taken tips off Carlton men’s star Patrick Cripps for dealing with opposition attention, continued to find plenty of the ball in 2020, leading her side in that department. She dipped below 20 disposals just twice, and racked up a high of 26 against St Kilda in Round 5.

Capping off her brilliant year, Prespakis would also finish top of the tree among her Blues teammates for contested possessions, clearances, inside 50s, and metres gained, showcasing the true damage she can inflict from the middle of the ground. Everything about Prespakis’ game is about getting her side going forward on the front foot, and she does it better than most.

Plenty of records will shatter and be made unattainable by this young champion of the game, who is just getting started. It will be scary to see the accolades she finishes up with should she continue on her projected path, and if she is not already the competition’s most valuable player, she is certainly Carlton’s.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #7 – Monique Conti

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we continue the journey towards our top five with another prized draftee who has quickly broken into the elite ranks.

#7 MONIQUE CONTI

6 GAMES AVE: 19.8 disposals, 11 contested possessions, 2.7 marks, 4.8 tackles, 3.7 clearances, 3.2 inside 50s, 2.7 rebound 50s

Richmond’s winless inaugural AFL Women’s season may not have gone to plan, but the continual emergence of one of its marquee recruits, Conti gave Tigers fans something to smile about by is end. The zippy midfielder made a permanent move into the centre bounces and quickly became her side’s prime ball winner, proving she has a lot more than her patented run on the outside.

At just 20 years of age, Conti took up the responsibility of leading her side through action, as skipper and fellow former Bulldog, Katie Brennan went down with concussion in Round 4. The 165cm jet’s durability and toughness shone through significantly in those times as she posted season-best numbers in the final month despite being the primary target for opposition attention.

Expectations were high on Conti after she crossed from the Bulldogs for pick one, boasting a best afield medal in her former side’s 2018 premiership team, a best and fairest award, and All-Australian honours. But having also taken out Richmond’s VFLW best and fairest in 2019, there was little doubt about how she would fare in the yellow and black at the elite level.

Conti led her new side for disposals, contested possessions, clearances, and inside 50s in 2020, helping her become the sole Richmond representative in the All Australian squad. While she failed to make the final cut on this occasion, she was undoubtedly one of the unlucky few to be squeezed out due to the competition’s wealth of midfield stars.

Just three years into her career, Conti remains on the incline having entered the grade as a coveted junior and overall athlete given her prowess in other sports. She will inevitably be the face of Richmond’s attempt to capture premiership points for the first time in its next campaign.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #8 – Alyce Parker

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we delve further into the top 10, and feature one of the more outstanding second year stars who has already made a mark on the competition.

#8 ALYCE PARKER

7 GAMES AVE: 21.1 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.9 tackles, 4.0 clearances, 2.6 rebound 50s, 2.9 inside 50s, 377 metres gained

Madison Prespakis made it abundantly clear that the next generation of AFL Women’s talent would need no time to settle in having earned league best and fairest honours, but somewhat flying under the radar is Parker – arguably the next best performed pick out of the 2018 draft.

After being named among the extended All Australian squad in a stellar debut year, Parker went one-better in 2020 to earn a spot on the bench of the final team. The home-grown GIANTS talent was one of just two GWS players to have featured in the squad this year, and the only one to make the final cut.

The recognition rightly came after she lead her side for disposals, contested possessions, clearances, metres gained, score involvements, inside 50s, and rebound 50s. Parker dropped below 20 disposals just twice, with one time being against the highly-fancied Kangaroos, and the other while battling close attention from Brisbane mature-ager Cathy Svarc in Round 4.

While the GIANTS have not yet held their annual awards night, Parker seems a lock for their best and fairest award as the prime mover through midfield, and clearly the number one ball winner. Like Prespakis and an elite few from her draft class, the 19-year-old still has plenty of time to fill her trophy cabinet, but they all seem to be in a hurry. As one of the elites already, Parker will be a force for many years to come.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #9 – Anne Hatchard

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we enter inside the top 10 with an Adelaide ball magnet coming in at number nine.

#10 ANNE HATCHARD

6 GAMES AVE: 25.3 disposals, 4.7 marks, 5.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 1.3 rebounds, 1 goal

If there was a prize for the most rapid improvement year-on-year over the course of three seasons, then Adelaide’s Hatchard would be right up there. Looking at pure numbers she has bolted up from a player just inside her side’s best team to an elite ball winner in the AFL Women’s. It is hard to believe the person who averaged just 7.5 disposals and 1.0 marks from four games two years ago led the competition in disposals for the season.

In 2020, Hatchard racked up 25.3 touches per game – an improvement of 6.4 on last year, and 17.8 two years prior. Every facet of her game improved statistically, and in the absence of Phillips and Randall, she stepped up and worked hard with fellow gun, Ebony Marinoff in the midfield to lead the side.

Still only 22-years-old, Hatchard is quite young and one who has plenty of growth for the future. At 175cm, she is a taller midfield and she uses it to advantage, having now played every game in the past two seasons and become a premiership player in 2019.

While her year was as consistent as they come, it was hard to look past her Round 1 performance against Brisbane Lions when she broke the all-time disposal record with 35 touches. In that match she had 18 kicks and 17 handballs, as well as nine marks and six tackles. If that performance was anything to go by, she needs very little time to have a real impact.

With the Crows stars returning in 2021, all eyes will be on whether Hatchard can continue her ascent into the game’s elite and provide a very potent core of talented players for Adelaide.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #10 – Olivia Purcell

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we enter the top 10 in our count, with a rising star of the competition who took her game to the next level in 2020 to slot in among the elites.

#10 OLIVIA PURCELL

6 GAMES AVE: 20.2 disposals, 1.8 marks, 3.2 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 rebound 50s, 2.5 inside 50s, 0.6 goals (4)

Geelong may have taken a step back from its 2019 finals berth with a 2-4 effort in 2020, but that did little to stop many young Cats from making a huge step in their development. At the forefront was Purcell, who backed up an impressive debut campaign where she finished second in Geelong’s best and fairest, to go one better this year in earning top honours.

Arguably Geelong’s leading midfielder, Purcell was a standout in all six of the Cats’ AFL Women’s outings, working both ways from the middle of the park and particularly impressing going forward. Having led the club for disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, clearances, score involvements and inside 50s, Purcell capped off her big season by being named at half-forward in the All Australian side.

The 19-year-old has somewhat been underrated given the talent of her draft crop – see Madison Prespakis and closer to home, Nina Morrison – but that is no more. After managing a season-high 27 disposals in Round 1 against the competition’s best side, Purcell did not drop below 16 disposals in her six games to be the only Cat to average over 20 overall, while also finding the goals in half of those appearances.

A real driver of the ball from the stoppages, Purcell has broken the shell of a more defensive midfield role in her first year, to become the prime ball winner in Geelong’s side. Her work rate is still phenomenal on either side though, making a bonafide star of the competition and one who may well project into the top five in future.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFL Women’s Players: #13 – Britt Bonnici

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look at number 13 in our count, an inaugural Magpie who thrived in a new role to return career-best numbers in 2020.

#11 BRITT BONNICI

7 GAMES AVE: 19.6 disposals, 3.6 marks, 4.3 tackles, 3.4 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 1.0 rebound 50s

Usually it is the opposition in question when the term ‘breaking the shackles’ and Bonnici gather in the same context, but in 2020 it was a case of the Collingwood midfielder being freed to win her own ball after coming to prominence as a tagger in her previous three AFL Women’s seasons.

The tough, in-and-under engine room operator showcased her increased output on the attacking side of midfield this year, managing career-best numbers in disposals, marks, and inside 50s as she combined her aptitude at the stoppages with hard work on the spread to have a greater metres gained effect.

Bonnici’s numbers would see her finish second to only Jaimee Lambert in a range of key stats, while also finishing in that same order in Collingwood’s best and fairest count. But no one could beat the 23-year-old to her side’s best finals player award, with 20 disposals (all kicks) against North Melbourne in a tense semi-final earning her that honour.

The 163cm jet breached the 20-disposal mark four times across her seven games, only going as low as 14 in Round 1 while managing a high of 26 against Brisbane in what was a phenomenal late-season performance. The depth in Bonnici’s game and her rate of development have been promising thus far, as she is now firmly a key fixture in the Collingwood midfield.

Bonnici was one of a league-high five Magpies to be named in the initial All-Australian squad and while she may not have made the final cut, it still served as some much deserved credit for another terrific season at the top level.

 

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #14 – Ebony Marinoff

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look at number 14 in our count, a young star who continues to break new ground despite the absence of her club’s stalwarts. 

#14 EBONY MARINOFF

6 GAMES AVE: 23.3 disposals, 5.2 marks*, 7.8 tackles*, 4.5 clearances*, 1.8 rebound 50s, 2.8 inside 50s*, 316 metres gained*

* – denotes club-best

The depth of the competition’s elite players shows when Marinoff only manages to come in at number 14 after another remarkable season, taking her game to new heights in the face of a club injury crisis.

The 22-year-old’s midfield move in 2018 has proven a natural progression since, with her ball winning ability improving each season. While the tackling machine’s numbers in that specific area were down on her career-best during 2020, Marinoff’s disposal average exceeded her previous best as she was seldom beaten to the ball.

Marinoff led her side for marks, tackles, clearances, inside 50s, and metres gained to cement her status as a bonafide leader of the side, with key figures like Phillips and Randall sitting on the sidelines. It may have been a difficult year for the Crows result-wise, but the emergence of a dependable engine room will hold them in good stead.

Partner-in-crime Anne Hatchard has a lot to do with that potential too, having complimented Marinoff’s combination of class and one-percent work with her own presence around the stoppages. Hatchard in fact broke Marinoff’s previous record disposal haul for a single game, as the pair provided the perfect fold for one another.

Previously a two-time All-Australian, premiership player, and inaugural Rising Star, Marinoff’s season may not have earned the same competition-wide plaudits, though she looks certain to feature in the medal placings for Adelaide’s best and fairest count.

Already four seasons down in a well-credentialed career, Marinoff has the world at her feet in terms of just how good she can get at an individual level, though helping the Crows rise back to prominence will undoubtedly be the top goal for 2021.

Q&A: Lucy Pengelly (Aspley/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the pre-season where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Lucy Pengelly at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

A product of the Aspley junior ranks, Pengelly’s rate of development has been exceptional as a relative newcomer to the sport. The Brisbane Lions Academy member took out the Hornets’ senior QWAFL best and fairest award in 2019, her debut season, pointing toward a bright future in the game.

Q&A:

TM: Lucy, how did you get into Australian rules football?

LP: “I actually started pretty late, through high school. “I started playing through the school team, then my friend was like ‘You should just come join club (football)’. “She brought me to club, then I just fell in love with it, started playing and have been playing ever since then.”

 

What is it about footy that you’ve fallen in love with?

“I think it’s just something different to what other people do every day. “It’s a good outlet for all the stress and just getting around, having a big team is also really good because you make a lot of friends.”

 

And you started playing around the latter half of high school?

“Yeah, it was about Grade 9 that I started playing.”

 

Were you playing any other sports before that?

“I was actually a dancer before that.”

 

That’s a big change, how have you found it?

“Honestly, it wasn’t as hard because I’ve always loved sport and I’ve just always tried lots of different sports.

“But dancing was my main sport, then it changed to AFL and I just loved it straight away because it’s just a really different thing, but I found that dancing also helped me with things like flexibility and the strength that you need for certain things like kicking in AFL.”

 

How did you adapt to the physicality and contact?

“At first I think I was a little bit scared about it but as soon as I started playing, it just felt natural to me.”

 

Is there a particular area you think you’re really strong in?

“I think my perseverance in the game is pretty good. “I just like to keep going, no matter if we’re losing or winning I always want to put in my best effort and no matter what the outcome is, I just want to know that I’ve tried my best.”

 

Is there a particular area of your game that you’re looking to strengthen this season?

“I’m really hoping to just strengthen my kicking and my marking, so just the little skills. Build on those, and a bit more knowledge of the game as well. “Because I’m a pretty new player I’m just hoping to build some more knowledge.”

 

And how are you finding the Brisbane Lions Academy?

“I’m loving it. “It’s been really good for my personal development and also to make friends, it’s been really good.”

 

How do you go about balancing club football, the Academy, your studies and everything else?

“It takes a bit of effort to balance but you’ve just got to make sure you communicate with lots of people and communicate with the coaches. “They’ll tell you (where) you need to be at, and what you can afford to miss.

“It’s been a bit of an issue since I’m starting uni and have also started working but I’ve managed to sort it out now I think.”

 

What are you studying at uni?

“I’m studying sports and exercise science.”

 

And how’s the preseason been for you?

“It’s been really fun. “I’ve done all of my preseason mostly with the Academy because club (training) is on the same nights as the Academy. “But it’s been good, I’m happy with where I’m at, at the moment and hopefully I can keep building on it throughout the year.”

 

Do you find there’s a difference between what you do at the Academy and at club level?

“Not as much as I noticed between Under 17s girls and the Academy but with the Women’s football, it’s kind of on the same level.

“Academy is just a bit more individualised, you always have the coaches coming up and telling you what you need to work on. “It’s good to have a bit of both, it’s just two different teams and two different environments.”

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #20 – Jenna Bruton

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look number 20 in our count, a hard-working midfielder who is not afraid to burrow in despite her size. 

#20 JENNA BRUTON (NORTH MELBOURNE)

7 GAMES AVE: 17.4 disposals (10.3 contested), 2.1 marks, 5.7 tackles, 3.7 clearances, 1.6 rebound 50s, 2.1 inside 50s

After earning the inaugural North Melbourne best and fairest award to go with All Australian honours, Jenna Bruton had set lofty standards to live up to in 2020. But the diminutive midfielder maintained her outstanding form in a campaign good enough for fourth place in the club best and fairest, and recognition in the extended All Australian squad.

Part of an immensely talented ‘Roos midfield quartet, Bruton was pushed out of the centre circle at times this season upon the return of Ash Riddell, but still managed to have an impact at the stoppages when starting on the outside. Her work rate to impact the play going both ways showed, averaging 17.4 disposals and 3.7 clearances per game while also leading her club for tackles and breaching both arcs regularly.

The 24-year-old has quickly solidified her status as a key member of the Kangaroos’ line-up after crossing from the Western Bulldogs, where she won a premiership in her debut season of 2018. While stars of the competition like Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner may earn most of the plaudits, Bruton’s high-intensity style and work rate help to set a winning tone for what has been a successful expansion side to date.

She may stand at just 158cm, but is usually hard to miss as she buzzes around the ground and crashes in for the ball, with her impact on the contest often right up there with the best. That is where Bruton will aim to get, excelling from providing a supporting cast role to being one of the elites.