Tag: aflw 10 under 10 to watch

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #5 Nat Grider

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number five with Brisbane’s Nat Grider.

The Lions’ young gun is the second Brisbane player in the list, following on from Jade Ellenger at number 10. Grider has played the maximum games to qualify for the 10 under 10, with nine matches in her two seasons. Playing off half-back and through the midfield, the 171cm prospect made her debut back in Round 4, 2019 against the Western Bulldogs after being selected with Pick 22 in the 2018 AFL Women’s National Draft.

Grider entered the league as an All-Australian representative and Queensland state captain. After two games in her debut season, Grider really stepped up in 2020, playing all seven matches and becoming a mainstay in a Lions outfit brimming with great young talent. She has quite the junior accolades having won the Rising Star Award and Team of the Year in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition in 2018, and earned back-to-back Team of the Year honours the following season.

In her seven games, Grider averaged 8.1 disposals, 1.0 marks, 2.9 tackles and crucially, 4.9 intercept possessions. She became a crucial cog in the Lions’ back six, ranking second overall in that statistic behind All-Australian star full-back, Kate Lutkins. Grider’s impact was profound for her side, joining Lutkins and Emily Bates as her side’s top valued players, nominated for the 2020 AFL Women’s Players’ Association MVP Award.

While unlike many on the list that might have not had as many chances as they would have liked to-date, Grider has taken her chances but will look to go even further in 2021. Able to still make this list, expect Grider to be one of the first picked to start the new season, and provide plenty of run out of defence. She is a reliable player with natural leadership traits, and a special talent who will continue to improve.

The Lions might still be building towards something special as a young unit, but development is key and the likes of Grider will drive the next generation as they look to go one better than their efforts in 2017 and 2018.

Picture: Brisbane Women’s

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #8 Tiah Haynes

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number eight with Fremantle’s Tiah Haynes.

Haynes is the unique one in this list, having only been drafted in last year’s 2020 AFL Women’s National Draft. However the 27-year-old has played the required two seasons at the elite level, representing the Dockers way back in the foundation seasons of 2017 and 2018. There, Haynes managed to play six games – three in each year – before being delisted at the end of 2018. For those that might not know Haynes’ story, the talented defender has had to fight back from adversity to earn a spot back on the Dockers’ list, and has come so far that the club that did not lose a game last year has brought her back.

A hardened midfielder who can play in multiple roles – especially coming out of defence – Haynes has endued both shoulder and knee injuries over the journey, but was able to stand out for Subiaco this year. Playing in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, Haynes has built up her strength and power, as well as improved her skills since intitially getting a chance at the elite level, and becomes one of the few to get a second crack after being delisted in the early seasons.

Haynes has earned a spot on the list following a strong 2020 WAFL Women’s season with the Lions, but her story of resilience has been one for the ages. She has had to undergo three knee reconstructions, as well as a shoulder injury that curtailed her first AFL Women’s season. One aspect about Haynes that many might have forgotten is the fact she was the first selection in the Hampson-Hardeman Cup exhibition match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs back in 2014. She was selected ahead of the likes of Darcy Vescio, Emma Zielke, Dana Hooker and Kaitlyn Ashmore who were all picked up in the Top 10.

The then-20-year-old was a rising star coming through the state league level, and now six years older, is ready to use the experience of hardship and setbacks to stamp her authority on the competition. Fully fit, Haynes could very well be a strong player in the AFL Women’s, and no doubt a huge acquisition for the Dockers who have shown great faith in bringing back one of the most talented junior players, and rewarding her for her efforts both on and off the field in the past few years.

Picture credit: Fremantle FC

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #9 Maddy Brancatisano

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number nine with Richmond’s Maddy Brancatisano.

The former Northern Knights captain found her groove in 2020 after an unlucky 2019 season with Melbourne. Having been picked up with pick 15 in the 2018 AFL Women’s National Draft, Brancatisano was unable to crack into an experienced Demons’ midfield unit, and instead opted to join Richmond in the expansion period. There, she immediately had an impact, making her AFL Women’s debut in Round 1 and played six games for the season.

Possessing some terrific speed and a desire to win the ball in congestion, Brancatisano had a solid start to her elite level career, averaging 5.3 disposals, 1.2 marks and 1.2 tackles in her six games. She will look to build on that in 2021, and crack into an ever-strengthening Tigers midfield. Alongside the likes of Monique Conti and Sarah Hosking, Brancatisano will be reunited with former Knights’ teammate and 2020 AFL Women’s Draft number one selection, Ellie McKenzie for the 2021 season.

Having gone winless in 2020, Richmond is still searching for its debut win, and Brancatisano is expected to be a big part of the side going forward, which has bulked up on youth in year one, and now added a fair bulk of experience in year two. Unlike in 2020, the Tigers have the midfield depth to get it to tall forwards Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick, and all of a sudden, Richmond’s forward half looks all the more damaging.

Whilst the extra depth through the midfield might make it more challenging for Brancatisano, the natural leader has the right attitude and inside ability to make it work. In a side still building its identity, Brancatisano knows how to set the tone by example, and now that the Tigers have enough talent to worry some teams, expect the ex-Knights captain to be one of a number of players to step up in 2021 and show exactly why she is on this list.

Picture credit: Richmond FC