Tag: AFLW Draft

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Jessica Fitzgerald (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Northern Knights’ Jessica Fitzgerald, a balanced midfield prospect whose NAB League head coach described as their side’s most important player.

Jessica Fitzgerald (Northern Knights)

Height: 166cm
Position: Balanced midfielder
Strengths: Inside/outside balance, run-and-carry, leadership, defensive pressure, accumulation

2020 NAB League stats: 3 games | 18.7 disposals | 1.3 marks | 3.7 tackles | 2.6 inside 50s | 2.0 rebound 50s | 0.7 goals (2)

2019 NAB League stats: 11 games | 14.1 disposals | 1.6 marks | 5.6 tackles | 3.5 inside 50s | 1.3 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (3)

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 2 games | 14.0 disposals | 1.5 marks | 1.0 clearances | 4.0 inside 50s | 0.5 goals (1)

Fitzgerald and her Northern Knights teammates have known only one way over the last 18 months – winning. In an inspired 2019 campaign, the metropolitan region went undefeated en route to its maiden NAB League Girls premiership, and Fitzgerald was a key cog in the stacked squad as a middle-ager. Her form was enough to warrant selection in the Vic Metro Under 18 side, another team which Fitzgerald helped to go undefeated last year.

The elite talent pathways are not purely results-based, but it is nice to be able to boast such a record. Arguably the more pleasing factor over the course of Fitzgerald’s junior career has been her ability to impact each side she lines up for, and her rate of development – even from a high level to begin with.

There is no questioning the drive and penetration Fitzgerald brings to the table, able to carve up opposition sides with her line-breaking speed and long boot. While she spent a touch more time on the outside and up forward in 2019, the 18-year-old has thrived in a more permanent inside midfield role thus far as a top-ager. In obtaining the primary ball winning role, Fitzgerald has adapted her pressure around the ball and creative mindset to become one of the more balanced midfielders of her cohort.

It is that exact balance that yielded the ‘most important player’ comment from Marcus Abney-Hastings after Northern’s 2019 grand final triumph, where Fitzgerald was also named best afield. The 166cm goer was her side’s leading ball winner with 15 disposals on that day alongside eventual number one draft pick, Gabby Newton, with her ability to stand up at the important moments an invaluable trait.

Talent aside, it is that kind of form which saw Fitzgerald named the Knights’ co-captain with good mate and midfield partner, Ellie McKenzie for 2020. The pair proved their leadership qualities in Round 3 of this year’s NAB League Girls season against a red-hot Dandenong side; dragging the Knights over the line after trailing at half time with 28 disposals each, while Fitzgerald also bagged two goals.

That game-breaking ability not only makes Northern a fearsome side, but puts Fitzgerald right up there in the top five discussion for her cohort. Her speed-endurance combination, sharpened finish product, and ball winning attributes make for a rare package of talent, with those immeasurable leadership qualities the cherry on top.

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is Northern Knights’ Ellie McKenzie, a dynamic midfielder/forward with an incredibly high ceiling.

Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights)

Height: 173cm
Position: Midfielder/Forward
Strengths: Clean hands, high marking, scoreboard impact, decision making, run-and-carry

2020 NAB League Stats: 3 games | 19 disposals | 5 marks | 2.3 tackles | 4.6 inside 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

2019 NAB League Stats: 10 games | 15 disposals | 3 marks | 2.4 tackles | 3.4 inside 50s | 0.7 goals (7)

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 2 games | 16 disposals | 2.5 marks | 3.5 tackles | 4 clearances | 1.5 inside 50s | 1 rebound 50

Northern Knights co-captain Ellie McKenzie has long been billed as one of her region’s top prospects after breaking into the side as a bottom-ager in 2018. Since her three-goal debut, McKenzie has developed into more than just a mainstay for the Knights, proving her worth as a game-changing figure over the past three seasons.

The 173cm midfielder/forward stood out last year even among a raft of top-age stars in Northern’s undefeated premiership side, catching the eye with high-flying marks inside forward 50, and tearing up the outside once employed further afield. That same form was transferred into the Under 18 National Championships, where McKenzie would feature thrice for the again, undefeated Vic Metro team.

Like many players in the elite category, McKenzie has a vast array of strengths which are adaptable to multiple positions. When stationed up forward, her clean hands and sizeable leap give her an edge aerially, with smarts around goal boding well for her damaging scoreboard impact.

But like many chasers have learned, McKenzie can also hurt the opposition with her run-and-carry on the outside. She showed as much in a couple of memorable moments throughout 2019, tearing up a wing with multiple bounces against Queensland while on representative duties, and capturing the crowd’s attention on NAB League grand final day with a similar feat.

For all the frills in her game, McKenzie also excels in the fundamentals. While she tends to favour her stronger left side when disposing by foot, McKenzie is a sound decision maker and can gain some serious meterage with her penetrating boot. Her clean hands have also served her well in congestion having picked up more midfield minutes, allowing her to be there and gone in a split second.

The sister of former North Melbourne rookie, Tom, McKenzie is developing a similar ball winning capacity, and has become one of her side’s premier extractors as a top-ager. Alongside co-captain Jess Fitzgerald, McKenzie turned the game against Dandenong around in quick time this season, as both players collected 28 disposals apiece.

It was that kind of form which saw the 17-year-old lead our DC Medal count after the first and only three NAB League Girls rounds in 2020, tied with Dandenong star Tyanna Smith. Along with the two aforementioned prospects, McKenzie is one of the leading candidates to be taken first off the board come draft time.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 4

ROUND 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s saw a number of young guns shine, with top-end first year draftees continuing to come into their own among a raft of 2000 and 2001-born prospects at the top level. The 2019 number one and 13 picks each earned Rising Star nominations, showcasing the true depth of talent in the next generation of future stars.

Collingwood vs. Melbourne

The Dees got up impressively in this one on the back of superior experience and depth, but Collingwood’s developing list has shown some noted signs of improvement in 2020 coming off a wooden spoon season. Tyla Hanks has, for the most part, been Melbourne’s sole under-21 representative thus far, and continued her solid form in the forward rotation with 15 disposals and five tackles. The Magpies’ youngsters were a touch quieter, but Mikala Cann was the pick of the bunch with 12 disposals, two marks and four tackles, while Alana Porter (11 disposals), Jordyn Allen (nine disposals, two marks), and Lauren Butler (eight disposals, five tackles) were also serviceable. With key defender Ash Brazill going down with an ACL injury on the weekend, the strong list of developing Pies will need to stand up in the back-end of the season.

Richmond vs. Geelong

An extra year in the system is the key difference between much of Geelong and Richmond’s teenage crops, and 2018 draftee Olivia Purcell proved the prime example of that theory with her leading hand in the Cats’ high-scoring win over the Tigers in Bendigo. Purcell gathered a team-high 20 disposals and booted a goal, while fellow class of 2018 graduate Georgia Clarke was effective close to goal with two majors from eight disposals. The Cats’ first 2018 pick, Nina Morrison continues to play into form and collected 12 touches in more of a forward role, with Rebecca Webster (eight disposals, six tackles) a touch down on her own much-improved form but still influential. Sophie Molan led a handful of first-year Tigers with her 10-disposal effort, while Kodi Jacques and Laura McClelland also held their own with a goal each. Former Northern Knights pair Maddy Brancatisano and Sarah Sansonetti had five touches each, but struggled to have the impact required to get Richmond over the line.

North Melbourne vs. Gold Coast SUNS

A winning debut for Tasmanian draftee, Mia King headlined a solid game for a bunch of quality prospects as the Kangaroos trumped Gold Coast at Arden Street. King collected 11 disposals and two marks while laying three tackles in a steady display of her talent, while 2018 draftee Daisy Bateman notched her second two-goal tally for the season, booting majors at crucial times to keep the SUNS at bay. For Gold Coast, Jacqui Yorston was terrific with 15 disposals, five marks and six tackles, leading a talented handful of 2000/2001-born SUNS guns. Fellow former-Lion Lauren Bella continued her rise in the ruck with 10 touches and three marks, while academy products Ellie Hampson and Serene Watson each claimed eight touches in roles at opposite ends. The exuberant SUNS have been a surprise packet this season, with their hunger for the contest helping them hang with the best of sides, and that will put them in good stead going forward in accelerating their growth.

West Coast vs. Western Bulldogs

West Coast’s maiden AFL Women’s victory may have been the main takeaway from this fixture for neutrals, but those on the Dogs’ side will be thrilled by the game of 2019 number one draft pick, Gabby Newton. The Northern Knights graduate gathered 16 touches, five marks and laid 10 tackles – all season-high numbers – to earn a Rising Star nomination, while fellow class of 2019 alumni Gemma Lagioia (12 disposals, three marks) and Elisabeth Georgostathis shone at either end, and debutant Hannah Munyard found the ball eight times. Second year player Eleanor Brown also put up her clear-best numbers for the year with 12 disposals and five marks on the outside, with plenty to work on for the former top-10 pick. Mikayla Bowen was the standout Under-20 Eagle, notching 11 disposals and laying six tackles, with prized tall recruit McKenzie Dowrick returning a steady three touches while Sophie McDonald managed nine – a season-high for her.

Adelaide vs. Carlton

The other Rising Star nomination came out of a monumental Blues’ win, with physical 19-year-old midfielder Grace Egan being rewarded for a strong string of performances. The Murray Bushrangers and Richmond VFL product managed her second 18-disposal game for the season, adding six marks and four tackles to the effort. 2019 Rising Star Madison Prespakis went about her usual business with a team-high 20 disposals and one goal, while Round 1 nominee Lucy McEvoy had it 14 times to go with seven tackles, and Charlotte Wilson enjoyed a breakout game of 19 disposals and nine marks after missing last week. For the depleted Crows, Danielle Ponter failed to find the big sticks after a four-goal effort in Round 3, kept to a season-low of six disposals. Fellow forward Nikki Gore stayed true to her seasonal form with eight disposals and three tackles, but was also kept out of the scoreboard as Carlton’s defence stood firm.

St Kilda vs. Fremantle

A strange and undeniably tense contest between St Kilda and Fremantle saw pre-listed Dandenong Stingrays graduate Molly McDonald play a massive part in the outcome of the game, while a host of other first and second year players had promising cameos. St Kilda looked arguably the better side and like being the eventual winner when McDonald snapped through a wonderful goal in the last term, but a costly 50-metre penalty against the 2019 draftee cruelly gifted Fremantle a chance to stay in the game. Prized pick Georgia Patrikios (11 disposals, two marks) was down on her disposal output but still strong, while Nicola Xenos‘ pace and repeat efforts proved menacing, but the promising signs in a tight loss were somewhat soured by a serious knee injury to 19-year-old Tarni White, who immediately knew of the severity. Fremantle’s generational tall prospects were a touch quieter, with Mim Strom and Roxanne Roux having a combined 11 disposals, while Sabreena Duffy had seven touches and two behinds and Emma O’Driscoll (six disposals, two marks) enjoyed a steady first game for the season.

Brisbane vs. GWS GIANTS

Brisbane’s young guns enjoyed some success in front of goal in their big win over GWS, led by exciting key forward Jesse Wardlaw. The 185cm tall booted two goals from 10 disposals and five marks, showcasing her sticky hands, fluent set shot routine, and love for a celebration. Prized 2019 draftee Lily Postlethwaite (11 disposals, five marks) also snapped home her first ever AFLW goal to cap off another solid outing, with Natalie Grider (11 disposals, three tackles) also coming on well. On the other hand, GWS’ young talent is a touch more sparse, but the GIANTS have an out-and-out gun in Alyce Parker. The Lions knew that coming in too, and had mature-age draftee Catherine Svarc put a physical tag on the 19-year-old to quell her midfield output. Still, Parker managed to collect 11 disposals and lay three tackles, while also hitting up Yvonne Bonner late on to assist one of the GIANTS’ three goals.

The ‘big three’s’ take on how the AFLW draft unfolded

GABBY Newton, Lucy McEvoy, and Georgia Patrikios; dubbed pre-draft as the three players vying for the honour of being taken first off the AFL Women’s Draft board.

But ask all three about whether they knew what was to unfold on Tuesday afternoon, and all three almost unanimously insist they had not the slightest clue.

“I wasn’t sure going in,” Bulldogs’ number one pick Newton said. “I knew Lucy and Patrikios were obviously also big contenders but I’m so glad (the Bulldogs) picked me up, I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

“I sort of had no idea coming in so it was just ‘Whatever happens, happens,’ St Kilda’s Patrikios added. “I’m happy to be at the Saints and (I’m) just going to move from there.

“Carlton did say they were keen from the start and I was pretty keen… to get to pick two,” Carlton’s McEvoy told the club’s media team with more conviction. “It’s so good though, so exciting.”

McEvoy was incidentally the one to inadvertently create the ‘big three’ tussle, throwing a spanner in the works as she nominated for the Victorian Metro draft zone. Hailing from Geelong and rising through the Falcons’ junior pathway, it seemed the Cats’ AFLW side was destined to pick up another top-five talent at a cut price after snaring Olivia Purcell with pick 14 last year. That was not to be, with McEvoy’s choice “to get out of (her) comfort zone” planting even more intrigue into the top-end.

“It was pretty much based off my studies next year, I’m hoping to do paramedicine,” she said. “I’ve got my exams coming up so hopefully I can put my best foot forward in that and get the score that I need.”

“I would’ve loved to play at Geelong, I’ve got really good friends there but I think for me to grow, as a person, it would’ve been to tick the Melbourne box.”

In an interesting twist, all three players also had unique ties to pick two holder, Carlton. McEvoy’s father, Phil played 50 reserves games for the Blues during the 1970s and 80s, while Newton played two games this year for their VFLW side and Patrikios is studying sports coaching and development at the club’s College of Sport. Needless to say, they are all still stoked with how it all unfolded nonetheless.

“I just need to pinch myself because I can’t believe it’s actually happening to be honest,” Newton said. “All the girls drafted to the Doggies, Liz (Georgostathis) and Gem (Lagioia) as well and Izzy Grant, they’re all such good friends. “I can’t believe we’re all going in together, it’s so exciting.”

McEvoy, dubbed ‘Big Boy’ as the cousin of Hawthorn ruck Ben, had equal sentiment.

“It’s so exciting… to know that I’m starting at a new club, I get to meet all these new people which I’m so excited about,” she said. “Hopefully I can make a good first impression, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Going against the suggested unknown order of events heading into the big day, Patrikios came armed with arguably the best line of any draftee on the day.

“It’s going to be great to bring footy back to Moorabbin,” she said, becoming an instant hit with the Saints faithful – and likely the marketing department, too.

“Lucy and Gabby are amazing players and even (more) amazing people. “They deserved it, they’ve worked so hard, they’ve put a lot of work in over the last couple of years and they’ve been amazing. “I can’t wait to see how they go next season,” she added, becoming an even bigger hit with her fellow big three buddies.”

Fresh and familiar faces to build Bulldogs’ future

HOLDING four top ten picks – including the first – heading into Tuesday’s AFL Women’s Draft, much of the pre-draft chat surrounded how the Western Bulldogs would use their high-end selections.

They lost superstars Katie Brennan and Monique Conti to league newcomer Richmond after ending their premiership defence with just two wins and at the bottom of a strong Conference A. It called for rejuvenation, a new direction, and their raft of new pups would front it.

Brennan replacements now come in the form of pick one, Gabby Newton and pick six, Nell Morris-Dalton – both key members of the undefeated Northern Knights and Vic Metro sides. Skip a selection over to picks eight and nine and the themes become more evident. Classy speedsters Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western) plug the run-and-carry void left by Conti, with father-daughter selection Isabella Grant, Northern’s Britney Gutknecht, and Oakleigh’s Amelia van Oosterwijck filling out a rejuvenated Dogs list.

Player retention is currently a hot topic in the game, and one would think recruiting seven girls who had all played together under the very same coach they would look up to in their first AFLW season goes a long way to solving that issue. Indeed, new Dogs coach and former Sandringham/Vic Metro mentor Nathan Burke had a huge say in how his new side’s draft hand played out, and it saw his club remain a focal point carrying into the post-draft chat.

While the Brennan/Conti replacement theory is rather basic, wide-eyed and bubbly draftee Lagioia gave a similar analysis of how she might fit into the team alongside fellow outside runner, Georgostathis.

“Obviously there’s some pretty big shoes to fill,” she said. “I think working into it, we won’t be at that level this year but hopefully in the next few years we can really pay back what (the Bulldogs) have given us by taking us so early.”

“We’ve played together before, we’re quite similar players so maybe I’ll play on one wing and Liz will play on the other.”

“Obviously Gabby (Newton) and Nell (Morris-Dalton) are very close, they played at Northern and then we all played together at Vic Metro so it’s just really exciting to be able to stick together and go into a club where you know a lot of people already.”

Hailing from the Western region, Georgostathis’ sense of belonging at her new club comes two-fold, with the versatile runner proud to be the first Jet to find an AFLW home in 2019. Coming in alongside the likes of Lagoia, Newton and Morris-Dalton made the occasion that bit sweeter.

“Yeah I am (happy),” she said. “Being the first Western Jet girl is pretty good, the Jets have helped me so much over the past four years and I’m so grateful for them and all the development and all the staff there.”

“I’m sure the Bulldogs have a great development program and all they want is the best for the girls to help us develop into the future, not just this year but hopefully the next five years.”

“Seeing we’ve played with (Gabby and Nell) in the National Championships we know how they play and we all know how each other work a bit so we can use that on the field… I don’t know if Gem remembers but we played together in the Under-15 National Championships. “We didn’t know each other that well back then but then coming again this year and playing Vic Metro together, it’s pretty good and now playing Bulldogs with (Gemma) is really good.”

Rounding off the consensus sentiment among the new pups was number one pick Newton, who sounded a great advertisement for the Dogs’ tactics in the love shown for each teammate she is set to line up alongside for years to come.

“I love Nell, she’s one of my best friends,” she said. “All the girls drafted to the Doggies, Liz and Gem as well and Izzy Grant, they’re all such good friends. “I can’t believe we’re all going in together, it’s so exciting to have fresh faces in and around the club.”

The use of familiarity in building a future spine could prove to be one of the most fruitful draft strategies of recent times, but a lot has to play out until we can say so for sure. For now though, boy is the 2019 Bulldogs draft class chuffed with being reunited, ready to help Footscray find its way firmly back on the map.

Note: The Western Bulldogs also signed South Adelaide young gun and talented athlete Hannah Munyard today as a free agent.

Gavalas completes “whirlwind” draft day bolt

DRAFT day shocks are ironically commonplace nowadays, and you can add Ellie Gavalas‘ rise to become a top 10 selection to the list.

The 23-year-old had her name called by North Melbourne in the first round of Tuesday’s draft having only taken up the Aussie rules code two years ago. Speaking minutes after the fact, Gavalas was still stuck in the “whirlwind” of her shock early selection with little inkling of it happening beforehand.

“Whirlwind’s a pretty good word,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty excited and shocked at the moment… it’s been a massive year and to top it off to become a Kangaroo is pretty exciting.”

“We’d had a couple of interviews, well one interview but I’d seen (North Melbourne AFLW list manager Rhys Harwood) a couple of times. “But no, I wasn’t expecting anything. I was hoping but not expecting anything so I’m pretty shocked.”

The new Roo’s history in sport runs deep, having moved on from a promising soccer career to pursue a different footballing code. Gavalas grew up in Tasmania but also had family in Melbourne, with her move to the mainland originally inspired by that round-ball potential. Her first meaningful experience with the oblong ball came as she joined the Marcellin Old Collegians in Melbourne’s north-east, sparking a rapid rise to the elite level.

“Coming from just playing footy for two years… mainly this year and last year at Marcellin,” Gavalas said. “It has been a massive whirlwind and I’m pretty excited.”

After her initial experience at Marcellin, Gavalas became a wildcard entrant to Western Bulldogs’ VFLW squad in 2019, making her debut in Round 2 and never looking back to average 16.4 disposals and 4.1 tackles across 16 games – becoming a lock in the grand finalists’ starting 23.

Her move from the Bulldogs into the Kangaroos’ system is akin to that of AFLW superstar Emma Kearney – minus the fanfare – who will undoubtedly form a hardened midfield partnership with Gavalas.

“Absolutely I’m looking forward to playing alongside (Kearney),” she said. “To be playing with someone like Emma is awesome so I’m super excited to get started.”

The switch also marks somewhat of a homecoming for the Apple Isle product, who joins Launceston exports Mia King and Abbey Green at the Tasmanian Roos. The Roos’ home games across Bass Strait and academy connection to the region also bring Gavalas full-circle, and even the best script writers would struggle to match the sentimentality of that journey.

With only her everyday job as a physiotherapist to compete with celebrations and her emerging career, the mature-ager is sure to make an immediate impact among the raft of slightly younger draftees who shared the same honour on Tuesday.

2019 AFL Women’s Draft preview

UP to 102 draft hopefuls could realise their AFL Women’s dream tomorrow when the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft takes place. Clubs will have between four and 13 picks in the draft, with Melbourne and Richmond having the benchmark minimum and maximum selections. Collingwood will enter the draft last of all clubs, with the Magpies’ first selection at a lowly 67. Up the other end, the Western Bulldogs have four top 10 picks and will welcome in a host of young pups to the Kennel.

A number of players have already been selected such as Millie Brown (Geelong) and Isabella Grant (Western Bulldogs) under the father-daughter rule, but their pick selection is unknown until draft day. Meanwhile, Carlton has pre-selected Grace Egan who played for Richmond’s VFL Women’s side this season, and Egan will be taken with Pick 13. This AFL Women’s Draft marks the first time that Richmond, St Kilda, Gold Coast and West Coast will take part as the expansion clubs into the competition next year.

Three players are in contention for the number one selection at tomorrow’s AFL Women’s Draft, with Western Bulldogs set to pick between Geelong Falcons’ Lucy McEvoy, Calder Cannons’ Georgia Patrikios and Northern Knights’ Gabby Newton. Carlton and St Kilda have the next two Victorian selections in the AFL Women’s Draft. Looking at the Queensland sides, Brisbane has the first four picks from that state before Gold Coast enter the draft, while over in Western Australia, Fremantle have the first selection and six of the top 10 compared to West Coast’s four. Players from other states expected to go highly are Western Australia’s Roxanne Roux, Queensland’s Lily Postlethwaite and South Australia’s Montana McKinnon. Tasmania’s top prospect, Mia King will likely find her way to North Melbourne given the Kangaroos have first chance to secure the talented youngster.

The 2019 NAB AFL Women’s Draft will be live streamed on womens.afl, the AFLW App and the AFLW Facebook account from 10:40am EDT tomorrow, Tuesday October 22.

For features on more than 80 AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, check out our AFL Women’s Features page.

Below we have listed the club-by-club breakdown as well as the state-based selections that clubs will take to the draft.

CLUB-BY-CLUB BREAKDOWN

Adelaide [8]: 14, 37, 46, 53, 68, 83, 100, 102

Brisbane [9]: 3, 15, 16, 17, 20, 28, 45, 60, 75

Carlton [7]: 2, 13 (Grace Egan), 26, 36, 44, 52, 59

Collingwood [5]: 67, 74, 82, 89, 94

Fremantle [7]: 12, 21, 35, 51, 66, 81, 85

Geelong [6]: 11, 34, 50, 65, 80, 98

Gold Coast [8]: 18, 22, 38, 42, 57, 69, 86, 91

GWS Giants [9]: 4, 23, 29, 61, 76, 90, 95, 97, 99

Melbourne [4]: 54, 72, 77, 78

North Melbourne [5]: 10, 32, 49, 64, 79

Richmond [13]: 7, 25, 31, 40, 43, 55, 58, 71, 73, 84, 87, 93, 96

St Kilda [7]: 5, 24, 27, 30, 33, 41, 63

West Coast [6]: 19, 39, 56, 70, 92, 101

Western Bulldogs [8]: 1, 6, 8, 9, 47, 48, 62, 88

STATE-BASED DRAFT PICKS:

Queensland:

Brisbane [9]: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15

Gold Coast [8]: 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17

Victoria:

Carlton [7]: 2, 10 (Egan), 20, 24, 29, 33

Collingwood [5]: 38, 42, 47, 51, 53,

Geelong [6]: 9, 19, 28, 37, 46, 55

Melbourne [4]: 30, 40, 43, 44

North Melbourne [5]: 8, 17, 27, 36, 45

Richmond [13]: 5, 12, 16, 21, 23, 31, 32, 39, 41, 48, 49, 52, 54

St Kilda [7]: 3, 11, 14, 15, 18, 22, 35

Western Bulldogs [8]: 1, 4, 6, 7, 25, 26, 34, 50

Western Australia:

Fremantle [7]: 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11

West Coast [6]: 2, 5, 7, 9, 12, 13

Passionate Lion eyes AFLW future

BRISBANE is a long way from Frankston in the south eastern suburbs of Victoria, but the Sunshine State, and more accurately, the Brisbane Lions is where exciting mid-forward Belle Dawes‘ heart lies. She moved from Victoria up north and brought her love for Australian Rules football with her, and credits much of her recent development – which saw her make the 2018 AFL Women’s Under 18 All Australian side – to then-coach Craig Starcevich.

“I’ve lived in Frankston Victoria and I just started playing, me and my brother signed up for Frankston Rovers Under 9s,” Dawes said. “I played there at that club until Under 12s, and then just played with boys and I moved to Queensland. “That’s when I thought I’ll come play footy up here, come play with the boys and then the girls team started. “Played in the school comp, got seen and then got selected for regionals and started from there.”

Starcevich has been a huge inspiration for Dawes who she said “opened up her whole game” with some crucial advice.

“He’s supportive, a real cool coach, I’ve learnt a lot from him,” Dawes said. “Swivel the head was a big thing, and that opened up my whole game, kicking left and right and swivelling my head to switch it. “Because he’s been my coach over a few years I’ve got to know what he teaches and just developing that each year.”

Dawes admits the change from an Australian Rules dominant state to one that is predominantly rugby was different, but refreshing because it helped her feel more at home in the pathway system.

“Coming from Victoria it’s all like AFL, it’s really different up here, it’s very rugby like,” she said. “Even at schools there’s no fields, no one really follows it, so it was different, it’s quieter, but I kind of like it because when we did all the regional stuff I knew all the girls, it was all the same. “We all got to know each other and we became more of a family so it was cool.”

It has helped Dawes that her family has been so supportive in helping her chase her dream.

“My mum is really supportive, she loves it, she is my number one fan,” Dawes said. “My brother plays too. “He’s 16, but he plays and he loves it too, and my sister just kind of follows whatever we do.”

Dawes said her strengths include accumulation and being able to read the play and the ball from ruck taps and around the ground, indicating a high football IQ. While her fitness “always can” improve, she is just as focused on working on her skills to make the right decisions by hand or foot and reduce rushed disposal.

As for her ultimate goal and club of choice, Dawes summed it up in just two words – “Draft” and “Brisbane”. Should Dawes be granted her wish, she will get the opportunity to continue with her mentor in Starcevich and help the Lions continue their already impressive AFL Women’s history.

AFLW Draft preview: GWS GIANTS

GREATER Western Sydney (GWS) Giants came so close to a Grand Final last season, with their fate up in the air up until the last round. With some key losses like Maddie Boyd, Phoebe McWilliams and Renee Forth ahead of the 2019 AFL Women’s season, the Giants will need some young talent to go one step further this year.

 

Last season: 4th

In: Christina Bernardi, Yvonne Bonner (rookie), Taylah Davies (rookie)
Out: Maddy Boyd, Phoebe McWilliams, Renee Forth, Melissa Freckleton, Rebecca Privitelli, Alex Saundry, Pippa Smyth, Renee Tomkins, Haneen Zreika (rookie)

GWS AFLW LIST (24/30)

  • Jacinda Barclay
  • Nicola Barr
  • Rebecca Beeson
  • Eleanor Bennetts
  • Christina Bernardi
  • Yvonne Bonner
  • Ellie Brush
  • Maddy Collier
  • Jess Dal Pas
  • Taylah Davies
  • Alicia Eva
  • Amanda Farrugia
  • Courtney Gum
  • Tanya Hetherington
  • Jodie Hicks
  • Tait Mackrill
  • Erin McKinnon
  • Phoebe Monahan
  • Pepa Randall
  • Aimee Schmidt
  • Cora Staunton
  • Louise Stephenson
  • Emma Swanson
  • Britt Tully

DRAFT PICKS

12, 42, 52, 59, 64, 69, 72, 75

POTENTIAL DRAFT PROSPECTS

The Giants are likely to take New South Wales (NSW) Most Valuable Player (MVP) at this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Alyce Parker. Parker has been one of NSW’s most dominant players throughout her whole Under 18s career, playing through the midfield and up forward when needed to. A midfield trio of Parker, Courtney Gum and Amanda Farrugia could be a threatening prospect for the rest of the competition. Murray Bushrangers defender, Eloise Ashley-Cooper is another player who could earn a spot at GWS. Ashley-Cooper spent some time in the TAC Cup Girls playing for Murray but has represented NSW at a representative level. She is a classy defender who could complement the likes of Tanya Hetherington and Pepa Randall. Alexia Hamilton is another one who will likely be on the minds of the GWS recruiters. She is a known goalkicker and a smart footballer who can play consistently well over a stretch of games.  

School fill-in to Black Swans skipper; Duffy’s “smooth transition” pays dividends

FROM filling in at school to captaining her state, Sabreena Duffy’s football development has been rapid.

After coming from a soccer background, she pulled on the Aussie Rules jumper to make up the numbers for the school footy team. Duffy only needed to play one game of school football to get noticed, receiving an offer that she didn’t see coming.

“I played just for school just because they needed a fill in and then I played one Western Australian Football League (WAFL) game the next week that they found me and I just never went back to soccer. “I just loved it (Aussie Rules).”

Despite the rapid rise in standard, the 18 year-old admits her transition into the elite level was “smooth”, thanks to a couple of friends and a natural gift to play the game.

“I knew a couple of school girls,” Duffy said. “I was naturally good at the sport so I didn’t have to learn how to kick or anything like that so that was a bonus.”

Duffy attributes her natural kicking ability to having a kick with the neighbours in her younger years. Back then, the Western Australian midfielder did not even know there was a pathway available for her in the sport, so she stuck to the round ball game.

“(Playing) with the neighbours down the street, that’s all I knew,” Duffy said. “I didn’t know there was women’s footy, nothing. “I only knew soccer. Mainly with footy, I would just mess around with my best friend.”

Fast forward to 2018 and Duffy’s development in Australian Rules has gone through the roof. The Black Swans midfielder was rewarded for her efforts in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, where she was awarded Western Australia’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). Duffy is aware of the strengths in her game but would also like to make improvements, displaying her determination as a footballer.

“I’m more of a runner and a clearance player I’d say,” she said. “I can hit the scoreboard as well, being a midfielder. “I’m more looking to improve on when I get the ball, I tend to bounce it after three or four steps, just instinct, so I need to just hit the speed and then bounce it after like 14 steps.”

On top of being awarded the state MVP, Duffy was named in the 48-player All Australian squad, and could be on her way to making the final 22 and earning a fifth All Australian accolade. The Western Australia captain says this is a memorable moment in her career, and she is on her way to creating many more.

“I’ve gotten four All Australian jumpers and I’m pretty proud of that,” she said.

The 18 year-old reflected back to the first time she received an All Australian jumper, and admits the emotion got to her on the day.

“It was my first year, Under 16s, and it was my first competition,” Duffy said. “I was just overwhelmed, I wasn’t expecting it and I was just speechless really. “Lucky my mum was there because I was a bit upset, it was cool.”

But for Duffy, captaining her state made her just as privileged, as it was a role she never thought she would be chosen for.

“I’ve played in the team for four years and I could never imagine being a captain, being my last year,” the 18 year-old said. “I was honoured to be able to lead this group.”

Duffy says the playing group was extremely positive, even after losing against Vic Metro in their first match on the Gold Coast.

“The girls are so good, they’re so positive,” the Black Swans skipper said. “We bond so well so it didn’t really hit us. “We thought about it for the period we needed to think about it and then it’s over. “They were so good, no down moments, nothing. “It’s just been really great.”

Like many up and coming players, Duffy has her sights set on AFLW, having finished her Technical And Further Education (TAFE) certificate and looking for a job.

“My next level is really AFLW so hopefully I get drafted and then see where it goes,” Duffy said.

The 18 year-old is well on her way, having been one of three Western Australians to be invited to the AFL Women’s Draft Combine in October.