Tag: AFLW Draft

AFLW Draft: 10 Top-agers to watch in 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 AFLW Draft club review: West Coast

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

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

Despite only playing the one game before succumbing to a wrist injury that curtailed her 2021 season, Thomas showed how highly she was rated by West Australian claubs by being the first from her state to be called out on draft night. A tall utility who primarily plays forward, Thomas is a smart user who hits targets and makes the right decisions with ball-in-hand. She might not have played much this season, but as a member of the AFLW Academy, Thomas has been an eye-catching player for many years, and one who stands out for her ability to impact a game wthrough her ball use and composure. Expect her to be right to go ahead of the 2022 AFL Women’s season and the Eagles will be thrilled to have her on board.

charlie thomas CONTENT:

>> Thomas well supported during injured season

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

Class personified, Rowley is an unbelievable talent with ball-in-hand, and complements Thomas as the two best ball users in Western Australia heading to the Eagles. Rowley can hit targets over multiple distances and has clean hands on the inside, as well as being able to play off flanks at both ends. After a successful AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships campaign, Rowley was named in the All-Australian team. Her high-level defensive pressure matches that of her offensive ability, and is something that makes her such a successful and driven player, and one who is ultra-competitive at all levels.

COURTNEY ROWLEY CONTENT:

>> Rowley’s “crazy” ride only getting started

>> Peel prepares for 2021 after “whirlwind season”

#24 Beth Schilling (Key Defender/Ruck)
01/12/2003 | 178cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

An athletic tall who can roll through the ruck or stand as a key defensive option, Schilling has been a big mover for Peel Thunder this season, playing in a premiership. An eye-catcher at both WAFLW and AFLW Under 19 Championships level, Schilling was able to purely play as a key defender for the Allies, where she averaged almost five rebound 50s per game to go with her 12.3 disposals and two marks. Her competitive nature and presence in the air and at ground level is noticeable, and once she increases her endurance, Schilling will be able to impact for even loner periods of play.

BETH SCHILLING CONTENT:

>> Schilling follows brothers into footy, rises to challenges

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

An athletic ruck who has come from a basketball background, Lakay teamed up with Schilling for her state and will look to do so again in the blue and gold. Another tall looking to build her endurance, Lakay has an elite vertical leap, which she showcased at the recent AFL Women’s Draft Combine, smashing the previous record in the vertical jumps. Her strength overhead, competitive nature and defensive pressure at ground level make her a danger to opposition sides, able to recover quickly after a ruck stoppage to be like a fifth midfielder. Lakay has clean hands and has already come along in leaps and bounds, something she will continue to do at the elite level.

SARAH LAKAY CONTENT:

>> Fast learning Lakay takes her game to new heights

>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

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

A natural footballer, Bennett provides great hardness and one-on-one contests each and every time she goes near the ball. Though not just a negating player, Bennett can lock down on opponents and beat them in the air or for the hard ball at ground level, then run off and provide drive out of defence. Bennett is a strong kick of the ball and good at intercept the play with clean hands and composure with ball-in-hand. Her overhead marking is a strength, and whilst she hopes to continue improving her endurance, she is a player who coaches can rely on to get the job done each week.

EMILY BENNETT CONTENT:

>> Bennett enjoying season after “difficult” 2020 season

>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

DRAFT SUMMARY:

West Coast was able to target height and athleticism, as well as skilful ball users, with its five selections. Thomas, Rowley and Bennett all use the ball superbly, and are highly competitive players. Lakay and Schilling are also defensively-minded, and have terrific athleticism, able to impact in the air or at ground level. They can play multiple roles like Rowley and Thomas, and it will give the Eagles great versatility going forward.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: St Kilda

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

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

Born on December 30, Friend is just two days off being a bottom-ager and should she make her AFLW debut in 2021, will do so at just 17-years-old. The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) standout is arguably the best contested marker in the draft pool, with good athleticism and vice-like hands making her a dominant aerial force. At 175cm, she is also quite versatile and swing back at times this season, but was more regularly sighted up forward or on a wing. She is dynamic enough to play both roles at AFLW level, but may start out as a forward fold for Caitlin Greiser as she continues to build her running capacity. Friend already got a taste for that at VFLW level with the Western Bulldogs, nabbing two goals on debut.

ELLA FRIEND CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards
>> NAB League Girls season review: GWV Rebels

#12 Ashleigh Richards (Forward/Midfielder)
22/10/2003 | 167cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

Somewhat of a surprise selection at pick 12, St Kilda ensured its link with the Dandenong region remains strong by selecting 2021 Stingrays co-captain, Richards with its final bid in the National Draft. While capable of rolling through midfield, the 17-year-old promises to add some forward firepower after her feats inside attacking 50 during the season. She booted seven majors in her six NAB League outings and snared four in five VFLW games for Port Melbourne, with her combination of smarts and defensive pressure proving valuable close to goal. Those traits make her a high impact per possession kind of prospect, not needing too many opportunities to deal damage in each appearance. She also offers a good bit of versatility.

ASHLEIGH RICHARDS CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Dandenong Stingrays
>> 2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

UFA: Leah Cutting (Ruck)
14/03/1992 | 185cm
Norwood / South Australia

St Kilda left a spot on its list open after passing with pick 36, before signing South Australian mature-ager Cutting as an undrafted free agent on Friday. The 29-year-old is in her prime and has over 50 games of SANFLW experience under her belt, making her a readymade ruck option who could potentially impact straight away for the Saints. A strong body at 185cm, Cutting is able to fulfil her ruck duties while also offering a target around the ground and following up her work at the stoppages. She earned a draft combine invite this year so was unsurprisingly finally given a shot at the elite level.

Image credit: John Emery

DRAFT SUMMARY:

St Kilda has added some very handy forward and tall depth in this year’s draft, starting with Friend. The GWV Rebels graduate ticks both of the aforementioned boxes and will make the Saints less predictable going forward as another marking target, with potential to roll further afield in future. At ground level, Richards is a handy option who knows how to find the goals and makes every touch count, while Cutting is a readymade choice who provides plenty of strength and experience through the ruck. A happy haul of three overall.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Richmond

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

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

One of the best and most consistent players of this year’s NAB League season, Reid was snapped up by Richmond with pick five. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership player is a utility of sorts; having started out the season at half-back, before spending time on both sides of midfield and eventually capping it off with some fantastic performances up forward. In every third of the ground, Reid proved a natural ball winner who could find it at a good rate and provide line-breaking drive on the outer. Her carry and penetrative kick suit the outside midfielder mould well, but Reid is also a handy marking target up forward at 173cm and finds ways to craft shots on goal out of congestion. The Tigers may employ her as a ‘fix-it’ type of player depending on what the team requires, and have a very versatile talent on their hands – not to mention elite.

STELLA REID CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

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

At 160cm, Yassir may be small but truly packs a punch. The Calder Cannons graduate was a teammate of Reid at Vic Metro and together, the pair add some nice depth to Richmond’s midfield rotation. Yassir has long been one of the top Victorian ball winners and is exceptional with her mix of grit and class at ground level. She cracks in at the coalface and comes away with a zippy turn of speed, while also remaining relevant defensively. Her size and tackling game could see her be developed as a pressure forward before transitioning into midfield, but Yassir is a class act in there and should be sound fold for the likes of Monique Conti, Ellie McKenzie, and the Hosking twins for years to come.

EMELIA YASSIR CONTENT:

>> 2021 Power Rankings: Victorian Pool
>> NAB League Girls season review: Calder Cannons

#48 Meagan Kiely (Midfielder)
15/12/1994 | 168cm
North Melbourne VFLW

If North Melbourne didn’t pounce, another team would and that was exactly what Richmond did by selecting VFLW standout Meagan Kiely at pick 48. The 26-year-old proved one of the best state leaguers going around in 2021 and offers a readymade option for the Tigers’ midfield mix. Kiely’s inside game and work-rate should allow some of her new side’s more flashy midfielders to be released, aiding their ball winning cause in the face of tags and heavy opposition attention. Having lead the VFLW for disposals, kicks, and marks during the regular season, her dominance was simply undeniable. A few of her new teammates would know all about her talent too, given Kiely had 34 disposals and seven marks in her second-last VFLW outing this year – against Richmond’s VFLW affiliate, Port Melbourne.

MEAGAN KIELY CONTENT:

>> 2021 Mature-age team to watch
>> VFLW Player Focus: Meagan Kiely

Meagan Kiely gets a kick away

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

After three Geelong Falcons graduates were taken in the first round, Houtsma became the fourth at pick 50. The 176cm utility can play on each line, but found a home on the wing for large parts of this year’s NAB League season. She is a prospect with high upside and while she may not accumulate the numbers others might, has an impact with each disposal and boasts a promising athletic profile. Houtsma could offer spurts of play similar to current wing revelation Tessa Lavey given said athleticism and aerial ability, but has all the versatility and room for development to be moulded into a player who suits whatever Richmond may need.

INGRID HOUTSMA CONTENT:

>> NAB League Girls season review: Geelong Falcons

Ingrid Houstma in action for Geelong Falcons

#54 Akec Makur Chuot (Defender)
5/09/1992 | 178cm
Richmond AFLW (Re-Drafted)

DRAFT SUMMARY:

With a couple of early and late picks, Richmond brought in a quartet of fresh faces who provide great depth and versatility not only to the midfield, but potentially all around the ground. Reid was arguably a best available selection at pick five and while Yassir was arguably the same at pick 16, also suited the Tigers’ need for some midfield support. Kiely adds to that as one of the prime mature-agers nationwide, while Houtsma is a high-value late choice who could develop strongly in an elite system. Richmond also re-drafted defender Akec Makur Chuot with their final pick (54) after delisting her at the end of last season.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: North Melbourne

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

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

A huge bolter this year in her draft-eligible season, Craven became one of the premier inside midfielders in the NAB League Girls competition. Winning the hard ball then using her high work rate to get to the outside and have an impact going forward in transition, Craven put together plenty of four-quarter performances. She won Geelong Falcons’ best and fairest for the season in a Grand Final team, and was touted to go as high as inside the Top 5 at one stage. Clean with her hands and able to distribute inside 50, Craven is not afraid to get her hands dirty and will be a player who can immediately step up at AFLW level.

TESS CRAVEN CONTENT:

>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft eligible surprise packets

>> 2021 NAB League Girls team review: Geelong Falcons

>> Draft Central Player of the Week: NAB League Girls – Round 6

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

In one of the steals of the draft, Bendigo Pioneers’ Slender made her way to the Roos with the first pick in the second round. A tall utility who after dominating as a key defender in past years, went forward to be a leading target in 2021, and even spent time through the midfield amassing one game of 27 disposals against top Victorian pick Georgie Prespakis. Her strong hands in the air and ability to lay fierce tackles at ground level make her the all-round performer, and captaining the Bendigo Pioneers this season, Slender has leadership traits that will help her adapt to the top level going forward in whatever role the Roos choose to play her in.

TARA SLENDER CONTENT:

>> 2021 AFLW Draft: Bolters and Sliders

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

#28 Kim Rennie (Ruck)
19/10/1994 | 182cm
Western Bulldogs / AFLW

The Kangaroos made their intentions of picking up Rennie very clear during trade week, and whilst it did not eventuate, they got their ruck in the second round of the AFLW Draft. A 182cm readymade prospect who played four seasons at the Western Bulldogs – 18 games – Rennie was knocked down the pecking order in 2021 by Celine Moody, and therefore looked for more opportunities. With Emma King playing forward and Kate Gillespie-Jones moved on, Rennie’s change to Arden Street gives her a great chance at taking over that role. In the VFLW season, Rennie booted four goals in five games as a forward to showcase her ability there and rotate with King if need be.

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

In a surprise to no one, King became the first Tasmanian taken in the AFLW Draft, selected at Pick 43 by North Melbourne, continuing the link between the roos and the Apple Isle. A balanced midifelder who can win the hard ball or spread to the outside and use her running capacity, King has a perfect blend of offensive and defensive traits. She will burst out of a stoppage and burn off an opponent, or go forward and hit the scoreboard or set up teammates. As one who has already tasted VFLW experience, expect her to be not too far off an AFLW debut with the work the AFLW Academy member has already put in.

PERRI KING CONTENT:

>> King eyes improvement beyond achievements

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

#51 Jasmine Ferguson (Tall Defender)
26/05/1999 | 172cm
Collingwood / VFLW

The ex-Gippsland Power tall is an inspirational story of resilience in terms of not being drafted at first opportunity, but plugging away in the VFLW and working on her deficiencies to become one of the premier defenders in the state league competition. Not only did Ferguson provide consistency to help the Magpies remain undefeated and stingy in defence, but she showed some offensive capabilities too, attracting the eyes of North Melbourne to the point where they called her up to the AFLW program. Whilst Ferguson still has the chance to win a VFLW premiership in the black and white, she will be a readymade option in the back 50 to replace Gillespie-Jones who could play in that role too.

#56 Ella Maurer (Balanced Midfielder)
01/02/2002 | 169cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

A top-ager who missed out on being drafted last year, Maurer took her game to another level in 2021, tripling her output in terms of disposals (5.0 to 16.8) and then going to another level again for the Allies at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. Maurer averaged the 18 disposals and six tackles, as well as three clearances for the Allies, becoming a really impressive and consistent midfielder across multiple teams. In two games with North’s VFLW program, Maurer looked comfortable at the level, ticking the final box required of her to decide to call out her name with the Roos’ final pick in the AFL Women’s Draft.

ELLA MAURER CONTENT:

>> Maurer thrives on Tasmanian team bond

>> Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft eligible surprise packets

DRAFT SUMMARY:

North Melbourne produced some of the greatest steals in the AFLW Draft, whilst picking up readymade talent to further bolster its stocks for the 2022 AFL Women’s season. The trio of Craven, Slender and King were all taken under value, and were considered Top 10 players in our AFLW Draft Power Rankings. The Roos will be ecstatic to bring them on, as well as tall options Rennie and Ferguson who can provide an immediate boost, as well as another Tasmanian and big improver in Maurer. Overall, the Roos could be considered one of the biggest winners in this year’s draft without a doubt.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Melbourne

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

#41 Georgia Campbell (Ruck/Forward)
1/09/2003 | 182cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

Melbourne got an absolute steal in obtaining Campbell all the way back at pick 41 via the competition’s father-daughter rules. The Eastern Ranges ruck-forward, who is the daughter of Adrian, was eligible to nominate for either Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs, but becomes a Dee and adds to the tall stocks of a finals contending team. She came on in leaps and bounds this season to quickly become the leading Victorian ruck prospect, boasting eye-catching athleticism for a player of her 182cm stature. Able to impact in the air and on the ground, Campbell is also versatile enough to do so both as a ruck or key forward, as shown during her representative stint with Vic Metro. Having transitioned into football from other sports, she has plenty of development left too.

GEORGIA CAMPBELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Eastern Ranges

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

Having known before the fact that they would be getting Campbell, the Demons went tall once more with their second pick immediately after. Gillard has long been one of the most promising Victorian talls, and offers terrific aerial presence at 190cm. While rucking, she uses that size to advantage and has the potential to become a really dominant hitter, while also having the experience of playing at either end of the ground. She rotated forward in 2021 and while some of her disposal execution is a touch raw, the Calder Cannons graduate is difficult to beat in the air. She will likely be developed as a ruck to support Lauren Pearce, given the Dees have just recruited Campbell and Tayla Harris to go with the likes of Eden Zanker and Alyssa Bannan as tall forwards – but there is plenty of dynamism among that lot.

TAHLIA GILLARD CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

Gillard fires away a handball for Calder Cannons

#45 Alison Brown (Utility)
21/09/1997 | 179cm
Casey Demons VFLW

Having already rookied midfielder Eliza West from its VFLW program, Melbourne dipped into the reserves pool once more to select Brown with pick 45. The 23-year-old lands at her third AFLW club after earning the honour of being an inaugural Blue and Saint, and in fact the first player signed to St Kilda’s women’s squad. Brown continued to persevere since, and having established a spot in the Demons’ VFLW defence, has been duly promoted for another crack at the elite level. She offers strong and experienced depth to a largely established squad and will likely be ready to go once called upon.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Melbourne fans were made to wait a long time to witness their club’s first pick, which was always going to be Campbell, but all three selections came in a flurry. Campbell and Gillard add to the Demons’ strong tall stocks, particularly in the ruck-forward rotation and given the competition for spots, may well be afforded a proper amount of time to develop before entering the elite level. Brown rounded out the haul nicely as the mature-ager of the bunch, able to play multiple roles and solidify the defence. She’s a readymade option with plenty of experience under her belt already, which is just what Melbourne needs en route to premiership contention in 2021/22.

Image Credit: Melbourne AFLW via Twitter

2021 AFLW Draft club review: GWS GIANTS

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

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

A member of the AFL Women’s Academy, the Wagga Wagga talent had a consistent year through the ruck for Murray Bushrangers, GWS GIANTS Academy and then the Allies, a side which she captained throughout the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Possessing great strength and competitiveness in the air, Morphett has a penetrating kick to go with her strong hands, making her a potential key forward at the next level with her ruck work. She is someone who has the size on most others at 188cm and is hard to move once she has front position.

ALLY MORPHETT CONTENT:

>> Morphett’s football journey all about enjoyment

>> Q&A: Ally Morphett & India Lehman (Murray Bushrangers) 

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

#49 Jess Doyle (Medium Forward/Midfielder)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Manly Warringah Wolves / NSW-ACT

A clean and composed user of the ball, Doyle came on in leaps and bounds in 2021, starting as a raw talent with plenty of potential, and finishing as one of the draft class’ top talents. The NSW-ACT AFL Women’s Academy member aligned to the Sydney Swans, captained the red and white in their first NAB League Girls game, and stood up under pressure to kick two goals to lead the to a win over eventual grand finalists, Geelong Falcons. She showed the same class and ball-handling ability at AFLW Under 19 Championships level, where she was one of the bet performing Allies players to earn All-Australian honours. Doyle also ran out with Williamstown in the VFLW for some extra senior league experience.

JESSICA DOYLE CONTENT:

>> Competitive Doyle embraces “amazing opportunity”

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

#55 Brodee Mowbray (Balanced Midfielder)
02/09/2002 | 168cm
Southern Power / NSW-ACT

A tackling machine, Mowbray is a talent who has progressed through the GWS GIANTS Academy ranks after crossing to Australian rules football from netball and Oztag. She is a fierce competitor who loves the contested work, but often uses her high-level running capacity to have an impact on a wing or down the ground. She averaged a massive nine tackles and eight disposals at the AFLW Under 19s Championships, showcasing a high work rate and good speed to-boot. Mowbray is one who adds that extra toughness at the ball and around the ground with her attitude and work ethic.

#59 Georgie Fowler (Medium Forward)
19/12/2003 | 167cm
East Coast Eagles / NSW-ACT

A late bloomer who has overcome injuries, Fowler has put together a strong season for the East Coast Eagles in the AFL Sydney competition, where she has become renowned for her forward craft. Possessing a mix of power and speed on the lead, strength overhead and a reliable set shot for goal, Fowler’s delayed start to the season did not slow her down, earning a Rising Star nomination in Round 2 of the competition. As a December-born talent, Fowler still has plenty of upside and room for improvement in the future, and adds a different dynamic to the GIANTS’ forward line going forward.

#60 Casidhe Simmons (Medium Forward/Wing)
06/02/1995
UNSW/ES Bulldogs / NSW-ACT

Simmons was a surprise pick out of the blue, with the GIANTS opting to give the former heptathlete a chance. Unsurprisingly, Simmons has elite-level athleticism and endurance which will help her work over opponents, she has been playing for the UNSW-ES Bulldogs in the AFL Sydney competition. Still only 26-years-old, Simmons has been utilised as a forward for the Bulldogs, and can play further up the ground along a way to really showcase her hard-running ability. One to watch for the long-term development and transition to the elite level.

#61 Erin Todd (Tall Defender)
03/02/1986 | 176cm
Inner West Magpies / NSW-ACT

With the final selection in the AFL Women’s Draft, the GIANTS redrafted Erin Todd, a former basketballer who played two games with the club in 2021. As a negating defender in the back half, Todd provides extra depth to the side, and at 35-years-old is one of the oldest players running around in the competition. Seemingly ageless though, Todd was running around for the Inner West Magpies and is a player who can make an immediate impact if chosen. Todd also played two games for Williamstown in the VFLW where she dominated, averaging 18.5 disposals.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

GWS GIANTS can have their pick of the NSW-ACT zone as the sole team occupying the zone. Being able to pick up two AFLW Academy members in Morphett and Doyle adds extra strength and class to the side, and ones who they can add to the forward half of the ground. Scoring was clearly a key focus for the club going forward, picking up the exciting Fowler, along with Simmons and Mowbray who can both rotate forward or play through the midfield. Todd just provides that support in the back 50, and is an immediate replacement should injury strike the GIANTS’ defence. She showed she can win the ball at VFLW level so could play a more offensive role if needed.

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Gold Coast

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

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

Gold Coast said it would cast a line for Victorian talent, and fittingly ended up reeling in one of the top two prospects in the draft pool with pick one. Rowbottom, who is said to love the sun and surf, nominated Queensland and was an easy choice for the Suns to open the draft. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership skipper is a rare talent, a very tall midfielder at 178cm who uses her bull-like power around the ball and can roll forward to take contested marks. Her ability to burst away from congestion, much like her brother James, is eye-catching and makes her a damaging proposition in midfield. She is still working on refining her kicking and conversion, but can boom the ball forward in a flash when everything comes together. She may well start up forward before being eased into the engine room at AFLW level, but ultimately looks ready to go.

CHARLIE ROWBOTTOM CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

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

Another terrific addition to the midfield mix is Levi, the leading Suns Academy graduate in 2021. Like her sister Maddi, she hails from a Rugby 7’s background and will look to juggle both codes going forward, again like her elder sibling. The 17-year-old is an inside midfielder with all the athletic traits you would expect, including strength over the ball and power to pull away from would-be tacklers. She has some more refined traits too, with clean hands and terrific skills making her a contested ball winner with handy points of difference. Like Rowbottom, she looks ready to go and is a class act with one of the more well-rounded skillsets of any draftee around the nation.

TEAGAN LEVI CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Top Performers: AFLWU19s – Queensland vs. Vic Country

Teagan Levi gets a kick away for Queensland

#8 Ashanti Bush (Forward)
18/08/2002 | 162cm
Hawthorn VFLW / Darwin Buffettes / Allies

After missing out last year, Bush became the sole Northern Territory talent drafted in 2021 after a promising year of football at multiple levels. She was a noted goalkicker in the NTFL with Darwin, and went on to link up with Hawthorn in the VFLW after representing the Allies at this year’s Under 19 National Championships. Bush is the kind of forward who plays above her 162cm height and doesn’t need too many opportunities to make an impact, with her smarts and evasion inside 50 making her difficult to beat one-on-one. In a Suns side which went winless with the lowest percentage last season, she promises to add some flair and threat in front of goal.

ASHANTI BUSH CONTENT:

>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Forwards
>> 2021 Top/mature-agers to watch

Ashanti Bush (right) in Allies colours

#30 Giselle Davies (Tall Defender)
17/03/2002 | 180cm
Bond University / Queensland

Another Suns Academy graduate, Davies adds some defensive solidity to the mix and already has multiple links to her new senior side. Davies has been mentored by Suns star Jamie Stanton, who teaches at her high school, and is good friends with 2020 draftee Annise Bradfield, who introduced her to Australian football. The 180cm prospect has plenty of development left, with her defensive acumen and ability to nullify direct opponents already sound, but contested marking and taking on the game areas she is looking to steadily improve.

GISELLE DAVIES CONTENT:

>> Rising Sun Davies learns from the best

DRAFT SUMMARY:

With a clear standout from their own academy always in line to land at Gold Coast, the Suns were able to mix it up with their other two top 10 selections and pick from other regions. Rowbottom was a great get as she nominated Queensland and became available with pick one, while Bush is a raw talent with plenty of upside who can add some much-needed scoring power. Levi was the standout local choice and has plenty about her as a midfielder, while fellow academy graduate Davies is another developmental kind of selection who is progressing well and bolsters the Suns’ key defensive stocks. The Suns’ regeneration will be massively buoyed by their first two picks in particular, they’re both stars in the making.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

22 in 2022: AFLW Draft Ones to Watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHERS TO WATCH:

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

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

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Geelong

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

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

It was no surprise to see Geelong take Prespakis with the first pick in the Victorian pool, with the potentially generational talent near-impossible to deny in pole position. The sister of Maddy will quickly break that tag, with her own talents proving exceptional throughout the junior pathways – starting with her NAB League best and fairest win at 16-years-old in 2019. Prespakis is as well-rounded a midfielder you can find; able to win her own ball at the coalface, use her running capacity to accumulate around the ground, prove effective by hand and penetrative by foot, while also providing her fair share of tackling pressure. She is a star in the making and ready to go at senior level, providing ideal cover for the loss of Liv Purcell among a regenerating Cats midfield.

GEORGIE PRESPAKIS CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> VFLW Player Focus: Georgie Prespakis

Prized pick Georgie Prespakis in action for Vic Metro

#7 Zali Friswell (Midfielder)
30/12/2003 | 165cm
Calder Cannons / Vic Metro

The Cats pulled off one of the surprise picks of the first round by taking Friswell at pick seven, though the selection is a shrewd one in context. A teammate of Prespakis through multiple competitions, the 17-year-old has waxed with her new Cats teammate through the NAB League, VFLW, and AFLW Under 19 National Championships. But let’s get it straight – she is far from just a sweetener in the Prespakis coup. Friswell is a gun midfielder in her own right with elite running capacity and a great balance of traits in the engine room. She was made to play a variety of roles throughout 2021 at either end of the ground, but looks most comfortable around the ball and has the potential to be a very reliable ball winning asset for Geelong.

ZALI FRISWELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Power Rankings: Victorian Pool
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

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

Geelong seldom misses out on local talent and like usual, snapped up a Falcons graduate among this year’s intake. Having sured up their midfield stocks, Featherston was the player the Cats went for, an exciting player with rare athleticism and enormous upside. Such is the power of Featherston’s leap, she rotated through the ruck for Geelong Falcons and Vic Country this season at just 169cm and more than held her own. She is mostly stationed up forward though, where that same athleticism translates to her potential as a marking target who attacks the aerial ball with vigour and possesses a thumping kick. The 17-year-old is almost certain to capture fans’ imaginations with her style of play, and has great potential to grow into a top player.

GABBI FEATHERSTON CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Forwards
>> NAB League Girls team review: Geelong Falcons

Gabbi Featherston (centre right) competes in the ruck

#15 Annabel Johnson (Midfielder)
6/11/2000 | 167cm
Geelong VFLW

After promoting mature-agers Claudia Gunjaca and Olivia Fuller from their VFLW side, the Cats added another with pick 15 in the form of Johnson. The multi-sport athlete is a relative newcomer to high levels of Australian football but has taken to the code quickly and shown a rapid rate of development over the last couple of years. The 20-year-old needed just one season in Geelong’s VFLW system to prove her worth, with her athletic base and promising state league form on both sides of midfield enough to see her crack the top flight.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Geelong’s draft night ended as quickly as it began, with the Cats on the clock early at pick two and out of action by pick 15. They were smart to pair Prespakis alongside long-time teammate in Friswell with their first two picks, making for a one-two midfield punch which promises to prove more than handy. The Cats always pick local and did so once again in taking on Featherston, adding some dynamism and excitement to a talented crop of midfielders. VFLW product, Johnson was the final cab off the rank, another athletic type who adds a different element to the midfield mix. With four selections within the top 15, the Cats have made good on an opportunity to accelerate their regeneration.

Featured Image: Geelong draftee Zali Friswell dons her new colours | Credit: AFL Photos