AFTER finishing on the bottom of the table last season, the Blues needed to go big in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft. That’s just what they did, acquiring the services of Madison Prespakis, Abbie McKay, Jayde Van Dyk, Charlotte Wilson, Emerson Woods, Rhiannon Watt and Jessica Edwards. To add to that, Carlton added 32 year-old former Fremantle star, Kirby Bentley to its line-up in a bid to move up the ladder in 2019.
What they needed:
- Defenders to fill the void of Kate Gillespie-Jones, Danielle Hardiman, Lauren Arnell and Laura Attard
- Midfielders to replace Maddison Gay and Madeline Keryk
- Tall forward to fill the absence of Kate Shierlaw
Madison Prespakis – Calder Cannons
Prespakis was the first metropolitan player to be picked in the draft, after one of the most stellar Under-18 careers. This year alone, Prespakis won the joint Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Vic Metro’s MVP, was the joint TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest winner and won the Calder Cannons Best and Fairest. She is a bull in the midfield who racks up plenty of the football. Undoubtedly, she is one of the most exciting prospects for next year, as her run and carry and booming kick can break open a game for any team.
Abbie McKay – Sandringham Dragons
McKay has been long touted to go to the Blues, after her dad, Andrew played 244 games for the club. But the famous name is certainly not the only reason why the 17 year-old got drafted to the Blues. She is a skilful midfielder that was one of the standouts in the Sandringham Dragons line-up this year. She displayed quick hands and superb run and carry, not only for the Dragons but for Vic Metro as well. McKay drew plenty of interest from other clubs, so the Blues cleverly selected her early to ensure that she was their game-changer.
Jayde Van Dyk – Hawthorn
Van Dyk’s Hawthorn Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s coach, Patrick Hill touted her as a potential number one pick. So Carlton getting her in the 20s is a steal, as the defender dominated in all areas of the VFLW this year. She was the recipient of the VFLW Rising Star award, was named in the VFLW Team of the Year and won her club Best and Fairest award. Van Dyk is a classy defender who looks ready-made for AFLW. She can shut down players well and displays amazing composure on the last line of defence. Van Dyk will play a big part in preventing Carlton from enduring another season like 2018.
Charlotte Wilson – Eastern Ranges
The Eastern Ranges co-captain was a rock in defence this year with her great overhead marking and ability to shut down players. She was also able to rotate through the ruck to provide some support there, highlighting her versatility. Wilson still plays basketball now, but it could change with the addition of an AFL Women’s contract. She enjoyed representing Vic Metro this year and also tested well in the AFL Women’s Draft Combine, coming first in the standing vertical jump, and finishing in the top five in the running vertical jump (left and right), 20-metre sprint and the yo-yo intermittent test. Her athleticism will be quite valuable for the Blues this season.
Emerson Woods- Eastern Ranges
Woods had a very successful Under-18 year, representing Vic Metro, co-captaining the Eastern Ranges and winning a premiership with Hawthorn in the VFLW. Woods has the ability to go forward or play in the midfield, thanks to her elite endurance and blistering speed. She is very smart with the ball in hand and displays quick hands in congestion. She also has a great overhead mark and is agile in the air. Woods dominated the AFL Women’s Draft Combine, breaking the 20 metre sprint record with a time of 3.129 seconds. She also came in the top 10 for the vertical jump, the agility test, the yo-yo intermittent test and the 2km time trial.
Rhiannon Watt – Southern Saints
The Southern Saints ruck was quite impressive in the VFLW this year, being named as the leading ruck in the VFLW Team of the Year and winning the Southern Saints Best and Fairest alongside Alison Drennan. Watt displayed all the classic qualities of a ruck, and complemented this with her great ball-use at ground level. She will provide great support for Breann Moody, making Carlton’s ruck stocks a formidable force.
Jessica Edwards – Collingwood
The Collingwood VFLW captain was unexpectedly snapped up in the AFL Women’s Draft by traditional rivals, Carlton. Edwards is highly deserving of an AFLW contract after leading her side to a minor premiership this year in the VFLW. She is quite a smart footballer, knowing where to position herself to find space. Her hands are clean and her kicks are quite accurate, making her a handy acquisition for Carlton’s midfield.
Kirby Bentley – Fremantle
Bentley was a star for Fremantle in the first season of the AFLW, averaging 10 disposals a match in her role at half-back and through the midfield. She was named as a part of the 40-player All Australian squad. However, a knee injury suffered in that year’s State of Origin game ruled her out of AFLW 2.0, and she made the decision to retire from AFL Women’s. But now, ready to play again, Bentley has been snapped up by the Blues and will add some much-needed experience to their line-up.
How they went:
Carlton has recruited exceptionally well in the AFL Women’s Draft. The Blues have been able to fill the void of Danielle Hardiman and Kate Gillespie-Jones through picking up Van Dyk, Wilson and Bentley, who will all give the opposition forwards plenty of headaches. Bentley can also provide support in the midfield, and replaces the experience of former Blues captain, Lauren Arnell. The Blues’ midfield has also received a huge boost with the acquisition of one of the best Under 18 midfielders in the country, in Madison Prespakis. Prespakis will add an element of aggression and will be able to break the lines with her football smarts. Together with Jessica Edwards, Abbie McKay and Emerson Woods, Carlton’s new-look midfield will certainly turn some heads. To add to this, the Blues’ ruck department has received a boost with Wilson able to head into the ruck alongside Rhiannon Watt and Breann Moody. Emerson Woods can also head into the forward line, and could present well like Kate Shierlaw did for Carlton last year.