Tag: erin phillips

Panthers’ Kraft finds right balance

HAILING from South Australia, Brooklyn Kraft is an exciting young prospect who is hoping to leave her mark on the football world with her ruck craft and hard work. Although still relatively fresh to the football world having only picked up the sport in Year 8, Kraft has some undeniable raw talent, something her teachers saw and encouraged her to pursue.

“At Victor, my old high school, there was a carnival – my teachers invited me out to it because they noticed my athletic ability. I played there and after that they made a football Academy at my school to play against football teams up in Adelaide,” she said.

When asked about what aspect of footy Kraft liked the youngster struggled to put a finger on just one area, noting both the on-field and off-field bonuses of playing footy.

“I like how like there’s so many different skills you can put into football like marking and handballing… I like the team culture around it, like it’s nice,” she said.

Standing at 182cm, Kraft makes full use of her height able to compete in the air and most importantly ply her trade in the ruck, an area she believes to be one her strengths. However a downside of her height is her mobility, something the 17-year-old hopes to improve on as she develops as a player.

“Probably my rucking like tapping the ball, marking and kicking,” she said. “In the future I want to improve my tackling probably and just around the ground movement.”

In her short career the South Australian has already tasted her fair share of success being part of the South Adelaide premiership winning side in 2019 at the ripe age of 16, a moment she recalls fondly despite all the nervous jitters and cold weather.

“Very nervous when I went out there, very like new to me and I only had played I think three games before that so I was very surprised that I got chucked in the grand final team. It was very cold, (but) it was so exciting when we won two in a row as well, at the club everyone was getting around that,” she said.

In her first grand final appearance the youngster looked to fellow up and comers in Montana McKinnon and draftee hopeful Teah Charlton to help guide her through while also leaning on the experience and smarts of their captain, Lauren Buchanan given her relative inexperience especially when it came to performing on the big stage.

“Montana McKinnon and Teah Charlton, she’s always a good player to look up to and Lauren Buchanan our captain she’s very nice.”

Prior to picking up the oblong ball, Kraft plied her trade on the netball court before making the hard decision to put down the bib and permanently work on her ruck craft with South Adelaide, with time commitment a huge factor in her decision.

“I quit completely now because it was getting too much with the trainings colliding with football training,” she said. “Sometimes I would have to call up netball and ask, if it was getting close to the finals as well I’d have to ask and say I have an opportunity to go out with South and train and sometimes they’d be like yeah, some of the times I had to commit to the netball.”

Having played nine games at SANFLW level this season, Kraft has steadily developed and relished the game time with South Adelaide. Last year Kraft made the move from her local stomping ground in Victor to be closer to her football and reduce the amount of hours spent on the road.

“We used to live down in Victor so we had to do a lot of travel but last year we moved up here and started renting,” she said. “Yeah (it is) much easier to get here to football. It saves a lot of time travelling. Back when I was living in Victor it was like probably an hour drive up so maybe four hours a week driving because it was back and forth.”

Travel was not the only thing Kraft had to balance, highlighting the toll on fitting in schoolwork around her heavy workload.

“Schoolwork has been pretty hard to balance. Just been getting used to managing it like training nights I would probably work a lot at school and then just have the training night,” she said.

When asked about her goals for the future there was one thing in mind and that was to “get drafted and play in the AFLW”, something that could become a reality for the South Australian product. Kraft also indicated her desire to play alongside two-time premiership player Erin Phillips with the youngster making mention of her sheer class and star power.

“Her skills are so good, just everything, her fitness, she’s just an amazing footballer.”

Halfpenny continues Norwood family legacy in search of dream

TALENTED forward Jade Halfpenny never thought of herself as following her father Warren into Australian rules football, but her switch from basketball to Australian rules football enabled her to become one of a number of special family ties in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

A number of players made their debuts in Round 1 of 2020 donning the colours that their famous fathers did such as Bek Rasheed (North Adelaide) and Shelby Smith (Central District). But then 17-years-old Halfpenny was the youngest of the trio and she could hardly believe her luck at being selected.

It was pretty exciting,” Halfpenny said. “It’s not something I really expected or ever really considered until the past year or so but it was always kind of assumed that my younger brother would be the one to go on and do that so it was pretty exciting and hopefully he can get up there too.”

Her journey through football has been relatively recent compared to many other South Australian State Under 18s Academy members, having only played for a few years, but made a rapid rise through the pathway.

I started in 2017 at Golden Grove Football Club,” Halfpenny said. “I played in the Under 16s there for a couple years and then I started playing in the A-Grade and then through that I was doing the Under 17s Development Squad at Norwood. “Then last year was my third year in the development squad and they asked me to come out for the senior side so I started with them and then played every round this season in the SANFL and from that went into the Under 18s State squad.”

Naming North Adelaide and Crows star Anne Hatchard as her toughest opponent this season, Halfpenny admitted it was “pretty intimidating” knowing some of the players she would come up against in the SANFL Women’s competition.

“You know some of the legacies that were in there, but I guess everyone is there for a reason and I just had to keep reminding myself that I could do it and I can put it up to them and it’s really an honour with and against them,” she said.

Not expecting to play a game, Halfpenny instead did not miss one, playing all 11 games including the cutthroat finals loss to West Adelaide. In those games, the strong marking forward was able to roam between midfield and the forward 50, rarely losing a one-on-one contest. Along with her football, Halfpenny has always been an active basketball player, something she believes helps lend itself to the game of Aussie rules.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was six I think, so a long time,” she said. “It has always been the plan to kind of see as far as I can go with that and then footy came into the picture. “I still play basketball but footy’s more of the priority now. “Basketball has obviously helped footy with the athleticism and contact and the body strength has been really helpful with footy.

“I think one major thing is handling the ball,” she said. “I’ve been told that I look like a basketballer when I go for a mark. “That’s just the ability to take a mark and grab the ball and intercept and stuff like that has come from basketball. “As well as just the body strength, just holding an opponent and using your body to defend.”

Halfpenny’s strength is her marking, though she said she is always looking to improve even further, but her ability to read the ball in flight and position herself well also helps. As for what she is looking to improve on, the Norwood teenager was blunt.

Everything honestly,” Halfpenny said. “I’d like to get fitter which obviously that aids with everything. Just getting a bit more precise with my kicking. “A bit further kicks, shorter kicks, body strength, yeah everything.”

While she might be keen to build a more consistent game, Halfpenny has been regarded as one to watch for the future given her rapid improvement in a short space of time. She is also not the first player to cross from basketball to football, and an inspiration of hers is an elite player who made the same transition.

“I never really followed football specifically a lot growing up but I looked up a lot to Erin Phillips more in basketball when I was younger because she was obviously a big basketballer and now she’s gone over to footy,” Halfpenny said. “But also my dad as well. “Looking at what he’s done and just seeing what he’s been able to do.”

Unlike other State Academy members, Halfpenny is a relatively newcomer to the squad, named in the Under 18s squad that would have played at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships if it had gone ahead. While it did not, Halfpenny said it was still “pretty humbling” to be included with so many other talented players.

“Pretty exciting,” Halfpenny said. “It wasn’t until then that I sort of realised maybe what I could achieve and what I could do and some of the girls that were in that were obviously incredible footballers and being able to train alongside them was a pretty humbling experience but a great learning opportunity.”

Picture: Supplied

Like most people around the country, Halfpenny’s top-age year was suddenly thrown into uncertainty, with the COVID-19 pandemic postponing the SANFL Women’s season for a few months. It did not stop the teenager – who turned 18 during the postponed period – from training and making sure she did not miss a beat.

“I was running a lot,” Halfpenny said. “Up the hills and that kind of thing. “I also had a program from the state team that they wanted us to follow so that was a lot of fitness, ball skills and that kind of stuff. “I was mostly going out and training with my brother – my younger brother – and my dad. “So it was good to have them to help me out. “It was tough, but it was tough for everyone.”

Norwood has undergone plenty of chance over the last 12 to 18 months, with Halfpenny one of a number of new players joining the side. With so many fresh faces it might have been difficult to gel at first, but Halfpenny said it made the transition easier for her.

It was good because obviously I was new, but I wasn’t the only new person,” she said. “Being one of the youngest I was a bit nervous and a bit intimidated but having that new group as well as some of the older players to pull it all together was really helpful. “All the older girls were really lovely and the team was one big family now, and it’s a very inclusive environment and I’m very happy to be.”

Running out at the SANFL Women’s All-Stars clash, Halfpenny is among the top up and coming talents in South Australia. Whilst she might have less experience than some others, she has already made great strides in her development. Like many of her peers, she dreams of playing at the elite level, but is still amazed at her accomplishments thus far, and will just take it all in her stride. She said she wanted to be “the best version” of herself and that was all that mattered.

“I never thought I’d be able to do what I’ve already done and so if this was as far as I got then I would be happy with that,” Halfpenny said. “But to get the furthest I can and maybe if I can have a shot at AFLW would be a dream, but at the end of the day I’m happy with what I’ve done and if that’s as far as I get, then that’s as far as I get.”

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

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

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

#10 ANNE HATCHARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#14 EBONY MARINOFF

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

* – denotes club-best

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

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

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

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

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

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

Draft Central’s Top 50 AFLW Players 2020: #50-#46

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

#50 Olivia Vesely (St Kilda)

6 GAMES AVE: 15.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.8 inside 50s, 1 goal

The first player making our countdown is a debutant this year in former Sandringham Dragons turned-Southern Saints talent, Olivia Vesely. Having only turned 20 in December last year, Vesely still has plenty of years ahead of her and showed her talent playing through the midfield and helping her team get the ball inside 50. She averaged more than 15 touches and four tackles per game, not afraid of bringing down stronger opponents. Vesely played every game in her debut season and looked ultra-impressive picking up at least 13 disposals in every match.

#49 Elle Bennetts (GWS GIANTS)

7 GAMES AVE: 12.4 disposals, 3.0 marks, 1.9 tackles, 1.6 rebounds

An elite-level netballer to go with her AFL Women’s achievements, Bennetts had a career-best year in 2020 by making the All-Australian squad. She picked up 12.4 disposals, 3.0 marks and laid almost two tackles per game, using the ball well coming out of defence. She has been a consistent player over the past few years transferring her game from her work with GIANTS Netball, and has lifted her number. Having already forged out 21 games, Bennetts looks to be getting better each year and will now return to the Suncorp Super Netball where she is a training partner with the GIANTS.

#48 Ebony Antonio (Fremantle)

7 GAMES AVE: 12.1 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 1.0 rebounds, 4 goals

After a quieter year last year, the Fremantle talent stepped up again in 2020, almost reaching the numbers she achieved in her 2018 season. Impressively, Antonio continued the trend of playing further up the ground than in defence like she often did in 2018, instead playing that midfield-forward role this year with a success fo 12.1 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s and four goals to her name from seven games. She has now booted 12 goals from 22 games and remains a key part of the Dockers line-up. Turning 29 at the end of the year, Antonio still showed she has some football left in her by making the All-Australian squad.

#47 Steph Chiocci (Collingwood)

7 GAMES AVE: 15.6 disposals, 3.6 marks, 3.1 tackles, 2.9 inside 50s, 1 goal

This year felt like a resurgence for the Colllingwood captain who on more than a few occasions stepped up and led her side brilliantly. Having had some inconsistent times in 2019, it seemed 2020 was mostly all pretty strong across the board and to be honest she was pretty stiff to miss out on the All-Australian squad. Her stats were up by a massive five disposals, a mark and an inside 50, with her fantasy numbers – which can be an indicator – lifting from 47.1 to 63.9. But her influence across the ground, stepping up when required was the biggest thing, laying crucial tackles or taking the game on, just making her presence felt if it seemed like the game was slipping away from the Pies. Her last three matches were her best, racking up 18 touches and six marks against both Brisbane and North Melbourne.

#46 Hayley Miller (Fremantle)

7 GAMES AVE: 13.9 disposals, 2.9 markks, 4.1 tackles, 3.6 inside 50s, 1.6 rebounds, 1 goal

The second Docker to enter this list is one who was unlucky to miss out on the All-Australian team after a career-best season. Having been a consistent member of the side over the last couple of years like Antonio, Miller stepped it up in 2020 to provide more spread across the ground. It boosted her numbers and influence, averaging career-high disposals (13.9), marks (2.9), tackles (4.1) and inside 50s (3.6). More impressively her work rate lift was shown most prominently by her ability to rebound the ball more than once per game, while lifting her forward half touches. She only kicked the one goal, but her work from half-back to half-forward was strong and it showed with Fremantle’s success and depth to take the Dockers through the season undefeated.

Prespakis claims best and fairest in second season

CARLTON’S Madison Prespakis has capped off a remarkable 2020 AFL Women’s season by taking out the League Best and Fairest Award at tonight’s W Awards ceremony. While the feeling amongst the room might have been different compared to a packed house at a gala event, Prespakis and the other winners were no less deserving of their awards.

The second-year dynamo has collected just about every award there is to collect, already being a dual best and fairest, dual All-Australian and Rising Star winner. The former Calder Cannons skipper and top five pick has not put a foot wrong in two seasons with the Blues, averaging 20.1 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.1 tackles and booting 10 goals across 16 games.

Prespakis won the award with 15 votes with Fremantle Dockers star Kiara Bowers just three votes behind. In at third was the Kangaroos’ Emma Kearney on 11 votes while Anne Hatchard and Jenna Bruton managed 10 votes apiece to round out the top five.

The awards did not stop there with former number one pick Isabel Huntington taking out the Rising Star award. Huntington might be the feel-good story of the 2020 W Awards. Having to overcome various injury setbacks including long-term knee injuries, Huntington repaid the faith the Bulldogs showed in her by selecting her with Pick 1 back in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft. She had only managed the five games prior to 2020, but doubled that amount this year and averaged 13.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 2.6 tackles and 3.4 rebounds. It was enough for her to earn All-Australian honours this year.

Caitlin Greiser has known since the season’s conclusion that she would receive the Leading goal kicker award, booting 10 goals in her debut season. The former Western Jets talent missed out on being drafted when she played as an overager, but then crossed from Melbourne University to Southern Saints where coach Peta Searle saw enough to offer her a senior list spot. Coming from a soccer background, Greiser did not look overawed on the big stage, with a season-best three majors against Richmond, and the winning goal against Melbourne to spur the Saints onto victory in both those matches.

Announced the night before, the other major achievement bestowed upon 21 of the league’s finest was the All-Australian team. The team featured 11 debutants in Sarah Allen (Adelaide Crows), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Isabelle Huntington (Western Bulldogs), Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood), Olivia Purcell (Geelong Cats), Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda), Kate Hore (Melbourne), Sharni Layton (Collingwood), Kalinda Howarth (Gold Coast SUNS), Alyce Parker (GWS GIANTS) and Ash Riddell (North Melbourne). Along with the debutants, two players maintained their unbeaten streak in the league’s best side with Karen Paxman (captain) and Emma Kearney (vice-captain) handed leadership roles for making a remarkable fourth-straight team.

The full team is below:

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #9 – Carlton’s comeback proves too strong for the Crows

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, moving onto our #9 which saw Carlton come from behind to defeat Adelaide in Round 4.

CARLTON spoiled Erin Phillips’ return to footy on Sunday, defeating the Crows by eight points at Richmond Oval in a convincing display. The Blues dominated the disposal count (267-179), the contested possessions (95-73) and the inside 50s (32-27). Although Carlton led the entire last term, the first three quarters were much closer.

Stevie-Lee Thompson was lively for the Crows early, applying some great pressure and setting up Rhiannon Metcalfe for the first goal of the match. Phillips didn’t take long to make her presence felt, making strong impact around the stoppages and taking a nice one-handed mark on a lead. Carlton had 32 more first quarter disposals and despite doing most of the attacking, they squandered multiple opportunities in front of goal. Dayna Cox and Marijana Rajcic had outstanding first quarters for Adelaide in defence, deterring several Carlton attacks with strong spoils and crunching tackles.

Eloise Jones got Adelaide off to a great start in the second with a classy drop punt from the pocket. Ailish Considine followed this with a nice snap goal and the Crows looked on their way to a comfortable lead. However, this all changed when Madison Prespakis and Darcy Vescio combined to drag Carlton back into the game. Nicola Stevens then kicked her first to get the Blues on the board, while Chloe Dalton and Katie Loynes began to make their mark around the stoppages. Vescio was very dangerous in the forward 50 for the Blues and set up Prespakis for their second.

Carlton seemed to over possess the ball early in the third, and Anne Hatchard capitalised by catching her opponent holding the ball and kicking truly. Tayla Harris responded with a 40-metre bomb, then kicked her second after a nice mark just minutes later to give Carlton the lead. The Blues continued to set up strongly behind the ball, building a wall that Adelaide kept blindly bombing into. Facing a two-point deficit at three quarter time, an ankle injury to part-time ruckman Jess Foley did not help matters for the Crows.

The last quarter was played at a high intensity and was filled with stoppages. There was a long scoreboard stalemate until Vescio showed her class once again, beating her opponent one-on-one in the goalsquare to put her side nine points ahead. Carlton’s defence held up brilliantly under-fire in the last term, repelling Adelaide’s attacks and chipping the ball around to take time off the clock. Meanwhile, Adelaide’s forward line was uncharacteristically dysfunctional, with usual contributors Danielle Ponter and Courtney Gum struggling to make an impact. Carlton comfortably closed out the eight-point victory.

Vescio and Prespakis were far and away the best two players on the ground. Vescio was everywhere with 17 disposals, five marks and a vital goal while Prespakis had the ball on a string, collecting 20 disposals, four marks and a goal. For the Crows, Cox played her best game of the season in defence, while Hatchard used her incredible work rate to rack up 27 disposals, seven marks and four tackles.

ADELAIDE 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 4.4 (28)
CARLTON 0.2 | 2.3 | 4.5 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS:

Adelaide: E. Jones, A. Hatchard, A. Considine, R. Metcalfe.
Carlton: T. Harris 2, M. Prespakis, N. Stevens, D. Vescio.

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: D. Cox, A. Hatchard, J. Mules, E. Phillips, N. Allen, E. Jones
Carlton: D. Vescio, M. Prespakis, K. Loynes, L. McEvoy, C. Wilson, V. Laliofi

Top 10 AFLW matches:

#10 – Crows win at the Cattery in accurate display
#9 – Carlton’s comeback proves too strong for the Crows

Q&A: Tiarna Jericho (Toowoomba/Queensland)

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

TM: How did you get into footy?

TJ: “I got into footy probably because of my siblings. “So they were both playing and I just thought I’d give it a try. I was originally playing hockey as well, so I just gave a couple of games a go and I just loved it.”

You still play hockey?

“I gave hockey the flick probably about … this is my second year not playing. “It was a little bit different, not playing, but I just love footy so much.”

What is it that you love about footy so much?

“I really love the physicality and the unpredictability of the game. “Every game is new and you can’t go in there thinking ‘this is what’s going to happen’ because everything’s just so unpredictable. “I just love the camaraderie with all your mates. “It’s such a good team atmosphere.”

Is there a particular area you’re hoping to improve on in your game?

“In my game I’d really like to improve my in the air ability. “I’m more of an in-and-under player. “I’d love to be able to take those really spectacular marks and get those really clean hands.”

You said you’re an in-and-under player, would you say that is one of your strengths?

“Yeah, so I’m quite an aggressive player. “So I put my body on the line and just go at the ball as hard as I can and just try and win that ball on the ground.”

Is that a hard thing to do, just to go for it and not worry about the physical contact that might be coming?

“To be honest, I don’t think that part switches off in my brain. “So in all aspects of life I just go straight at it and just give it my all and see where it takes me.”

How is balancing training and studying going?

“Being in Grade 12 it’s quite challenging. “I find that I pretty much have no down time. “It’s pretty much footy, school and sleep. “Look, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

How many nights are you training a week?

“I’ve got two Academy sessions, and then two club sessions. “Plus a few gym sessions a week, so yeah it’s pretty full on.”

How have you found it different with the Academy sessions compared to the club sessions?

“I find it quite different. “The Academy has a larger number of people. “I guess the skill level is a little bit higher, however it is different, but I like both for different reasons.”

What are you hoping to get out of this season?

“This season I’m just really hoping to improve my skills and just hone in on the things I need to improve on just to make me better in the future.”

Travel wise, do you have a lot of travel?

“Yeah so living in Toowoomba and travelling to Brisbane. “That’s like two hours down to Brisbane for training and then two hours back, so that’s like six hours out of my day just for football training. “So yeah it’s pretty full on, definitely would be a lot easier if I was in Brisbane, but at the same time you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Do you have your licence or do you have to rely on your parents?

“I do have my licence, except my parents often… you know they want to take a bit of the load off me and give me a bit of a little bit of a break so sometimes when I’m travelling, I can stay in the car and just have a nap on the way down or something. “So they’re really supportive with it.”

Do you have any role models?

“I just love Erin Phillips. I love her drive and her dedication and everything. “She’s just so talented and I just really look up to her and how she holds herself in the manner of the game.”

Is she someone you’re hoping to emulate on the field as well?

“Yeah 100 per cent. “If I could even be the slightest bit like Erin Phillips, I’d be happy.”

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Adelaide

ADELAIDE was behind the eight-ball from the get-go in season 2020, with a raft of injuries taking toll throughout arguably the club’s least successful AFL Women’s campaign to date. The reigning premier finished second bottom in Conference A with a measly 2-4 record, struggling to string together winning form after being stunned for a third-straight year in Round 1. Despite the losses – both in personnel and premiership points – positives came in the form of the emergence of a dominant midfield duo, as well as the successful berths of the Crows’ newest recruits. Relive the highs and lows of Adelaide’s 2020 season, with the spotlight placed on its best-performing players throughout.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Brisbane by 13 points
R2: defeated St Kilda by 13 points
R3: defeated Geelong by 11 points
R4:
lost to Carlton by 8 points
R5:
lost to North Melbourne by 42 points
R6:
lost to GWS by 5 points

Change was always going to be the constant heading into the Crows’ Round 1 clash against Brisbane, with major injuries hitting Adelaide and the Lions experiencing a heavy list turnover. But for the third year running, Adelaide was trumped in its season opener – only this time it could not recover. Both St Kilda and Geelong made it tough for the Crows to get on the winners list, and the weight of interruptions finally caught up with them as they faced a trio of finals-bound sides to see out the season – losing to all three. The loss to Carlton made things hard, the defeat to North Melbourne was crushing, and going down to GWS finished Adelaide off even before the season was shortened. An unflattering set of results despite valiant efforts.

SEASON HIGH: The return of Erin Phillips

It may only have been short-lived and amid a poor patch of form, but it was great to see Phillips back out there. Returning from a knee injury sustained in last year’s grand final triumph, the champion former-basketballer came into the season four rounds deep, collecting 13 disposals in a more forward-oriented role against Carlton. After a week off, Phillips repeated the feat against GWS and while it was far from her absolute best, those glimpses of her on the field made a difference.

SEASON LOW: The GIANTS crushing Adelaide’s finals aspirations

The nail in the coffin that was Adelaide’s season was driven through in Round 6 against the GIANTS, with a second loss on home turf officially ruling the Crows out of finals contention. While the Crows are expected to win most games, this fixture looked to present a good opportunity to rectify a two-game losing run, but instead presented the lowlight of their year – injuries aside. After surrendering its quarter time lead, Adelaide could not claw its way back into the low-scoring contest, bringing a disappointing campaign to its end.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Ebony Marinoff (23.2 disposals, 5.2 marks, 7.8 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s, 2.8 inside 50s)

The onus was really on Marinoff in the pre-season to take an even further step in her football development in the absence of Chelsea Randall and Phillips, and the 22-year-old did just that. Shouldering the responsibility of a greater midfield load, Marinoff continued to find the ball at will, while also maintaining her impressive defensive record in a great showing of her enormous work rate.

Anne Hatchard (25.3 disposals, 4.7 marks, 5.7 tackles, 1.5 rebound 50s, 2.7 inside 50s)

Joins Marinoff in the All Australian squad having elevated her game to become a midfield mainstay, leading the league for average disposals across her six games. Every bit as hard working and tough as her fellow engine room operator, Hatchard was a contested beast and ensured the Crows – despite their shortcomings elsewhere – would always be well represented at the stoppages. Also broke the AFLW record for most disposals in a single match against Brisbane (35).

Sarah Allan (12.5 disposals, 3.5 marks, 1.8 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s, 1 inside 50)

Perhaps one of the more unheralded performers for Adelaide, Allan completes the trio of 22-year-old Crows to have earned an All Australian squad berth. The 178cm defender was as reliable as anyone at full back in what would end up being a tough position to play for the Crows, marking well and proving cool in possession with a club-high disposal efficiency of 80 per cent – remarkable given the pressure she was often under.

Angela Foley (12.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 2.5 inside 50s)

Another inaugural Crow who continues to be a reliable figure, Foley returned another consistent campaign with averages indicative of her previous form in the competition. Given her side’s spate of injuries, Foley’s role from midfield became even more important as she leant on every bit of senior-level experience to help guide the Crows forward as a real metres-gained asset.

Courtney Gum (10.5 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 goals)

Not many would have expected to see Gum feature here post-season 2019, with the former-GIANT coming out of a short-lived retirement to feature in her home state. Posted in a forward role throughout the year, Gum found the big sticks three times – including twice in what almost proved a match-winning performance against GWS. The 38-year-old’s hard edge inside 50 was a great addition, and in hindsight would have helped given the weekly absentees.

YOUNG GUN:

Danielle Ponter (9 disposals, 2.3 marks, 1.2 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 5 goals)

The lightning NT product backed up a promising debut season well to finish as her side’s leading goalkicker. Having found the ball a touch more as she ventured further afield, Ponter’s four-goal effort against Geelong in Round 3 proved game-breaking and served as a reminder of the small forward’s talent. While she only found the big sticks once more after that match, Ponter’s speed and pressure around the ball were great to watch.

VERDICT:

It is always hard to judge a side missing such vital members of its core, but the hammer must come down hard on the Crows given they hold arguably the most talent-rich squad in the competition. Unfortunately, they could not keep up with the key changes and despite having no issues in finding the ball, could not consistently get the best out of their scoring options. It was a heavy fall back down to Earth for the two-time premiers, but they should hit back strongly in 2021 with a point to prove.

2020 AFL Women’s season review

UNPRECEDENTED is what the fourth edition of AFL Women’s was in every sense, with the skill level and fanfare growing, but uncharted circumstances cutting the season short – twice. While we may only have been graced with six of the scheduled eight regular season rounds and one exhilarating week of finals, there is plenty to unpack from what was a truly special chapter in the women’s footy story. We bring you all the key stats and winners, the highs and lows of each teams’ season, and the leading candidates for the premiership, MVP and Rising Star awards in our 2020 season recap.

CONFERENCE LADDERS

Conference A

1st – North Melbourne (5-1, 227%)
2nd – GWS GIANTS (4-2, 123%)
3rd – Brisbane (3-2-1, 107%)
4th – Gold Coast SUNS (2-3-1, 101%)
5th – Geelong (2-4, 81%)
6th – Adelaide (2-4, 80%)
7th – Richmond (0-6, 36%)

Conference B

1st – Fremantle (6-0, 155%)
2nd – Carlton (5-1, 152%)
3rd – Melbourne (4-2, 165%)
4th – Collingwood (4-2, 154%)
5th – St Kilda (2-4, 91%)
6th – Western Bulldogs (1-5, 73%)
7th – West Coast (1-5, 32%)

Combined

1st – Fremantle
2nd – North Melbourne
3rd – Carlton
4th – Melbourne
5th – Collingwood
6th – GWS GIANTS
7th – Brisbane
8th – Gold Coast SUNS
9th – St Kilda
10th – Geelong
11th – Adelaide
12th – Western Bulldogs
13th – West Coast
14th – Richmond

FINALS RESULTS

North Melbourne 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
def.
Collingwood 1.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 (32)

GWS GIANTS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
def. by
Melbourne 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 4.5 (29)

Fremantle 2.3 | 5.5 | 8.6 | 12.8 (80)
def.
Gold Coast 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 (10)

Carlton 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.6 | 6.8 (44)
def.
Brisbane 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)

STATS LEADERS

Disposals:

Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 156
Anne Hatchard (Adelaide) 152
Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) 149
Karen Paxman (Melbourne) 149
Madison Prespakis (Carlton) 149

Marks:

Chloe Molloy (Collingwood) 32
Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 32
Kate Lutkins (Brisbane) 31
Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) 31
Kerryn Harrington (Carlton) 31

Tackles:

Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 99
Katie-Jayne Grieve (Fremantle) 51
Jacqui Yorston (Gold Coast) 48
Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) 47
Brittany Tully (GWS) 46

Goals:

Sabreena Duffy (Fremantle) 12
Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda) 10
Jesse Wardlaw (Brisbane) 9
Kaitlyn Ashmore (North Melbourne) 9
Kalinda Howarth (Gold Coast) 9

Inside 50s:

Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 32
Emma Kearney (North Melbourne) 29
Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 29
Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) 27
Hayley Miller & Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 25

Rebound 50s:

Phoebe Monahan (Richmond) 41
Stacey Livingstone (Collingwood) 29
Lauren Aherns (Gold Coast) 24
Jade Pregelj (Gold Coast) 24
Kate Lutkins (Brisbane) 23

Clearances:

Karen Paxman (Melbourne) 39
Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 32
Emma Swanson (West Coast) 30
Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) 30
Olivia Purcell (Geelong) 30
Madison Prespakis (Carlton) 30

Hitouts:

Lauren Bella (Gold Coast) 130
Sharni Layton (Collingwood) 120
Breann Moody (Carlton) 117
Mim Strom (Fremantle) 114
Jessy Keeffe (Brisbane) 114

ROUND-BY-ROUND HIGHLIGHTS

Round 1: Dees take out the premiership fancy

Round 2: SUNS shine for historic opening win

Round 3: First-ever Q-clash delivers a thriller

Round 4: Carlton’s vengeance in grand final rematch

Round 5: Dockers take out Lions to remain undefeated

Round 6: Bulldogs bring it to Freo in instant classic

Semi Finals: Mithen’s maiden goals save Dees from finals hell

TEAM HIGHLIGHTS

Adelaide: The successful return of Erin Phillips

Brisbane: Going nowhere – knocking off the Crows in Round 1

Carlton: Delivering a baptism of fire for Richmond

Collingwood: Nabbing its first-ever win over Carlton after four tries

Fremantle: The barnstorming Round 6 win over the Western Bulldogs

Geelong: Pipping Richmond in a shootout for its opening win

Gold Coast: Picking up its first set of AFLW premiership points at home, Round 2

GWS: Knocking off the reigning premiers away from home

Melbourne: A spirited finals victory against all odds, off the boot of Lily Mithen

North Melbourne: Holding on for its maiden finals victory against the Magpies

Richmond: Marquee recruit Sabrina Frederick boots the club’s first goal

St Kilda: Beating-out the more experienced Melbourne for its maiden AFLW win

West Coast: Kicking its highest total to knock over the Dogs in a thriller

Western Bulldogs: The emergence of their young stars

TEAM LOWLIGHTS

Adelaide: Injuries plaguing a rather lacklustre premiership defence, never got going

Brisbane: Running out of legs – finishing with four-straight losses

Carlton: Losing to the old enemy for the first time in history

Collingwood: The heartbreaking knee injury to Ash Brazill

Fremantle: Being stripped of the chance to go undefeated throughout a whole season

Geelong: Nina Morrison’s second ACL injury in as many seasons

Gold Coast: A dismal finals showing

GWS: Getting pipped at the post on home turf come finals time

Melbourne: Going down to an expansion team in Round 3, and a spate of injuries

North Melbourne: The Round 1 hiccup, could have been disastrous

Richmond: Six losses by over 20 points, take your pick

St Kilda: Throwing away what would have been a huge win over Fremantle

West Coast: Setting the record for the lowest-ever AFLW score (later beaten)

Western Bulldogs: Being beaten by West Coast in a streak of five losses

MVP CANDIDATES

Seldom do midfielders miss out on this kind of award, and the candidates for season 2020 prove no different. With that being the case, midfielders with a difference have garnered the centre of attention in this debate of late – those who can find the goals, have big tackle numbers, penetrate each arc, or dominate the clearances. Each of the six names put forward have extra strings to their bow, making them the standouts for season 2020.

Kiara Bowers – At the heart of Fremantle’s success this year was Bowers, a seasoned ball winner who is as tough as they come. The Dockers midfielder was impactful going both ways; getting her hands on the ball for a club-high 123 disposals (17.6 average), as well as a record-breaking 99 tackles (14.1 average) to show her dominance on the defensive end. Given her impact around the ball and Fremantle’s unbeaten run, it is hard to see her not featuring in the votes for most games.

Jasmine Garner – This was a true breakout year for Garner, who took her game to the next level on the back of an improved running game. Moving further afield into midfield, Garner was able to rip games apart with her knack of finding the ball, combined with shrewd timing in her forward movement to also find the goals. She was second in the league for score involvements (32) and first in marks (32), showing her impact around the ground.

Jaimee Lambert – Has a case for being the best player in the competition right now, and is again a player who just keeps on getting better. Lambert was dominant in every sense of the word, possessing an unmatched ability to find the ball at the contest (league-high 156 disposals, 84 contested), while also providing a source of inspiration going forward with a club-high 29 score involvements and 32 inside 50s. Lambert stood up when it mattered this season, and was near-unstoppable in full flight.

Karen Paxman – Having taken over as Melbourne’s prime ball winner in the absence of Daisy Pearce last year, Paxman continued to stake her claim as the competition’s premier clearance player in this campaign. In proving as much, Paxman collected a league-high 39 clearances, and was equal-third for disposals (149, 21.3 average) as the fuel for the Dee’s engine room. Her prominance in Melbourne’s four wins makes her a strong candidate, without the fanfare of others.

Madison Prespakis – The 2019 Rising Star winner is an out-and-out superstar in just her second season, and continued to build on her already impressive resume. Prespakis continually put her side on her back at the important moments, stamping her status as the Blues’ prime ball winner despite resisting heavy tags most weeks. The nuggety midfielder led her club in a range of key stats, and also found the goals on three occasions.

Others to consider – Alyce Parker, Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, Emily Bates, Emma Kearney, Ashleigh Riddell

RISING STAR CANDIDATES

Grace Egan – Richmond would be kicking themselves for not matching the Blues’ bid for Egan at last year’s draft, with the physical midfielder going on to have a stellar debut season. Egan instantly became a key part of Carlton’s midfield, winning the ball with ease and going hard at it. Earned her nomination in Round 4 with 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles in Carlton’s big win over Adelaide.

Caitlin Greiser – The ‘G-Train’ lit up Moorabbin in the Saints’ inaugural AFL Women’s campaign, comfortably leading their goalkicking with 10 majors across all six games. After a goalless debut, Greiser found the big sticks in every other outing, and earned her nomination on the back of two goals in St Kilda’s first-ever win – including an absolute boomer from around the 50m arc.

Isabel Huntington – In a surprise to many, Huntington had not yet earned a Rising Star nomination in her three years as a Bulldog, with the former number one pick still eligible for the award given the fact and her age. A reliable figure in the Dogs’ back five, Huntington returned a consistent campaign and earned her nomination in Round 6 with 15 disposals and six marks as the Dogs almost knocked off Fremantle.

THE PREMIERSHIP GOES TO…?

Could’ve – Despite Fremantle being the only undefeated side, Carlton and North Melbourne could have argued a strong case for taking out the premiership, and were due to clash in the preliminary finals. Both holding 5-1 regular season records, the Blues and Roos overcame early-season hiccups to prove themselves as contenders. And let’s not forget Melbourne, who snuck into the second week of finals and could have produced anything after a daring escape against GWS. But given Carlton’s form, adaptability, finals experience, and dominance around the ball, they are this year’s ‘could’ve’.

Should’ve – Fremantle is the obvious candidate here given it was the only undefeated side left and topped the overall ladder. In trumping all-comers, the Dockers proved they were the competition’s benchmark, and were capable of knocking off the best the league had to offer. Case-in-point – beating the Lions in a top-of-the-conferences clash. If there was to be a winner, it should’ve been Fremantle.

Would’ve – Again, it is easy to go with Fremantle as the ‘would’ve’ been winner given its unmatched record, but how the teams would’ve matched up is something we will never know. Fremantle did not play against Melbourne, North Melbourne, or Carlton during the regular season, leaving it as an unknown. North Melbourne’s status as premiership fancy coming into the year would’ve put it in good stead, while Carlton’s defensive counter to Fremantle’s attack would have been interesting to see. Another preliminary final loss to Melbourne could also have been on the cards for the Dockers, too, so it is anyone’s guess as to which team would’ve won. May we find out next year.