Tag: Georgie Prespakis

2022 AFLW early look: Geelong

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central delves into each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Geelong, a team that will suit up with a new coach in 2022 after being the lowest ranked Victorian team in 2021, picking up just one win – in the final round – to be 13th overall on the ladder.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 13th
Wins: 1
Losses: 8
Draws: 0
Points For: 164 (14th)
Points Against: 408 (12th)

It was a forgettable season for Geelong finishing in 13th overall, and also through missing players due to injury such as Nina Morrison and for the most part, Olivia Purcell, leaving the Cats exposed. They averaged just 18.2 points per game in season 2021, the lowest of any side, which prompted them to search for forward options in the AFLW Draft and off-season. Whilst not a heap to smile about last season, the Cats did pick up a win in the final round against fellow winless team Gold Coast to avoid the wooden spoon and provide hope for the future with a lot of Cats getting their chance at AFLW level in 2021.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Chantel Emonson (Melbourne), Chloe Scheer (Adelaide), Olivia Fuller, Claudia Gunjaca, Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW), Georgie Prespakis, Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons), Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons), Rachel Kearns (Gaelic)
Outs: Olivia Purcell (Melbourne), Aasta O’Connor (retired), Maddie Boyd, Kate Darby, Nicole Garner, Rebecca Goring, Mia Skinner, Richelle Cranston (delisted)
Inactive: Millie Brown, Denby Taylor

Geelong will head into the 2022 AFLW season with significant change after a big off-season. The largest loss was 2020 club best and fairest winner Purcell departing to join rising club Melbourne, with the Cats able to move up the draft order and pick up Chantel Emonson as an experienced replacement. The Cats will also be without fellow former Vic Country representatives Denby Taylor and Millie Brown who will sit out the 2022 season, leaving some gaps in defence. Along with Aasta O’Connor retiring and Richelle Cranston among six delistings, the Cats will be missing a fair chunk of experience for the upcoming year. Chloe Scheer‘s recruitment should give Geelong fans plenty to smile about, with the talent able to dominate up forward or through the midfield and is exactly what they need as a young player with experience. Picking up the best available Victorian prospect in Georgie Prespakis, and her Calder Cannons teammate Zali Friswell will give the midfield a much needed boost, as will rewarding the Cats’ VFLW footballers in Annabel Johnson and Claudia Gunjaca who were incredibly impressive in 2021. Olivia Fuller presents the immediate solution for O’Connor’s departure in the ruck as Rene Caris looks to take over the reigns full-time, whilst Gabbi Featherston adds an extra dimension up forward, and former Gaelic player Rachel Kearns is some raw X-factor for the blue and white hoops.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Olivia Barber
Rene Caris
Georgia Clarke
Julia Crockett-Grills
Chantel Emonson
Gabbi Featherston
Zali Friswell
Olivia Fuller
Laura Gardiner
Renee Garing
Claudia Gunjaca
Danielle Higgins
Jordan Ivey
Annabel Johnson
Rachel Kearns
Maddy Keryk
Madisen Maguire
Darcy Moloney
Amy McDonald
Meg McDonald
Maddy McMahon
Phoebe McWilliams
Nina Morrison
Georgie Prespakis
Georgie Rankin
Carly Remmos
Chloe Scheer
Sophie Van De Heuvel
Rebecca Webster
Stephanie Williams

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can Geelong improve their win-loss record in 2022 off the back of a big AFLW Draft haul?
  • Can Georgie Prespakis have a similarly immediate impact at Geelong as her sister Maddy did at Carlton?
  • Could Chloe Scheer prove to be the recruit of the year if she can be that extra target inside 50 the Cats crave?

PREDICTION:

Geelong is now at the bottom staring at the climb up the mountain. The Cats on paper had unbelievable young talent last year, but a combination of factors including injury, did not help their cause. Once again Geelong has a side that on paper has a really impressive starting lineup, but the losses of Purcell, Taylor and Brown in particular will hurt, so the weight of expectation on their first round picks, as well as Scheer will be particularly large as to where they end up next season. Few fans would be expecting finals given the jump they would need to make, but if they can pick up a few more wins and really challenge the premiership contenders, then the Cats can build the foundations for bigger and better things in 2023 and beyond.

Picture credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW team review: Essendon

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Essendon.

Position: 5th
Wins: 8
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Percentage: 155.7%

Season in a Sentence: “Essendon was essentially a half of footy away from competing in this year’s grand final, capping a terrific maiden finals campaign as the competition’s best pure standalone side.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Alana Barba

A young gun who continues to stake her claim for higher honours, Barba stamped herself as a key cog in Essendon’s midfield-forward rotation. The 19-year-old is a hard-working team player and contributed going both ways with averages of 16.5 disposals and 7.3 tackles while also snaring 11 goals.

Mia-Rae Clifford

A player who was part of the Bombers’ leadership group and brings AFLW experience, Clifford made an impact with each touch up forward. She finished as her side’s leading goalkicker (16) and played every game, proving a consistent scoring threat who made things happen inside attacking 50.

Georgia Nanscawen

The Bombers’ most outstanding and consistent player, Nanscawen hit new heights in 2021 as a standard-setting skipper. The former Hockeyroo averaged 23.5 disposals, 10.5 marks, and 6.2 clearances across 15 games, leading her side to a historic finals berth.

Courtney Ugle

A veteran of the Bombers’ VFLW set-up, Ugle was another who featured in every game this season and brought even more strength to the engine room. The vice-captain averaged 14.2 disposals, 4.6 tackles, and 2.8 clearances in 2021 as an integral leader of the overall group.

AFLW TALENT:

While Essendon is set to enter the AFLW in 2022/23 and thus gain alignment to its VFLW program, there were still a couple of top level players who returned to don the sash. Gold Coast’s Lauren Ahrens was terrific across her handful of games, while Brisbane’s Ruby Svarc turned out nine times in red and black. There were also six recent AFLW draftees who were part of the Bombers’ ranks in 2021, in Georgie Prespakis, Zali Friswell, Emelia Yassir, Tara Slender, Elizabeth Snell, and Tahlia Gillard.

OTHERS:

As a settled and established VFLW outfit, the Bombers had a great team spread throughout 2021. Cecilia McIntosh and Kendra Heil were both reliable down back, while the likes of Alex Morcom, Natalie McDonald, Jesse Davies, and Eloise Ashley-Cooper were among the list of eight players to feature in all 17 games. Elsewhere, ruck Simone Nalder had a strong campaign, as did Federica Frew up forward.

AFLW draftees: How they fared in VFLW Preliminary Final

GEELONG advanced through to the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final with an impressive victory over Essendon in the preliminary final. In that game, there were seven recently drafted players who will step up to AFL Women’s level next season and we took a look at how they performed. All notes are the opinion of the writer.

ESSENDON:

#24 Tahlia Gillard

Stats: 5 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 16 hitouts, 1 clearance, 3 rebounds

The towering ruck/forward predominantly provided a target inside 50, and then rotated through the ruck with Simone Nalder. On a number of occasions, Gillard showed her height through a one-on-one marking contest, able to stand over her opponents and pull down marks by snatching it over the top. She had a couple of shots from those marks inside 50, for one behind and one falling short. There was a moment she would probably like to forget where she dropped a chest mark inside defensive 50 which resulted in a tackle, subsequent throw against, set shot and goal in the third term, but Gillard kept pushing hard throughout the four quarters.

#40 Emelia Yassir

Stats: 6 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 clearance

Was a predominant handballer given a lack of space in the hot finals atmosphere, she showed good strength in the second term to rip the ball from a contest close to the line and show quick hands to dish it off well. She earned a free kick from Darcy Moloney in midfield at one stage to begin a team move in transition and set up a scoring chance in that quarter for Alana Barba to kick a behind.

#43 Georgie Prespakis

Stats: 17 disposals, 12 tackles, 7 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

One of the best on the ground, and gave Cats fans some bittersweet feelings. Along with Georgia Nanscawen and Ruby Svarc, Prespakis was the key resistance for the Cats, racking up game-highs in tackles (12), clearances (seven) and inside 50s (four) to not only win it at the coalface, but drive it forward for goal-scoring opportunities. When the Bombers needed a response late in the first term, Prespakis was the one to give it with a clever snap around her body to get her side on the board. Her fierce tackling was a standout of her game, and she was able to move through clearances well, extracting it out and down the field for her teammates on the outside.

#47 Zali Friswell

Stats: 4 disposals, 1 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50

Played forward and worked really hard, but once again was not in her most dominant position – onball. One passage of play which showcased Friswell’s athleticism was her gut running through the middle in the second term, and put it long inside 50 for Barba to run onto and kick the Bombers’ second goal. Whilst not able to hold some of her marking opportunities, Friswell kept presenting, though did only finish with the four touches in what was a tough day for Bomber forwards.

GEELONG:

#13 Olivia Fuller

Stats: 14 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 35 hitouts, 2 clearances, 3 inside 50s

The standout ruck on the ground amassing 35 hitouts, but it was Fuller’s spread around the field that caught the eye. She was strong overhead and was able to provide a target at both half-forward and half-back, taking a strong intercept mark early in the match and pumping it forward. At ground level, Fuller laid a number of strong tackles to be a dominant defensive player.

#42 Annabel Johnson

Stats: 16 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 1 clearance, 2 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 1 goal

After a slower start, Johnson got busier as the game progressed and found more of the ball around the ground. Aside from a rushed kick – after a nice spin out of trouble – on the wing which went out of bounds, Johnson hit the scoreboard with a monster goal from just inside 50. It was a terrific set shot and ignited her game and her second half was quite productive. Johnson was neat with ball-in-hand off half-back and then even did the defensive running well, marking on the goal line to stop a Barba snap from going through.

#60 Claudia Gunjaca

Stats: 19 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 1 hitout, 2 clearances, 6 inside 50s

An eye-catching performance and one of the Cats’ best on the day, Gunjaca started forward and was strong with her leading and aggressive at the ball carrier. Her aerial work matched her ground intensity, and she picked up a fair amount of disposals (19), marks (four) and tackles (five), and most importantly, was able to put plenty of passes inside 50 (six). She was great at reading the ball in flight, taking back-to-back intercept marks at half-forward in the first term. On a couple of occasions, Gunjaca also spun out of trouble to kick the ball forward and moved well in traffic.

Cats claw their way to victory with dominant second half performance

IT took until the final quarter, but Geelong booked its redemption battle with Collingwood in the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final, following a terrific 6.9 (45) to 2.5 (17) win over Essendon. The teams were neck-and-neck for the first half, but the Cats shook off their opponents after the main break, booting 4.7 to 0.3, including two last quarter majors to Renee Tierney to earn their spot in the decider.

The first quarter was mostly played on Geelong’s terms, having plenty of chances early, but the staunch Essendon defence did well to hold them up. Georgia Clarke had the best chance of the quarter with a good lead and mark out in front, converting the set shot with the breeze blowing left to right into her. A couple of more chances went begging, and up the other end, Tahlia Gillard had her opportunity with a strong mark pinching it from a Geelong defender inside 50. Her kicked sprayed wide for just a behind, but soon the momentum with the Bombers was going to be rewarded.

New Cat still in the red and black, Georgie Prespakis sunk an early dagger into her soon-to-be teammates’ hearts with a clever snap out of traffic from a forward stoppage, to give Essendon reward for effort and a late reprieve. Kicking into the breeze, it was relief for the Bombers to get one on the board and keep within a point at quarter time.

The second term was yet again neck-and-neck with Clarke being the target inside 50 and kicking her second cleverly to give her side the seven-point lead. Essendon had more of the play with the breeze, but the Geelong defence was up to the task. That was until in transition, Zali Friswell – another soon-to-be Cat – won it in midfield and put it into the path of Alana Barba, and, after sidestepping her opponent close to the line put it on the outside of the boot and snapped it home.

Trying a similar thing in the dying moments of the half, Barba was run down and the shot went astray for one behind, but the sides were level heading into the main break. Georgia Nanscawen suffered leather poisoning in the first half, proving everywhere with a massive 19 disposals and six tackles, unrelenting on the inside. She teamed up well with Prespakis (12 disposals, nine tackles), whilst Rebecca Webster (15 disposals), Darcy Moloney (11) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (11) were showing their AFLW experience.

Geelong had an early opportunity from the first clearance, with Clarke almost getting her third, but she was cleverly dragged down on the line by Tamsin Crook for a rushed behind. Forward pressure soon proved overwhelming however, as recently drafted Cat Annabel Johnson took a mark and then went back from long-range and slammed a massive goal home – both in distance and in the context of the game, to give the Cats another seven-point lead.

Geelong had stepped it up in the premiership quarter and a kick inboard to a dangerous spot looked to be covered by Gillard but the ball slipped from her hands and soon the tall was called for throwing it as she mobbed, handing Clarke with a chance of her third. She made no mistake and put it straight through the middle for the largest margin of the game. No sooner had the goal been put in the book and Clarke was having another shot on goal, this time from a tight angle. This time however it proved too great, pulled a bit tight and just one behind.

It was Essendon’s chance to have chances with Jessie Davies having a shot but floating off the side of the boot. Barba was again dangerous, sidestepping and snapping towards goal but it was Johnson playing the role of goalkeeper on the line that saved the day. She played on before the line for it to be deemed a rushed behind, and yet another Barba snap just missed, but the Bombers were lively. Unfortunately for the home team, the time would beat them, and the deficit was 11 points at the final break.

It was tight and contested to start the fourth, that was until a Tamara Smith kick inside bounced to Tierney’s advantage and the teenager swung around and slammed it home for a game-high 17-point lead early in the term. Essendon were desperate to atone and Natalie Macdonald won a free kick for being held close to goal. Her set shot was on target but marked on the line by Maddy Boyd in a goal-saving effort. The Cats ran it down the other end as Madisen Maguire had a chance to win the game, but it just went to the side but put it to a flat three straight kicks.

The intensity had lifted and the pace of the game was red hot, with pinball like footy from end to end as both sides were willing to open the game up and try and take it on. Geelong had the 18-point advantage though, and every minute off the clock was a minute closer to victory. Smith was proving vital around clearances, getting multiple thrusts forward. Geelong was starting to win the territory battle however, and with another behind meaning the Bombers needed four straight kicks to victory, the game looked done and dusted.

The frustration was starting to show on the Bombers’ faces and a 50m penalty was given away after Ruby Svarc tried to charge forward but was brought down well. The subsequent set shot from the Cats went to the right, but meant the Bombers would need the four goals to win. Tierney almost had a second goal in the last quarter but the ball beat her to the line for one behind. Then her moment came again and a terrific snap out of trouble from Tierney put the game beyond doubt with her second successive goal and the Cats were headed to a grand final.

Webster finished with a match-high 29 disposals, three marks and two tackles, leading teammates Van De Heuvel (20) and Gunjaca (19), while Nanscawen recorded 26, as well as 10 tackles, with Prespakis (17 and 11) and Barba (18 disposals, five tackles, 1.2) also among the more impressive players for the red and black.

ESSENDON 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 2.5 (17)
GEELONG 1.2 | 2.2 | 4.4 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:

Essendon: G. Prespakis, A. Barba
Geelong: G. Clarke 3, R. Tierney 2, A. Johnson

DC BEST:

Essendon: A. Barba, R. Svarc, G. Nanscawen, G. Prespakis, C. Ugle
Geelong: R. Webster, C. Gunjaca, D. Moloney, G. Clarke, O. Fuller

2021 VFL Women’s Preliminary Final Preview: Geelong vs. Essendon

A GRAND Final spot is on the line tomorrow when Essendon hosts Geelong at Windy Hill in the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s preliminary final. Collingwood awaits the winner in the grand final, and has been waiting for a few weeks now after a fortnight out of football due to the Victorian lockdown. It has meant the AFL Women’s Draft has come and gone, and put a number of players in an unusual situation of playing against the team they have been drafted to for the 2022 AFL Women’s season.

ESSENDON vs. GEELONG
Saturday, July 31 @ 12:00pm
Windy Hill

In the preliminary final we find the second placed Cats having to travel to the fifth placed Bombers as part of a quirk in the unusual VFL Women’s finals series. Geelong lost to Collingwood in the quarter finals, as Essendon upset Casey Demons, unlocking a double-chance for the Bombers who had to use it when they also fell to the unbeaten Magpies. Meanwhile Geelong kept its hopes alive by taking down Southern Saints in the do-or-die semi-final, but now head north to Windy Hill where they look to get another crack at Collingwood in the 2021 VFLW Grand Final.

Last time they met: Geelong 5.9 (39) defeated Essendon 2.4 (16)

In a four-quarter performance, Geelong kicked away at Deakin University to draw or win every quarter against the Bombers. Sophie Van De Heuvel and Richelle Cranston booted two goals apiece as the Cats kept Essendon goalless in the first half, and then extended their 15-point final break lead to a 23-point full-time margin. Claudia Gunjaca and Rene Caris were deemed the best for the Cats, whilst Alex Morcom, Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba, the latter of whom kicked one of the Bombers’ two goals, were among the best for the red and black.

Who are the AFL Women’s draftees?

The two with the strangest circumstance will be Top 10 picks, Georgie Prespakis and Zali Friswell. Both Calder Cannons products, playing for a team after being drafted by another was always going to be strange enough, but the fact the two Essendon VFLW talents are lining up against the Cats – the team they will play for next year – adds an extra unusual dimension to the mix. Prespakis has been named in Essendon’s ominous midfield, while Friswell has been named at half-forward.

Tahlia Gillard is also running around in the red and black after being picked up by Melbourne, while Richmond’s Emelia Yassir is also playing for the Bombers. Both will be expected to rotate through the forward line, with Gillard chopping out in the ruck. For the Cats, it is a little more straight forward, with Olivia Fuller and Gunjaca picked up prior to the AFL Women’s Draft as compensation selections, and Annabel Johnson drafted with Pick 15, the Cats’ last selection in the draft.

Essendon also has Elizabeth Snell (Western Bulldogs) on its list, but Snell has been named as an emergency, whilst Tara Slender (North Melbourne) was not selected. Similarly for the Cats, Annie Lee (Carlton) was not picked for the clash, but other draft hopefuls who unfortunately missed out on being picked up in Renee Tierney and Chloe Leonard (both Vic Country representatives) will don the blue and white hoops. For the Bombers, Vic Metro representative Kasey Lennox is another Calder Cannon named in the side.

Where will the game be won?

Both sides have star-studded midfields, with Georgia Nanscawen arguably the best player not on an AFL Women’s list, teaming up with top Victorian pick Prespakis, and fellow AFLW experienced talent Ruby Svarc. Barba rolls through the onball group. with Courtney Ugle providing some pace, and Ashley-Cooper another prominent player in there.

For the Cats, they have an AFL Women’s midfield, with Van de Heuvel, Darcy Moloney and Rebecca Webster roving to the recently upgraded Fuller. Add in Laura Gardiner off the bench, and the likes of Tamara Smith who can roll through there, and both sides have some serious talent to win around the stoppages.

Who will win?

Geelong deserve to be favourites, they finished higher, took control in the last game and have enough AFLW experience to hold the Bombers at bay. But the Essendon midfield is as good as a VFLW midfield gets, and the youth around the ground more than makes up for it. The Cats have more AFLW experience, particularly inside 50, but the Bombers share the goals around and no doubt Mia-Rae Clifford is a player who will be keen to impact the scoreboard for the red and black against her former side.

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

2021 AFLW Draft: Club-by-club wrap

THE 2021 AFL Women’s Draft saw 59 players enter the top flight on Tuesday night, with a mix of the nation’s most promising youth, undeniable state league guns, and some recycled elite level talent making up the selections. We recap the hauls from all 14 clubs, and there still may be more to come yet with Carlton and St Kilda opting to pass their final picks, while Geelong’s Millie Brown has been placed on the inactive list.

Adelaide:

#17 Zoe Prowse (Sturt)
#20 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)
#34 Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide)

Adelaide picked up a three-pronged haul of local talent, spearheaded by another tall in Sturt’s Zoe Prowse. The 177cm ruck has been developing her craft in other positions given the Crows’ strong stocks in said department, but offers great athleticism, aerial ability, and value at their first pick. Three selections later, Adelaide went with a bolter to secure Glenelg prospect Brooke Tonon, a half-back/winger with tenacity and plenty of drive on the outer. Rounding out the crop was Abbie Ballard, a top-age midfielder who remarkably stepped up to skipper West Adelaide in its SANFLW grand final this season, setting the tone with her pressure and contested work.

Brisbane:

#18 Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore)
#35 Bella Smith (Maroochydore)
#46 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)
#53 Luka Yoshida-Martin (University of Queensland)
#58 Lucinda Puller (Bond University)

Brisbane hauled in a handful of Queenslanders to top up its premiership squad, headlined by three players originally out of the Maroochydore Football Club. The Lions featured with the final pick of the first five rounds, starting with Maggie Harmer at number 18. She’s an intercept defender who can roam further afield, where inside midfielder and pick 35 Bella Smith likes to operate. Fellow Lions Academy graduate Mikayla Pauga was next off the board, a forward-midfielder with natural footballing traits. Brisbane then dipped into the mature-age pool by selecting Luka Yoshida-Martin and Lucinda Puller out of the QAFLW. The former was an exciting forward asset in the University of Queensland’s premiership side, while the latter hails from an elite soccer background and typically plays at the other end of the field.

Carlton:

#10 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons)
#11 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges)
#23 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers)
#26 Imogen Milford (Casey VFLW)
#39 Pass

Poised nicely with two close pairs of picks in the first and second rounds, Carlton stuck to its word by targeting the best available talent, some midfield running power, and forward-line depth. Classy Geelong Falcons defender Annie Lee was first up at pick 10, fitting the ‘best available’ description having slipped passed the Cats’ early picks. She’s a great reader of the play, distributor, and avid Blues fan. Another in the latter category is Keeley Sherar, who was snapped up with the very next pick. Her burst out of the stoppages and athletic upside make for some exciting viewing through midfield. A second Vic Metro representative in Brooke Vickers opened Carlton’s second round account, with the forward-running winger potentially an apt replacement for fellow Oakleigh product Mimi Hill while she recovers from injury. Mature-age forward Imogen Milford was taken at pick 26 out of the VFLW, having booted 19 goals in 15 games for Casey. She could be a readymade replacement for Tayla Harris as Serena Gibbs continues to develop.

Collingwood:

#29 Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers)
#32 Eloise Chaston (Eastern Ranges)
#33 Imogen Barnett (Collingwood VFLW)

With three selections poised close together, Collingwood nabbed a dynamic crop of players. Eliza James was first up at pick 29, an Oakleigh premiership player who continues the Magpies’ strong connection with the NAB League region. She’s an athletic midfielder-forward who can take a strong mark and hit the scoreboard. A surprise selection came at pick 32 as Eastern Ranges captain Eloise Chaston was snapped up. She’s another dynamic type up forward who boasts a booming kick and moves smoothly. With the very next pick, Collingwood promoted VFLW product Imogen Barnett to its senior list, after she led the competition’s goalkicking for the undefeated Magpies.

Fremantle:

#14 Amy Franklin (Claremont)
#31 Dana East (Swan Districts)
#38 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
#44 Airlie Runnalls (North Melbourne VFLW)
#52 Jessica Low (Claremont)
#57 Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)

Fremantle brought in an equal-high haul of six players on draft night, including five local talents out of the WAFLW and elite talent pathway. Athletic key position utility Amy Franklin was difficult to pass up at pick 14, serving as a player who can get it done aerially at either end of the ground. Fellow state Under 19s representatives Dana East and Makaela Tuhakaraina were next off the board in the 30s, offering inside ball winning class and incredible speed up forward respectively. The Dockers pulled off a Victorian coup with VFLW product Airlie Runnells landing at pick 44. Fremantle liked the 23-year-old’s running ability having broken down her VFLW footage. Jessica Low (pick 52) and Sarah Wielstra (57) rounded out the selections, dipping back into the local pool. Low can play a variety of positions and finally gets her chance as a senior player, while Wielstra offers some forward-ruck support for Mim Strom.

Geelong:

#2 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
#7 Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons)
#9 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons)
#15 Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW)

It was no surprise to see Georgie Prespakis head to the Cattery at pick two, and the classy midfielder will be joined by fellow Calder Cannons graduate Zali Friswell. Geelong will hope the two can form a strong centre bounce partnership amid its rebuild, with the two already a very familiar combination. The Cats then picked local with their last two picks, dipping into the Falcons and VFLW talent pools. Athletic forward Gabbi Featherston came at pick nine, with her leap and massive upside at 169cm proving too hard to ignore. 20-year-old multi-sport athlete Annabel Johnson was the Cats’ fourth first round selection, again adding to her new side’s midfield depth.

Gold Coast:

#1 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
#6 Teagan Levi (Bond University)
#8 Ashanti Bush (Hawthorn VFLW)
#30 Giselle Davies (Bond University)

All eyes were on Gold Coast with pick one and it was no surprise to see Oakleigh Chargers premiership captain, Charlie Rowbottom selected first. The powerful midfielder-forward is a contested beast at 179cm and is equally damaging bursting away from stoppages as she is taking big grabs inside attacking 50. Local product Teagan Levi joined her sister Maddison at the Suns with pick six, again adding great athleticism and skill to the engine room. A second Suns Academy graduate in Giselle Davies joined at pick 30 to add some key defensive support, but not before Northern Territory native Ashanti Bush was taken at pick eight. Bush is a damaging forward who also plied her trade with Hawthorn in this year’s VFLW.

Greater Western Sydney:

#37 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers)
#49 Jessica Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy)
#55 Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power)
#59 Georgie Fowler (East Coast Eagles)
#60 Casidhe Simmons (UNSW-ES Bulldogs)
#61 Erin Todd (Inner West Magpies)

The GWS GIANTS took the equal most draft selections into the night, and utilised them all, including redrafting Erin Todd with the final selection. The first two picks went as many predicted, with Murray Bushrangers tall and GIANTS Academy member Ally Morphett heading to the club with Pick 37, followed by Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle with the second selection at Pick 49. The pair provide completely different attributes, but make a couple of immediate inclusions in the forward half of the ground. The GIANTS then picked up tackling machine Brodee Mowbray out of the Southern Power, with talented forward Georgie Fowler a big improver in AFL Sydney this year, and former heptathlete Casidhe Simmons being a surprising and unique pick, selected with Pick 60 to round out the large GIANTS’ haul.

Melbourne:

#41 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges)
#42 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
#45 Alison Brown (Casey VFLW)

Melbourne selectors and fans alike had to wait a while for their first pick, but knew what was coming with father-daughter selection Georgia Campbell landing at pick 41. The athletic ruck-forward is an absolute steal at that range, bringing enormous upside and potential to her post. The Dees went tall again with the very next pick, snapping up Campbell’s Vic Metro teammate Tahlia Gillard out of the Calder Cannons. Gillard uses her 189cm frame to advantage in the ruck but is also versatile enough to roll forward and clunk big marks. Rounding out the trio was mature-ager Alison Brown, a player with experience at two different AFLW clubs. Originally a Blue and then a Saint, she comes out of the Demons’ VFLW program where she settled in defence but showed good versatility.

North Melbourne:

#13 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)
#19 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers)
#28 Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs)
#43 Perri King (Tasmania Devils)
#51 Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW)
#56 Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)

The third side to take six selections in the 2021 draft, North Melbourne picked up some absolute bargains and a strong mix of experience and youth. The youth came early with Geelong Falcons midfielder Tess Craven taken at pick 13, a wonderful addition to the Roos’ already strong midfield who can crack in at the coalface, but also works hard to accumulate and make good decisions around the ground. Tara Slender may well be the steal of the draft at pick 19, with the athletic tall able to play at either end or through midfield. She may take some time to settle at senior level, but her best is elite. The Roos finally secured Kim Rennie‘s services at pick 28, having not struck a deal with the Western Bulldogs during trade period. She brings some much-needed key position experience and strength. Perri King and Ella Maurer were the Tasmanians North Melbourne opted for; King is arguably a first round talent with a terrific blend of class and tackling grunt in midfield, while Maurer is another midfielder with promising traits. Collingwood VFLW product Jasmine Ferguson landed between them at pick 51, showcasing the Roos’ intent in gaining mature talent en route to premiership contention.

Richmond:

#5 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)
#16 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons)
#48 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne VFLW)
#50 Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons)
#54 Akec Makur Chuot (Richmond)

Richmond addressed its need for midfield depth with four fresh faces, and the redrafting of defender Akec Makur Chuot. Oakleigh Chargers premiership player Stella Reid came at pick five, with the utility offering consistent ball winning prowess, running power, and scoreboard presence on each line. Fellow Vic Metro representative Emelia Yassir matches the Tigers’ tenacity and is a handy addition at pick 16, providing class at ground level. Richmond then went for a mature-ager in Meagan Kiely with pick 48, who proved too good to overlook after a stellar VFLW campaign with North Melbourne. She’s ready to slot straight into midfield. Geelong Falcons winger Ingrid Houtsma was the last fresh selection at pick 50, brining a good deal of athleticism and versatility to the mix.

St Kilda:

#4 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)
#12 Ashleigh Richards (Dandenong Stingrays)
#36 Pass

St Kilda was in and out of this draft in a flash, taking two first round selections before passing at pick 36. The Saints sured up their forwardline with the selection of Ella Friend, a contested marking phenom out of the GWV Rebels who can also roll up to a wing. She could prove a great fold for Caitlin Greiser at 175cm. At pick 12, Ashleigh Richards keeps the Dandenong-St Kilda link alive as somewhat of a surprise selection, though she has proven herself at every level. The 17-year-old can rotate through midfield from the forwardline and has great footy smarts, as well as her obvious versatility and leadership quality as the Stingrays’ 2021 co-captain.

West Coast:

#3 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco)
#21 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)
#24 Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)
#40 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)
#47 Emily Bennett (Claremont)

West Coast pulled off arguably the night’s first surprise by snapping up Charlotte Thomas with pick three. The AFLW Academy member only played one game this year due to a wrist injury, but had previously shown enormous talent at 175cm with her clean skills and reading of the play. Courtney Rowley was a steal at pick 21, the third of Western Australia’s pool, and is a bundle of energy on both sides of midfield. Tall stocks were next on the agenda as the Eagles took Beth Schilling and Sarah Lakay. Both are athletic, with Schilling more of a key defensive type, while Lakay is a developing forward-ruck. Emily Bennett got her chance at pick 47 after missing out last year, proving hard to deny after a consistent campaign. The rebounding defender capped off a strong haul for the Eagles.

Western Bulldogs:

#22 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers)
#25 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
#27 Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)

Having previously featured heavily at the top end of the draft, the Western Bulldogs got to sit back and watch others select first in the Victorian pool, ending up with three high value picks within the 20s. Two of them were 19th-year talents who came back after being overlooked in 2020, starting with Amanda Ling. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder was best afield in her side’s NAB League grand final triumph, and is a tenacious worker on the inside with clean hands and a sound work rate. Elizabeth Snell (pick 27) was the other 2002-born prospect to land at the Kennel, bringing a touch of speed and great character to the midfield-forward rotation. In between those selections, Murray Bushrangers best and fairest Aurora Smith slid to pick 25, proving a high-value choice for the Bulldogs. She balances her game well on both sides of midfield and again has a handy burst of speed, adding to her level of consistency.

Image Credit: Gold Coast SUNS via Twitter

2021 AFLW Draft: Every club’s selection

THE 2021 AFL Women’s Draft saw 59 players enter the elite level; from the fresh faces out of elite junior pathways, to state league guns who finally get their chance, and even a few mature-agers who have earned second chances in the top flight. There were plenty of surprises throughout the eight rounds of selections, but as expected, Oakleigh Chargers midfielder-forward Charlie Rowbottom was the first player picked and will soon jet up to join the Gold Coast SUNS.

Check out the full order of selections below, with plenty of analysis and club-by-club breakdowns to come on Draft Central.

ROUND 1:

#1 Gold Coast – Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
#2 Geelong – Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
#3 West Coast – Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco)
#4 St Kilda – Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)
#5 Richmond – Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)
#6 Gold Coast – Teagan Levi (Bond University)
#7 Geelong – Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons)
#8 Gold Coast – Ashanti Bush (Hawthorn VFLW)
#9 Geelong – Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons)
#10 Carlton – Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons)
#11 Carlton – Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges)
#12 St Kilda – Ashleigh Richards (Dandenong Stingrays)
#13 North Melbourne – Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)
#14 Fremantle – Amy Franklin (Claremont)
#15 Geelong – Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW)
#16 Richmond – Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons)
#17 Adelaide – Zoe Prowse (Sturt)
#18 Brisbane – Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore)

ROUND 2:

#19 North Melbourne – Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers)
#20 Adelaide – Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)
#21 West Coast – Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)
#22 Western Bulldogs – Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers)
#23 Carlton – Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers)
#24 West Coast – Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)
#25 Western Bulldogs – Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
#26 Carlton – Imogen Milford (Casey VFLW)
#27 Western Bulldogs – Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
#28 North Melbourne – Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs)
#29 Collingwood – Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers)
#30 Gold Coast – Giselle Davies (Bond University)
#31 Fremantle – Dana East (Swan Districts)
#32 Collingwood – Eloise Chaston (Eastern Ranges)
#33 Collingwood – Imogen Barnett (Collingwood VFLW)
#34 Adelaide – Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide)
#35 Brisbane – Bella Smith (Maroochydore)

ROUND 3:

#36 St Kilda – Pass
#37 GWS – Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers)
#38 Fremantle – Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
#39 Carlton – Pass
#40 West Coast – Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)
#41 Melbourne – Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges)
#42 Melbourne – Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
#43 North Melbourne – Perri King (Tasmania Devils)
#44 Fremantle – Airlie Runnalls (North Melbourne VFLW)
#45 Melbourne – Alison Brown (Casey VFLW)
#46 Brisbane – Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)

ROUND 4:

#47 West Coast – Emily Bennett (Claremont)
#48 Richmond – Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne VFLW)
#49 GWS – Jessica Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy)
#50 Richmond – Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons)
#51 North Melbourne – Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW)
#52 Fremantle – Jessica Low (Claremont)
#53 Brisbane – Luka Yoshida-Martin (University of Queensland)

ROUND 5:

#54 Richmond – Akec Makur Chuot (Richmond)
#55 GWS – Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power)
#56 North Melbourne – Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)
#57 Fremantle – Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)
#58 Brisbane – Lucinda Puller (Bond University)

ROUND 6:

#59 GWS – Georgie Fowler (East Coast Eagles)

ROUND 7:

#60 GWS – Casidhe Simmons (UNSW-ES Bulldogs)

ROUND 8:

#61 GWS – Erin Todd (Inner West Magpies)

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Draft preview: GWS – Western Bulldogs

TODAY is the day. The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft takes place tonight and the 14 clubs are preparing to welcome a host of new players into the elite system. Draft Central has split its club-by-club draft previews into two parts, starting with the first seven clubs of Adelaide to Gold Coast which was in yesterday’s edition, with the GWS GIANTS through to the Western Bulldogs in this second part. We take a look at the selections your club has, and some of the names who could replace outgoing players, or add something new to the table.

>> 2021 AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW: ADELAIDE – GOLD COAST

>> FINAL SIREN PODCAST: AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW

GWS:

Picks: 37, 49, 55, 59, 60, 61

The GWS GIANTS have the equal most selections of any team in the draft with six, and will be looking to top up after clearing out the list with five delistings, including Aimee Schmidt who signed as a delisted free agent with the Eagles. On top of that, Elle Bennetts and Jess Dal Pos both departed the club, and Jess Allan and Yvonne Bonner were made inactive for the 2022 season, whilst Blues duo Chloe Dalton and Katie Loynes, and North Melbourne’s Jasmine Grierson came in. It left the GIANTS with a host of later selections, coming into the draft second last at Pick 37.

That Pick 37 seems to be a toss up between AFLW Academy member and ruck Ally Morphett, and slick forward and Sydney Swans Academy captain Jess Doyle. Morphett is home grown through the Academy and immediately provides ruck support, with Doyle a highly talented, versatile forward with plenty of upside and viewed as a long-term player, also a part of the AFLW Academy. From there, four NSW-ACT representatives received AFLW Draft Combine invites with Brodee Mowbray a tackling machine, Maddy Hendrie and Teagan Germech tall options who represented the Allies, and Georgie Fowler who has been cutting it up for East Coast Eagles in AFL Sydney. Additionally, All-Australian Isadora McLeay is a defender the GIANTS could look at, with Hayley Macdonald another player who impressed in her GIANTS Academy games as a leading forward.

MELBOURNE:

Picks: 41, 42, 45

After being arguably the most active team in last year’s draft after a trade period that received mixed reviews for plenty of older players leaving the club, Melbourne’s 2021 off-season could not have been any different. Whilst Meg Downie, Tegan Cunningham, Niamh McEvoy and Shae Sloane all retired, the Demons only lost Chantel Emonson via trade, and instead picked up two of the biggest names on the trade table in Geelong’s Olivia Purcell and Carlton’s Tayla Harris, giving them a huge boost in midfield and forward. Later, they signed Casey Demons’ Eliza West who impressed for the VFLW side after crossing from basketball. They first pick in the third round at Pick 41, and then have three selections in five picks – only four are in the Victorian pool and North Melbourne’s selection could well be a Tasmanian meaning three consecutive picks – where they can quickly get in and out with a trio of players they need.

One pick is already decided in Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro’s Georgia Campbell, a ruck who is coming to the club under the father-daughter rule and is a first round prospect on value. The Demons have picked up a highly talented tall, and can be versatile with the other selections. With Melbourne looking at a flag tilt, they could well bring in the returning Leah Kaslar who nominated Victoria, or keep an eye on VFLW talent such as Casey’s Imogen Milford, or perhaps a readymade midfielder in Alana Barba or Georgia Nanscawen from Essendon. The Demons are not afraid to pic country players, and could grab a slider if the likes of Ingrid Houtsma, or Maykaylah Appleby being utilities who can run with ball-in-hand. Jemima Woods is another developing talent, with Tarrah Delgado and Cadhla Schmidli some key position defensive options. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing are two recycled players who played with Casey Demons late in the season.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

Picks: 13, 19, 28, 43, 51, 56

North Melbourne enter the draft with six selections, and a terrific draft hand to use given their draft zone with Tasmania. The Roos delisted five players including Kate Gillespie-Jones, whilst also trading away Jasmine Grierson and Vivien Saad in deals. They did not bring anyone to the club in what was a quiet overall off-season, though Kim Rennie is predicted to head to the Roos, likely with a late selection. Holding the Tasmanian zone link, expect at least two Tasmanians under the rule have their name read out, with AFLW Academy member Perri King the standout junior Tasmanian and one who will be a steal at a later selection for the Roos. Sarah Skinner is commuting from Tasmania each week to play for North’s VFLW side and is one who will be likely to land at the club after a sensational year.

The Tasmanian talents can be taken late in the draft, with the duo and Rennie expected to be in those last three selections. Other Tasmanian players who have run out for the Roos’ VFLW team including Ella Maurer, Jemma Blair and Amy Bissett, whilst the captain of the side Meagan Kiely is one North might be hoping lands at their pick. It will mean North Melbourne at least have a couple more selections from the open Victorian pool, and have versatility to select players on best available, but also potentially grabbing a tall forward. Tahlia Gillard can provide that height if available at their selection, with Imogen Milford or Imogen Barnett readymade goalscoring options if the Roos want to pounce. Gabbi Featherston is a smaller, but athletic option inside 50, whilst Emelia Yassir and Poppy Schaap are clean players they could look at. If Ella Friend was available expect the Roos to read out her name very quickly, whilst GWV Rebels teammate Nyakoat Dojiok, or Geelong Falcons’ Annie Lee could be defensive options around the Roos’ picks.

RICHMOND:

Picks: 5, 16, 48, 50, 54

Richmond is another side with plenty of picks, with five open selections this year after taking the bare minimum three picks – including the number one – last year. They delisted four players early on including key position talents Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones, with Alice Edmonds, Phoebe Monahan and Alana Woodward also delisted in June. Akec Makur Chuot was the Tigers’ final delisting though could be picked up again late in the draft. In the trade period, Richmond shipped off Sabrina Frederick to the Magpies for Maddie Shevlin, and picked up Poppy Kelly from St Kilda for that immediate ruck support, before snaring Carlton’s Jess Hosking in a deadline deal to join her sister Sarah at the club. With another Top 5 pick, and third overall in the Victorian pool, the Tigers can pick best available, with some seriously talented talls in that region.

Given the key position players will be off the board by their second pick, expect the Tigers to look at someone like Tara Slender or Ella Friend with the early pick, knowing Geelong and Carlton would both have multiple chances before Richmond can read out another name. Tess Craven is potentially one of the best available from a midfield perspective at Pick 5, whilst Stella Reid is another hard to overlook. The Tigers will have one more early selection at Pick 16, which is expected to be a best available scenario, with Jaide Anthony and Aurora Smith both Port Melbourne talents who have been carefully watched by Richmond with that alignment. Emelia Yassir is another in that region, with Poppy Schaap and even Tahlia Gillard if still on the board, options at the pick. Later on, Sophie Locke would have to be a consideration for the Tigers after a sensational year for Port Melbourne, with a slider or two coming into play for the Tigers. Maykaylah Appleby would be an apt pick for Richmond with her run and carry, whilst Jemima Woods is a late tall option should they opt for smaller players at the front end. Maeve Chaplin and Elizabeth Snell are other midfielders who could be in contention.

ST KILDA:

Picks: 4, 12, 36

St Kilda had plenty of draft selections after trade week but could only utilise three of them, with Selena Karlson retiring, and the likes of Alison Brown, Nadia von Bertouch and Tamara Luke delisted early, and Clara Fitzpatrick the last player in the competition to be cut. Poppy Kelly and Claudia Whitfort both headed to opposition sides, with the Saints shuffling up the order to grab an another early Victorian selection, then signed Alana Woodward from Richmond and added highly talented up-and-coming basketballer Paige Price. With Pick 4 in the draft, the Saints will grab the second best Victorian on their board, with Georgie Prespakis tipped to go at Pick 3. Amanda Ling is the favourite for the selection, able to fill that need on the inside after a sensationally-consistent year, whilst Tess Craven is another consideration as an inside player ready to impact immediately.

Pick 12 is the eighth pick in the Victorian draft, so the Saints can grab another highly-talented player, potentially a key forward such as Ella Friend if she remains on the board. Whilst unlikely, Tahlia Gillard is a perfect option for the red, white and black, with Tara Slender also unlikely to be there, but could be another name they hope for. Jaide Anthony is one to provide some slick skills out of the back half and could head to the Saints with the pick if they opt for a best-available scenario. With the other selection, St Kilda could pair Anthony up with a Dandenong Stingrays teammate be it Ash Richards or Jemma Radford, the latter who has been impressing for the Saints’ VFLW side. Tahlia Meier is a small who could add to their stocks inside 50, whilst Maeve Chaplin, Chloe Leonard and Keeley Sherar are other options at the pick to improve immediate midfield output if available.

WEST COAST:

Picks: 3, 21, 24, 40, 47

West Coast enter the 2021 AFLW Draft with the first West Australian selection in the pool. They head up with Pick 3, and then have two of the next three selections as well, making it a strong hand with five overall picks. They delisted eight players all at once on June 9, with Chantella Perera and McKenzie Dowrick – the latter who had been inactive for the 2021 season – also exiting the club. They grabbed Evangeline Gooch from the Dockers, and signed Aimee Schmidt as a delisted free agent from the GIANTS, in an overall quiet trade period. With Pick 3, the Eagles are tipped to select AFLW Academy member and skilful midfielder Courtney Rowley. The smooth-moving excitement machine can play on any line which makes her so versatile. Key position utility Amy Franklin is the other option for the Eagles, providing them with the best tall in the draft pool.

Depending on what the Dockers do with the next selection, West Coast could still get, though unlikely, Franklin to pair with Rowley, whilst Charlie Thomas is the other AFLW Academy member who has great versatility as a 175cm forward. Midfielder Dana East and ruck Sarah Lakay are other chances with those early picks, depending on the tall/small balance the Eagles wish to go with from their selections. Makaela Tuhakaraina is another player tipped in the first half of the draft with her elite athletic traits, while the Eagles have some readymade forward options available in Tessa Doumanis, Nyra Anderson and South Australian Jade Halfpenny later in the draft. Up the other end, the likes of Emily Bennett, Emma Nanut and Mel Hardy could be options for the Eagles. Airlie Runnalls and Thereisa Meissner are VFLW players heading west who could be looked as immediate fixes.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Picks: 22, 25, 27

The final team in our AFLW Draft preview are the Western Bulldogs who come in at Pick 22 and have three picks in six selections, similar to Melbourne but earlier on in that second round. Amelia van Oosterwijck, Lauren Spark and Angelica Gogos all retired from the kennel, with Danielle Marshall one of three delistings. Kim Rennie is expected to join the Roos via the draft after that trade could not be facilitated, and the Dogs grabbed GWS GIANTS’ Elle Bennetts and shuffled back in the draft order. They then picked up Richelle Cranston through the delisted free agency in what seemed like a great get, and have three available list spots for players.

As the selections are close together, the Bulldogs will get a sense of multiple options all at the one time. Ella Friend played for their VFLW side but will not be there at that pick, whilst Nyakoat Dojiok could be a possibility if she slides out of the first round. Tahlia Meier is another Bulldogs representative and Vic Country representative who ran around for the Dogs, with VFLW player Brooke Hards a utility with great athleticism, and one of only two players to play every game a possibility to make the transition up to the elite level. From a non-Bulldogs perspective, Chloe Leonard is a player with great versatility able to have an impact through the middle or half-back, with Maykaylah Appleby a possibility to continue the Northern Knights trend at the club. Annie Lee and Ingrid Houtsma are other possibilities as marking players, though the former is unlikely to be there. Elizabeth Snell, Brooke Vickers and if she somehow slid, Jaide Anthony are other running players able to provide some good speed across the ground.

Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Nationwide: July 2021

AFTER releasing the Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool last month, we have gone one step further to include the entire nation. Not only will the Power Rankings feature the Victorians from last month, but the top stars from across the country to give an indication of where they might be rated if the AFL Women’s Draft was truly national. Note that the Power Rankings to do not take into account any draft selections, and are more an opinion-based ranking system on the draft prospects.

We have also not included any players who have previously been on an AFLW list, just undrafted or now draft-eligible players. Please note the rankings are the opinion of the author.

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

 

Georgie Prespakis

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

Key strengths: Ball-winning, tackling, quick hands, footy IQ

The most consistent prospect across the board and has been touted as a star from her debut as a 15-year-old two and a half years ago. There she dominated up forward with 13 goals in 10 games, averaging a massive 22.6 disposals and 5.6 tackles to win the league best and fairest at just 16 years of age. Her numbers have remained consistent going into the middle, and whilst she almost always gets close attention from the opposition, Prespakis is a renowned tackler with 8.8 per game in her top-age season. Her ball winning ability and strength to win the pill at the stoppage and extract it away, as well as have an impact forward of centre, are among her strengths. In terms of improvements, sometimes she can rush the kicks around her body, but she is able to get to enough repeat stoppages, to have more influence than most others.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

There was always the weigh up for Geelong between Prespakis and Rowbottom with the pair the two clear standout Victorian talents. Now that Rowbottom has opted to go to Queensland, the Cats are expected to pounce on Prespakis with Pick 2.

Charlie Rowbottom

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

Key strengths: Contested marking, tackling, strength, upside

The powerful, tall inside midfielder has already proven to be a difficult player to try and contain across four quarters, able to win a game off her own boot when up and about. So strong in the air and at ground level, Rowbottom averaged 7.1 tackles to go with 17.6 disposals and 2.8 marks in season 2021, also booting 10 goals in 11 games. Whilst long-term the sister of Sydney’s James will become a midfielder, expect her to be a tall forward who can kick multiple goals in a game. Her upside is one of the best in the draft crop, and her versatility makes her damaging. Her kicking both in-field and on goal is an area of improvement, but her ability to do all the hard stuff – from winning the ball, tackling and clunking the important marks – more than makes up for the ironing out process that will happen with time. An exciting talent for the future.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Rowbottom pulled off the surprise of the AFL Women’s Draft when it was announced she would nominate Queensland, opening the door for Gold Coast with Pick 1. Expect the Suns and new coach Cameron Joyce to be thrilled to pick up Rowbottom with Teagan Levi to bolster the midfield.

Teagan Levi

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, strength, kicking, game sense

Touted as the top Gold Coast Suns Academy member, Levi has been an exciting talent for a couple of years now. A bottom-age AFLW Academy member, Levi has all the traits to become a really dominant inside midfielder. A more precise kick than the top two Victorians, Levi also has the athleticism to boot, and whilst she does not have the versatility that Prespakis and Rowbottom have yet, Levi is such a complete inside midfielder with high-level footy smarts that will enable her to add more strings to her bow as she develops. Unfortunately, Levi only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game, picking up 17 disposals, six clearances, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds in Queensland’s loss to Vic Country.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Levi was hot favourite to be selected with Pick 1 until Rowbottom nominated Queensland, but it will not matter to the talented midfielder, with the pair set to help fast-track Gold Coast’s rebuild up the AFLW ladder.

Courtney Rowley

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

Key strengths: Speed, clean hands, marking, kicking

Heading west for the fourth placed spot, Peel Thunder’s Courtney Rowley is similar to Levi with a more outside than inside ability. Whilst the talented teenager proved she could also play inside at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, her ball use and athleticism lends itself to be a slick outside talent who can go inside when needed a la Georgia Patrikios. With such a well balanced profile from her ball use, evasion, overhead strength and versatility – being able to play in any third of the ground – Rowley is definitely one of the more complete players going around. Ready to step straight up to senior level having already won a club best and fairest at Peel Thunder at 15-years-old and played through back-to-back premiers sides – though only won the one flag due to injury late this season – Rowley can compete against bigger-bodied players.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite being the standout West Australian talent in our eyes, West Coast will weigh up whether to go tall or small with the first pick, with Amy Franklin the other considered. Rowley is very deserving of the first West Australian selection, but if not, then her name will be off the board at the next WA pick to the Dockers.

Zoe Prowse

#5 Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Athleticism, versatility, clean hands, tackling pressure

Able to get it done in the air or at ground level, Zoe Prowse is just as capable at any role thrown at her. Whilst traditionally being a ruck credit to her athleticism and clean hands, Prowse has trialled as a midfielder at SANFLW level, and also up forward as a marking tall. Able to clunk big grabs, and if not, bring the ball to ground and lay fierce tackles, Prowse is the most complete ruck in the draft. Despite standing a touch under the average ruck height at 177cm – in fact two centimetres smaller than midfielder Rowbottom – Prowse more than makes up for it with her vertical leap. Having the ruck smarts to get the ball to advantageous spots for her teammates, expect the Sturt prospect to be really clean when getting her chance at AFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Adelaide do not need to compete for any players, and whilst curve balls can be thrown at state-based drafts, expect Prowse’s name to be the one the Crows look to first as the player who has been the most consistent over the past few years.

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

Key strengths: Versatility, contested marking, footy smarts, positioning

Despite a somewhat interrupted season for the AFL Women’s Academy member, playing only the five games due to injury and AFLW Under 19s Championships commitments, Slender still showed why she is a top-end prospect; stepping up from her role as a rebounding intercept defender, to be a forward and midfielder this year in a remarkable display of versatility. Arguably the NAB League Girls’ Most Valuable Player for her side, the Pioneers were a far better team with her in it, and averaging a massive 4.2 marks as well as 5.2 tackles along with her 16.2 disposals shows she has no trouble winning the ball in the air, one-on-one or at ground level. A natural leader co-captaining the Pioneers, Slender could fill any role at AFL Women’s level and has some great upside for the future as well.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Slender is one of the most unique and versatile players in the AFLW Draft crop. Whilst the first handful of picks might be midfielders, Slender has already shown she can roll through the midfield if need be, and should not be off the board too long.

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

Key strengths: Versatility, spread, skills, goal sense

A natural ball-winner with a slick left foot and smooth-moving ability, Reid has proven she can play on all three lines of the field. Starting off half-back and pushing up to a wing, Reid finished her season up forward and ended up slotting 15 goals in 11 games, including three in Oakleigh’s premiership win. She averaged 1.4 goals for the season from 20.1 disposals, 4.5 marks and 3.2 inside 50s per game, looked to as a key player to move the ball in transition. She used it well by hand or foot and was able to find space with ease. Multiple times a game Reid would make you wonder how she got in so much space even when tearing it up, but credit to her work rate and smarts to be able to find the open space and then punish the opposition through either her disposal or on the scoreboard.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Slender, Reid is as versatile as they come, but from an outside sense. She can play at half-back, half-forward or on a wing, and hits the scoreboard regularly, and that will appeal to clubs. It is anticipated she will be in the first half-dozen Victorian picks alongside her teammates Rowbottom and Amanda Ling.

Ella Friend

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

Key strengths: Contested marking, mobility, upside, penetrating kick

The top contested marking player in the draft crop, Friend will be a highly sought after talent for her ability to not only clunk the big grabs, but use her penetrating left boot in both the midfield and forward lines. Transitioning from centre half-forward to a wing in the second half of the season, Friend showcased her mobility and her knack for for winning the ball in multiple areas of the field. Only two days away from being a bottom-ager, expect Friend to have plenty of upside left in her and would be a great target for a team needing a key target up forward who can also work hard up the ground. She averaged the 16.0 disposals, 4.3 marks and 2.9 tackles per game in the 2021 season, and slotted two goals on debut for the Western Bulldogs’ VFLW side. A good size at 175cm to play anywhere on the ground.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Friend is the dominant key position forward available in the draft, and with safe hands and athleticism to move up the ground, she could easily be considered in the first couple of selections. With the Cats on the lookout for a tall and having multiple picks in the region, she will no doubt be on their radar.

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

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

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.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

The Vic Country MVP winner is one of the better ball users in the Victorian crop and with Carlton among those with back-to-back picks early, Anthony could be a player the Blues look to in order to fill that need.

Amy Franklin

#10 Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)
04/02/2003 | 177cm
Key Position Utility

Key strengths: Athleticism, overhead marking, versatility, upside

The other West Australian vying for the first picked from the state is the high-upside, talented tall in Franklin. Able to pull down some strong grabs at either end of the field, Franklin has athleticism rarely seen in a tall and is a marquee talent long-term. Still raw in some areas and looking to improve her ground balls, Franklin’s ability to mark, turn and go, not only able to keep distance on opponents but often create separation, is remarkable for a player of her size. She has a long kick and is able to hit the scoreboard regularly when inside 50. Whilst still able to impact in defence, and is more than capable of taking on a task at either end of the field, she looms as a future key forward, and her forward craft is very good, able to judge the ball in flight, outbody her opponent then get goal side to kick majors.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

No doubt Franklin will come into consideration for West Coast’s first selection given how hard talented, athletic key position players are to find. If the Eagles swoop on Rowley, expect the Dockers to very quickly read out Franklin’s name, and a pairing of Franklin and Roxy Roux is nightmare-fuelled for any opposition defence.

Jess Doyle

#11 Jess Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Medium Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, one-on-ones, competitiveness, forward craft

The smooth-moving Sydney Swans Academy member out of the Manly Warringah Wolves has that touch of class about her whether it is inside 50 or through the midfield. Possessing clean hands and an ability to create space for herself, Doyle can win the ball on the lead or at ground level and do a lot of damage. Eyeing off improving her endurance for the future, her competitiveness and forward craft inside 50 makes her such a talent for the future. Still plenty to learn, expect her to play from early on to fast-track her development against senior bodies as she has already developed at a rapid rate competing at the next step up from local football through the AFLW Under 19 Championships. One to watch for the long-term and no doubt one that the Swans will be eyeing off when they enter the league.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Without Sydney having a team as of yet, the talented Doyle falls in the GIANTS hands for now, and will be an incredible steal given the GIANTS do not have a pick until the third round. Expect Doyle to either be taken with the first or second pick, depending if the GIANTS opt for their own Academy talent in Ally Morphett first.

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

Key strengths: Clearances, accumulation, consistency, footy IQ

Arguably the best pure inside midfielder in the Victorian pool, Craven has had quite the season for the Falcons. She won the Falcons’ best and fairest award, averaging 21.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.3 inside 50s, 2.0 rebound 50 and 3.9 tackles, then played the two games with Vic Country for 20.5 disposals, 6.0 clearances and 5.0 tackles. She is an inside ball winner and one who can extract it out of the contest going forward. She is smaller than other inside midfielders at 163cm, but she can gain separation at the stoppage and has the footy smarts to be able to use the ball well under pressure. She is also clean and gets her hands dirty at ground level, which is something that stands out in her game at any level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Geelong holds the number one Victorian pick in the draft crop, and whilst they do tend to look to local talent, expect them to gamble Craven will be there with their next selection. Having multiple picks inside the first round, the Cats could bring Craven in straight away to step up, but the question will be whether another club such as St Kilda or Carlton look to pounce and derail the Cats’ plans.

#13 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
09/07/2002 | 161cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, acceleration, endurance, work rate

The first 19th year prospect to feature in this list, Ling has had an outstanding season and shown why the move to an Under 19s competition was important. Despite standing at just 161cm, she is hard to bring down, very slippery in tackles and always able to get her hands free. She is really clean with her hands, and can burst away with a mix of acceleration and endurance, capped off by a high work rate through the midfield. She averaged 17.9 disposals, 2.2 marks, 6.5 tackles and 3.2 inside 50s in season 2021 for the Oakleigh Chargers, whilst playing the two games for Vic Metro thus far, averaging 16 disposals and six tackles. Already managing a game at VFLW level for Port Melbourne and not looking out of place, Ling showed she is a big-game player by taking home the best afield medal in the 2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #7

AFLW Draft notes:

Expect Ling to be the bolter of the AFLW Draft. Whilst long considered inside the Top 10 Victorian prospects at the close of the NAB League Girls season, the 19-year-old Ling could well be taken second in the Victorian pool with St Kilda strongly considering the young gun. If they choose not to, it is hard seeing her slip past Carlton with the Blues’ back-to-back picks given Ling’s obvious appeal and meeting their clean inside needs.

Annie Lee

#14 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/08/2003 | 169cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

The reliable rebounding defender barely put a foot wrong all season and was a player her teammates could rely upon to use the ball well out of defence. Her strengths were clearly her intercept marking, where she latched onto 5.1 marks per game to go with 16.9 disposals and 4.5 rebound 50s. Already she has managed the two games at VFLW level, and was outstanding for Vic Country in her three games, holding up the fort in defence well and providing some good rebound with almost five rebound 50s per game there. At 169cm she can play against tall or small opponents because she reads the ball well in flight and shows good composure when with it. As a whole, Lee just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what she is capable of doing.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #8

AFLW Draft notes:

One would think Geelong would be eyeing off Lee as another home grown talent, but with so many Falcons and other clubs ready to pounce, it will be interesting to see where he lands. Very consistent and in our Phantom Draft lasted to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 22, which anything in that range is a steal. Expect her to be snapped up earlier, however.

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

Key strengths: Acceleration, tackling, clearances, accumulation

The sole Tasmanian AFL Women’s Academy member has the best balance between offensive and defensive capabilities, not only able to average 19.7 disposals and 4.2 inside 50s, but she amassed a whopping 9.4 tackles per game for the Devils in the NAB League Girls competition. On debut for North Melbourne VFLW she laid another seven tackles to go with 15 touches, and had the 10.5 tackles with 14.5 disposals, at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. But there is more to King than just ball-winning and tackling, with the athletic talent able to burst out of the stoppage and extract from tight situations. At times could add a touch more composure with her kicking, but her upside compiled with her well-balanced, two-way running is what makes her an outstanding prospect and rounding out the top 10.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #9

AFLW Draft notes:

Whilst King fits a different nomination under the Tasmanian group, she is still included in this as the ninth top prospect for the state. All that means is that North Melbourne – who can take her at any stage given the Tasmanian link – will walk away with a steal. In the Phantom Draft she was taken at Pick 45 as an example of where she could go in the draft, but ignore the number, she is right in the mix among the top players.

#16 Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 170cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Reading the play, intercepting, marking, athleticism

The talented Maroochydore prospect and AFL Women’s Academy member is a well-balanced talent who has a mix of offensive and defensive traits. She reads the ball well in flight, is able to hold onto grabs and is able to drive the ball forward in transition. Setting up at half-back, Harmer is a good size at 170cm to beat most opponents one-on-one, and whilst she is hoping to build her ground ball ability more, her aerial work is strong. A handy athleticism with a balance of speed, agility and endurance make her hard to stop, and she is someone who can roll onto a wing and then provide that key link moving the ball inside 50, able to pinpoint passes well. There is a lot of upside with Harmer making her one to watch for the long-term as well as the short-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With the top two Queensland pool talents in Rowbottom and Levi heading to the Suns, Harmer is in the mix to be the first called out for the Brisbane Lions on AFLW Draft night. Along with Mikayla Pauga, Harmer is also an AFLW Academy member and one whop has shown great signs over the years, so expect no hesitation from the Lions to bring her into their senior program.

Gypsy Schirmer

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

Key strengths: Acceleration, goal sense, contested work, overhead marking

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 the AFL Women’s Academy member certainly has potential to become a midfielder long-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Prowse, Adelaide can select Schirmer unopposed, and as another AFLW Academy member and player with high upside, expect her to be one the Crows snap up with their selections.

#18 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
13/12/2003 | 165cm
Wing

Key strengths: Speed, work rate, accumulation, outside game

The premier pure wing in the NAB League Girls competition bounced back from a quiet game against Vic Metro in the AFLW Under 19 Championships, to really dominate in her final two outings against South Australia and Queensland. She knows how to find the ball and is a natural running wing which she showcased all year for Murray Bushrangers. Another player whom given an extra month would be a bottom-ager, really impressed in her draft-eligibly year, averaging 20.7 disposals – almost double what her prior two seasons were. She drove the ball inside 50 four times per game, and had more than two rebound 50s per match as well, providing great run and carry down the wing going forward, something that really caught the eye on a regular basis.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #10

AFLW Draft notes:

Smith is one of the best outside running options in the draft, and one would expect a team like Carlton or Richmond to look at the Murray talent, with her finding a home somewhere in the first two rounds given her unique traits and ability to break the game open from that specialist wing position.

#19 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/09/2003 | 182cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, mobility, forward presence, high impact

The upside for father-daughter eligible prospect Georgia Campbell is quite impressive, with the talented ruck able to rest up forward for parts during games due to Eastern Ranges’ abundance of rucks. There she was still able to kick five goals in eight games to go with her 20.9 hitouts, and also slotted a goal for Vic Metro while averaging a higher 12 disposals, and 12 hitouts at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Western Bulldogs supporter is eligible to go to the Dogs, or Melbourne, and will be nominated in the near future. She has great mobility for a ruck and can get around the ground and be an option, and also provide a good presence when inside 50 which makes her difficult to contain.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #11

AFLW Draft notes:

Already signed by Melbourne after the Western Bulldogs supporter opted for the Dees, Campbell will be taken with Pick 42 in the draft – the Demons first – under the father-daughter matching rules. It will be one of the steals of the draft given in an open draft, Campbell could well have been snapped up in the first round.

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

Key strengths: Speed, power, reading the play, intercepting

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.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #12

AFLW Draft notes:

The athletic defender will attract plenty of attention as the quickest half-back with height available in the Victorian pool. She could end up with her VFL Women’s side the Western Bulldogs, though Richmond is another side that is in the Dojiok range that could look for speed and see her as a tall midfielder of the future.

Mikayla Pauga

#21 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University/Queensland)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Medium Forward

Key strengths: Clean hands, ground balls, acceleration, game sense

The Maroochydore talent moved to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship to study, and has enjoyed a more consistent 2021 after being plagued by injuries of late. She has the class and cleanliness by hand or foot to do a lot of damage in the forward half, and whilst Pauga needs to build her endurance, she has high footy IQ that makes her read situations well when roaming inside or outside of the forward 50. Able to win the ball aerially or at ground level, Pauga is one who had more of a decision on her hands that most Queenslanders having made the move to the Gold Coast despite being in the Brisbane Lions Academy, but has opted for the Lions zone, continuing her pathway through the club over the years.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Having nominated Brisbane as her zone, Lions staff and supporters will be relieved and pleased to pick up the AFLW Academy member be it with their first or second selection alongside fellow AFLW Academy Harmer.

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

Key strengths: Contested work, aggression, disposal, high impact

Bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old during Calder Cannons’ run to the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Yassir played 11 games in her debut season to hold her own against much older opponents. In her top-age year, Yassir lifted her numbers to 16.7 disposals, 3.9 tackles and 3.1 inside 50s to be a crucial player in the Cannons’ forward half of the ground. Her contested work and aggression around the football makes her a player that would do anything to win the football and shows a high level of football nous, along with high impact in the games. She will generally use it well going forward, and whilst she might only be the 160cm, could settle as a midfielder or defensive forward with her traits and skillset.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #13

AFLW Draft notes:

Yassir is a player who could go first or second round depending on the club’s needs. She has a lot of potential for the future and might be one Carlton looks to with its back-to-back picks, with North Melbourne and Richmond around the right region, and even the Western Bulldogs having a few selections together.

#23 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg/South Australia)
19/09/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

After being a bit-parts player all over the field for Glenelg in her bottom-age year, Tonon found her home off half-back and playing up on a wing at times. Her ability to read the game, win the ball and use it well out of defence became her niche, and she went on to have a sensational year, cementing her place in the Bays’ best side and winning a SANFL Women’s flag in the process. Whilst her AFLW Under 19 Championships was cut short following a red card from a tackle, Tonon showed enough to suggest that she has built a profile more than capable of stepping up to the next level both with ball-in-hand and off the ball.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

After the two AFLW Academy members, the Crows have quite the decision on their hands, but on form in 2021, Tonon is a player who has arguably stepped up the most to be third in the ranks with her clean ball use and decision making off half-back or further afield. Included in the Academy as a late entry post-championships, the medium defender has plenty to like for the future.

Gabbi Featherston

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

Key strengths: Vertical leap, penetrating kick, aggression, upside

Standing at 169cm you would not expect someone to be listed as a ruck, but such is Featherston’s leaping ability that she has indeed become a secondary ruck at NAB League Girls level. Pinch-hitting in there to average 4.3 hitouts per game, Featherston is at her most dominant around the half-forward line where she can lead out, clunk grabs and show great courage in the air or at ground level. Whilst she could improve her composure around goal – she had plenty of chances that were opportunities which went begging – her ability to have so many chances and create opportunities is impressive. She is a raw talent with plenty of upside, and with a long, penetrating kick and strong hands, she is a valuable addition to any forward line.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #14

AFLW Draft notes:

Featherston has the potential to be a bolter or slider in the draft depending on where clubs see her. She has enormous potential given her athletic traits, and ability to play anywhere. Geelong might want to bring in another Falcon, though with so many Falcons in the pool, Featherston might be on that a team such as North Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs look to for a forward option. No doubt Collingwood with their three consecutive Victorian pool picks would be considering a player with her skillset too.

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

Key strengths: Kicking, clean hands, reading he play, decision making

Had it not being for a pesky wrist injury ruling out her 2021 season, Thomas would undoubtedly be higher on this list. Luckily for the tall talent who predominantly plays forward and can roll through the midfield, she has plenty of runs on the board. An AFLW Academy member, Thomas is the third one from Western Australia in the Academy, and as she showed in her bottom-age year, uses it so well with precise ball-use and decision making. Able to assess the situation well, Thomas is a player who could slot in anywhere on the field, and whilst she has spent most of 2021 recovering, she will be right to go for the start of the AFLW season.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With Rowley and Franklin expected to go in the first two spots, Thomas will likely be the next name to be read out, though if the Dockers were willing to put all chips in based on previous years form, then Thomas could end up second, otherwise it is expected she will head to the Eagles with West Coast holding three of the first four selections.

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

Key strengths: Clean hands, goal sense, composure, accumulation

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 pf 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.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #15

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Geelong Falcon who the Cats could look to bring through the program, but is a target for anyone looking for a clean forward inside 50. The Kangaroos, Tigers and Bulldogs all have picks in Schaap’s expected draft range, and might consider the reliable talent.

Meagan Kiely

#27 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne/VFLW)
15/12/1994
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Footy IQ, kicking, clean hands, consistency

The first mature-ager and VFLW player to make it into the Power Rankings, Kiely would have to be one of the favourites for the Lambert-Pearce Medal after a dominant display for North Melbourne this season. Relocating from Tasmania, the Roos would be keeping a close eye on the 26-year-old, who could slot straight into any midfield with her natural ball-winning skills, work rate and leadership. As good as any readymade midfielder outside the AFLW, the North captain has lead the competition across disposals and marks this year, showing she can win it at the coal face, or on the outside, with her clean hands and kicking impressive, but most of all her footy IQ shining through. Averaging a massive 22.8 disposals, 4.7 marks and 5.6 tackles from her 12 games, she is the premier VFLW player at this stage.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #16

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite hailing from Tasmania, Kiely is now relocated to Melbourne, so falls under the Victorian rather than Tasmanian zone. Regardless of the fact she will not be a free hit for the Roos, North Melbourne would be certainly considering bringing their VFLW skipper up to the AFLW program, but there will likely be one or two clubs in the mix for an immediate midfield boost. Carlton and Collingwood are two sides that could grab another midfielder with one of their many picks.

#28 Dana East (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
10/06/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Inside game, clean hands, acceleration, contested ball

The most consistent of the West Australians throughout the entire WAFL Women’s season, East shot up into draft projections early in the season with some outstanding performances for Swan Districts. The inside midfielder is just so clean with her hands on the inside, and thrives on the contested ball, shovelling it out to teammates, or tucking it under the arm and bursting away with her quick first few steps. She has offensive and defensive pressure in equal measures, and is someone who can impact a game from the midfield. East has also spent time resting forward and can hit the scoreboard, though she is a future inside midfielder with a great balance of inside and outside traits. After the AFLW Academy members, East looms as the safest option, but also the one that could slot straight in if required, even with some areas to iron out such as her kicking consistency.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Regarded highly in the West Australian State Academy, she could be paired up with Rowley through the midfield at the Eagles, or might slide to Fremantle’s next pick if indeed the Dockers go tall with Franklin. Either way, East is one who would be top of mind for both West Australian clubs, and is someone who could impact from early on in her AFLW career.

Brooke Hards

#29 Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs/VFLW)
19/07/2002 | 167cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Footy smarts, versatility, athleticism, kicking

The former Bendigo Pioneers co-captain is the second VFLW player to feature. The soon-to-be 19-year-old excelled as an inside midfielder at junior level, but chose to step up to VFLW level where she improved on the areas that saw her overlooked. Hards moved to the outside playing every role under the sun from forward, to back and wing, able to win the ball and most importantly build up metres gained with her run and carry. Boasting enormous upside and great footy smarts, when able to get-and-go, Hards is damaging with ball-in-hand and has well-balanced athleticism, mainly her acceleration. While her numbers might be lower than at junior level, her game-impacting moments have been higher making her a valuable prospect.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #17

AFLW Draft notes:

Like a number of VFLW performers, showed more signs in the last couple of rounds, and much like North Melbourne with their VFLW performers, the Western Bulldogs would have her among their thoughts to bring up from the VFLW to AFLW program after playing every game this season. Providing versatility and speed around the ground as well as the ability to impact through the midfield, Carlton or Collingwood are other clubs that might look at a talent with an extra year of senior experience.

#30 Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne VFLW)
15/10/1999
Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Forward craft, accumulation, versatility, consistency

Another VFLW player who might not have earned a Draft Combine invite but simply has to be in the mix to be drafted is a second Tasmanian playing for North Melbourne in Skinner. She has transitioned from being a forward and the TSLW’s best player and consistent talent, into one of the best in the VFLW, showing she can lift at any level. Still only 21-years-old, Skinner has had some huge numbers since primarily staying in the midfield, picking up 18.1 disposals, 3.8 marks and 4.8 tackles for the Roos. It is her ability to play forward or through the midfield and adapt to the play, creating goal scoring opportunities for either herself or her teammates. Skinner is a plug-and-play typer who the Roos would be considering, but other teams would have to be keeping an eye on too.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #18

AFLW Draft notes:

Travelling over from Tasmania each week has proved valuable for Skinner who has had a sensational year for the Roos in the VFLW. As a player the Roos can take towards the back-end of the draft, Skinner is a valuable talent who adds both midfield and forward prowess, and much better value than what North Melbourne would pay in an open draft.

Abby Hewett

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

Key strengths: Contested ball, clearances, goal sense, versatility

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. Whatever she ends up becoming, Hewett is one of the more underrated prospects in this year’s draft given Queensland’s lack of AFLW Under 19 Championships, but no doubt the two Queensland clubs eyes are all over her given her performances at QAFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

A Brisbane Lions Academy member, Hewett will likely be a third or fourth option for the Lions with Bella Smith being the other Academy member having had an impressive season this year. Brisbane has its own zone to pick players from, so the Wilston Grange product will find a way there, and it will be interesting to see how the Lions chose to utilise her.

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

Key strengths: Versatility, X-factor, athleticism, marking

A player with plenty of upside, Houtsma becomes the remarkable fifth Falcon in the top 18 players showing just how deep the Falcons’ side was this season. She does not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact, her Houtsma’s athleticism across the ground as a 176cm enabling her to play on a wing, or in a key position player at either end. Strong overhead, and able to win it at ground level, Houtsma attacks the ball at speed on a lead, and generally uses it well when in possession. Still ironing out consistency within games, the versatile utility has already spent time at centre half-back, centre half-forward and on the wing, which is a huge feather in the cap for the teenager.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #19

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like her Falcons teammate Feathertson, Houtsma is one who could bolt or slide given her raw attributes, but she has a lot to like about her game. A player who could be taken second round onwards, Houtsma represents value for any side that picks her up given her size, athleticism and versatility. Geelong might look at her, with the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda bringing plenty of youth through their programs, and Collingwood looking for a versatile tall.

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

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

The towering ruck/forward AFL Women’s Academy season makes it into the top 20 on the back of a solid overall season. Whilst she still needs to work on clunking more grabs above her head, Gillard’s work around the ground and ability to get to repeat contests for a ruck and running as a midfielder is really impressive. Often towering over her opponents, Gillard moves incredibly well, and is a tall that teammates are not afraid to use in transition, as she rotated between the ruck and full forward to average 11.3 disposals and 14.1 hitouts, as well as a couple of inside 50s per game. A December birth, Gillard has plenty of upside that with time could develop into a damaging tall.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #20

AFLW Draft notes:

With Campbell already off to the Dees, Gillard looms as the best ruck prospect in the Victorian pool. She can play as a key forward too, and standing at 190cm, she is also clearly the tallest prospect in the AFLW Draft pool. Whilst still rounding out her game, Gillard is one who clubs could pounce on early, with the AFL Women’s Academy member having developed over the past few years, and has plenty of scope for the future. Carlton could be prime for Gillard as a tall target, with Western Bulldogs also likely to want to grab a tall, whist Collingwood would snap her up pretty quick if available given she fits the Magpies’ exact need.

Sarah Lakay

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

Key strengths: Ruck work, vertical leap, marking, defensive pressure

The standout West Australian ruck and a big improver in this year’s AFLW Draft crop, Lakay has come a long way in the past 12 months. From a basketball background, it is no surprise to hear of Lakay’s athleticism, and it was certainly no shock to see her smash the vertical jump records at the recent AFLW Draft Combine. Lakay is a high leaper with clean hands and great upside, able to tap the ball to advantage for her teammates. She is strong overhead, and good at ground level with great defensive pressure, and despite needing to improve her endurance to impact for longer, Lakay has plenty of potential to become a first choice ruck at AFLW level at 186cm.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

West Coast will likely use one of its two picks in the second round to pick up Lakay, especially if paired up with Rowley and Thomas. If the Eagles land Franklin, Lakay may slip to the Dockers who are more than happy to add another talented tall to their list, but both clubs would be very keen to pick up the athletic ruck.

#35 Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Queensland)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Strength, power, contested ball, clean hands, inside game

The fact Smith is potentially the sixth best player in the Queensland pool speaks volumes for the state and its footballing programs. The hardened inside midfielder could easily be rated in the top few, such is the evenness of the overall pool, with her inside game the second best behind top pick, Levi. She does not quite have the outside game that others do, but her contested ball-winning ability, clearance work and strength is what makes her the player she is. Able to dominate on the inside and extract the ball to the outside, Smith is the prototype inside midfielder and one who could play from early on in her career. She has the power to create separation from her opponents, and can distribute well by hand when exiting the congestion.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Brisbane Lions Academy member, it does not matter what order the Lions take them in, but they have a plethora of great youngsters to pick up, and Smith will only add to their inside brigade.

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

Key strengths: Ruck work, penetrating kick, contested marking, competitiveness

Whilst the rucks so far in this Power Rankings have been athletic talents who utilise their around the ground speed and vertical leap to impact the contest, whereas Morphett offers a different skillset. Whilst able to still leap high, it is her body positioning and strength that helps her beat opponents, and despite not being as athletic as some of the others, she is the best contested mark of the rucks, and her competitiveness in the air or at ground level is superb. The other way Morphett has an advantage is her ability to play forward, where she can clunk contested marks and unleash her penetrating kick to effect. Being a part of the GIANTS Academy and NSW-ACT zone, Morphett is one who fits a need for the GIANTS as another tall, and would be more likely to start as a key forward and pinch-hit in the ruck.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

The GWS GIANTS may well read Morphett’s name out first given the Murray Bushrangers talent is the top pick in their Academy, but either way her name will come off the board, with the AFLW Academy member a player capable of impacting from early on, and working alongside Erin McKinnon at the GIANTS.

Keeley Sherar

#37 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
29/10/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: X-factor, upside, clearances, tackling

The Eastern Ranges talent was one who really stepped up in 2021 after only managing the one game in the shortened season last year, so not much was known about what she was capable of. Sherar not only stepped up to be a prime ball-mover for the Ranges – particularly in the absence of Olivia Meagher in the second half of the season and Tarni Brown after she was drafted last year – but earned a Vic Metro jumper for her troubles. Averaging 14.8 disposals, 3.4 inside 50s and 4.8 tackles, Sherar is a forward runner with great tackling skills and extraction out of the contest, can move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 well to set up scoring opportunities. One to watch who can add a point of difference to a midfield.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #21

AFLW Draft notes:

At this stage it is hard to work out where players might end up, with Sherar heading to the Pies in our Draft Central Phantom Draft. Eastern Ranges have a good relationship with the Magpies, and expect Collingwood to consider the midfielder, with Melbourne having some good value picks, and St Kilda also looking for a midfielder on the inside with some good pace to send Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith to the outside.

#38 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
06/03/2003 | 171cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Skills, composure, versatility, reading the play

A medium defender who runs off half-back, hits up targets and then roams along a wing, Vickers is a player with some great upside, and is another Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership player. She averaged the 13.5 disposals, 3.3 tackles and a well-balanced two inside 50s and rebound 50s per game, such was her ability to cover the ground. The Chargers did not see as much of it in their defence as other teams, so Vickers had to hold a high line at times and be that kick behind the ball ready to intercept. She is not a renowned marker, but she is one to receive the handball and go, and uses the ball well in transition. Still developing areas of her game, as an overall prospect Vickers has some great talent

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #22

AFLW Draft notes:

Like Sherar, it is difficult to exactly calculate where Vickers might land given the amount of even talent at this point in the draft, but the skilful defender and outside runner is likely to have a number of possibilities. The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Melbourne are all teams that like to play quickly with speed, so Vickers would be a name to watch out for there.

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

Key strengths: Contested ball, inside game, defensive pressure, endurance

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. With the Crows having so much strength at their disposal, and a smaller draft pool, Venning is one who has shown enough to be on a list, and it will come down to list spots and preferences. 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.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Following the announcement of the finalised AFLW Draft order, Adelaide only had three selections in its hand, and Venning is considered the fourth one in these rankings. However it indicates where Venning would go in an open draft, and could easily be sourced by interstate clubs, or indeed picked ahead of one of the other three if the Crows find the need for Venning’s role.

Makaela Tuhakaraina

#40 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
23/08/2003 | 158cm
Small Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, agility, power, defensive pressure

A raw potential player with huge upside, Tuharakaina is another West Australian who has come on in leaps and bounds the past 12 months. Cementing her self in South Fremantle’s best side from a rugby background, Tuhakaraina’s acceleration and agility is hard to beat, and the combination might be the best of anyone in the AFLW Draft pool. Despite standing at 158cm, Tuhakaraina is able to do a lot of damage by breaking up the opposition defensive zones, and she can play in any third of the ground. Often up forward running from a high half-forward inside 50, Tuhakaraina is still developing fundamentals of her game which is understandable, but her power and ability to burn off opponents gives clubs a raw canvas to work with going forward. With her defensive ability and offensive switch to burst away, she is a talent who will naturally catch the eye.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Both clubs could do with her athletic profile, and she is ranked sixth here in this Power Rankings, but she could easily go higher with what she could become. Tuhakaraina might not have the game-on-game consistency of some of the others above her, but her sheer talent and upside would have both West Coast and Fremantle assessing their options.

Others:

Victorian Pool:

Holding the next two places in our rankings from Victoria are GWV Rebels’ Chloe Leonard and Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin. Top-age talents Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell and Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher are thereabouts, as is Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke, and AFLW Academy member Maykaylah Appleby. GWV Rebels’ Tahlia Meier, Oakleigh Chargers’ Eliza James, Gippsland Power’s Grace Matser, Calder Cannons’ Zali Friswell, Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling and Dandenong Stingrays’ Ash Richards are others in contention.

Western Jets’ Jemima Woods, Casey Demons’ Imogen Milford, Eastern Ranges’ Cadhla Schmidli and Northern Knights’ Tarrah Delgado round out the AFLW Draft Combine invites who have the most interest. From a non-Combine invited look, Essendon’s Alana Barba, Collingwood duo Imogen Barnett and Matilda Zander – and as an outside roughy after a good year Marla Neal – are those who might be considered to make the step up, as North Melbourne’ Molly Eastman and Southern Saints’ Tara Bohanna have also enjoyed good seasons.

The Power Rankings do not include past AFLW players who are a chance of regaining a chance such as retirees who have backflipped to return playing such as Tegan Cunningham and Leah Kaslar, and ex-North Melbourne now Essendon VFLW skipper Georgia Nanscawen. Hawthorn VFLW also have plenty of players worthy of another chance, with the likes of Georgia Bevan, Nadia von Bertouch and Kristy Stratton among those in the brown and gold able to step in and make an immediate impact. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing both crossed from their respective clubs to run around with Casey Demons in the hope of being redrafted.

From a Tasmanian perspective, top-age talents Ella Maurer and Jemma Webster, as well as consistent draft-eligible talents Jemma Blair, Amy Prokopiec and Amy Bissett would be among those who have done the most to put their hands up for North Melbourne (and the wider Victorian pool).

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POOL:

South Adelaide speedster Tahlita Buethke, Central District powerful forward Lauren Breguet and small forward/midfielder with the deadly left foot in Abbie Ballard are all very even in terms of whether they might get called up to the Crows or a club takes a look interstate. Ruck Leah Cutting is one you would expect to attract interest from interstate with Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and the West Australian teams always able to add another tall to the mix.

WEST AUSTRALIAN POOL:

East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly is next in line out west, with mature-age left foot forward Tessa Doumanis, defender Emily Bennett and slick utility Melisha Hardy among the even contingent being considered. Peel Thunder duo Bella Mann and Beth Schilling have good scope for improvement, with Swan Districts duo Emma Nanut and Nyra Anderson and Claremont’s Matilda Dyke the other West Australians to keep an eye on. Norwood’s Jade Halfpenny has chosen West Australia as her nominating state and would be in the Top 60 overall as that athletic forward/midfielder, whilst VFLW talents North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Geelong’s Theresia Meissner are among the others having nominated the state. Sandringham Dragons’ Pia Staltari has nominated the state she grew up in and could be a slick ball user off half-back or on the outside for one of the West Australian sides.

QUEENSLAND POOL:

Giselle Davies is in the next few in our Power Rankings, with the Queenslander a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, and could even be taken in those first few picks. The Suns also have access to the Northern Territory talent including AFLW Academy member Ashanti Bush, and talented, athletic Grace Mulvahil who also would have made it into the Top 50 of the Power Rankings. The 20-year-old Bella Clarke received a Combine invite, as did mature-age Madison Goodwin and Steph O’Brien, whilst Brisbane Lions Academy members Christine Okesene and Casey Wynne are also in the mix to be picked up after their invites.

NSW-ACT POOL:

In our Phantom Draft, top-age tackling machine Brodee Mowbray found her way to the GIANTS and would be next in line with the talented forward in Georgie Fowler. The GIANTS have a number of late picks and with no competition for the Pool, could look to other top-age talents Maddy Hendrie or Teagan Germech who also received and AFLW Draft Combine invite.