Tag: maddi shaw

Shaw eyes positives after disappointing 2020 season

IT has been disappointing year for most Victorian footballers, with few getting a chance to really test themselves competitively. In most cases for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites they have been able to get out on the field and stake their case to be drafted in tomorrow’s 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Unfortunately for players such as former Gippsland Power and Hawthorn VFL Women’s talent Maddi Shaw, she has not been able to get on the park due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Shaw is an over-age prospect who missed out on being picked up in last year’s draft, admitting she was “not ready” to make the next step up to the elite level. But with a big preseason behind her she hoped to be prepared to tackle 2020 in a huge way.

“My plan was to do really, really well in preseason,” Shaw said. “So I really worked quite hard in preseason, really wanted to better myself because I knew last year I was not ready at all. “I was like ‘this year I need to get myself ready’ and become one of those better footballers and make sure I was training really hard, and then coming into the season at my peak. “Making sure I was fitter than I’ve ever been, stronger than I’ve ever been. “But also physically and mentally ready as I’d already had that season to prepare myself and I knew what I was looking forward to.”

It was her first proper full uninterrupted preseasons and her hope to kick-start the year off in style was positive. Despite missing out on being drafted, Shaw said she did not want to look too far ahead other than to have it as a long-term goal, and rather focus on the here and now.

“(I wanted to) just make sure I had a really good preseason, as the last few preseasons I had interruptions and I went to Cambodia, not that that’s an excuse to not be fit, but just making sure I was really prepared and then going into it knowing I was playing for Hawthorn and not aiming for anything other than where I was now and doing my best on each weekend and then looking to the future as it came closer, so trying to work in the moment,” she said.

Her transition from the Power at NAB League Girls level to the VFL Women’s has been a great learning curve, with Shaw getting the opportunity to move through the pathway at local level, through interleague, as well as the elite junior competition and then state-level program.

“It was a bit intimidating at first,” Shaw said. “Walking in as a 17-year-old it was a bit scary, but I had a lot of support around me. “I feel like it was a lot easier than I anticipated. “My experience at Hawthorn’s been awesome, has been really helpful and taught me a lot. “Fitness wise and as an athlete, learning how to take care of my body and also as a footballer. “I’ve learnt so much from not only coaches, but players as well.” 

She said learning off experienced players such as Talia Radan, as well as AFL Women’s premiership coach Bec Goddard and highly respected operator and VFL Women’s premiership coach Paddy Hill, was a great experience for her development.

“You feel really at home in a way so they really help you develop and you have this relationship with them where you can trust everything that they’re saying,” Shaw said. “There’s no second guessing, I like the fact I can walk into training, get my feedback and then go to training, fix what I need to fix, come back and play as a better person. “I don’t have to chase up feedback, they’re always with you and supporting you.”

Picture: Supplied

Like many people, Shaw figured when the season was first postponed, that it would come back in some capacity, but then the disappointment set in and she was resigned to the fact that she would not be able to test herself at the level.

“When it first got postponed I assumed we would only have a few weeks off and we’d be back on track sooner or later,” Shaw said. “But that was definitely not the case, so I was very disappointed when I got there and they told us at training, because I felt like I’d done pretty well throughout preseason and I’d worked hard. “It was kind of hard, you think that that time was wasted, like it definitely wasn’t, but it was very disheartening that we weren’t able to showcase what we’d done throughout preseason. It was really disappointing, but I’m sure we’ll get another chance next year.”

Shaw has always kept a positive mindset when it comes to her football career, never losing sight of being drafted, but also keeping an eye on her present situation to try and produce the best football she can for her side.

“I’d love to get drafted, that’s definitely something I’d really, really want to do,” Shaw said. “I’d also really want to do well in the VFL. “I want to provide and be a high-level player in my team so I can always be trusted to do my job and play my role at Hawthorn and as much as individually I want to get drafted, but as a team at Hawthorn I really just want us to do well and get back to that premiership that we got in 2017, not that I was involved.”

Shaw said her greatest strength was to take on feedback and adapt to whatever role her coaches needed. In terms of on-field traits, Shaw has good athleticism and can provide run out of defence and has been particularly focused on improving her offensive side and developing from a defensive player into a utility.

The Hawks’ teenager said she had been working diligently on her fitness over the break in preparation for the 2021 VFL Women’s season, with help from Hawthorn as well as her university.

“I’ve just been trying to maintain my fitness, so obviously not trying to push myself too hard, we’re going to go into preseason and I don’t want to overwork myself, but really working on my running, keeping my legs ticking over and pushing my body in a way to maintain my readiness coming into preseason,” Shaw said. “Hopefully not get too much of a shock.”

She described 2020 as a “learning curve” and said there was always an opportunity to get drafted regardless of age. Shaw herself sets short-term goals to accompany her long-term aim of being drafted, and said whether it was being selected in the Hawks’ side, having a statistical goal or providing a particular effort for her team, she was always ticking off short-term goals.

As for evolving her game, Shaw still has plenty of belief she has what it takes to make the AFL Women’s in the future.

“I just want to become better, I just want to get drafted,” Shaw said. “That’s going to be my target and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get there. “I’m willing to put in extra hours of training, learn new skills, I really just want to make it because I know that I can because I have the right support around me.”

Shaw is not alone when it comes to disappointment of not having a season to try and improve her form, and she said while some might be tempted to question their future in the sport, she was confident the pendulum would swing back and opportunities would arise in the future.

“I don’t think a lot of people have really turned their back on footy because we’ve missed a whole season,” Shaw said. “I’ve heard a lot of girls who have commented on like ‘maybe this isn’t for me, I’ve missed a whole year, maybe I’m not ready’. “I think a lot of people just think to try and click that reset button and try and push again and try again because there’s always going to be an opportunity that is going to come out of hard work I reckon, so making sure everyone keeps going this year as much as it’s been really hard.”

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 2

ROUND 2 of the NAB League Girls competition played out on the weekend, and we were at four of the six games taking a look at the players highlighted by respective talent managers as ones to watch throughout the season and beyond. For the two games we did not get to, we recapped how some of the players performed statistically for the sides.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Calder Cannons

By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#9 Renee Saulitis

Started in attack opposed to Georgie Prespakis, and kicked a great goal in the last minute of the term. She showed great game smarts to toe tap the ball to her advantage, then get the right spin on it to kick it off the ground, and for it to dribble around the goal post for the Rebels’ first major of the day, from a tight angle. Saulitis pushed further up the ground as the game went on and played through the midfield, even winning possession at half-back and kicking cleanly to the wing. She did get bumped off the ball a little too easy in a marking contest, but once the ball hits the ground, she is in her element.

#10 Ella Wood

Impressive game through the midfield, especially early on when the game was even. Her kicking inside 50 was very solid and set up Renee Saulitis for a mark, and continued to relentlessly attack the ball throughout the match. In the second term she had two instances of great courage where she flew back into a marking contest, then if she got knocked down, got straight up again. She worked hard around the ground and presented as an option from kick-ins, and a perfect representation of her second efforts was when her kick was smothered in defence, she followed up to lay a tackle on her opponent and force a throw-in.

#24 Sophie Molan

A big game for the tireless leader who had the ball on a string for a lot of hte day. Her clearance work in particular stood out, and she won a number of free kicks for being held around the stoppages. Molan spent time at full-forward, but was most effective when in the middle extracting the ball from the coal face. She regularly put her body on the line and moved well in tight, showing great vision and football IQ in one instance to handball clear to a teammate while under pressure. Her second efrorrts in attack saw her lay a big tackle, win a free kick for holding the ball then Molan played on and kicked a great goal.

#35 Maggie Caris

A promising game from the developing ruck, who won a bit of the football around the ground as well as dominating in the ruck. She won countless hitouts, and was able to extract a ball from traffic inside 50 and kick it deep in the forward line. Caris’ standout feature is her clean hitout ability, able to get a full hand to the ball such is her height and leap ability over her opponents.

Calder:

#2 Felicity Theodore

A terrific game from the Cannons mid/forward who just got better as the game went on. While Georgie Prespakis’ name was the one to be thrown around for her seven goals, Theodore was the clear second best with some huge efforts, including multiple goal assists to Prespakis, and kicking a goal of her own. She had other chances as well but just missed out on converting late in the game. The piece of play that best exemplified her impact was where she won the ball inside 50 in the third term, but insitead of blazing away and only looking for the goals, lowered the eyes and put it to Prespakis’ advantage. She combined immediately after with a similar play, bursting out of a stoppage to pop it up above Prespakis who marked and goaled again.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

Back into the team after Round 1, Patrikios was used sparingly early, starting on the bench in the first and second terms, and then rotating across the ground on the grandstand side. She played on the outside to use her skills to advantage. Patrikios has that ability to make time stop and can turn opponents inside out and seemingly casually side step them without too much trouble. Her vision and skill execution was impressive and came as no surprise, and with a game under her belt, she will be better going forward.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Seven goals in the second half, a match winning performance. There is not much you can say about her performance other than dominance when at full-forward. She is strong and clean in the air, quick at ground level and has an innate goal sense when to go and when to pass. She remarkably started in defence on Renee Saulitis in the first term, moved into the middle in the second, then played out of the goalsquare in the last half. Prespakis has a powerful kick and once she has front position in a marking contest, it is hard to stop her. Of her seven goals, most came from set shots, but she produced a few tricks, including one where she was being dragged down by a couple of opponents and she managed to get a kick away between a couple more for it to go in, as well as her next one where she was corralled into the boundary, but had the speed to take on her opponent run around and kick into the open goal. Prespakis had a couple of opportunities late in the game to break the record and kick a couple more goals, but seeing her teammates with the ball were in better positions, she just pointed to the goals and let her teammates get on the board.

 

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Taylah Melki

Northern Knights:

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan showed a good ability to get boot to ball and helped to propel the footy forward on multiple occasions throughout the game. She worked hard at the stoppages and displayed her strong marking ability in the 50. She provided plenty of good leads and opened up space. She impressed in one passage of play where she was taken in a tackle and stood strong while getting dragged down to throw the ball on her boot and kick into the Knights forward 50. She protected the drop of the ball and showcased her good footy smarts to read the play and get into a good position. Kicked a good goal in the third after breaking away from the pack and nailing the shot.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti proved that she could read the flight of the ball well and contested hard in the air. She showed good attack on the footy and worked hard throughout the game to get to the contest and compete. Her tackling pressure was second to none bringing players to ground and hunting them to win the footy. She also displayed good spatial awareness to kick the ball into space and move the ball out of defence to a more attacking position for her side.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

She applied plenty of good strong tackles and chased hard throughout the game to try and win the ball back for her side. McKenzie attacked the footy hard and dished it off with clever passes to teammates in better positions. She showcased her strong marking skills and ability to read the play. McKenzie impressed in the last quarter credit to her good dash away from the pack to break into space and kick an important goal and then backed it up with another stellar goal from a difficult angle to get her side back on an even playing field. She showed great spatial awareness to pass off to teammates and know when to run herself and offered strong leads through the centre.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht was once again solid showcasing her good hands in the contest to work the ball out of stoppages and pass off to teammates. She showcased her strength while getting tackled to keep her arms free and dish to footy off while she also impressed with her acceleration and ability to break out of the centre bounce. She provided good attacking play had clean hands and ran hard continuously to get to the contest. Gutknecht also provided good link-up play through the middle of the ground thanks to her footy smarts and spatial awareness.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton showed good spatial awareness and was composed with ball in hand even while under pressure. She used the footy well to move the ball forward and showcased her strong hands taking some solid marks across the ground. Her general football awareness was impressive and she applied good defensive pressure to worry opponents out of the kick.

#32 Ashleigh Snow

Snow applied good pressure across the field and worked hard to get to the contest. She tackled well on multiple occasions and used her beautiful kick into the forward 50 showcasing her pinpoint precision. Her good vision and acceleration was also a key part in her game and she racked up plenty of timely touches.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

Lagioia impressed with her follow up work across the ground especially in the forward half to try and trap the footy in the Chargers’ attacking 50. She also showcased her clever use of the footy with timely kicks to teammates and into space. She did the one percenters well chasing hard and applying pressure.

#2 Mimi Hill

Hill was strong around the contest and worked hard to try and win the footy leading the way for her side in possessions. She used her acceleration and clever kicks to push the ball forward and set up attacking bursts for the Chargers. She used her defensive pressure to try and trap the footy and was good around the stoppages extracting the footy. Her clever handballs out of traffic were efficient and allowed her teammates to run into space.

#4 Emily Harley

Harley was a real presence up forward for the Chargers with her long booming kick and good positioning in front of goals. She helped to push forward and create scoring opportunities for her teammates. She took plenty of strong contested marks and showed a good ability to read the flight of the ball. Harley impressed in the second quarter taking a strong contested mark just outside the goal square and slotting a good goal to finish off the play. She was not afraid to put her body on the line going in hard at the contest. Harley took another big mark just inside the 50 and bombed a long goal finishing the game with three majors.

#8 Alana Porter

Porter used her clever kicks to get the ball into space and showed good attack on the footy across the ground. She worked hard at the clearances to win the footy and pushed hard into the forward 50 to try and create some attacking play. Porter reads the play well, breaks away from the packs and is a good strong kick of the footy.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power

By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Elise Vella

The bite-sized forward competed well and did contributed some really neat touches throughout the game. A courageous mark going back with the flight of the ball in the second term was a highlight, with Vella hanging on and bouncing straight back up despite a copping a tremendous knock from behind. Her tackling was also willing, and she provided some good balls inside 50.

#8 Paige Sheppard
Sheppard was close to, if not the Falcons’ best on the day, winning a wealth of the ball through the midfield. Sheppard terrific coming out of congestion and provided nice forward bursts. Her repeated ground ball gets and long kicks forward were a feature, but she truly did it all across the match.

#12 Laura Gardiner
Assuming her usual positon on the wing, Gardiner looked to take the game on and was usually clean in doing so. She showed good awareness on the last line of defence to clean up after a fumble, but was more often seen between the arcs. She capped off her day with a nice running goal in the third term – the only one scored in the quarter.

#18 Darcy Moloney
The midfielder has a good step, and used it to move around opponents when looking to break forward. She was effective by foot going inside 50, and constantly finished off runs with long kicks. Like Sheppard, she also finished off her solid display with a goal late on.

#21 Abbey Chapman
While the defence as a whole would be disappointed in letting a couple of late goals through, Chapman was solid as a rock inside defensive 50. She copped a knock in the second quarter, but bounced back well to affect a number of intercept marks and shut down many Gippsland attacks. Entrusted with the kick-outs, Chapman spent a good amount of time deep, while also moving towards the arc to cut off Gippsland’s forays.

#38 Lucy McEvoy
The star Falcon had another day out, putting in a complete shift and looking a class above at times. Utilised at the centre bounces for most of the game, McEvoy showcased her outstanding decision making at the stoppages with clean hands and neat vision to bring her teammates into the contest. Her kicking game was also typically strong, with a particular shot from 50-out hitting the post. McEvoy also tended to play a kick off the ball when it was inside the Falcons’ 50, providing a wall and relentlessly pumping the ball back in, while also being the primary kick-in target. A solid game was capped again by her final quarter goal, which she snared off a Renee Tierney kick and booted into an open goal.

#39 Renee Tierney
Together with Skinner, Tierney was the lead player up forward for Geelong and claimed four of their seven first half goals. Showing good awareness and a deft finishing touch, Tierney took full advantage of the space afforded to her inside 50. Her clever dribble goal through traffic in the second term was a highlight, and she could well have finished with five or six goals had she not missed a couple early.

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams
The midfielder battled hard all day against a slick Geelong engine room, attending most of the stoppages and anchoring the centre bounces. Opposed to Lucy McEvoy at times, Abrahams had a good crack and won some nice clearances. Her effort against two opponents to see the ball out in the second term was a good example of her combativeness on the day.

#9 Maddi Shaw
Shaw is a leader in the Gippsland defence and despite a difficult day, she made a solid contribution. She had a good one-on-one win on defensive wing early on, and showed her potential in patches. A strong marking attempt against two Falcons in the final term with the game all but over was impressive, and Shaw has a decent boot when allowed space to use it.

#27 Nikia Webber
While Webber was arguably her side’s best, she found the going tough early on starting at centre half-forward. She pushed up the ground to find more of the ball and provide a target to link inside 50, but Geelong hardly gave her an inch when she went near it. Her marking game was solid, and a 55-metre set shot on goal turned into an assist for the Power’s first goal of the game in the final term. A run through the midfield in the second half looked to lift the Power slightly, and she fought well in the clinches.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

By: Peter Williams

Sandringham:

#2 Sophia Rothfield

Presented throughout playing forward, getting on the end of a kick inside 50 from Bryanna Arnold and converting the set shot. It would be the Dragons’ only major of the game, but Rothfield continued to cause headaches up forward for her opposition with some powerful marks. She took a great contested grab in the second term, and put her body on the line time ad time again. Rothfield had an opportunity in the final quarter for a second goal, but missed the snap.

#25 Sarah Hartwig

Played in front of her opponent most of the day and backs herself in to go for marks rather than spoils. Hartwig is clean at ground level and is able to pick up the ball at top speed and take off, which she did in the second term when she scooped up the ball on the run, fended off an opponent and kicked straight down the middle. Later on she showed her second efforts, laying a big tackle after dropping an intercept mark, to win back possession for her side. She won a free kick for a huge run-down takccle in the final term.

#28 Alice Burke

A big first half around the stoppages and her defensive pressure was very good. She is able to win the contested ball and just get enough separation to move laterally or forward to kick long. Early in the game she showed the perfect way to use your body at a stoppage, getting a low centre of gravity, protecting herself as well as the ball at ground level and buying herself time to dispose of the ball to a teammate while having the space to get rid of it if tackled. In the third term she drifted into defence on a number of occations and showed clean hands and quick disposal, as well as a lovely technique coming out of defence to the wing. A big tackle on Tyanna Smith in the final term allowed a teammate to have a long shot on goal form the subsequent spillage.

#30 Winnie Laing

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and constantly put her body on the line. Along with Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara, Laing won plenty of contested ball and clearances, even if it was just a deft tap or bump off the ball to allow a .teammate to take possession. Laing plays with fierce intend and won a few free kicks, including one in the first term for too high, but her set shot missed to the left.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Impressive game along the wing as she has that balance between athletic capabilities and hardness at the ball and ball carrier. She roamed between the arcs and has a long, dangerous kick going inside. Purcell had a big impact in the first half and took a good intercept mark outside 50 to then send the ball back inside. A quieter second half, but she had a chance in the final quarter running into goal, but rushed a little and missed the shot on goal.

Dandenong:

#12 Molly McDonald

The captain returned for the Round 2 game and after a quieter first half, started to have a massive impact in the second term. She played on a wing and did not take a backwards step, covering the ground with ease and crashing into marking contests to impact at every chance she got. McDonald laid some big tackles and had a few chances on goal but rued missed opportunities. One went out on the full and the St Kilda recruit berating herself for the missed chance, another was on target from long range but was touched on the line. Her work rate is an obvious advantage and despite it being her first game back this year in competition, she fitted in well.

#26 Isabella Shannon

A tackling machine. Shannon played through the midfield and up forward, and her work on the ball was very good, putting her body on the line and also able to shrug off opponents with ease. Shannon has great core strength ad is able to move well when under pressure, and has a fierce attack on the ball. In one instance in the third term, Shannon was outnumbered one against two on a . forward flank, and laid a huge tackle to trap the ball and force a stoppage. She missed a chance lain the same term from long range, but then kicked the final goal in the final term to put the nail in the coffin.

#28 Tyanna Smith

The bottom-ager had another impressive game through midfield and was able to find space at times to not only hurt her opponents on the inside, but also on the outside. She loves to win the contested ball, but on a couple of occasions got free and took off, with a ‘wow’ moment in the second term, bursting off half-back and running all the way to half-forward, but just pulled the kick a little to the left. Luckily the ball spilt and the Stingrays were able to create a goal out of the opportunity. While on some occasions she was caught, you had to admire the way she attempted to continually break the game open. In the final term she set up the final goal to Isabella Shannon with great vision in the pocket to spot up her teammate and put it to her advantage rather than blazing away.

#31 Brooke Vernon

The defender found herself uncharacteristically in the goalsquare in term one after back-to-back 50-metre penalties and an easy conversion in front of goal. The major was the first of the game, and then Vernon played a solid game in the back 50. She took a great contested mark in the goal square to save a certain goal in the opening term. Often tasked with the kick-in duties, Vernon is a long, accurate kick of the ball and always provided a contest. Finished with a handful of rebounds and a solid four quarter performance.

#51 Zoe Hill

The reliable defender did her job once again, especially under fire in the final term. She did not win a heap of the ball, but when in possession, Hill is calm and composed under pressure and is able to dispose of it cleanly. She forced a rushed behind in the final term and has an ability to get a clean first in one-on-one. Earlier in the game she showed great closing speed and was able to spoil an opponent when at top speed.

 

In other games, here’s how some of the ones to watch played:

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Eastern Ranges

Brooke Hards had 17 disposals, two marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles, while key defender, Tara Slender amassed an equal round-high seven rebounds to go with her 16 disposals, four marks and three tackles, and Eloise Gretgrix worked hard defensively for 13 touches, four marks and six rebounds. For Eastern, Tarni Brown also collected 17 disposals and had four inside 50s while laying a game-high eight tackles, Laura McClelland also found plenty of hte ball with 15 disposals, five inside 50s and six tackles, while Olivia Meagher had 16 disposals, three marks, four tackles and six inside 50s.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets

The standout performer from the match was Western’s Elisabeth Georgostathis who racked up 28 disposals – 22 kicks – two marks, five inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Abby Favell was impressive with 21 touches, five marks, four inside 50s, three rebounds and three tackles. Potential father-daughter selections, Millie Brown and Isabella Grant were impressive with Brown (20 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds) and Grant (19 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) playing important roles through midfield. Cleo Saxon-Jones was ever present with 18 touches and four marks for the Jets, while Sophie Locke (14 disposals, eight inside 50s) and Olivia Barber (13 disposals, four marks and a goal) were also good for the Bushrangers.

NAB League Girls weekend preview: Round 1

TWO triple headers headline the first ever round of NAB League Girls as the 12 teams begin their 2019 campaigns hoping to get their season off on the right foot.

CALDER CANNONS v. WESTERN JETS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
9:15am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

In what is predicted to be a sweltering day at RAMS Arena, the first match in the triple header is the Calder Cannons taking on the Western Jets. Both sides are bringing in some strong depth making it an interesting game to see which team can kickstart its season first. The Cannons will be without Georgia Patrikios, but have the likes of Alana Barba, Felicity Theodore and former Gippsland Power player, Makeisha Muller. Georgie Prespakis is one to watch for the future, and while older sister Madison is no longer there to lead the team, the Cannons will have Krstel Petrevski coming off half-back and is a player the Cannons are excited to develop throughout the season. For the Jets, they have a number of top prospects who are members of the AFL Women’s Academy at both the top and middle-age brackets. Isabella Grant and Cleo Saxon-Jones are strong overhead and can kick goals when forward, while Isabelle Pritchard still has two years in the system and is shaping as a highly talented key defender. Elisabeth Georgostathis is the other player who put in a consistent 2018 season, named onball like she was last year where she won the Jet’s best and fairest award.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
11:00am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

The second game sees two country neighbours battling it out in what could be a thrilling contest. The teams have had productive pre-seasons and the Pioneers had no trouble scoring in their practice match against the Bushrangers, while the Rebels were pleased with their efforts against the Falcons. The defensive duo of Kate Douglass and Tara Slender will be one to watch and assist in restricting opposition teams from scoring, while Jordyn Jolliffe‘s return from injury – she missed all of last season’s TAC Cup Girls competition – will be welcome and she starts at full-forward. The midfield group of the Pioneers is quite strong and will have benefited from another year, with the likes of Brooke Hards – who played some roles in defence last season – Eloise Gretgrix and Jemma Finning, while Maeve Tupper was predominantly a forward pocket last season and will spend more time in the midfield. Sophie Molan and Ella Wood will lead a deep Rebels midfield in what will be the battle of the midfields within the match. Isabella Simmons developed strongly as the season went on last year, while Renee Saulitis and Isabella Robson are other middle-age talents in the team.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
12:45pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

In the final game of Saturday’s triple header with the temperatures expected to be high 30s by the final siren, the two teams who finished second in the first two years face off from 12.45pm. The Knights head into the game as strong favourites based on the form they showed last season, and they have a number of talented players in each third of the ground. The midfield features Ellie McKenzie, Jess Fitzgerald and Britney Gutknecht, with the likes of Gabby Newton and Abigail Bennett rotating between the midfield and forward. Sarah Sansonetti and Ash Snow are a couple of defenders who impressed last season, while Alyssa Bannan developed rapidly in 2018. For the Bushrangers, Olivia Barber has been named at centre half-back and could be the one to try and quell Newton, while forwards, Sophie Locke and Kate Adams could do some damage if given time and space. Mikaela Trethowan is a 19-year-old prospect who will provide good support in the midfield, while Emily Nicholson is another player who played every game last season and will be well prepared for the first round match. The game is a huge challenge for the Bushrangers against the likely premiership favourites, but it will be a good test to see where they are at, and how the Knights have changed with players tested in other positions.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
10:30am
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

In the first game of a triple header at Frankston on Sunday, Dandenong Stingrays will be looking for their fifth straight win after finishing the season in a blaze of glory following four early season losses. Recent St Kilda recruit, Isabella Shannon has been named at centre half-forward and will be a player to watch for any Saints fans who head down to the game. While fellow Saints teammate, Molly McDonald will not be out there, Brooke Vernon, Tyanna Smith and Grace Hodder will lead the charge in the middle. Zoe Hill stands tall at centre half-back and while partner-in-crime Lucy Cripps will not be out there, Hill will aim to try and nullify one of Eastern’s talls. That could be netballer, Serena Gibbs or AFL Women’s Academy member, Laura McClelland who could rotate between midfield and forward. The forward line and particularly midfield looks solid for the Ranges, with Olivia Meagher and Tahni Brown among the middle-agers who still have a couple of seasons to develop. Both teams are likely to create a lively contest.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
12:15pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

The middle game on Sunday will see two teams that faced off in Round 1 last year do battle once again with Oakleigh Chargers facing Gippsland Power. The Chargers won easily 12 months ago and will be hoping to serve a repeat dose, while the Power feel more prepared to tackle the Chargers this time around. Middle-age captain, Mimi Hill leads a band of quick defenders who like to move the ball well, as Chloe O’Malley and Nicola Xenos showed last season. Gemma Lagioia and Emily Harley inside 50 will provide any opposition coach problems, as would Alana Porter‘s speed through the middle of the ground. The club is excited to release Amelia Peck on the competition with the 19-year-old named at centre half-back. Gippsland will miss Tyla Hanks in the middle, but have been able to supply a number of players with a season of experience and now there are top and middle-agers with a taste of the competition already. Nikia Webber and Matilda Van Berkel line up in the key forward posts, while Chandra Abrahams, Megan Fitzsimon and Grace McRae fill out the midfield. Maddi Shaw and Shanara Notman are others who could be key players in the game, providing strength and run from defence.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. GEELONG FALCONS


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
2:00pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons face Geelong Falcons on Sunday afternoon. The reigning premiers will test themselves against a danger side in the 2019 competition. Both teams are in the form of their lives having not lost a game in the past six regular season rounds – and even longer for the Falcons. The midfield battle will be one to savour with Dragons’ captain Molly Denahy Maloney, Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara tackling the likes of Falcons’ captain Lucy McEvoy, Luka Lesosky-Hay and Paige Sheppard. Both sides have a highly touted key defender in Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham) and Abbey Chapman (Geelong), have speedy wingers in Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham) and Elise Vella (Geelong) and forwards who can take big grabs, Sophia Rothfield (Sandringham) and Renee Tierney (Geelong). With both sides having a high amount of talent coming through at middle and bottom-age level, they are going to be teams to watch this season. Round 1 may well have saved the best until last, and the final game of the new NAB League Girls will likely be a match to remember.

Team Selection: Under 18 Girls – Round 1

AFTER a long off-season, the Under 18 Girls competition returns to Victoria, with the 12 teams reset for 2019. Geelong Falcons went undefeated in 2018, while the Northern Knights fell short of upsetting the Falcons in the Grand Final having impressed throughout the competition as well. There is plenty of future talent on show over the weekend with fans treated to two triple headers on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Six sides make the journey to RAMS Arena in Craigieburn on Saturday with the games moved forward to allow the girls to escape the heat of the day with predicted temperatures reaching the high 30s. On Sunday, the remaining six sides head to Skybus Stadium in Frankston to kickstart their campaigns for the new season.

CALDER CANNONS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 1 – 02/03/2019
9:15am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

CALDER CANNONS

B: 24. K. Delia, 6. K. Reid, 4. K. Lennox
HB: 15. M. McLeod, 35. I. Young, 31. K. Petrevski
C: 8. Z. Friswell, 11. A. Barba, 32. T. Fry
HF: 34. Z. Hardiman, 42. T. Crook, 3. E. Yassir
F: 22. M. Muller, 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 2. F. Theodore
R: 17. G. Sampson, 38. L. Cocomello, 41. G. Prespakis
Int: 12. J. Andrighetti, 5. N. Crowley, 46. G. Elarmaly, 43. C. Leahy, 25. A. Magri, 36. Z. Penno, 19. P. Poultney

WESTERN JETS

B: 10. T. Evans, 19. A. Anthony, 11. K. O’Keefe
HB: 47. C. Sargent, 23. I. Pritchard, 15. N. Wright
C: 3. L. Andrews-Quinn, 9. R. Tripodi, 18. P. Ozols
HF: 32. S. Asciak, 25. C. Saxon-Jones, 5. I. Cavka
F: 20. T. Kolevski, 26. C. Weston-Sirett, 14. L. Wright
R: 22. C. Singleton, 17. E. Georgostathis, 13. I. Grant
Int: 36. K. Bays, 6. E. Kiely, 24. J. Mwaka, 21. E. Robinson
Emg: 30. T. Kotoski, 51. J. Wilson

The first game of the year sees the Cannons taking on the Jets, with Calder missing star midfielder/forward, Georgia Patrikios. A familiar name can be found in the midfield, with Georgie Prespakis replacing her sister Madison in the onball brigade, while Felicity Theodore is another name to watch, named in the forward pocket. Western has a number of strong talls in the team with Isabella Grant, Cleo Saxon-Jones and Isabelle Pritchard able to hold down key roles, with Grant also running through the midfield with last year’s best and fairest winner, Elisabeth Georgostathis.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 1 – 02/03/2019
11:00am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

BENDIGO PIONEERS

B: 25. K. Hazlett, 36. K. Douglass, 49. C. McGillivray
HB: 46. K. Mitchell, 40. T. Slender, 41. E. Peacock
C: 3. E. Snell, 28. E. Gretgrix, 1. M. Tupper
HF: 14. A. Strahan, 30. H. Stewart, 20. D. Villiva
F: 50. M. Barton, 44. J. Jolliffe, 9. T. Miaoudis
R: 24. S. Oliver, 19. J. Finning, 4. B. Hards
Int: 22. G. Barton, 8. T. Coad, 48. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 37. G. Sladden

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

B: 12. V. Jewell, 27. G. Pidgeon, 16. L. Sykes
HB: 5. N. Butler, 30. N. Dojiok, 19. C. Summers
C: 32. I. Simmons, 24. S. Molan, 3. A. Trigg
HF: 1. L. Condon, 34. K. Harris, 11. L. Donegan
F: 6. M. Ciavarella, 23. I. Rustman, 9. R. Saulitis
R: 35. M. Caris, 10. E. Wood, 15. C. Leonard
Int: 14. G. Douhadji, 28. I. Robson, 13. B. Thompson, 4. K. Tomkins
Emg: 25. G. Henderson, 21. A. Stevens

In the second game, Bendigo Pioneers are coming off a promising practice match win over Murray Bushrangers and have a strong spine with Kate Douglass and Jordyn Jolliffe holding down key positions at either end, while Tara Slender was impressive in the V/Line Cup last year and will slot into centre half-back. Jemma Finning, Brooke Hards, Maeve Tupper and Eloise Gretgrix make up a young but promising midfield core, which will make for an entertaining contest against GWV Rebels’ Ella Wood, Chloe Leonard, Sophie Molan and Isabella Simmons. Renee Saulitis and Nyakoat Doijiok are others who impressed at times last season and will add some speed to the side that will hope to get off with a win after such a strong finish to the year last season.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
12:45pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 24. J. Nursey, 2. S. Fell, 34. M. Uwland
HB: 10. P. Chisholm, 18. S. Sansonetti, 20. C. Linssen
C: 6. A. Bannan, 21. E. McKenzie, 9. M. Chaplin
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 23. G. Newton, 29. T. Pulcino
F: 11. M. Appleby, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 25. T. Mills
R: 1. J. Nelson, 14. J. Fitzgerald, 22. B. Gutknecht
Int: 8. G. Ceravolo, 16. Z. Flanigan, 26. M. Papachristos, 30. M. Plunkett, 32. A. Snow
Emg: 19. I. Hammond, 38. L. Picioane, 5. A. Ward

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

B: 11. T. Brett, 43. A. Williams, 24. H. Doohan
HB: 33. E. Mifka, 45. O. Barber, 40. K. Whitehead
C: 20. S. Lang, 8. A. Favell, 46. S. McCarthy
HF: 10. S. Locke, 14. C. Boschetti, 41. L. Sharp
F: 16. M. Jones, 39. A. Morphett, 22. A. Richardson
R: 34. E. McPherson, 18. Z. Spencer, 31. M. Trethowan
Int: 7. K. Adams, 26. E. Nicholson, 21. C. Styan , 27. J. Ward
Emg: 3. A. McMillan, 44. M. Quade

In the final game of the Saturday triple header, grand finalists Northern Knights face the Murray Bushrangers. The Bushrangers will be without top prospect, Millie Brown, but have the likes of Sophie Locke, Olivia Barber and Kate Adams who all add different elements to the side in a team that looks different to the one that ran out in 2018. The Knights are a formidable side and with Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie, Alyssa Bannan, Abigail Bennett, Britney Gutknecht, Jess Fitzgerald and Sarah Sansonetti all named, it will take a strong performance to knock the Knights off.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 1 – 03/03/2019
10:30am
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston


DANDENONG STINGRAYS

B: 40. R. Clancy – Dillon, 51. Z. Hill, 17. M. Layfield
HB: 14. L. Grocock, 50. A. Nagtzaam, 32. J. Radford
C: 4. J. Guy-Toogood, 31. B. Vernon, 10. A. Jordan
HF: 48. A. Carroll, 26. I. Shannon, 55. H. Thomas
F: 24. A. Liddle, 49. K. McKenzie, 2. S. Stratton
R: 58. G. Howes, 28. T. Smith, 21. G. Hodder
Int: 13. S. Gammaldi, 60. T. Jones, 30. P. Swayn, 39. N. Taylor
Emg: 9. C. Bell, 34. A. Richards

EASTERN RANGES

B: 29. M. Di Cosmo, 51. S. Zappia, 54. E. Odria
HB: 11. M. Edwards, 49. C. Wilsmore, 17. M. Kendall
C: 20. J. Richardson, 39. L. McClelland, 1. C. Smith
HF: 16. E. Horne, 41. T. Merrett, 18. T. Kelly
F: 48. I. Khoury, 46. S. Gibbs, 12. M. Taverna
R: 25. J. Grace, 21. O. Meagher, 26. T. Brown
Int: 44. S. Bowden, 31. S. Collard, 33. T. Flintoff, 35. L. Hilton
Emg: 34. M. Hardy, 19. S. Humm

Heading down the Peninsula on Sunday, Dandenong Stingrays host Eastern Ranges in the first of three matches at Frankston. One half of St Kilda’s newest recruits will be playing in the match, with Isabella Shannon named at centre half-forward, while the Stingrays will miss Molly McDonald. Tyanna Smith is a bottom-ager to watch throughout 2019, as is key defender, Zoe Hill. For Eastern, Laura McClelland is the key top-age player to watch, named in the middle, while Olivia Meagher and Tahni Brown make the Ranges’ midfield a tough proposition for any side, and with Tahlia Merrett and netballer, Serena Gibbs up forward, there are no shortage of tall targets inside 50.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 1 – 03/03/2019
12:15pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston


OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 21. S. Reid, 26. A. Micallef, 17. N. Xenos
HB: 2. M. Hill, 12. A. Peck, 18. C. O’Malley
C: 33. E. Chamberlain, 7. J. D’Amato, 22. J. Lin
HF: 1. G. Lagioia, 10. T. Cowan, 5. A. van Oosterwijck
F: 14. G. Byrne, 15. C. Russell, 4. E. Harley
R: 3. K. Kearns, 8. A. Porter, 32. E. James
Int: 6. S. Cato, 20. B. Fox, 9. E. Jackson, 38. D. Lloyd, 23. A. Mayne, 31. S. Morley, 13. T. Morton, 29. C. Rowbottom

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 2. S. Beaton, 47. E. Williams, 19. H. Booth
HB: 40. C. Robinson, 33. S. Notman, 9. M. Shaw
C: 30. A. Rippon, 12. M. Fitzsimon, 17. S. Trewin
HF: 13. H. Andrews, 45. M. Van Berkel, 3. M. Gilmour
F: 50. G. Matser, 27. N. Webber, 11. S. Walker
R: 49. G. Radford, 8. C. Abrahams , 26. G. McRae
Int: 20. J. Chila, 48. C. Prestidge, 7. L. Raymond , 34. S. Symes
Emg: 1. S. Brisbane, 16. A. Hardwick, 24. N. Williams

In the second game, Oakleigh Chargers takes on Gippsland Power in a repeat of the same fixture 12 months earlier. In that game the Chargers were far too good, but after a strong pre-season, the Power hopes to start the season off on the right note. Gemma Lagioia will be a player to watch off half-forward, while Emily Harley is a key target inside 50. Alana Porter provides the dash, while Chloe O’Malley and Nicola Xenos are defenders who know how to use the ball going forward. Gippsland has named Nikia Webber at full-forward for the opening game, but she could rotate with bottom-age tall Chandra Abrahams who will start in the midfield. Holly Andrews and Maddi Shaw will be others to watch off their respective flanks, while Shanara Notman has good potential having returned to football after a year off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 1 – 03/03/2019
2:00pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston


SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 45. E. Stuber, 24. N. Borg, 44. D. Walker
HB: 38. G. Strangio, 25. S. Hartwig, 7. R. Woods
C: 42. M. Purcell, 17. B. Arnold, 26. C. Saultry
HF: 33. I. Eddey, 2. S. Rothfield, 40. A. Moloney
F: 3. C. Murphy, 15. C. Cody, 29. I. Stutt
R: 1. M. Denahy Maloney, 28. A. Burke, 22. E. McNamara
Int: 13. T. Grasso, 30. W. Laing, 50. P. Staltari, 58. T. Tysoe
Emg: 65. E. Angelopoulos, 47. K. Lynch, 18. J. Stolz

GEELONG FALCONS

B: 27. E. Dowling, 16. A. Chapman, 6. M. Holdsworth
HB: 11. E. Mahoney, 19. K. Haustorfer , 8. D. Smith
C: 9. L. Gardiner, 7. P. Sheppard, 1. E. Vella
HF: 14. D. Moloney, 13. L. Ryan, 18. A. Sanderson
F: 12. M. Skinner, 23. R. Tierney, 26. L. Were
R: 25. A. McKee, 21. L. McEvoy, 17. L. Lesosky-Hay
Int: 10. Z. Garth, 15. S. Hovey, 20. A. Lee, 2. P. Schaap
Emg: 28. T. Hassett, 22. S. Milsome, 24. J. Robinson

Wrapping up the first round of action is arguably the match of the round with reigning premiers, Geelong taking on Sandringham Dragons. The Dragons have a good bottom-age contingent who will look for guidance from new captain, Molly Denahy Maloney, with Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara forming a strong inside midfield. Marguerite Purcell provides the outside pace, while Isabella Eddey will cause headaches inside 50. Down back, Sarah Hartwig looks to hold down the defence. For the Falcons, captain Lucy McEvoy and Luka Lesosky-Hay will team up in midfield, while Renee Tierney is the main target inside forward 50 among a number of players who have made the transition into the side. Abbey Chapman and Kaitlyn Haustorfer are very solid key defenders, while Elise Vella is a winger who could be a point of difference.

U18 Girls season preview: Gippsland Power

AFTER not registering a win in season 2017, Gippsland Power showed marked improvement in 2018, winning three games and drawing another – against a previously unbeaten side – while remaining incredibly competitive throughout the season. Female Talent Manager, Chelsea Caple and head coach Scott Armour are teaming up again in season 2019, after what was a really promising year last year.

“I think we definitely saw improvement in the team from season 2017 to season 2018,” Caple said. “Obviously, we saw a new coaching panel from Scotty McDougal to Scotty Armour and I think Scott brought with him that idea of developing the girls as individuals, developing them as a team and really focusing on those little wins. “So not necessarily those scoreboard wins, but tackling pressure and just the girls putting in 100 per cent and I think that really showed and our progress throughout the year with the wins and the draws that we had was definitely an improvement. “Obviously being a development competition, we don’t necessarily look at the scoreboard, but we know that winning teams and successful teams breed draftable players which is what we try and get achieved as well. “We were really happy with the season, especially coming from the back of 2017, having a little more of a challenging year. “This year will be just as interesting.”

There were some nervous times early in the season, with the Power opting not to play a pre-season practice match, and then getting belted by Oakleigh in the opening game. But any nerves about how the second season might go down, lasted just a round, as the Power turned it around to defeat the Western Jets, then draw with Murray Bushrangers the following round.

“We took some learnings (from last year),” Caple said. “So in 2017 we played a practice match against another side, and it probably from our perspective gave the girls a bit of a reality check so they were ready to hit Round 1 running. However, in 2018 we had five girls make our first side that hadn’t played a game of football competitively against other people.” “… and six other debutants,” Armour added. “So we had 11 playing their first TAC game. “I think we underestimated the nerves and how that could impact, because we saw how their football could develop from that first round, and change.” “Absolutely,” Caple agreed. “You could just tell in that first quarter that our really talented players from other sports were just like ‘oh my goodness this is the pace’ and it probably took them that whole game to adjust. They were learning the game as well, but they learning the pace, learning the intensity, but by Round 2 they knew what to expect.”

Armour said dual sport athlete, Jasmine Ferguson was a perfect example of someone who took time to adjust, but when she did, she flourished.

“I think Jaz Ferguson is a good example,” he said. “She came only playing school football, and only four games of school football, and struggled a bit in Round 1. “Then she had a really consistent season and ended up playing VFL football with Collingwood. “I think it was that first game, and we’ve got a practice match this weekend (earlier in February) and hopefully we can get some of those nerves out of the newer girls. :So we can be a bit more match ready this year.”

One constant in the Gippsland Power program who will no longer run out with the girls is last year’s co-captain, Tyla Hanks who has followed on from her top-age year with some impressive performances in the AFL Women’s competition for Melbourne. Both Caple and Armour praised the impact Hanks had on the group throughout her time at the Power.

“I think Tyla’s really calm under pressure and I think her season with us and her season with Carlton in the VFLW prepared her really well for AFLW,” Caple said. She’s playing against those bigger bodies, she’s got used to the pace. “Obviously AFLW is another step, but we never had any doubts that she wouldn’t be able to do it.”

“No she, boy or girl she’s one of the best young footballers I’ve seen and I think in a few years’ time you’ll see just how good she is at AFLW level,” Armour said. “She’s a young leader, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in the leadership group or in some leadership role in the next few years.”

So how will Hanks’ departure affect the Power? Caple admitted while the saying goes ‘everyone is replaceable’, she conceded Hanks was hard to replace. Armour said the team was not looking to replace Hanks directly, but instead look for a range of players to step up in her absence.

Tyla Hanks and Maddy Prespakis, those types, I think they’re hard to come by and I think you really value them when they do come through,” Armour said. “But we’ve got some really talented girls and we’re happy with how they’re progressing. “Not saying that they’re going to be a Tyla Hanks. “They’re all unique and different in their own way. “Nikia Webber had a pretty good Round 1 to 5 last year I think she’d kicked nearly 10 goals. “She started off really well and I think she’s got the potential to really impact this year and getting some consistency will be what we aim for her. “She’s a very good mark, she’s very good one-on-one and she’s one of the best kicks in the league. “Already people, VFL and AFL are looking at her kicking because it’s excellent. “So we do have some strengths coming through even though we’ve lost Tyla. “Just different players.”

Caple said the amount of players who had shown more voice at training and over the pre-season compared to the year before was noticeable.

“It’s also an opportunity for other players to step up. With Tyla filling such a role – she was a vice-captain in her bottom-age year and a captain in her top-age year, we’ve seen some of the girls through pre-season really stepping up and seeing that that gap needing to be filled,” she said. “We played an intraclub … and to see the voice from some of the girls that we didn’t see last year and even the direction and the leadership on the field. “Tyla was for us, and still is, a leader on the field and a leader by example. “To really notice that those girls are stepping up, understanding what Scotty wants from them in terms of structure and being able to guide that, where previously they probably did rely on Tyla.”

Armour said the reliance on Hanks at times also worked the other way, with Hanks having an ability to create opportunities for her teammates.

“I think it works both ways too,” he said. “There might be the mindset of ‘well Tyla will do it’, but also Tyla was one of those players that would bring others into the game and help with their confidence and they can get better because of it. “That was what we tried and the angle we used with Tyla, that she can build others up. “For the other girls, Tyla will be there to support them and the girls will be there to support Tyla and hopefully they weren’t just thinking Tyla will do it all. “We knew that she would get close attention. “Not saying that she got anything illegal, but close attention which she should because she’s an awesome player, so we needed other people to step up.”

With a lot of bottom-age players now moving into their top-age year, Gippsland Power has no shortage of leaders ready to take the next step, as well as some with limited football experience.

“So we’ve already spoken about Nikia (Webber), but Maddi Shaw (is one to watch),” Armour said. “We think Maddi can have a big impact this year. “She was really consistent for us last year. “She played through the midfield and off half-back. “She reads the ball well, she learns stoppages, she holds her feet well, (is) quick, tries to break the lines when she gets the ball. “Very aggressive when tackling. “We’re hopeful she’ll take that next step up this year. “Also, we’ve got another top-ager in Shanara Notman, now she didn’t play last year but she played V/Line the year before. “Now she’s come from elite basketball background and think she will be one to watch athletically. She’s quite tall, she’d be about 183cm. “She can play forward, back, ruck, onball, wing. “She can play anywhere. “Trying to decide I guess where the best fit is for the team will be important. She reads the ball really well, she is a competitor. “I remember years ago when we played V/Line, against Lucy Cripps‘ group (Peninsula Stingrays) and Lucy Cripps was doing really well so we put Shanara down there. “Now I think Lucy still won the day but Shanara made her really earn her possessions. And then she’s had a year off footy and come back to it. “We hope she will step up and from what she’s shown with her skill progression and her kicking been really good. “We’re excited for what the year can hold for her.”

Armour is excited to watch versatile bottom-ager, Chandra Abrahams continue to develop her game and build consistency in 2019 after glimpses of some highlight-worthy moments last season.

Chandra Abrahams has a really huge upside,” Armour said. “I think when she’s firing, the team is firing. “If she’s on, she can pull down some marks that not many others in the comp can. She’s a power athlete. She comes from an athletics background when she was young, she was an athletics champion at state level at shorter distance. She’s really powerful. “For her, when she’s forward she can lead with speed and have a lot of power in her lead when she goes up for the ball. She’s also really good up around the football, she’s really strong and she’s good at clearances. So I guess for us we’d like to see her going through the midfield and down forward, but that being said we played her down back at times last year and she did quite well last year, but probably forward and midfield for Chandra this year.”

Caple said the V/Line Cup squad has a number of players coming up who would be eligible for either the Under 18s or Futures games this season. Lily-Rose Williamson might only be turning 15 this year, but already the tough midfielder is eyeing off a spot in the Futures games mid-season.

“She’s 2004 born so we’ve been able to apply to have her potentially play in some of our futures games,” Caple said. “Last year she still played with the boys and the girls so she’d swap. “She’d play under 14s one week with dad and then play with the girls with mum. “Allegedly she was the best on the field with the under 14 boys and very, very, very hard tackler and held her own. “She’ll be an interesting one to see coming up for the Futures games.”

Overall, Armour has been pleased with the Power pre-season and looks forward to hitting the season running this weekend.

“I’ve been really happy with the way it’s been going and the way they’re developing,” the coach said. “We spent a lot of time in November doing a lot of fundamental skill work and trying to get some fitness into them. “We’ve been really happy with how it’s been going and it’s just been the last few weeks because of weather and things outside our control. “Things have been thrown upside down but we can only control what we can control, so we focus on that and try and move forward as best we can.”

As for a mantra throughout season 2019, it does not change with the Gippsland sides always keen for competitiveness and 100 per cent effort.

“As a team we’d like to be, one of the values of Power is that we’re hard to play against, that we’re really competitive and we’d love every team to come away thinking ‘gee that was tough’ whether they’ve lost or won, that that was a tough game,” Armour said. “That’s ideal. “I kept saying to the girls last year I want you to walk off the ground with your head held high, and the only way you can do that is knowing within yourself that you gave 100 per cent effort so for me, it’s a lot about them just giving absolutely everything they can. “If everyone gives 100 per cent we can’t ask for more than that. “They can’t do more than that, because some days you’re going to get beaten by teams that are better than you. “But the most important thing is we give 100 per cent and that’s coaching staff as well and that we are switched on and give our absolute best all the time.”

Gippsland Power starts its 2019 campaign on Sunday, March 3 against Oakleigh Chargers at Skybus Stadium Frankston, with the Power keen to make amends for last year’s Round 1 loss.