IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number nine with Richmond’s Maddy Brancatisano.
The former Northern Knights captain found her groove in 2020 after an unlucky 2019 season with Melbourne. Having been picked up with pick 15 in the 2018 AFL Women’s National Draft, Brancatisano was unable to crack into an experienced Demons’ midfield unit, and instead opted to join Richmond in the expansion period. There, she immediately had an impact, making her AFL Women’s debut in Round 1 and played six games for the season.
Possessing some terrific speed and a desire to win the ball in congestion, Brancatisano had a solid start to her elite level career, averaging 5.3 disposals, 1.2 marks and 1.2 tackles in her six games. She will look to build on that in 2021, and crack into an ever-strengthening Tigers midfield. Alongside the likes of Monique Conti and Sarah Hosking, Brancatisano will be reunited with former Knights’ teammate and 2020 AFL Women’s Draft number one selection, Ellie McKenzie for the 2021 season.
Having gone winless in 2020, Richmond is still searching for its debut win, and Brancatisano is expected to be a big part of the side going forward, which has bulked up on youth in year one, and now added a fair bulk of experience in year two. Unlike in 2020, the Tigers have the midfield depth to get it to tall forwards Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick, and all of a sudden, Richmond’s forward half looks all the more damaging.
Whilst the extra depth through the midfield might make it more challenging for Brancatisano, the natural leader has the right attitude and inside ability to make it work. In a side still building its identity, Brancatisano knows how to set the tone by example, and now that the Tigers have enough talent to worry some teams, expect the ex-Knights captain to be one of a number of players to step up in 2021 and show exactly why she is on this list.
Picture credit: Richmond FC