IN the next of our expansion club AFL Women’s off-season reviews, we take a look at St Kilda. The Saints are a side that was able to secure a number of former Southern Saints VFL Women’s players that managed to earn places on other AFL Women’s lists, whilst picking up some talent from other sides, and plenty of local youth in the process.
Prominent midfielder, Alison Brown was the first official signing, which was followed by pre-listing teenagers, Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon from the Dandenong Stingrays. Southern Saints quartet, Kate Shierlaw – formerly of Carlton – Olivia Vesely, Caitlin Grieser and Sammie Johnson all earned places on the list. Former Southern Saints players, Alison Drennan, Rhiannon Watt, Courteney Munn and Selena Karlson all returned to Moorabbin, complemented by the recruitment of Collingwood’s Darcy Guttridge, Brisbane’s Nat Exon, Melbourne’s Cat Phillips and Adelaide’s Jessica Sedunary.
The Saints were also able to add further experience to the list, willing to trade Pick 11 in the AFL Women’s Draft for Kate McCarthy from the Lions, while departing with Pick 9 for Emma Mackie and a couple of top 30 selections. Claudia Whitfort was the final player to join the Saints during the trade period, crossing from the Dees, before adding veterans, Melissa Kuys and Tilly Lucas-Rodd in free agency. Clara Fitzpatrick and Poppy Kelly crossed from Gaelic football and basketball respectively to line-up for the Saints’ VFLW team this season, and then with four selections in the top 30, picked up the incredibly classy Georgia Patrikios, experienced Hawk Rosie Dillon, speedy Nicola Xenos, and Under-18 All Australian at age 16, Queenslander Tarni White. Rounding out the team, the Saints selected veteran ruck Tamara Luke, and experienced Norwood midfielder Hannah Priest, before passing in the AFL Women’s Draft to snap up North Adelaide captain, Nadia von Bertouch.
2020 TEAM LIST:
Nadia von Bertouch
POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:
B: Claudia Whitfort – Clara Fitzpatrick – Melissa Kuys
HB: Darcy Guttridge – Selena Karlson – Nicola Xenos
C: Molly McDonald
HF: Georgia Patrikios – Kate Shierlaw – Nat Exon
F: Kate McCarthy – Courteney Munn – Caitlin Greiser
R: Rhiannon Watt – Alison Brown – Alison Drennan
INT: Jess Sedunary – Tilly Lucas-Rodd- Isabella Shannon – Olivia Vesely – Tarni White
EMG: Sammie Johnson – Emma Mackie – Rosie Dillon
DEPTH: Poppy Kelly, Cat Phillips Tamara Luke, Kelly O’Neill, Hannah Priest, Nadia von Bertouch
St Kilda seem to have gone with a real youth and experience approach, with players nearing the end of their careers, as well as a lot who are just starting. They used the AFL Women’s expansion period to fill holes in the mid-range age bracket area, but it will be the excitement of their youth coming through that will be the eye-catching area of their side. Much like any of the expansion clubs, it is hard to work out how they will front up in Round 1 and play out throughout the year, but expect them to pile in the youth where possible, with Patrikios, Xenos, McDonald and Shannon all getting plenty of games, and White is another player who should get a crack early on upside alone.
The Saints will rely a lot on the experience of their smaller players in Kuys and Lucas-Rodd to hold down the fort in defence in what is either an inexperienced or young defence that will come good with a full season. Guttridge could be a huge inclusion for the Saints off half-back, while up forward, McCarthy is an underrated pick. Their spine might not have a huge name attached, but a lot of the hard working midfielders will make sure to get the ball out to the youthful runners adding that X-factor.