REIGNING premier Adelaide is a deserving favourite of chasing its third AFL Women’s flag in four years after keeping together an already impressive list, and adding a host of young and experienced stars to its roster. There were plenty of tears when two-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) Erin Phillips went down with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in the 2019 AFL Women’s Grand Final, and just as many recently when Chelsea Randall suffered the same injury that has now ruled her out of the 2020 season.
But through some shrewd recruiting, the Crows picked up the only other MVP winner in the AFL Women’s short history, with former GWS GIANTS’ star Courtney Gum returning back to South Australia after retiring, then opting to give the elite level another crack. Along with Gum, Montana McKinnon will provide the immediate relief for the loss of Jess Allan who headed to the GIANTS due to work, while Jess Sedunary was the only other player to leave for another club, joining St Kilda. Rheanne Lugg and Sally Riley both found second homes through free agency, while Jenna McCormick retired to focus on her international soccer career. Joining the club along with McKinnon through the draft were 2019 Under-18 All Australians, Jaimi Tabb and Madison Newman, while versatile talls, Caitlin Gould and Chelsea Biddell add some much needed depth to the Crows – especially now Randall has gone down. The other two recruits were South Adelaide ball winner, Nicole Campbell, and the best South Australian women’s player in the state league in Najwa Allen who crossed to the state for the 2019 season and showed just how talented she is through the midfield.
IN: Montana McKinnon, Nicole Campbell, Courtney Gum (South Adelaide), Najwa Allen (Norwood), Jaimi Tabb (WWT Eagles), Caitlin Gould (Glenelg), Madison Newman, Chelsea Biddell (West Adelaide)
OUT: Jess Sedunary (St Kilda), Jess Allan (GWS GIANTS), Rheanne Lugg, Sally Riley, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Sarah Perkins (delisted), Jenna McCormick (retired)
2020 TEAM LIST:
Rookie: Ailish Considine
Inactive list: Hannah Martin (ACL), Chelsea Randall (ACL), Maisie Nankivell (netball)
POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:
B: Dayna Cox – Sarah Allen – Justine Mules
HB: Courtney Cramey – Marijana Rajcic – Angela Foley
C: Courtney Gum
HF: Danielle Ponter – Chloe Scheer – Erin Phillips
F: Eloise Jones – Stevie-Lee Thompson – Deni Varnhagen
R: Jessica Foley – Anne Hatchard – Ebony Marinoff
INT: Renee Forth – Najwa Allen – Ailish Considine* – Courtney Cramey – Montana McKinnon
EMG: Jaimi Tabb – Rhiannon Metcalfe – Sophie Li
DEPTH: Chelsea Biddell, Nicole Campbell, Nikki Gore, Caitlin Gould, Madison Newman, Ruth Wallace, Hannah Martin*, Chelsea Randall*
It is clear the Crows have enviable depth on their roster with a ridiculous amount of talent that is hard to squeeze into the side. Adelaide might opt to begin blooding more young players in season 2020, as the likes of Courtney Cramey, Rhiannon Metcalfe, Sophie Li and even Phillips come towards the twilight of their careers. The huge question will be whether or not Phillips can return in time for the start of the season, but if not, you can be sure she will run out at some stage such is the elite professionalism and determination of the athlete.
Expect names such as McKinnon and Allen to push for a Round 1 spot, with Gum the other obvious choice if fit. The loss of Randall is huge, meaning Marijana Rajcic might have to play taller, or they opt for a team defence. Caitlin Gould could also slot in there, but is likely to take time to adapt to the level, with Newman, Tabb and Nikki Gore others one can expect to feature at some stage. The Crows have plenty of ‘Plan Bs’ with Biddell a readymade key forward option, much like Campbell in midfield, and then there’s the ruck experience of Metcalfe just waiting in the wings. From the dominant midfield to the firepower up forward, this side is every chance to go back-to-back and no-one will be surprised if the super-human athlete in Phillips makes it back for an early return.