Tag: tahlia gillard

2022 AFLW early look: Melbourne

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Melbourne, a side that despite being young and losing a lot of experience over the previous off-season, were able to match it with the best and finish top four, and win a final.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 2
Draws: 0
Points For: 382 (4th)
Points Against: 293 (6th)

Melbourne fast-tracked what appeared to be a long rebuild, by bringing in the young guns they drafted and giving them opportunities, as well as shuffling around the magnets for their experienced talents. Having lost a number of key players for draft selections the previous off-season, not many would have predicted Melbourne to stay around the mark, and they not only did that but remained a premiership threat, only going down to Adelaide in the preliminary final. They still had areas to tighten up such as consistency in their defence, but they were able to match it with the best sides and with further experience added this off-season, the Demons are one of the genuine title contenders.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Olivia Purcell (Geelong), Tayla Harris (Carlton), Eliza West, Alison Brown (Casey Demons), Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges), Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
Outs: Tegan Cunningham, Meg Downie, Niamh McEvoy, Shae Sloane (retired), Chantel Emonson (Geelong), Mietta Kendall (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

Much like the previous season, there were plenty of names leaving the club, highlighted by inaugural Demons, Tegan Cunningham and Meg Downie, who joined a quartet of retirees including Niamh McEvoy and Shae Sloane. Chantel Emonson also headed to the Cats in a deal that netted them star young midfielder Olivia Purcell, whilst first-year defender Mietta Kendall was the other player to cut by the club. Along with Purcell, the Demons were able to haul in a Cunningham replacement in the higher-profile Tayla Harris who found her way to the Demons in the most publicised talking point of the trade period. Harris provides the additional height and strength in the forward half, something that draftees, Tahlia Gillard and Georgia Campbell do as well. Campbell is a father-daughter selection who picked the Demons over the Bulldogs, whilst Gillard is an AFL Women’s Academy member, and both can play through the ruck or forward. Gillard’s 190cm size was the tallest of any AFLW draftee, and the pari will make a formidable duo for the future. The Demons also picked up ex-Blue and Saint Alison Brown to come to her third club after some strong performances for Casey Demons in the back-end of the season. She joined VFL Women’s teammate and former basketballer Eliza West who had an amazing season, in the red and blue.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Alyssa Bannan
Libby Birch
Alison Brown
Maggie Caris
Georgia Campbell
Gabby Colvin
Megan Fitzsimon
Maddi Gay
Tahlia Gillard
Sinead Goldrick
Tayla Harris
Tyla Hanks
Shelley Heath
Kate Hore
Sarah Lampard
Lauren Magee
Eliza McNamara
Lily Mithen
Jackie Parry
Karen Paxman
Daisy Pearce
Lauren Pearce
Krstel Petrevski
Olivia Purcell
Shelley Scott
Casey Sherriff
Isabella Simmons
Brenna Tarrant
Eliza West
Eden Zanker

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How will the Demons shape their forward line with so many talls potentially capable of sliding in?
  • How much impact can Olivia Purcell having coming off an ACL?
  • Will Maggie Caris be given the reins to more and team up with Eden Zanker there?

PREDICTION:

Melbourne is arguably the dark horse for the AFL Women’s competition. They are one of the younger teams going around, with a sprinkling of veteran talents led by Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman who are still elite talents themselves. With the youth filtering through, the Demons have the opportunity to build a long-term successful side, and will be a team to watch in 2022. Whilst all the youth will make team selection very difficult, expect them to have plenty of options going into the future, with a potent forward line and an elite midfield.

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via 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 AFLW Draft club review: Melbourne

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 Melbourne.

#41 Georgia Campbell (Ruck/Forward)
1/09/2003 | 182cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

Melbourne got an absolute steal in obtaining Campbell all the way back at pick 41 via the competition’s father-daughter rules. The Eastern Ranges ruck-forward, who is the daughter of Adrian, was eligible to nominate for either Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs, but becomes a Dee and adds to the tall stocks of a finals contending team. She came on in leaps and bounds this season to quickly become the leading Victorian ruck prospect, boasting eye-catching athleticism for a player of her 182cm stature. Able to impact in the air and on the ground, Campbell is also versatile enough to do so both as a ruck or key forward, as shown during her representative stint with Vic Metro. Having transitioned into football from other sports, she has plenty of development left too.

GEORGIA CAMPBELL CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Eastern Ranges

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

Having known before the fact that they would be getting Campbell, the Demons went tall once more with their second pick immediately after. Gillard has long been one of the most promising Victorian talls, and offers terrific aerial presence at 190cm. While rucking, she uses that size to advantage and has the potential to become a really dominant hitter, while also having the experience of playing at either end of the ground. She rotated forward in 2021 and while some of her disposal execution is a touch raw, the Calder Cannons graduate is difficult to beat in the air. She will likely be developed as a ruck to support Lauren Pearce, given the Dees have just recruited Campbell and Tayla Harris to go with the likes of Eden Zanker and Alyssa Bannan as tall forwards – but there is plenty of dynamism among that lot.

TAHLIA GILLARD CONTENT:

>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks
>> NAB League Girls team review: Calder Cannons

Gillard fires away a handball for Calder Cannons

#45 Alison Brown (Utility)
21/09/1997 | 179cm
Casey Demons VFLW

Having already rookied midfielder Eliza West from its VFLW program, Melbourne dipped into the reserves pool once more to select Brown with pick 45. The 23-year-old lands at her third AFLW club after earning the honour of being an inaugural Blue and Saint, and in fact the first player signed to St Kilda’s women’s squad. Brown continued to persevere since, and having established a spot in the Demons’ VFLW defence, has been duly promoted for another crack at the elite level. She offers strong and experienced depth to a largely established squad and will likely be ready to go once called upon.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Melbourne fans were made to wait a long time to witness their club’s first pick, which was always going to be Campbell, but all three selections came in a flurry. Campbell and Gillard add to the Demons’ strong tall stocks, particularly in the ruck-forward rotation and given the competition for spots, may well be afforded a proper amount of time to develop before entering the elite level. Brown rounded out the haul nicely as the mature-ager of the bunch, able to play multiple roles and solidify the defence. She’s a readymade option with plenty of experience under her belt already, which is just what Melbourne needs en route to premiership contention in 2021/22.

Image Credit: Melbourne AFLW via Twitter

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: Bolters & Sliders

EACH year the AFL Women’s Draft throws up plenty of surprises, with players going higher or lower than many might have predicted. Through a combination of club needs or other factors that change plans, there are always players who rise up the boards or slip back on the night.

BOLTERS:

Pick 3 – Charlie Thomas (West Coast)

It was always evident that the talented utility was going to go in the first three West Australian picks such was her ability shown over the past few years. But having been restricted to just one game this year, the Eagles read her name out first in the West Australian pool, with some thought that the Dockers might pounce with their first. West Coast still got the player many expected to land at this pick – Courtney Rowley – with the next selection anyway, and the Eagles will be able to use both the skilful players around the ground such is their versatility.

Pick 7 – Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons)

It was terrific to see the skilful onballer earn her named called out in the Top 10, with her inside work and combination of speed and endurance making her such a damaging prospect. Originally touted as a first round prospect thanks to those traits, Friswell was thrown around the ground at both the AFLW Under 19 Championships level and VFLW level, and the worry was that perhaps clubs were focusing too much on versatility. With Geelong able to bring in another midfielder, expect Friswell to star in that role, though not before she funnily enough has to take on the Cats this weekend in the red and black.

Pick 15 – Annabel Johnson (Geelong VFLW)

It was Geelong’s last selection, so it might not quite be the same as some others, but it is a terrific story nonetheless. Johnson only picked up a footy last year, and played her debut season with the Cats in the VFL Women’s, averaging 14.6 disposals, 2.7 marks and laying 4.8 tackles. Still only 20-years-old, Johnson has plenty of time to develop, and is another who will get set for a big preliminary final this weekend, her first VFL Women’s game as an AFLW-listed Cat, providing an extra element for her and the team.

Pick 51 – Jasmine Ferguson (North Melbourne)

As a player who has come through the pathways, it has been quite the journey for Ferguson, a dual footballer and netballer. Standing at 172cm, she has had an outstanding season for the Magpies, improving on her past years at the club. Originally a raw talent back at Gippsland Power, Ferguson has done what every AFLW Draft prospect should do, and chip away at areas to improve and let the rest take care of itself. She still has a finals campaign ahead of her, but as a player who has taken the long road to reach the elite level, it will be great to see what she can produce.

SLIDERS:

Pick 19 – Tara Slender (North Melbourne)

The Roos feature again, and whilst Tess Craven might be considered a little bit of a slider too, Slender is going to prove enormous value at Pick 19. The tall utility who can play anywhere had an inconsistent season, but is a clear Top 5 player on potential, and to get out to the start of the second round was a touch surprising. North Melbourne will have the potential to play her anywhere they want such is her versatility, and this might be the pick that is the pick of the draft. Once she irons out some consistency, she will be a very good player.

Pick 22 – Amanda Ling (Western Bulldogs)

Tipped to go as high as St Kilda at Pick 4, and certainly in the Top 10, Ling remained on the board until the second round when the Bulldogs decided enough was enough and read it out. She had an outstanding top-age season with clean hands on the inside and a quick sidestep that can burst away from opponents, expect the slick midfielder to add extra pace and defensive pressure to a Bulldogs side that loves it. Ready to go from Round 1 if picked, so gives the Bulldogs immediate depth.

Pick 42 – Tahlia Gillard (Melbourne)

It is always tricky to know exactly where talls are going to land such is the unpredictability of clubs and picking up raw talents, and deciding between teenagers and mature-age prospects. Not many would have thought Georgia Campbell (who was always going at Pick 42 given the father-daughter bidding) was going to end up the first picked teenage ruck/forward at that selection, but Gillard ended up having to wait until the pick after, giving the Dees some serious height. With plenty of experience coming into Melbourne this off-season, they can afford to wait a bit and the 190cm talent will be one to watch for the future.

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.