The AFL has announced the preliminary squads for the first ever AFL Women’s State of Origin match, to be held on Saturday evening, September 2 at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, with entry being free.
Forty women, who were named as part of the original All-Australian squad announced in March, have been divided into two squads: those born in Victoria, and those born in the other states and territories.
Not all named may play, naturally depending on if they are injured or are carrying a niggle at the time first squad training gets underway.
Further players will be added in the coming weeks; however, it hasn’t been confirmed if a player must have been on an AFLW list to qualify, or if players currently starring in the state leagues are eligible to be drafted into the game.
Adelaide Crows AFLW Premiership coach Bec Goddard will lead the Allies, while Victorian women’s football legend Debbie Lee will take the reigns as coach of the Big V.
We’ve taken a look five key points – okay, four key points and an omen – that could tip the result of the game either way.
The Victorian squad leads the way with 58 goals for the AFLW season to the Allies’ 44. The difference being 14 goals, which ironically is the amount of goals kick by Darcy Vescio, the competition’s leading goal kicker, who’ll be running out for the Big V.
Another player in double digits is Sarah Perkins with 11. Although a Crow in AFLW, she’s Victorian born and bred. The only other footballer to have reached double digits in AFLW is Perkins’ teammate at the Crows, Erin Phillips.
Should Phillips be unable to return to Australia in September to play in the match, the responsibility falls on the 2017 Lions quartet of McCarthy (9), Frederick-Traub (6), Wuetschner (5) and Harris (4) to put the score on the board for the Allies.
When the ball is in the air up for the contested mark, it’s almost impossible to separate the Allies and the Vics. Although players selected for the Allies led the AFLW count 68-65, their fate could be decided by a couple of players.
By far, the number one contested mark in AFLW is Tayla Harris, taking 17 last season. Next best is her former teammate Sabrina Frederick-Traub with 11. When combined with Erin Phillips’ 8, that trio is responsible for more than half of the Allies’ contest marks.
If the Allies are worried that Phillips might not play and the impact that will have, the Victorians face the same problem. Jess Duffin (nee Cameron) has not played any VFL Women’s games for Diamond Creek this season, and should she pass on playing in the match, that’s Victoria’s leader in contest marks (10) missing.
That said, the numbers are evenly spread in the Big V squad, with Sarah Perkins, Darcy Vescio, Brianna Davey and Nicola Stevens all taking more than half-a-dozen contested marks.
When it comes to burying their opponents into the ground, the Allies dominate Victoria in this category 490-453. The main difference: NAB AFLW Rising Star, Ebony Marinoff.
The young Adelaide Crows star laid an incredible 76 tackles for the season, 27 more than second place, (Victorian) Jess Dal Pos.
Throw in the mix a combined 80 tackles from the Brisbane captain Emma Zielke and Crows co-captain Chelsea Randall, you’ve got Allies leaders who will set the example of the rest of the side.
Countering that, (Victoria’s) Fremantle captain Kara Donnellan and Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce have racked up 76 tackles between them, so the match will be a true test of who genuinely leads the way for their team.
It’s the little things that can tip a close game one way or the other, and on the one-percenters count, the Big V has an ever so slight edge on the Allies, 190-177.
Although the Allies have the champion of one-percenters, GWS Giants’ Renee Tomkins with 33, the Victorians are more evenly spread, with eight players in double-digits.
Workhorses like Daisy Pearce, Melissa Hickey, Nicola Stevens and Hannah Scott all feature in those numbers for the Vics.
For the Allies, they’ll be relying on those efforts from Leah Kaslar and Sam Virgo in defence, and Chelsea Randall’s work around the ground.
In June 2015, the Victorian senior women’s team lost for the first time ever when it was defeated by Western Australia at Subiaco.
There is a reason to explain this: Debbie Lee wasn’t present at the game.
For every other match played by the Victorian women in their past, Debbie Lee was somehow involved on or off the field, and they were never beaten.
If the Allies decided to forfeit after discovering Debbie Lee will be coaching Victoria, well, you can’t blame them for wanting to run away from a certain defeat (if you believe in that sort of thing)!
Sarah Perkins (Adelaide), Kaitlyn Ashmore (Brisbane Lions), Brianna Davey, Darcy Vescio, Alison Downie, Danielle Hardiman, Nicola Stevens (Carlton), Sarah D’Arcy, Jess Duffin (Collingwood), Kara Donnellan (Fremantle) Alicia Eva, Jess Dal Pos (GWS), Karen Paxman, Daisy Pearce, Melissa Hickey, Lily Mithen, Jasmine Grierson (Melbourne), Ellie Blackburn, Emma Kearney and Hannah Scott (Western Bulldogs)
Chelsea Randall, Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff, Courtney Cramey (Adelaide), Sabrina Frederick-Traub, Emily Bates, Emma Zielke, Jess Wuetschner, Kate McCarthy, Leah Kaslar, Sam Virgo (Brisbane Lions), Tayla Harris (Carlton), Emma King (Collingwood), Ebony Antonio, Kirby Bentley, Dana Hooker (Fremantle), Erin McKinnon, Emma Swanson, Renee Tomkins (GWS) and Elise O’Dea (Melbourne)