Contributions by Kirby Fenwick
As quick as it came, our Draft Her series for 2017 has reached its end just one day out from the AFLW Draft.
At the conclusion of the series, we will have profiled 18 players, most of which have not received major media attention, who are likely to be drafted on Wednesday.
The purpose of this series has been to bring the focus to those players who deserve the spotlight after their efforts in the past year, and will hopefully get their due reward when their names are read out on draft day.
If nothing else, we hope we have helped our incredible readers have a stronger understanding of who may be selected in the middle-to-late rounds.
The Draft Her series for 2017 wraps up by focusing on three more young players looking to make their mark. All three may be considered outsiders to be selected in this small draft, but they have unbelievable upside and could be true standouts if picked this year, and if not, then certainly next year.
The highlighted players’ potential AFL Women’s teams are based on the assumption that the respective players have nominated for their home state’s draft.
Part one: Renee Cowan, Tanya Hetherington and Chantella Perera
Part two: Jenna Bruton, Nicky Steel and Georgia Gee
Part three: Sonia Dorizzi, Daria Bannister and Eloise Jones
Part four: Jodie White, Courtney Gum and Anna Teague
Part five: Calista Boyd, Brianna Walling and Gabby Collingwood
Courtney Webb (Launceston, TAS)
One of only four Tasmanian players invited to the recent AFLW Draft Combine, Courtney Webb certainly proved her stamina, making the top ten in the yo-yo and the 2km time trial.
The 17-year-old Webb will turn 18 a few days after the draft, and is a great talent with exceptional skills and strong footy knowledge which she demonstrated in a best-on-ground performance for Launceston in the TSLW Grand Final. She has been a part of Tasmanian state teams since she was 15.
Webb, also a talented cricketer who is listed as a rookie for the Hobart Hurricanes and is hoping to play for the Tassie Roar in the National Women’s Cricket League, is familiar with the expectations of elite sport. But it’s exactly her cricketing prowess that may worry some clubs, with the challenge of juggling two sports already presenting problems for some AFLW players.
If not picked up in this year’s draft, we would expect Webb to be picked up by North for the 2019 season.
Draft notes: Given there are only 20 draft picks for Victorian clubs this year, Courtney Webb may just miss out when all is said and done, despite being one of Tasmania’s best midfield options. It’s certainly not a knock on her ability, however. If she misses out this year, she will be a required player for North Melbourne next year.
Tiahna Cochrane (Bendigo, VIC)
Bendigo has long been a leader in second-tier Victorian women’s footy, and it’s because of young stars like Tiahna Cochrane coming through like that the club consistently holds its place.
The club may not have won the Northern Football League Division 1 Grand Final had it not been for Cochrane’s consistent performances throughout the season, particularly in high profile matches against the division’s top clubs.
The 19-year-old inside midfielder demonstrated her ball-winning abilities and remarkable work rate without the football, earning her the title of the NFLW Coaches Player of the Year.
After winning Bendigo’s best and fairest, Cochrane is being heralded as the NFL’s top star of the future, and a possible AFLW dominant ball winner.
Draft notes: Few players from outside of the top state leagues will get much of a look in, but Tiahna Cochrane looks promising. There aren’t a heap of inside midfielders in this draft class, so Cochrane might even find herself being selected rather early on in the piece. It will be interesting to see how she performs against players of a higher quality.
Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide, SA)
If you saw Rachelle Martin play in the Adelaide Football League at any stage during the season, you’d be shocked to learn that this was her first season of footy, having played no competitive league football before.
The 152cm pacy midfielder turned heads this season, playing a significant role in West Adelaide’s engine room while still trying to find her feet in footy.
Such was the quality of her performances that Martin won the 2017 Dutschke Medal as the league’s best player, a stunning achievement for an 18-year-old focused on development.
The terrific first season is only the start for Martin, who could become one of the competition’s most dynamic outside runners with the right mentoring and coaching.
Draft notes: Rachelle Martin really is a prospect that has come out of nowhere, but could find herself being one of the best ‘unknown’ selections in this draft class. It’s uncertain whether she has nominated for the draft given this was her first season and she had intended on just having fun with footy, but if she has, Adelaide would benefit from using a late selection to bring Martin into the fold.