Contributions by Kirby Fenwick
We are now just one sleep away from the 2017 AFLW Draft, where 49 AFLW dreams will come true.
While the extensive media coverage has given AFLW fans an idea of who the top draft targets are and when they may be selected, it would be foolish to expect that it will all go to script, especially when the first few Victorian selections could dictate the entire direction of the draft.
What we do know is what each of the eight AFLW teams lack and the kinds of players they need to target on Wednesday afternoon, so that’s a good starting point.
Despite the many unknowns, we have had a look at every team’s draft requirements and attempted to predict every selection in the 2017 AFLW Draft.
Of course, the specific draft selections should only be viewed as a guide for who may be selected and when, and as a bit of fun.
As the reigning premiers, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Crows hardly need to do much this draft, but that thinking would be shortsighted. There has been plenty of movement in the competition and there is a stack of talent coming through, which means next season will look and be played differently to the first.
What the Crows desperately need is pace in the midfield and a solid second ruck option, and there are plenty of options to deliver in both areas. Jess Allan would be high on the Crows’ list, topping the running vertical jump and vertical jump at the AFLW Draft Combine. The 184cm, 18-year-old ruck, whose sister Sarah plays for the Crows, also starred at the Under-18 National Championships this year. Likewise, Jasmyn Hewett was another standout performer at the Combine, making the top ten in all six tests. The 24-year-old is a recent convert to footy and plays for St Mary’s in Darwin.
Alongside Allan and Hewett, the Crows have a number of exciting options. Adelaide University and Norwood midfielder Sophie Li would be an obvious choice. Li was best on ground in the inaugural SANFL Women’s premiership. 18-year-old Rachelle Martin and NT’s Calista Boyd are both pacy midfielders who would be of enormous benefit to the Crows. Add to that trio the experienced and decorated Courtney Gum, the Morphettville Park duo Brianna Walling and Eloise Jones, and Adelaide University’s Ruth Wallace, and the Crows could easily find themselves in another Grand Final. The problem will be fitting them all into the draft.
Pick 8: Jess Allan – ruck (Salisbury/Glenelg, SA)
Pick 16: Sophie Li – midfielder (Adelaide University/Norwood, SA)
Pick 24: Eloise Jones – midfielder (Morphettville Park/Glenelg, SA)
Pick 32: Calista Boyd – midfielder (Wanderers, NT)
Pick 38: Rachelle Martin – midfielder (West Adelaide, SA)
Pick 42: Ruth Wallace – forward (Salisbury/Glenelg, SA)
Pick 46: Jasmyn Hewett – ruck-forward (St Mary’s, NT)
Like all interstate clubs, Brisbane has the luxury of access to all the talent in the Sunshine State which means they don’t need the make the calculated decisions Victorian teams do, at least not this year. However, despite making the inaugural Grand Final, the Lions have some work to do.
Losing Tayla Harris to Carlton has left a hole in their forward line that they’d be keen to fill, and Kalinda Howarth could fill that void. The athletic youngster is good in the air and isn’t afraid of a contest, and she’d be a great fit with Sabrina Frederick-Traub, Bella Ayre, Kaitlyn Ashmore and Kate McCarthy. Gabby Collingwood would also be also a likely pick. Able to rotate through the midfield and forward line, Collingwood would add depth to the forward line and versatility to the squad.
Down back, the Lions have lost perhaps their strongest defender in Sam Virgo, who went down with an ACL in the QWAFL Grand Final. The Lions have a couple of options here, with 28-year-old Renee Cowan being a standout. Cowan was a top performer at the Combine, finishing in the top ten of five of the six tests. Another option, and almost a certainly to get drafted, is Ruby Blair. Blair topped the agility at the Combine and plays in a rotating role through the defence and midfield for Coolangatta.
The Lions will also no doubt have their eye on Jordan Zanchetta, who only missed out on a berth in the inaugural team because of an ACL. The 22-year-old is a tough ball winner who would be an excellent addition to the Lions midfield.
Pick 7: Jordan Zanchetta – midfielder (Yeronga South Brisbane, QLD)
Pick 15: Ruby Blair – defender/midfielder (Coolangatta, QLD)
Pick 23: Kalinda Howarth – forward (Coolangatta, QLD)
Pick 31: Renee Cowan – defender (Yeronga South Brisbane, QLD)
Pick 37: Gabby Collingwood – midfielder/forward (University of Queensland, QLD)
Pick 41: Arianna Clarke – defender/midfielder (Coolangatta, QLD)
Pick 45: Emma Pittman – midfielder (University of Queensland, QLD)
Pick 48: Jessica Henning – midfielder (University of Queensland, QLD)
Carlton’s modus operandi is the clearest of any of the eight clubs: draft impact players, particularly midfielders. With only four picks to work with, having lost some selections in securing Collingwood best and fairest Nicola Stevens and Lions All-Australian Tayla Harris, there is no need to draft anybody other than midfielders.
The midfield was a serious problem for the Blues, causing constant pressure for the defenders in the backline. It was somewhat masked by Carlton’s impressive defensive unit and the potency of the forward line, but the Blues won’t be a genuine threat to compete in the competition until they win more of the footy from the centre.
The one exception should be their first pick, which could be used to draft small forward Sophie Abbatangelo. With so few Victorian draft selections and a heap of midfield talent to choose from, the Blues can get away with drafting a specialist small forward in Abbatangelo and dedicate their remaining three selections to midfielders.
Pick 12: Sophie Abbatangelo – forward (Diamond Creek, VIC)
Pick 28: Daria Bannister – midfielder (Launceston, TAS)
Pick 29: Sophie Alexander – midfielder (Eastern Devils, VIC)
Pick 36: Georgia Gourlay – midfielder (Cranbourne/Dandenong Stingrays, VIC)
Predicting Collingwood’s selections is made slightly easier by the club stating it needs faster players through the centre of the field. Though the 2017 roster had enough talent to make the Grand Final, the team lacked x-factor, particularly from the centre and in the defensive transition game.
The Magpies have the second pick in the Victorian draft, and it’s assumed the Bulldogs will select Chloe Molloy with pick one, which leaves either Isabel Huntington, Darcy Guttridge or Monique Conti, all who offer pace and rebound potential. Huntington looms as the most likely selection.
With the remainder of Collingwood’s picks, the Magpies should look to draft another defender and ruck, both of which can be found in Bridie Kennedy, and then look to add speed and depth to the midfield.
Pick 3: Isabel Huntington – midfielder (Melbourne Uni/Sandringham, VIC)
Pick 9: Bridie Kennedy – defender/ruck (Cranbourne/Dandenong Stingrays, VIC)
Pick 13: Jessica Trend – midfielder (Eastern Devils, VIC)
Pick 20: Olivia Flanagan – midfielder (Box Hill/Eastern Ranges, VIC)
Pick 21: Georgia Gee – midfielder/forward (Beaconsfield/Dandenong Stingrays, VIC)
Pick 35: Tahni Nestor – midfielder (Eastern Devils, VIC)
The Dockers were probably the most surprising team of the inaugural season, given they didn’t perform anywhere near what was expected of them. While you could argue they had bled talent interstate, including the likes of Chelsea Randall and Sabrina Frederick-Traub, there were also some holes in their squad, namely the forward line.
The return of midfielder Kellie Gibson from Adelaide and key defender Alex Williams from GWS as free agents bolsters Freo’s midfield and defence, but that still leaves them chasing forwards and ruck options.
Veteran Jodie White could be an option for the ruck if the 36-year-old is willing to throw her hat in the ring. The reigning WAWFL best and fairest certainly isn’t lacking for talent. If not White, and even if White, the 185cm Tayla McAuliffe is a sure thing for the Dockers. Likewise, South Fremantle’s Sonia Dorizzi, a fast and tall defender who can also work the ruck will no doubt find herself drafted.
Another likely pick-up is 22-year-old Ashton Hill, a highly skilled and tough midfielder. Forward Emily McGuire was unable to make the Combine but has preformed well at National Championships and for the Perth Angels, and Rachel Ashley, who plays an attacking role off half-back, has great aerial skills.
Pick 2: Tayla McAuliffe – ruck/forward (Swan Districts, WA)
Pick 10: Emily McGuire – forward (Swan Districts, WA)
Pick 18: Ashton Hill – midfielder (West Perth, WA)
Pick 26: Rachel Ashley – defender/midfielder (Perth, WA)
Pick 33: Jodie White – ruck (Coastal Titans, WA)
Pick 40: Kira Phillips – forward (Peel Thunderbirds, WA)
Pick 44: Sonia Dorizzi – defender (South Fremantle, WA)
Greater Western Sydney Giants
After an extremely solid trade period during which GWS acquired Alicia Eva, Pepa Randall and Maddie Boyd, the Giants will be very happy with where they sit pre-draft, especially with marquee signing Renee Forth set to make her AFLW debut following recovery from ACL surgery.
But the Giants still have seven draft spots to fill in what is considered to be a relatively weak draft year. There’s plenty of underage talent coming through which will be excellent for 2019, but it causes a bit of a headache in the immediate future.
Convincing 17-year-old WA forward Kate Bartlett to come to GWS is a huge coup for the Giants, however. For NSW-based talent, bruising midfielder Haneen Zreika looks to be clear top draft pick for GWS, and tall option Pippa Smyth and defender Nicky Steel will both be excellent additions to the line-up. From there on, there is a lot of uncertainty as to what the Giants will do. Presumably they will select Combine participants Chloe Arndt and Ellie Dalgarno-Fixter.
Pick 5: Haneen Zreika – midfielder (Auburn, NSW)
Pick 17: Kate Bartlett – forward (Peel Thunderbirds, WA)
Pick 25: Pippa Smyth – ruck/forward (Nelson Bay, NSW)
Pick 39: Nicky Steel – defender (Mosman, NSW)
Pick 43: Chloe Arndt – forward/midfielder (East Coast Eagles, NSW)
Pick 47: Ellie Dalgarno-Fixter – midfielder (Riverina, NSW)
Pick 49: Phoebe Monahan – midfielder (UNSW/ES, NSW)
Melbourne’s game plan centred around its plethora of midfielders in 2017, and given the success the Dees had, there is no reason why they should not continue to target as many mids as possible.
With pick four in the Victorian draft, Melbourne will likely select whoever is left out of the ‘big four’ Victorians in Chloe Molloy, Isabel Huntington, Darcy Guttridge and Monique Conti. Going on the players other clubs should look to target with those first selections, it may be Monique Conti that falls to Melbourne, which is probably be the best possible fit for both Conti and the Demons.
Aside from targetting multi-role mids, Melbourne should look at trying to find an additional avenue to goal to compliment Alyssa Mifsud, newly-acquired Bianca Jakobsson and Richelle Cranston.
Pick 6: Monique Conti – midfielder (Melbourne Uni/Calder, VIC)
Pick 14: Ashleigh Riddell – midfielder (Diamond Creek, VIC)
Pick 22: Maddy Guerin – midfielder (Fitzroy/Northern Knights, VIC)
Pick 30: Tanya Hetherington – defender (Diamond Creek, VIC)
The Bulldogs’ immediate concern is the forward line. The midfield is stacked and they have most of the personnel in defence to restrict teams, but maybe not the rebounding power. As has been frequently discussed, the Dogs looked helpless in the forward half without Katie Brennan who missed the last five games of the season. That’s where the attention needs to be first and foremost.
The Dogs have picks one and four, meaning they will have be able to select two of the three top Victorian players with Freo having pick two. It’s assumed they will select Chloe Molloy with pick one, though it’s uncertain whether they will chance their arm at getting Isabel Huntington with pick one and hope Molloy remains available at pick four, with Collingwood stating they want to target pace in the draft.
We predict they will play it safe and select Molloy with pick one, and select either Darcy Guttridge or Monique Conti with pick four. The Dogs should also look to draft another forward in the form of Eden Zanker, and then look to add the best available talent, which should include a key defender.
Pick 1: Chloe Molloy – forward (Calder/Diamond Creek, VIC)
Pick 4: Darcy Guttridge – defender/midfielder (Cranbourne/Gippsland, VIC)
Pick 11: Eden Zanker – forward (Woorineen/Bendigo Pioneers, VIC)
Pick 19: Jenna Bruton – midfielder (St Kilda, VIC)
Pick 27: Tiahna Cochrane – midfielder (Bendigo, VIC)
Pick 34: Chantella Perera – defender (Box Hill, VIC)