It’s time for part two of the AFLW Draft Preview.
In part one, I brought you the best of the Victorian prospects, and believe me, there are some very exciting prospects on offer for the Victorian clubs.
But all supporters from other states are thinking: “Doc, where are the best from my state?”
Well, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the rest of the country. I don’t like being accused of Vic-bias on the best of days.
Which is why this second part will have a look at 14 players to keep your eye out on from the rest of Australia. If you missed the first part, the link is just below. How’s that for efficiency!
Teah Charlton (South Australia) – 169cm – Midfielder/Forward
Widely regarded as the best South Australian to come out of this year’s Draft Class, Teah Charlton is a player that could be a dominant force when she hits the peak of her career. She’s a decent size at just a smidge under 170cm and proved both as a midfielder and a forward she can make a big splash on games in the SANFL Women’s competition in 2019. This addition will no doubt help the Crows back up the ladder in 2021.
It was at South Adelaide last year that she won the competition’s breakthrough player of the year award as a 17-year old, booting 11 goals from 12 matches, whilst averaging 15.8 disposals, 7.3 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s and nearly three marks per game, as well as being named in the SANFLW team of the year. Oh, and she also made the AFLW Under 18 All-Australian side in the championships as well on the back of averaging 14.3 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.3 clearances and 3.3 inside 50s per game
Indy Tahau (South Australia) – 180cm – Utility
If Teah Charlton is South Australia’s best talent, then her team mate at South Adelaide Indy Tahau is a very close second. At 180cm, Tahau can play a variety of roles and if modern football has shown over the past decade, versatility is key. She can play as a key forward, play as an on-baller, pinch-hit in the ruck and possibly float down into defence and pluck an intercept grab.
The 2019 season saw Tahau play more as a tall forward, and provided a nice option for North Adelaide, kicking eight goals from 12 games, whilst averaging 12.3 disposals, nearly three marks and 3.1 inside 50s per game. Her tackling pressure as a forward was also very decent for a tall, averaging 2.8 tackles per game. This year saw her play a bit more in the middle and the numbers in disposals, clearances, hitouts and tackles.
Ashleigh Woodland (South Australia) – 173cm – Forward
If you’re sitting here thinking: ‘Where have I heard this name before’ well then you’d be right for thinking this. Last year, Ashleigh Woodland was on Melbourne’s AFLW list and played three games in a couple of roles around the ground. Unfortunately, the Demons delisted her and she found herself back at North Adelaide for this year. Big mistake Melbourne.
Woodland came home with a charge to win the SANFLW goal-kicking award to win with 17 goals for the season, pipping South Adelaide’s Jess Kirk. Woodland’s bag of 17 goals included two bags of four goals and a bag of three. At 22 years of age, Woodland’s best football is still ahead of her, she’s got a strong overhead mark and what makes her goal-kicking award win all the more impressive is that she spent elongated periods further up the ground – meaning she is a capable on-baller as well
Shanae Davison (Western Australia) – 164cm – Midfielder/Forward
Ask anyone invested in Women’s Football in Western Australia about Shanae Davison and it’s basically a guarantee that they’ll mention her high-flying mark for the Swan Districts this year. The thing is though, her football talent at ground level is something else. As a forward, she’s a dangerous either at ground level or on a lead and as a midfielder, she has no trouble in finding the footy and her ball use is sublime.
Against eventual premiers Peel Thunder earlier in the year, Davison managed to kick a bag of three goals in a best on ground effort in a narrow win, which can highlight the amount of impact that she can have in this league, whether it be for West Coast or Fremantle, they’re going to have a star on their hands with this one.
Sarah Verrier (Western Australia) – 168cm – Defender/Midfielder
I’d expect Verrier to be taken with one of the two picks that the WA-based clubs hold in the first round of the Draft this year. Verrier’s exposure in the Western Australian team in the Under-18 championships in the past two years prove to be a bit of a testament of her talent and just how far she can go in the big leagues.
In the championships last year, Verrier averaged 11 disposals and five tackles per game playing predominantly in the middle. This year Verrier has managed to play a bit more in defence for Peel Thunder during their premiership run in the WAFL Women’s competition this year, showcasing her rebound and drive from defensive 50. All throughout the campaign, she’s stood tall in amongst more hardened and seasoned bodies, and that’ll bode well for her in the future.
Isabella Lewis (Western Australia) – 162cm – Midfielder
Claremont’s Isabella Lewis is a midfielder that has plenty of athletic attributes that could make her one of the most prominent midfielders to come out of Western Australia this year. Her strength is very good, and it has been proven with her ability to tackle the opposition both this year and last. She als has the acceleration to burst out of the stoppages and has the capacity to run out games with her tremendous endurance – It almost sounds like a miniature Kiara Bowers clone.
She didn’t feature much for Claremont this year, but she was well in amongst WA’s better players in the under-18 championships last year, averaging 12 disposals, 4.3 tackles, 2.3 inside 50s in three games, and also kicked a goal in one of those matches as well. The one thing that she will need to work on is her football IQ, which will come in over time, but the potential is well and truly there.
Tarni Evans (New South Wales) – 180cm – Utility
For someone that has tremendous size and agility, it’s a wonder why Tarni Evans is utilized more on the wing as opposed to in the middle. But nonetheless, Evans has developed herself into one of the best NSW-based prospects and given that outside pace and class is something that the Giants have lacked in recent years, this is a player that can impact right away because she has both the pace and the skill-set.
Representing the Eastern Allies in the Under-18 championships last year, the averages don’t jump out of the page much – 8.7 disposals, two tackles and over a marks and an inside 50 per game. But in fairness to Evans, the Eastern Allies were belted from pillar to post in two of those three games. She has also shown that she is capable of swinging both down back and up forward and able to use her big body to advantage.
Abby Favell (New South Wales) – 166cm – Midfielder
Despite representing the Eastern Allies in the Under-18 Championships last year, Favell managed to get some games under her belt in Victoria, playing for the Murray Bushrangers both last year, playing eight games and adding a further two this year before Covid ended the NAB League. Favell showed plenty of promising signs as a middle-ager last year to suggest that she should be considered by clubs.
Terrific in congestion, Favell averaged nearly 16 disposals, 3.3 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s for Murray last season. Another part to her game is her strong marking hands – averaging nearly four per game last season as well. She backed this up in the championships, averaging 11 disposals, 2.7 tackles and 2.7 marks per game in three games. She’s a terrific competitor. The question is where does she nominate: Melbourne, where they have eight clubs to go to, or to Sydney, where it has the one team that already has an abundance of talented inside mids.
Jayde Hamilton (New South Wales) – 164cm –Forward/Midfielder
She hasn’t played the game, over four years to be exact, but Jayde Hamilton has adjusted herself thoroughly since she started playing the game of Aussie Rules. So much so that she was named in the Eastern Allies team last year in the under-18 championships. Hamilton averaged 11.3 disposals, 5.7 tackles and over three clearances per game for the Allies last year, highlighting her contested ball winning abilities.
Hamilton has also shown that she is capable of kicking goals as a forward. This year, playing for Queanbeyan, she kicked seven goals in seven games, which included a bag of four. A couple of years ago, she kicked 32 goals in 15 games in the junior competition. On that, I think it’s fair to say that she could be used more as a forward option if GWS opt to draft her this year. Her ability to compete and harass the ball carriers are a welcome addition to any team.
Maddison Levi (Queensland) – 177cm – Key Forward
Having previously represented Australia in Rugby 7s, Maddison Levi is still a very raw prospect but has delivered plenty in such a short time playing Aussie Rules. Her three games in the Under-18 championships last year suggested that she will be a contested marking machine once she gets that continuity in her game, but it’s her efforts at ground level that have had recruiters talking a lot.
For her size, she’s deceptively quick, and is a very strong tackler, averaging 11.7 disposals and five tackles per game. There’s other little things here and there: Pinch-hit in the ruck, floated in defence and ran through the middle of the ground – no matter where she went, she attacked the contest and that is the biggest positive so far in the development in a raw prospect. This is a player that either Brisbane or Gold Coast can craft to become the kind of player either side want her to be – the upside in Levi is enormous.
Daisy D’Arcy (Queensland) – 163cm – Utility
Much like Levi, Daisy D’Arcy comes from a multi-sporting background, having reached state level in Rugby, Soccer AND cricket, as well as Aussie Rules – that’s not a stitch up. But the fact that she’s been able to play state level at four different sports speaks volumes about her athletic attributes. She featured for Queensland in the Under-18 championships last year and showed plenty with her skills and smart decision-making abilities.
She played all three games and averaged only the nine disposals per game, but displayed her versatility, playing roles in defence, in the middle and up forward. With the ball in her hands, she looks so sure of her disposals and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty when the footy is up for grabs. This is another player that is going to have enormous upside, and it’ll be interesting to see where either Gold Coast or Brisbane play her in 2021.
Zimmorlei Farquharson (Queensland) – 172cm – Forward
A name that is as unique as her footballing talent – this is a player that is expected to be gone within the first couple of picks in the Queensland talent pool. Zimmorlei Farquharson is the kind of player that doesn’t need to have a big 20-25 disposal performance to be the best player on the ground. Only a handful of touches of the leather product is all she needs to make things happen.
Her athleticism, aerial abilities and pressure, mixed together with her skills by hand and foot make her such a dangerous prospect. Add into the fact that she’s a good height at 172cm makes her the kind of player that is hard to find a match-up on. Too tall for the small lockdown defenders, too quick and fast for the taller defenders. She played a vital role in Queensland’s upset win over a Vic Metro team that boasted names such as Prespakis, Newton and Patrikios in the 2018 Championships.
Charlie Vandenberg (Tasmania) – 181cm – Ruck
As the only Tasmanian to receive an invite to the AFL Women’s Draft Combine, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with Charlie Vandenberg. As North Melbourne are the only team that have access to the Tasmanian talent pool, they’ll get first crack at whether they take the punt on the ruck prospect. Still a very raw talent and by her own admission via the Draft Central website, she’s got a lot of areas of improvement.
But being a state representative for Hockey, it’s safe to say she’s got plenty of athletic attributes. Those that follow AFLW closely will remember a player by the name of Aisling Utri, who was an elite Hockey player and played a couple of seasons at the Western Bulldogs and did very well for herself in that particular stint before going back to hockey. With Emma King and Vivien Saad holding it down for the time being for North Melbourne, this wouldn’t be a bad look as a development project.
Janet Baird (Northern Territory) – 172cm – Midfielder
There’s a consensus that Janet Baird is the best talent to come out of the Northern Territory talent pool this year. A mature-age selection, Baird starred in the Northern Territory All-Stars match, when she was labelled as one of the best players in Team Ponter’s crushing win over Team Hewett, showcasing her classy skills through the midfield and kicked a goal for good measure as well. What she can bring to any side is her pace, skill set and creativity and the ability to impact on the scoreboard.
Baird has missed being selected in the previous two Drafts – in 2018 she suffered a massive hamstring injury during the Under-18 Championships, but was still good enough to named in the All-Australian Squad, but since then, she has been working towards being a strong draft consideration. Playing 12 games for Northern Territory in the VFLW last year, Baird averaged 11 disposals, 3.6 tackles and 1.8 marks per game and managed three goals per game.
So that’s this list taken care of. There were a lot of players that were unlucky to miss out on making the list – Abbie Ballard from South Australia, Kiara Beesley from New South Wales, Mikayla Morrison from Western Australia and Annise Bradford from Queensland were all very unlucky not to make the list, but are also players to really keep your eye out on as well over the draft.
I might come back after the weekend and give you my mock draft of the first round of the AFLW, seeing as there isn’t one I’ve seen hanging around on the internet – maybe I’m just not looking hard enough?
But nonetheless, the draft class itself this year is as big as it’s ever been. Plenty of talent to go around all across the nation – October 6th can’t come quick enough.