AFLW – The Doc’s 2023 All-Australian Team

With all of the AFLW awards wrapped up and announced, it’s time to present my All-Australian side of the 2023 season.

If you’ve followed our episodes on the A3 Footy Podcast, you would’ve taken notice of what the Rolling All-Australian side has looked like throughout the season, and like I did last year, I’ve named my squad of 44 players because this is my team and my squad.

So before I name the final 21, I’ll list the squad I called a few weeks ago on the podcast. Remember that I’ve included 11 defenders, 11 forwards, 18 midfielders (with five explicitly named on the wing) and four rucks.

This will be whittled down to six defenders (one on the bench), six forwards (one on the bench), a midfield with wingers in the team and one ruck this year to get another midfielder into the side.


The Squad of 44

Adelaide: Chelsea Biddell, Niamh Kelly, Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, Danielle Ponter, Caitlin Gould
Brisbane: Sophie Conway, Ally Anderson, Dakota Davidson
Carlton: Nil
Collingwood: Sarah Rowe, Sabrina Frederick
Essendon: Bonnie Toogood, Maddy Prespakis
Fremantle: Emma O’Driscoll, Mim Strom
Geelong: Claudia Gunjaca, Nina Morrison, Georgie Prespakis, Chloe Scheer
Gold Coast: Daisy D’Arcy, Lauren Bella, Charlie Rowbottom, Claudia Whitfort, Jamie Stanton
GWS: Alyce Parker
Hawthorn: Nil
Melbourne: Tahlia Gillard, Libby Birch, Tyla Hanks, Eden Zanker, Kate Hore
North Melbourne: Jasmine Ferguson, Emma Kearney, Sarah Wright, Jasmine Garner, Ash Riddell, Tahlia Randall
Port Adelaide: Amelie Borg, Gemma Houghton
Richmond: Eilish Sheerin, Monique Conti, Kate Dempsey
St Kilda: Nil
Sydney: Ally Morphett, Chloe Molloy, Laura Gardiner
West Coast: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil

NOTE* Stats include up to the Preliminary Final, but the team was decided on leading up to the first week of finals


The Defenders


Claudia Gunjaca – Geelong

One of the league’s best interceptors this season, Gunjaca has been a player that has done it all in the Geelong backline this year. She’s brilliant at reading the play but can also hold her own one-on-one and provide the offensive drive out of the defensive half.

Key Stats: 13 Games in 2023: Averaging 10.8 disposals, 3.2 rebound 50s, 7.5 intercept possessions, 2.6 intercept marks, and a contested defensive loss percentage of 33 per cent from 36 one-on-one contests.


Jasmine Ferguson – North Melbourne

North Melbourne have been the league’s best defensive unit all season. I’ve kept badgering about it, and I won’t stop until some of these players get their flowers. And Jasmine Ferguson deserves them – she gets tasked with the best key forwards every week and has been near-unbeatable this season.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 7.1 disposals, 3.1 marks, four intercept possessions, 1.3 intercept marks, Has a contested defensive loss percentage of 15.2 per cent from 33 one-on-one contests,


Emma O’Driscoll – Fremantle

If it wasn’t for O’Driscoll in defence, Fremantle’s losses could’ve been far worse. She assumed the role left behind by Janelle Cuthbertson this season and has taken her game to new heights, averaging career-best numbers across the board defensively this year.

Key Stats: 10 games in 2023: Averaging 17.1 disposals, 3.1 marks, 3.1 tackles, 274.3 metres gained, 8.5 intercept possessions, 1.7 intercept marks, and has a contested defensive loss percentage of 28 per cent from 25 one-on-one contests.


Chelsea Biddell – Adelaide

She has had to play both as a key position lockdown defender as well as her usual post as a rebounding and intercept defender, but she’s taken the task on with aplomb this season and has backed up what was a breakout season last year.

Key Stats: 13 games in 2023: Averaging 15.6 disposals, three marks, 1.8 intercept marks, 6.9 intercept possessions, 303.9 metres gained, and has a contested defensive loss percentage of 24 per cent from 25 one-on-one contests.


Eilish Sheerin – Richmond

One of the best first-year players from season seven took a few weeks to get going, but once she did, she provided such unrivalled run and drive out of the almost half-back line. The intercept game took a step back this season but added much more up the ground as she continues a strong build of her game.

Key Stats: 10 games in 2023: Averaging 16.8 disposals, 2.8 marks, 2.1 intercept marks, 5.3 tackles, 361.6 metres gained, 2.1 clearances, 7.9 intercept possessions, and 3.6 rebound 50s


The Midfielders


Sophie Conway (Wing) – Brisbane

She has been one of the league’s best wingers for a few seasons and continued on her merry way in 2023. Her ability to hit the scoreboard has been incredible to watch this year; she is one of only a rare few on-ballers who averages over a goal per game.

Key Stats: 11 games in 2023: averaging 14 disposals, 4.1 tackles, 2.7 marks, 314.7 metres gained, 2.9 inside 50s, 3.7 intercept possessions, 3.3 score involvements, 12 goals, eight behinds


Kate Dempsey (Wing) – Richmond

Dempsey took her game to another level this year at the Tigers with a stunning season on the wing, averaging career-high numbers across the board. Hard-working and super polished, she stood up when very few did at Tigerland this year.

Key Stats: 10 games in 2023: Averaging 20.3 disposals, three marks, 3.2 tackles, 2.3 clearances, 349.4 metres gained, 3.4 inside 50s, 2.3 rebound 50s, 4.2 intercept possessions, 2.5 score involvements


Ally Morphett (Ruck) – Sydney

It was hard to pick a ruck this season; if Ally Morphett had played all season long, then she was the runaway choice, but her missing the last three games due to injury made me think long and hard about the choices. She has been one of the biggest improvers this season. Not only has her ruckwork improved, but her ability to cover ground has cemented her spot as one of the best rucks in the game.

Key Stats: 7 games in 2023: Averaging 17.9 disposals, 29.3 hitouts, 7.1 hitouts to advantage, 3.3 marks, 5.1 clearances, 12.1 contested possessions, 4.3 inside 50s, 2.6 intercept possessions, three goals


Ebony Marinoff – Adelaide

One of the more consistent contributors across the midfield this year. Adelaide was once again a tour de force during the home and away season, and it started from the source with one of the greatest inside midfielders ever to play the game. She is also one of the best players in getting the territory out of her possessions.

Key Stats: 13 games in 2023: Averaging 27.5 disposals, 10.4 tackles, 22.5 pressure acts, 4.9 clearances, 461.2 metres gained, 3.9 marks, 11.9 contested possessions, 5.5 inside 50s, 3.2 intercepts, 4.8 score involvements, four goals, two behinds


Jasmine Garner – North Melbourne

I could go on and on about how Jasmine Garner was incredibly stiffed out of a best and fairest medal yet again, but I’ll let the stats do the talking. She has dominated games on the inside this year and has been a constant threat in the forward half. She’s a ball magnet, an elite tackler, and superb in hitting the scoreboard. She’s the first picked for this team every week.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 29 disposals, 7.2 tackles, 6.6 clearances, 518.8 metres gained, 3.8 marks, 15 contested possessions, 6.7 inside 50s, 4.2 intercept possessions, 5.4 score involvements, 11 goals, 13 behinds


Ally Anderson – Brisbane

She stood up as the number one midfielder at Brisbane this year with Emily Bates no longer there alongside her, and once again showed her consistency in terms of production in the midfield. Fans in Victoria may still herald her as an underrated figure, but the real ones know Ally is one of the best midfielders in the game.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 24.7 disposals, six tackles, 4.3 clearances, 285.3 metres gained, 3.1 marks, 11.4 contested possessions, 3.5 inside 50s, 4.2 intercept possessions, 3.8 score involvements, one goal, five behinds


The Forwards


Kate Hore – Melbourne

The new Melbourne skipper delivered as the leader… at least during the home and away season. She continued on her excellent form from last year and was prominent all across the ground, all the while being one of two Melbourne players on top of the leading goalkicker after round 10.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 17.2 disposals, 4.1 marks, 3.9 tackles, 244.7 metres gained, two inside 50s, 6.2 score involvements, 20 goals, 18 behinds


Bonnie Toogood – Essendon

The Bombers co-captain was excellent and prominent in Essendon’s rise into the top eight this year. If she wasn’t kicking goals, she was up the ground trying to get the ball into their forward line. She’s among the most hardworking key positional forwards in the AFLW and has shined repeatedly in 2023.

Key Stats: 11 games in 2023: Averaging 19.1 disposals, 6.5 marks, 5.2 tackles, 313.6 metres gained, 3.2 inside 50s, 3.3 intercept possessions, 4.8 score involvements, 16 goals, nine behinds


Danielle Ponter – Adelaide

She saw a massive increase in midfield minutes this year, but Ponter was still kicking goals from everywhere and did it so often with ease. We know she has talent, but this year, we confirmed that Ponter is, and will be, a genuine star of the competition.

Key Stats: 13 games in 2023: Averaging 12.7 disposals, 4.1 tackles, 2.3 marks, 3.2 clearances, 247.5 metres gained, 2.8 inside 50s, 4.4 score involvements, 20 goals, nine behinds


Chloe Scheer – Geelong

She had games this year where she was non-existent (and that was usually against the better sides), but for about 75 per cent of it, Chloe Scheer was a genuine force in the forward line. They were too strong for the mid-sized defenders and agile for the taller ones. She’s proven to be a headache for the opposition many times this year.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 6.2 disposals, two marks, 3.1 score involvements, 20 goals, seven behinds


Eden Zanker – Melbourne

We know Mick Stinear can plug and play Zanker on nearly every line on the ground. Still, as a key forward option for most of the year, she completely dominated with a career-best goals tally and a first-ever league goalkicking award, sharing alongside her captain and good mate Kate Hore.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 11.2 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.2 tackles, 171.7 metres gained, 4.7 score involvements, 23 goals, 12 behinds


The Interchange


Emma Kearney – North Melbourne

She has been a pillar of strength since her move from the midfield to defence, and the North Melbourne skipper has continued with another All-Australian selection here on the back of elite intercepting and exceptional gut-running. This’ll be unprecedented eight times in eight seasons; it may not be done again for a long time.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 20.7 disposals, 3.3 marks, 1.3 intercept marks, 2.6 tackles, 373.8 metres gained, 2.3 inside 50s, 4.8 rebound 50s, 7.4 intercept possessions


Ash Riddell – North Melbourne

People would pick Jasmine Garner over Ash Riddell, but by no means is Riddell a second-fiddle in North’s midfield. She’s a pure ball-magnet, and her work around the clearances has been exceptional, too. Furthermore, she has been no stranger to hitting the scoreboard this year. What a midfield duo

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 30.7 disposals, 5.3 tackles, 5.8 clearances, 3.9 marks, 425.8 metres gained, 14 contested possessions, 4.5 inside 50s, 2.1 rebound 50s, 4.4 intercept possessions, 4.7 score involvements, two goals, five behinds


Monique Conti – Richmond

The league’s best and fairest needed to be in here somewhere. It probably wasn’t a better year than last year, but that’s reaching a fair bit. In a year where the Tigers struggled to get their best players on the park, Mon Con was the constant in their midfield, consistently putting the side on their back weekly.

Key Stats: 10 games in 2023: Averaging 28.5 disposals, 7.2 clearances, 5.8 tackles, 21.9 pressure acts, 2.9 marks, 413.3 metres gained, 12.9 contested possessions, 5.1 inside 50s, 2.2 rebound 50s, 3.7 intercept possessions, 3.5 score involvements, four goals, five behinds


Chloe Molloy – Sydney

She came home at a blistering pace in the second half of the year, and it should be no surprise that the Swans did so as well. She’s struggled to find her best footy over the past couple of years at Collingwood, but it’s apparent that she becomes a box office player when firing on all cylinders.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 16.5 disposals, 4.3 tackles, 3.2 marks, 339.4 metres gained, 2.9 clearances, 3.9 inside 50s, 2.5 intercept possessions, 5.6 score involvements, 18 goals, 13 behinds


Laura Gardiner – Sydney

People spoke of the pre-season of the Sydney trade that saw Laura Gardiner land from Geelong, and those who know immediately said the move is a potential game-changer. And boy, hasn’t it changed the game? Gardiner went from a fringe player to an immediate star, working inside and out and accumulating disposals quickly—a convenient player around the contest, too.

Key Stats: 12 games in 2023: Averaging 29.1 disposals, 9.1 tackles, 25.4 pressure acts, 5.7 clearances, 313.8 metres gained, 2.7 marks, 13.2 contested possessions, 3.8 inside 50s, 2.4 rebound 50s, 4.1 intercept possessions, 3.8 score involvements


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