It was a massive off-season for Port Adelaide, who bolstered their best 21 significantly with their trade acquisition of Kirsty Lamb and the kids they brought in through their pre-listings and the AFLW Draft.
Whilst Lamb didn’t have a great year statistically, she’s got the runs on the board as an elite inside midfielder and thrives on gathering metres and surging the ball forward. She’ll be a terrific acquisition to help out Abbey Dowrick, who played like a one-woman show in the middle at times this year.
She’ll also get good help from Piper Window and Shineah Goody; both thrived for their respective clubs and South Australia in the under-18 championships this year. After the expansion pre-listings, Window was the clear number one talent in the Draft pool left, so for Port to manage to trade down from an early draft pick to pick 18 and still walk out of the off-season with two talented mids (Lamb and Window) is good business.
With their other draft pick, they stayed local with Alissa Brook, a key position defender type who already boasts excellent athleticism but is perhaps still a little raw in development. But she could be a tremendous second tall to aide Amelie Borg in defence.
As well as picking up Goody, a prolific ball-winner, they took another solid midfielder in Molly Brooksby, someone who is ultra-reliable in terms of using the ball and making the correct decision; she’ll be a convenient player across both half-back and the midfield when she comes of age.
But the big one is the acquisition of Lauren Young as a pre-listing. If all the pre-listings were heaped with the draftees, then Young is the number one prospect. Despite an ACL injury ruling her out of all 2022, she already boasts a pretty good profile before signing with the Power.
She has the height, athleticism, and versatility to play midfield and forward, and she already has the tools to be a star footballer. Such was her rise as a junior; she won the SANFLW best and fairest as a 15-year-old and destroyed all that came before her in the under-18s championships in 2021 before falling with a knee injury.
Traded Out: Jess Hosking (Delisted Free Agent, West Coast)
Delisted: Steph Williams, Sarah D’Arcy, Meg MacDonald, Lilly Pearce
Retired: Meagan Kiely
Drafted In: Isabel Bacon (Pick 13), Mackenzie Ford (Pick 40)
It was a pretty lacklustre off-season for the Tigers, who probably could’ve made more moves as they went from top four in season seven to missing finals altogether in 2023. Their big fish was Montana McKinnon, and I suppose the big tick from all of this is that they still managed to hold a first-round selection as part of the massive 11-team trade negotiations.
McKinnon has shown plenty of glimpses at Adelaide without locking down a spot. Still, she should work well in tandem with Gabby Seymour this year and the following years – both of them can cover ground and have shown they can nail down multiple roles around the ground.
They also acquired Ally Dallaway and Jodie Hicks from the Giants. Both of them should find niche little roles inside Richmond’s best 21. They were ravaged by injury last year, so the worst-case scenario is they will be depth players, but both of them showed at GWS that they can add some grit to the side.
Some have perceived the decision to delist Jess Hosking as a bit strange, but realistically, she wasn’t adding much impact-wise for the Tigers, but the Eagles will welcome her experience.
At the AFLW Draft, they took midfielder Issy Bacon with their first selection at 13 – a player that stood out in 2023 thanks to her physicality and her ability to impact across both half-back and midfield. She’ll still take some time to work on her skill set, but she always attacks the contest at 110 per cent.
They finished up their night by selecting Tasmanian Mackenzie Ford with pick 40. A similar type of player to Bacon, albeit a little smaller in size, Ford is another who can hit the contest when called upon but has the speed and running capacity to play out on the wing.
Drafted In: Kiera Whiley (Pick 10), Charlotte Simpson (Pick 47)
Another relatively quiet side in the off-season, but the big highlight was picking up a pair of players that will fill the needs of their side. The Saints haven’t quite got a ruck spot nailed down, having thrown Jesse Wardlaw there in large parts during the second half of the season and Simone Nalder giving them something. They’ll hope Rene Caris can make her own the number one ruck mantle.
Likewise, down back, there aren’t many players on their list who are capable key defenders, but Paige Trudgeon has a massive chance to lock down a spot at full-back and give Bianca Jakobsson a bit more room to play as a loose spare behind the footy and be the one who facilitates a bit more off the half-back line.
With their first draft pick just inside the top 10, they used it on midfielder Kiera Whiley. This player has good size at 173 centimetres and has shown a tremendous inside game for both the Western Jets and Vic Metro last year. She has also shown she can play off the half-back and show a natural offensive ability in creating play.
They committed to father/daughter prospect Charlotte Simpson with their second and final pick in the AFLW Draft. An overage prospect who responded to not being drafted in 2022 with a VFLW season that saw her named as one of three winners of the league’s best and fairest. She showcased a natural nous for winning the clearances and the contested ball.
Delisted: Jaide Anthony, Kiara Beesley, Sarah Ford, Jenny Higgins, Bridie Kennedy, Kate Reynolds
Drafted In: Sarah Grunden (Pick 16), Lara Hausegger (Pick 33), Holly Cooper (Pre-Listing)
After reaching the semi-final in a season that showed significant improvement, the Swans didn’t make a lot of moves, confident there is much more growth to come.
They did add two players to their squad through the trade period, securing untried rebounding defender Kiara Hillier from Brisbane and Gold Coast key position player Giselle Davies. They are under 21 and can add something to this Swans lineup, particularly in the defensive half.
Whilst there were outstanding seasons from the likes of Ella Heads and Brenna Tarrant, they could use a big-bodied key back to take on the star forwards, and Davies has the potential to be that player.
At the draft, they picked up Sarah Grunden with their first selection at pick 16 – a player that adds plenty to their forward half. She already has a terrific and established skill set, capable of making excellent decisions inside 50 and providing scoreboard impact. They took Lara Hausegger with their final selection at pick 33, a rebounding defender who will always put her body on the line and had a big year with Oakleigh in the Talent League.
They also secured Holly Cooper as an under-18 expansion pre-signing – an athletically gifted midfielder who has shown great poise with the footy in her hands with the Swans Academy. She can play both the midfield and the wing; she has much potential.
Traded In: Ali Drennan (West Coast), Annabel Johnson (Geelong), Roxy Roux (Fremantle), Jess Hosking (Delisted
The Daisy Pearce era at West Coast started with a massive bang, recruiting well with both trades and the draft.\
They did lose talented players Shanae Davison, Eleanor Hartill and Aisling McCarthy to other clubs. Still, they got some excellent experience in the door through Ali Drennan and Jess Hosking. Annabel Johnson is a sure-fire best 21 player when fit and will be the backline general for the Eagles, while Roxy Roux has shown she can play anywhere on the ground, but impact-wise, she has sputtered since her debut in 2020.
The Eagles wasted no time targeting players who can help impact through the middle of the ground at the Draft. With pick two, they took a player in Jess Rentsch, who possesses explosive speed and an extraordinary attack on the footy. She will likely start at half-back, but don’t be surprised if we see her play midfield minutes in the second half of next year.
At pick 14, Kayley Kavanagh gives the Eagles a clean player with her disposal and an excellent contested ball-winning ability. After producing a stellar campaign, she claimed Vic Metro’s MVP in the championships in 2023.
They then used their third selection at pick 39 to take Georgie Cleaver. A steal considering talent alone, she’s well entrenched as a top-10 prospect. But given that she was only nominated to be drafted by a WA club, the Eagles could bide their time to take her before Fremantle entered the draft. Cleaver’s athleticism and size could see her play as a forward who can pinch hit in the ruck.
They used their last selection to take former Fremantle defender Matilda Sergeant. She was unlucky to be cut by the Dockers a few years back, with injury derailing her development. She returned to Claremont and played both in the defence and midfield. It gives Daisy another seasoned head to work within her squad, and at 24 years of age, Sargeant has her best footy ahead of her.
Probably the busiest out of all the clubs, the Dogs looked set to carry on their disastrous 2023 home and away season into the off-season when the quartet of Kirsty Lamb, Katie Lynch, Gabby Newton and Celine Moody requested trades away from the club. Lamb and Lynch are All Australians; Newton, a number one draft pick, had been playing some good footy, and Moody is a best 21 type player.
However, the Dogs turned their damage control into something good after finishing the trade deadline, bringing six players and four draft selections that sit inside the top 12 overall.
Starting with the players, the headline acquisitions will shore up their defensive half. Lauren Ahrens had fallen out of favour at the Suns in recent seasons, but her best footy is as an intercept marking type. Mua Laloifi can play both lockdown or peel off to play the intercept role.
They also have good players in Zimmie Farquharson and Ellie Gavalas. Zimmie missed the entire season with Brisbane for personal reasons but showed a lot in her first season in the AFLW. While Gavalas was caught behind several talented midfielders at North Melbourne, she should get plenty of opportunity at a Dogs side struggling with midfield depth.
Rounding out their trade acquisitions, Brisbane’s Analea McKee and Gold Coast’s Jasmyn Smith made way via the massive 11-club deal. McKee is a key forward type who showed good aggression to the contest both on the ground and aerially in her limited minutes for the Lions, while Smith is a small forward who brings excellent pressure and is a good runner.
They went with local girl Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner at the Draft with the first pick in the AFLW Draft. She’s a player with incredible upside – elite athleticism, good height at 180 centimetres, and despite being listed on a few sites as a key forward, she can play in the midfield. But fast-running tall forwards certainly do not grow on trees – she will be a valuable asset right from the word go.
With pick four, the Dogs bypassed the best small forward of the draft, Alyssia Pisano, to take another small-bodied midfielder in Brooke Barwick. It’s one that, structurally, does not make a lot of sense. But a look at Barwick’s skill set, ability to excel defensively, and being a damaging operator by hand and foot, it’s easy to see why many clubs at the top end of the draft order were keen on securing her despite her size.
They also picked up a dangerous small forward type in Elaine Grigg, who brings elite speed, tremendous defensive pressure and an intelligent sense of where the goals are at the right time. She fills the small forward that the Dogs sorely lacked last season. Cleo Buttifant is a tall defender out of the Giants Academy with great athleticism and loves taking the game on, but it will take some time to develop.
They finished their draft addressing their ruck needs by going close to home, taking Jorja Borg out of their VFLW program. She played one game as a top-up player this year and looked comfortable in the ruck contests in that game; she had a great year in the state league, so she deserves another chance after being delisted by Essendon in season seven.
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