THE 2022 VFL Women’s season is almost here, so it is time to take a look at each of the competing teams and see where they sit as another season approaches. Today, Rookie Me Central takes a look at North Melbourne, who finished 10th in 2021.
Let’s just say 2021 did not quite go to plan for North Melbourne.
In the Roos’ first year in the competition after taking over Melbourne Uni’s VFLW license, they only won five games for the season, and due to percentage finished in 10th on the ladder.
They did have some positives though.
They had a few of their players drafted into the AFLW. Captain Meagan Kiely was picked up by Richmond, while leading goal kicker Alexia Hamilton was signed as an injury replacement player by the AFLW Kangaroos on the eve of the senior 2022 season.
Speaking on last season, new captain Molly Eastman was reflective of the at times up, and down season North had.
“I think last year was pretty up and down. We had some really good games and we had some times where we had a really strong side in but then with AFLW and players being in and out there were also sometimes where perhaps we probably weren’t at the level we needed to be,” Eastman said.
“But I think this year everyone on our list is ready to play VFL so I think selection will be pretty tough, probably a tough job for the coaches, but I think without those AFLW girls there we should still be competitive against other sides.”
But that was then, and this is now.
Under new coach Steph Binder and led by Eastman, the only way is up for the Kangaroos in 2022.
Binder spoke very positively of how preseason is going, noting how it “couldn’t have gone much better.” She spoke highly of a few players that had been standing out on the track.
“I think Rachel Burton really stood out, I think that now since she’s becoming more confident in the group her intensity is lifting at training which is really impressive. I think Elizabeth McGrath our ruck is going to be huge for us this year. She didn’t play in our first praccy match but we’re really keen to see how she can help our mids out on the weekend against the Bulldogs.”
One thing that both coach and captain noted was how much time that North have spent in the off season building up the team culture.
“We invested a lot of time especially in the early stages of preseason on that connection piece, bringing everyone together and building the strong culture, and I think it really shows that the girls have that team first mindset” Binder said.
There have been quite a number of changes to the list at the Kangaroos heading into 2022. According to Binder, it is more than 50% of the list has turned over this preseason.
Among the more experienced recruits is Emily Paterno, who actually took a year off VFLW last year to go play community level football, Annabel Scott who has come over from the Bulldogs, Hannah Ibrahim and Jessica Jones. Jennifer Guy has also come across from the Pies and Ashlea Melnikas is new too.
There are also a few girls currently plying their trade in the NAB League that will join the Roos once the NAB League season wraps up. This includes Caitlin Sargent from the Western Jets and Tahlia Meier from the GWV Rebels.
Although a flag is the ultimate goal for the year and that is what they are aiming towards, Eastman is also more realistic about where the side sits within the rest of the competition. She noted that even making finals would be a huge achievement for a side only in their second year in the competition.
They had a practice match last weekend and although they were comfortably beaten by the Magpies, they were able to take a few lessons out of the match. They will be hoping they can put these lessons into practice in one final hit out against the Bulldogs this weekend before they take on the Hawks in Round 1 the following weekend.