2022 AFLW U18s Surprise Packets

ONLY one match remains in the 2022 AFLW Under 18 Championships, with four states’ campaigns done and dusted. In this article, we take a look at four players (one from each state) who proved to be surprise packets in terms of their performances – be it breakout or rekindling their best form – at the championships. Queensland and Allies still have a game to go, so it will only feature South Australia, Vic Country, Vic Metro and Western Australia.

Along with the surprise packet criteria, each player mentioned will be draft-eligible, and outside both the AFLW Academy and our March Power Rankings. Though there are plenty who could fit the bill, we have chosen one per team.

Sachi Syme (Norwood/South Australia)

One of the players on the cusp of last month’s Power Rankings, Syme was one of the most consistent players across the AFLW Under 18s carnival. Having to spend a lot of time forward, the natural midfielder still found plenty of the ball, and is such a neat user of the ball with few flaws. She has a nice balance of offensive and defensive traits, and whilst others might have more penetration or greater electrifying speed, Syme just goes about her business ticking boxes each and every week. A midfielder who you can seldom walk away thinking she has not performed her role, such is her consistency.

Yasmin Duursma (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

It looked like the talented smooth mover found her spot in defence over the carnival, with her performance against Queensland on the final day, outstanding. She amassed 22 disposals, had five marks, laid four tackles and picked up six rebound 50s, with 85 per cent of her kicks deemed effective. Though a handy midfielder with some eye-catching traits such as her trusty left foot and evasive techniques, she was able to showcase that in defence, and also be able to move the ball in transition. In preseason, Duursma said “the dream” would be to join her brother Xavier at Port Adelaide, and she certainly turned it on in front of recruiters at Avalon Airport Oval.

Laura Elliott in action for Vic Metro. Picture credit: Rookie Me Central.

Laura Elliott (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

The reliable intercept defender has pieced together a terrific NAB League Girls season with some unbelievable games. Though the Jets quite often had it up the other end of the ground, Elliott showed her wares and earned a Vic Metro place. Against Vic Country there was not a great deal to do, but in the more challenging games against Queensland and South Australia, Elliott averaged 11 disposals, three marks, five tackles and three rebound 50s. Someone who might fly under the radar due to having two Top 5 Victorian players in her side, but Elliott has plenty of upside with terrific hands and reliable skills.

Bella Mann (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

The Sandgropers captain really had an impressive carnival, culminating in her best performance on the final day in a win against the Allies. Mann had 11 disposals – nine kicks – of which nine were effective. She also pulled down four marks – two contested – and still maintained her high level of defensive pressure and natural leadership. An over-age talent last year, Mann was around the mark, and though at times her execution can be inconsistent, she has the footy smarts and one could never question her hardness or courage at every contest. The game against the Allies was one of her better ones over the last couple of years.

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