WAFLW Draft Combine invitee notes: Round 13
NOW the AFLW Draft Combine invitees have been named, the focus of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Academy notes piece will look to those draft-eligible players and how they perform each week. These notes will be separate to the game-by-game notes, which will now focus on bottom-age talents and others who catch the eye.
As always, notes are the opinion of the individual author.
AFLW Draft Combine invitees:
Jaide Britton (Peel Thunder)
The 19-year-old winger had an impressive game against South Fremantle, using her run and carry to be among the best on the day. Her composure with ball-in-hand was good and her work rate is as high as anyone’s in the competition. At times her ground level work could be a touch cleaner, but once she has it, she is able to use it well by hand or foot, and is one of the better technical users out there. Backing herself to take on opponents, Britton gains metres with her run as well as her disposal and is able to easily hit-up players down the field and set up scoring opportunities. Her work rate allowed her to run back to goal faster than anyone else in the second term, getting on the end of a ball inside 50 and slamming home a goal. She also set up a goal to Kate Bartlett late in the game, and was consistent across the board. Britton also competes well in the air and is quick to react, so if she does drop a mark she will follow-up with a second effort. Has a case for the most improved WAFLW player this season.
Abbygail Bushby (Swan Districts)
The Swan Districts top-ager returned to the action after representing the AFLW Academy, and slotted straight back into the midfield. Though not one of her more dominant performances this year – as the Subiaco midfield really took control – Bushby still had her eye-catching moments. She was quick to dispose of the ball under pressure and able to have those first few steps to burst away. She won her fair share of disposals, but was often under so much pressure from the Lions that she rushed her touches. Despite that, Bushby still generally put the ball into effective positions for her teammates, and tried to break down the Subiaco defensive zones in the loss.
Bella Mann (Peel Thunder)
The State Academy captain played her best game of the WAFL Women’s season, collecting 15 disposals and going back to her kick-behind-the-ball play as she did at the AFLW Under 18 Championships. When able to play off half-back and push up through the mdifield, Mann reads the play well and is able to position herself accordingly to intercept and then set up attacking drives. She also cracks in to win the contested ball when required and feeds out handballs whilst under duress. Her kicking technique is good, and at her best she can cleanly hit targets, but it is just finding that consistency and composure by foot, with pressure bringing some mistakes. Luckily, Mann’s decision making is quite good, and even if she misses a target, it has gone to the right area, and there is little doubt she will be there to mop up. She had a shot on goal in the final term after a 50m penalty but just pushed it to the right, otherwise was often either taking marks up on the wing, or putting her body on the line.
Lauren Wakfer (South Fremantle)
The AFLW Academy ruck had another dominant outing through the ruck, using her athleticism to advantage to really take control around the stoppages. The 180cm talent often did as she pleased, and has rare athleticism for a player of her size. In the first two minutes of the match, Wakfer intercepted the ball in the defensive 50, weaved around an opponent and handballed off at half-back. Working hard at both ends, Wakfer was able to get forward and at one stage showed a lovely turn of speed at half-forward to burst away from an opponent and put a well-placed kick into Rosie Anderson in the forward pocket. Wakfer also took the ball out of the ruck and had a flying shot on goal in the first term, just missing to the right. As a whole, Wakfer put in a body of work to once again be among the top rucks across the weekend.
The bottom-age AFLW Academy member had a memorable day racking up 22 touches, taking eight marks, laying seven tackles and having five inside 50s whilst recording eight hitouts. She was the subject of our WAFLW Player Focus for this week which details her performance.
#38 Zippy Fish
In what was arguably her best game of the year, the Under 16s winger did as she pleased, dancing around opponents and hitting targets more consistently than she has throughout the year. As someone who possesses a truckload of speed, it is about Fish just composing herself at the last moment and she generally did that. A couple of times she disposed of it quickly and put her teammates under pressure, but she was clean and decisive, and naturally created a lot of run and carry.
Forward Julia Teakle remains the most interesting prospect from a teenage perspective, with the over-ager pulling down some good marks and slotting three goals. Alli Nokes played forward and kicked the easiest of goals from two metres out, but also did a lot of hard running to get there, and provided a goal assist as well.
The Under 16s winner tried to break the lines and burst off half-back looking to kick down the middle. Not always as high with her efficiency as when she is at her best, Norbury still anchored well out of defence to kick forward, and was clean at ground level. She rushed a behind on the three quarter time siren to save a Sharks goal in a good defensive effort.
Like many of her teammates, found the going tough against such a strong onball group, but had the first Falcons inside 50 with a tumbling ball forward out of a stoppage. Her hands in close are very good, and she wins a chunk of the ball in patches. She had a few kicks that were down the line often under pressure, but continued to crack in hard and did her best work at the contest.
#25 Rosie Anderson
The Under 16s player has one of the cleanest sets of hands going around, able to be a one-touch player at ground level or in the air. She is the type who would seemingly play with a dry ball in the pouring rain. Though her polish and composure at times could still be improved, she is evasive and able to create her own space with her killer sidestep and ability to spin on a dime. Anderson kicked a very clever goal from the pocket early in the third term to put the Bulldogs 20 points up.
Poppy Stockwell remains the other player at the Bulldogs more than capable of having the talent to make the step up, with the dual-sport talent perhaps just needing to lift her defensive running abilities to take that next step if that is her chosen path.
#22 Kaitlyn Srhoj
An eye-catching winger who remains a player with a high ceiling, the bottom-ager applies good pressure and is clean overhead and at ground level more often than not. Though her kicking technique is right, it is just about the execution as she can sometimes misplace her kicks going forward. In terms of her positioning and defensive measures, Srhoj continues to play at a high level and almost kicked a goal out of nothing in the last quarter but it just hit the post.
#29 Jorja Haines
The Under 16s talent started at the centre bounce and rotated through there. Having some good talent, she cracks in and wins the ball well, winning a number of free kicks for her tackles or getting to the ball first and being infringed. Her second efforts are also impressive, and she has a long kick as emphasised by her 40m set shot in the third term that just drifted wide. Similar to Jaime Henry in her playing style but a bit more raw with a higher emphasis on kicking, Haines could transition to an inside midfielder in her bottom-age year next year.
Aisha Wright should at least be in some AFLW conversations, as she brings that X-factor that comes along with some substance this year, piecing together some impressive performances the last few weeks. She might need another year of consistency, but has enough about her to make the jump. Kate Bartlett should be playing at AFLW level, as she is clearly too good for state league defenders, but it will be a case of whether a club needs her role of specialist goalkicker.
In a Melbourne Cup field worth of entries, Subiaco captain Tarnica Golisano might have produced her best performance of the season. The 25-year-old is a class above state league level, able to hit targets over all distances, and apply defensive pressure with great tackling technique. At 28-years-old, Amy Mulholland is a touch older but has some eye-catching traits that she could be another mature-ager to remember having also had a huge Round 1 game at the start of the season.
#11 Jaime Henry
The clean inside midfielder found the going a little tougher against a switched-on Subiaco midfield, but still cracked in and was able to emerge as the best Swans player on the day. She showcased her quick hands, but even Henry, who is so skilled at busting her way through tackles was caught a couple of times and nullified from her usual quick extractions. Henry kept applying pressure and took a strong contested grab midway through the second term and earned a 50m penalty to hit up a target inside 50, then push up and lay a tackle at the next possession and win a free kick. It showcased the bottom-ager’s mentality and work rate.
Like many of her teammates, Tyla Fitzgerald has had bigger games but still had a few nice touches with some quick releases, whilst Kyah Chirichilli was good defensively, saving a goal late in the third tackle with a great tackle 30m out from goal. Over-ager Emma Nanut played one of her most efficient games for the year, particularly early.