2022 AFLW Draft: Others to Watch – South Australia
THE 2022 AFL Women’s Draft is next week and already Rookie Me Central has completed profiles on all those available AFLW Draft Combine invites. In separate articles this week, we will go state by state and look at some other contenders for the AFLW Draft outside those with the invites. Next up in the series is South Australia, diving into a number of SANFLW players who have enjoyed strong seasons and should come into consideration for Port Adelaide. Note, we have not included past AFLW players.
The Bulldogs have a number of draftable prospects at various stages of their careers, headlined by the readymade Shelby Smith. The uncompromising inside midfielder leads from the front and could easily slot into an AFLW midfield with her attack on the ball and courage never doubted. She went from strength to strength in the season, and has now finished runner-up in the league best and fairest in consecutive seasons. Ruck, Isabelle Starmer should be considered after another all-round consistent season. Though undersized at AFLW level, her production levels are high enough she can impact in ways outside the stoppages. Past State Academy members Madison Lane and Lauren Breguet should also be considered, with Lane’s rebounding and foot skills out of defence a highlight, while Breguet is a high impact player, particularly when it comes to contested marking and goal nous.
Surely by weight of numbers, Glenelg’s dominant duo of league best and fairest winner Jessica Bates, and premiership captain Ellie Kellock should be considered. Bates dominated across all the stats and was a worthy winner, adding offensive weapons to her defensive game to be an all-round talent. Kellock is able to influence matches playing through the midfield, but also spent time forward when returning from injury and was able to be creative there. A club looking for a readymade and crafty forward could do worse than consider Caitlyn Swanson, who could easily adapt her smarts and goal sense to the top level. The Bays have plenty of players who could fit in the same boat and are still young as well, with defender Madisyn Freeman another one who might be a name to remember.
It will be a very good draft for the Roosters regardless with at least three players guaranteed to be on AFLW lists – one in Jade De Melo already representing the teal – and the two other top-age State Academy members in Hannah Ewings and Amelie Borg set to join her at the top level. But this piece is looking at those outside combine invites, and perhaps Irishwoman Megan Ryan‘s form as an undersized ruck throughout the season might convince a club to take a punt, with winger Erica Greet the other one that catches the eye and creates plenty of run for her side. Port Adelaide could also look to pair up Borg with Roosters co-captain Kristi Harvey to provide that calm head in defence to start the expansion, while another defender in Jamie Parish played some outstanding footy later in the season.
Along with the AFLW Draft Combine invites, Norwood should be another club with a number of players up for consideration, and like North, already have a pre-listed player in Jade Halfpenny. Add in the likes of Lana Schwerdt and Sachi Syme and the Redlegs look set to be looking for a new midfield next season. From outside the Draft Combine invites, expect leading goalkicker Alana Lishmund to be considered, with her penetrative left peg and versatility, as well as explosive inside midfielder Tesharna Maher. Both are still young and have come through the State Academy program. An even more readymade option from a defensive standpoint is Morgan Johnston who has had experience in state leagues across the country and has a powerful and accurate kick.
As a Port Adelaide-tied player through the Academy, the athletic Gypsy Schirmer is the first name that comes to mind. She has proven herself to play in attack, midfield and now defence, has the defensive prowess to match her offensive tricks, and her efficiency lifted considerably in 2022. One of the most unlucky players not to get drafted last year, surely this is the year for the talented teenager and former AFLW Academy member. Otherwise, Jess Waterhouse has been incredible since rejoining the SANFLW, dominating in front of the goal, then going into the midfield to prove that size (sub-160cm) is no barrier, with Waterhouse having an elite kick over any distance. Jaslynne Smith is another name to keep in mind, with the consistent rebounding medium defender getting the job done each and every week.
Had it not been for a heartbreaking anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear late in the year, then consistent inside midfielder Isobel Kuiper would have surely been a name in this category. Still young, the contested ball-winner has plenty of years left and if she continues her form should be considered in the coming seasons. Alisha Gepp, Ellie Lynch and Georgia Swan all have traits that could take them to the next level, and have just had rock solid seasons. Once she gets another season under her belt, captain Maya Rigter is one who could benefit from the next stage development, having a huge grand final after a couple of frustrating years with her ankle for the inside midfielder turned defender.
It was an interrupted year for the Bloods through injury, COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols and form, with the side never able to gain continuity. Over-age midfielder Zoe Venning had another consistent year, with Jess Macolino a recruit who certainly had an impact. The pair were able to rack up the ball around the clearances and push forward, and are options as inside midfield draft selections.
A side whose top-end talent is either ineligible to be drafted until the next couple of seasons, or already on an AFLW list, the Eagles did have a few players outside that bracket standup. West Australian Brianna Hyde seemed to click as the SANFLW season went on and is a player who could join her sister Mikayla at AFLW level. Chantelle Mitchell, though not always consistent is another player who has eye-catching traits and can be a damaging forward, while skipper Annie Falkenberg is a consistent midfielder/defender.