2022 AFLW Draft preview: GWS GIANTS
NO LONGER the only fish in the NSW/ACT pond, GWS GIANTS will face a new challenge in the upcoming 2022 AFL Women’s Draft. With the Sydney Swans being added to the AFL Women’s landscape, the GIANTS will now have to split the draft options in the NSW-ACT draft pool. The initial draft post-expansion will be particularly difficult given the GIANTS will enter at pick six, before having three further picks.
AFLW DRAFT PICKS: 20, 68, 70, 88 | NSW/ACT DRAFT POOL: 6, 9, 10, 12
GWS lost a chunk of experience over the off-season, with rucks Erin McKinnon (St Kilda) and Ally Morphett (Sydney) leaving the GIANTS’ tall stocks thin. Rebecca Privitelli and Lisa Steane both crossed to the Swans with Morphett, while Louise Stephenson (Hawthorn) and Libby Graham (Richmond) also departed. With veterans Katie Loynes and Erin Lorenzini retiring, the GIANTS needed to pick up some fresh faces. The biggest recruit was that of Western Bulldogs star and former number one pick Isabel Huntington. The key forward will sit out Season 7 recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, but will be worth the wait for the 2023 season.
Entering the AFL Women’s Draft with Pick 6 in the least developed region is tough. The Swans will pick the eyes out of the best NSW-ACT pool, including taking one of the GIANTS’ top Academy talents in the Cynthia Hamilton which will leave the GIANTS looking to get creative. But get creative they did, working hard to convince Gold Coast Academy tall Fleur Davies her future is in orange and charcoal, getting the AFLW Academy ruck-forward to nominate NSW-ACT. Late in the piece, incredible midfielder-forward Zarlie Goldsworthy announced she would choose the NSW-ACT zone and is expected to get through to the GIANTS.
It is difficult to know which way the GIANTS go with their draft hand given they are handicapped by what the Swans do. They might look for the likes of Swans Academy mature-ager Jemima Wrigley who is a readymade midfield option. There is also Eleanor Bishop or Tess Cattle out of Ainslie, who fall into the GWS Academy zone. Likewise, Teagan Germech is another mature-age Academy prospect playing AFL Canberra for Belconnen. Internally, Jessica Whelan has been a train-on player for the GIANTS and no doubt the coaching staff know what she offers by now. Otherwise the GIANTS might look to state leagues to pick up a gem, with Tarnica Golisano one who had a game in AFL Canberra during a bye week for Subiaco. The West Australian would be a shrewd choice for the GIANTS, as would Amelia Radford or Sophia McCarthy out of the VFLW.
In a perfect scenario for the GIANTS, they would have higher selections to deal with, but if they can pull off their interstate coups in this draft, then it will be a massive win for the club. The likes of Davies can step straight in and have an influence, whilst picking up some mature-age talents to top up the list. Huntington will be like a fresh inclusion for 2023, so the future can be bright for the orange and charcoal.