BALANCING between youth and experience, Hawthorn has built a solid foundational list heading into Season 7 of the AFL Women’s competition. The Hawks are one of four expansion sides into the competition, and have played it smart with their recruiting, picking up players who can fill roles within coaching structures, and reaping the rewards of high draft selections in the process. Without a doubt, the Hawks have the best draft hand in the upcoming AFL Women’s Draft.
AFLW DRAFT PICKS: 2, 6, 9, 10, 22, 25, 26, 72 | VIC DRAFT POOL: 1, 3, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 39
Hawthorn has gone about assembling a list that can play a certain way under AFLW premiership coach Bec Goddard. The Hawks have brought in experience in the form of well-travelled super boot Sarah Perkins, running machines Jess Duffin and Kaitlyn Ashmore, and dangerous forward Kate McCarthy. Hawthorn also signed Akec Makur Chuot as a delisted free agent late in the period, with Saints’ Tilly Lucas-Rodd and GIANTS’ Louise Stephenson also committing to the brown and gold. Alongside experienced names, the Hawks picked up the likes of Eastern Ranges skipper Bridget Deed, NTFL Women’s star and Hawthorn VFLW talent Dominique Carbone, Geelong VFLW ball-winner Tamara Smith, and high-upside forward from the Sandringham Dragons, Zoe Barbakos.
The ball is well and truly inside Hawthorn’s court, holding the first pick in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft. Oakleigh Chargers gun and childhood Hawks fan Jasmine Fleming would be favourite for the pick, but even a week out, there are no guarantees. The star midfielder has incredible skills and burst from the stoppage, and can play midfield or forward. She is one of four most likely options for the brown and gold. Hawthorn might also opt to go with Western Jets on-baller Charlotte Baskaran. Other feasible options in those first few picks include Dandenong Stingrays duo Amber Clarke and Mackenzie Eardley.
With the four picks in the top six, chances are the Hawks will pick up at least three of the above. Outside the Top 10, the Hawks still have great versatility with their selections, and could grab Eastern Ranges talents Mia Austin and Mia Busch. Austin is a high-upside tall forward, with Busch a running defender/midfielder who has spent some time with the VFLW program. The Hawks might also consider a number of tough midfielders such as Charlotte Taylor and J’Noemi Anderson to add some readymade youth to the program. With Hawthorn’s draft position, the Hawks have a number of opportunities to pick the eyes out of the draft, and choose to pair some players up with close friends, or opt for positional needs to fit the gameplan.
Hawthorn will hold the number one Victorian pick in the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft, and has four picks inside the top six, boasting the best draft hand of any club. With so much top-end talent available at those selections, expect the Hawks to showcase plenty of future stars early in Season 7 of the AFL Women’s, with a foundation approach to its list building, supported by a number of readymade players who can play important roles within the side.