2022 AFLW Draft: Others to Watch – Victoria
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. Finishing up the series is taking a look at Victoria and some of those prospects hoping to crack into AFLW ranks.
Charley Ryan (Dandenong Stingrays)
Unfortunately an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury put an end to the talented Stingrays and Vic Country player’s year after a promising start in the AFLW Under 18 Championships clash against Vic Metro. A first round prospect on talent, it will be interesting to see if a club is happy to put the talented teen on ice for Season 7 and have a genuine jet enter the program fully for 2023. Clean, classy and skilful, Ryan is the best player across the country not to receive an AFLW Draft Combine invite, only due to said injury.
Stephanie Asciak (Western Jets)
The Western Jets midfielder has not only played VFLW level, but done it at two clubs in Western Bulldogs and now Essendon. A consistent ball-winner in the NAB League Girls, Asciak is a quintessential inside midfielder who spreads hard and can create plays in transition for her teammates. A readymade on-baller who has the experience against senior bodies and is capable of rolling into an AFLW environment. One of the best over-age prospects available in the Victorian pool.
Keeley Hardingham (Geelong Falcons)
While many of the junior talents on this list are small-medium types, Hardingham stands out as a tall ruck option. The Geelong Falcons over-ager had a strong 2022 season with the Falcons, where she averaged 19.2 disposals, 14.6 hitouts and 3.9 tackles. She is able to impact both aerially and at ground level, and though like many rucks she is not super athletic, she covers the ground well to be one of the better accumulators for the key position players.
Caitlin Matthews (Oakleigh Chargers)
Representing Vic Metro at the AFLW Under 18 Championships, Matthews is an eligible St Kilda father-daughter selection, and also an over-ager. Matthews is a 172cm defender who averaged more than three rebound 50s per game for the Chargers in the NAB League Girls, then played all three championship matches for Metro, picking up eight disposals and laying four tackles per match. As one who has played the deep defender role consistently over the past couple of years, she might be considered.
Erin Woodford (Oakleigh Chargers)
Another Chargers defender who has also spent time with Collingwood VFLW as well as Vic Metro, Woodford is a player who will run from defence and kick long down the ground. She is a capable kick, strong intercept mark and can clear the area, not afraid to put her body on the line. She can play on talls and smalls, and is highly competitive, which is what endured her to Vic Metro selectors. Woodford averaged 13.5 disposals and a massive eight rebound 50s for the Chargers this year.
Trinity Skenderis (Western Jets)
Another Western Jets midfielder who has found interest from AFLW clubs, Skenderis is a player with some class as well as hardness. She plays inside but can escape from the stoppages well, and has been able to taste VFLW action with the Western Bulldogs. Skenderis is a ball-winner and also a strong tackler, providing a club with a balance of offensive and defensive traits. She picked up 16.6 disposals and 4.8 tackles in the 2022 NAB League Girls season, and though not known for her outside work, does a lot right around the ground.
Sharnie Whiting (Williamstown VFLW)
One of the most readymade state league players going around, the forward-turned-defender has already proven herself at both VFLW and SANFLW level. She returned to the Towners in 2022 and was able to slot back into the Seagulls defence with ease, averaging 17.2 disposals and 2.8 marks. Possessing a booming kick, Whiting is one who can also still swing forward and create a contest, but she has become known for her driving plays out of the back 50.
Katelyn Lee (Collingwood VFLW)
The Collingwood defender has been performing strongly under the Magpies systems, having played a couple of seasons in defence, after one in attack prior to the COVID-19 pandemic where she enjoyed a flag with the black and whites. Lee is not a huge accumulator of the ball, but does the defensive things right, timing spoils and laying tackles, which enables her to play a good lockdown role on both bigger forwards, and more athletic ones.
Courtney Ugle (Essendon VFLW)
A classy operator on and off the field, Ugle is one of a number of Bombers capable of stepping up to AFLW level, but is yet to be pre-listed. The midfielder/forward averaged 14.1 disposals, 3.1 marks and 3.4 tackles this season, and has consistently been a player who is evasive and clean and can play multiple roles. Though only 160cm, Ugle could be utilised as a pressure small forward at AFLW level, given her balance of defensive and offensive traits.
Isabelle Khoury (Eastern Ranges/Hawthorn VFLW)
A readymade talent out of the Ranges and Hawks pathway, Khoury has been a consistent performer the last couple of years. She can play inside, outside or up forward, and brings a high-level of tenacity to her play. She is not afraid to put her body on the line and win the hard ball, but also spread well, receive it on the outside and hit the scoreboard. As one who has the versatility to slot into wherever she is needed, she is one who might be considered for her ball-winning ability at all levels.
Gabriella De Angelis (Southern Saints)
Another player who has developed out of the Eastern Ranges program and now established herself in the VFLW, De Angelis is a known goal kicker at senior level. She is a crafty forward with high footy IQ and goal sense, and though she has been pidgeonholed in that role, she does quite well. Her defensive pressure has improved over the years, and in 2022, she slotted nine goals in 15 games, which does not jump off the page, but she is creative inside 50.