NARROWLY missing out on a maiden AFL Women’s premiership, Melbourne is prepared to once again to be a title contender during Season 7. The Demons have lost quite a bit of depth across the board, but have managed to retain the majority of their best side, allowing them to be thereabouts again. Due to the expansion rules, Melbourne lost its first round pick for not accumulating enough points in terms of outgoing players, and therefore will enter the draft easily the lowest of the Victorian sides with Pick 45, or 24th in the Victorian pool.
AFLW DRAFT PICKS: 45, 50, 80, 95 | VIC DRAFT POOL: 24, 27, 42, 51
Much like last year, Melbourne will be forced to sit around and wait a while for its first pick, and they have just two selections in the top 79. The Demons lost experience in Jacqueline Parry and Shelley Scott to Melbourne, picking up Jordan Ivey in that trade. A shrewd selection was that of underrated Carlton defender Charlotte Wilson who will be able to slot straight into the back five. As is the case with many successful teams, the talented trio of Brenna Tarrant (Sydney), and Krstel Petrevski and Isabella Simmons (both West Coast) all departed, with Tarrant and Petrevski heading back to their home states. The Demons also lost defender Gabby Colvin for Season 7 after injuring her knee at preseason training. Melbourne i pretty set for the upcoming season, with the recruiting team looking to find some hidden gems later in the draft.
Melbourne has the hardest job of all the Victorian sides, needing to wait until the 24th selection in the Victorian pool before having a crack. They will have two picks in four Victorian selections from that point, before again putting the feet up for later picks. For the first pick, the Demons could scoop up a player who might be undervalued due to injury such as Brooke Smith or Grace Purcell. Smith has great technique and footy IQ coming out of defence but has just missed a chunk of football, while Purcell will miss Season 7 due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, but could team up with sister Olivia who returned from the same injury. Similarly, Charley Ryan is one absolutely worth taking a punt on if available, with the first round prospect also out with an ACL injury. From those available, Madison Gray can provide some run, while Emily Everist and Amelie Smith could be options in that range with height at respective ends.
Melbourne’s later selections could be utilised on a mature-ager or project player, with Essendon’s Amelia Radford or Sophia McCarthy options if they somehow slip through. NT native who is boarding in Melbourne, Phoebe McWilliams is another potential option, with Nyakoat Dojiok also earning an AFLW Draft Combine invitation and has impressed up forward for Collingwood this year. Analea McKee and Tegan Williams are other tall options to replace the height missing and more readymade than other teenagers coming into the program, while Mia Van Dyke is a versatile type who can play on all three lines.
Melbourne’s recruiting staff has its work cut out, looking to find diamonds in the rough with later selections. Though do have bursts of picks with two in quick succession on both occasions, and given the Demons overall strength, do not need anything in particular. With the option to pickup project talls or mature-age talents for depth, expect Melbourne to throw a surprise or two in there, as the Demons look to challenge for the Season 7 flag.