2022 AFLW Draft preview: North Melbourne
AN EVER-DANGEROUS side in the AFL Women’s, North Melbourne has accumulated three successive picks in the third round to scoop up a mix of Victorian and Tasmanian talent at the upcoming AFLW Draft. The Roos were again thereabouts in season 2022, and are not far off the pace when it comes to contenders. They will not hit the draft until Pick 28, but it is 14 in the Victorian pool, which allows them to pick up either a talented Victorian, or Tasmanian, of whom the latter the Roos have exclusive access to.
AFLW DRAFT PICKS: 28, 39, 51, 52, 55, 90, 92 | VIC DRAFT POOL: 14, 22, 28, 29, 30, 48, 50
North Melbourne lost its fair share of talent over the break, with some well-established key players and some youth both heading out the door, but the Roos were able to hold onto their key midfield group. Losing Jess Duffin, Kaitlyn Ashmore and Aileen Gilroy to Hawthorn, and Daria Bannister to Essendon hurts, but perhaps the biggest loss from a long-term perspective was that of young gun Daisy Bateman to the Western Bulldogs. Injury replacement player Alexia Hamilton also flew north to take up a role with expansion side Sydney, while first year draftee Tara Slender retired. With little incoming, it left North Melbourne with seven picks in the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft.
The first North Melbourne pick will come in around 14 in the Victorian pool. Based on who the Roos lost, they could be on the lookout for a talented forward and running defender, but will likely take best available with the first selection. A classy mover like Rylie Wilcox would be a great get for the Roos to provide the wing but particularly small forward role, while Octavia Di Donato and Mia Busch are others who could offer similar. Depending on if she might be gone before their next pick, it would also not be a surprise to see the Roos pull the trigger on Dandenong Stingrays winger Taylah Gatt.
North Melbourne has two sets of draftees to be looking at for the later picks, and from the Tasmanian contingent, the Roos have four players with AFLW Draft Combine invites. Claire Ransom would have been the top pick, with the AFLW Academy member a classy and smooth mover through the midfield, but she has nominated Queensland to rejoin forces with Cameron Joyce. Alongside her, Meghan Gaffney could not have had much of a better season than the over-ager has had, putting herself right in the draft frame. Inside ball-winner Candice Belbin offers something different to the others, and is capable of playing off half-back too with high accountability. Speaking of half-back, Courtney Hingston has upside for the future with her run-and-gun attitude. From the Victorian group, Krystal Russell could be a ruck option to replace Hamilton, with Lulu Beatty another defensive choice and could pair with her Northern Knights teammate Wilcox, while Amelie Smith and Paige Scott are potential forward options.
North Melbourne is always close to being an AFLW contender, and though there were some key players missing, the Roos can make it up through some restocking of the Tasmanian talent. Adding a runner here or there to cover the holes in the lineup will do the Roos well, and expect them to be one to watch in Season 7 yet again.