AS the 2022 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final approaches, Rookie Me Central has named its final WAFL Women’s Team of the Year. The 24-player squad, which was derived from the 48-player extended squad named last week, was chosen based on regular season Team of the Week nominations. All players with seven or more nominations were automatically included, while representatives had to play at least seven games in the regular season to qualify.
Grand finalists East Fremantle and Claremont have six representatives apiece in the side, making up half the team. Third placed Peel Thunder was only one behind with five players in the squad, whilst Swan Districts (three) have some exciting young guns in the team. Non-finalists Subiaco have two representatives including team captain Tarnica Golisano, while bottom two sides South Fremantle and West Perth have one representative in the 24-player squad.
Golisano has been an ultra-consistent player, earning the equal second most Team of the Week nominations this season with 11, and being the Lions captain, earns the nod as leader in our WAFL Women’s Team of the Year. Her deputy in this team is Peel Thunder’s Cassie Davidson, with the Thunder captain recording eight nominations. The only two players with more nominations are from their respective sides, with Subiaco ball-winner Jayme Harken well ahead with 13 nominations and one emergency for the season, whilst Peel Thunder defender Ebony Dowson earning 11 and one.
Named at ruck rover with Golisano in centre, the Subiaco duo are joined by East Fremantle tough midfielder and Dhara Kerr Medallist Sharon Wong in the starting midfield group. In building a realistic team that could compete in a simulated match, both wingers are bonafide wingers. Peel Thunder’s Jaide Britton earned the most nominations of any natural winger with six and one emergency, while Claremont’s Mikayla Western recorded five and two to slot onto the other wing. Though her year ended in a disappointing injury, South Fremantle AFLW Draft prospect Lauren Wakfer still made our Team of the Year, earning seven Team of the Week nominations, the most of any ruck.
Moving into defence, the Peel Thunder duo are joined alongside teenager and sole West Perth representative Jess Roper. The Falcons defender earned five Team of the Week nominations and a sixth as an emergency. At half-back, Claremont duo Claire Ortlepp and Madeleine Scanlon line up. Both have five Team of the Week nominations themselves to qualify for the side. Defender-turned-midfielder Jaime Henry was included for her versatility, with the midfield stacked, so she returns to half-back.
Up the other end of the field, the reigning Dhara Kerr Medallist and West Coast AFLW draftee Ella Smith makes it in after a seven-nomination season. Though a natural midfielder, Smith did spend time forward later in the season just prior to being picked up by the Eagles. Also inside 50 is another Eagles inclusion in leading goalkicker Kate Bartlett. The Peel Thunder deadeye earned her third chance at AFLW level after a brilliant season in front of the big sticks. Julia Teakle is beside her following her remarkable debut season at WAFL Women’s level, where the Port Adelaide draftee picked up Rookie of the Year.
Also inside 50 is ex-West Coast midfielder/forward Ashlee Atkins who put her hand up for a second chance at AFLW level with a great end to the WAFL Women’s season. At half-forward, another AFLW Draft prospect in Abbygail Bushby lines up, and like Henry, the teenager returns to half-forward where she played earlier in the season. Rounding out the six-player forwardline is Claremont forward Brooke Whyte who has been a presence for the Tigers all year and crucial to their run to the grand final.
On the bench, East Fremantle has a trio of representatives to round out their six player haul, with backup ruck and forward Georgie Cleaver reaming up with her State Academy and AFLW Academy teammate Wakfer in the hypothetical side. Also in there is Sharks captain Ashleigh Gomes, and dangerous half-forward Larissa Versaci. Swan Districts captain Jessica Cox became the Swans’ third representative in teh team, whilst Claremont turned West Coast midfielder Sasha Goranova, and Peel Thunder ball magnet Chloe Wrigley complete the 24-player squad.
2022 ROOKIE ME CENTRAL WAFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR:
B: Jess Roper (West Perth) – Cassie Davidson (Peel Thunder) (vc) – Ebony Dowson (Peel Thunder)
HB: Jaime Henry (Swan Districts) – Claire Ortlepp (Claremont) – Madeleine Scanlon (Claremont)
C: Jaide Britton (Peel Thunder) – Tarnica Golisano (Subiaco) (c) – Mikayla Western (Claremont)
HF: Ella Smith (Claremont) – Brooke Whyte (Claremont) – Abbygail Bushby (Swan Districts)
F: Kate Bartlett (Peel Thunder) – Julia Teakle (East Fremantle) – Ashlee Atkins (East Fremantle)
R: Lauren Wakfer (South Fremantle) – Jayme Harken (Subiaco) – Sharon Wong (East Fremantle)
INT: Georgie Cleaver (East Fremantle) – Jess Cox (Swan Districts) – Ashleigh Gomes (East Fremantle) – Sasha Goranova (Claremont) – Larissa Versaci (East Fremantle) – Chloe Wrigley (Peel Thunder)
EMG: Amber Kinnane (East Fremantle) – Kate Orme (Claremont) – Poppy Stockwell (South Fremantle)