EVER a contender in the AFL Women’s, Brisbane enjoyed a strong draft, opting to pick up three of its Academy ‘cubs’ as well as a former Queensland representative and Gold Coast AFLW player. The quartet of picks provide the Lions with some versatility, and especially some midfield depth, whilst also picking up a medium-tall who can play up either end as she has for Maroochydore in the QAFL Women’s and Queensland in the AFLW Under 18 Championships.
Ball use is a major theme of the Lions’ draft haul, with all four able to distribute the ball well by hand or foot. Though Hillier is more of a kick-first player with her ability to kick from full-back or lead out up forward, Smith and Mullins are both inside-outside talents, while Heslop is a known quantity at the level, having consistently played for the Suns over three years, amassing 23 games in three seasons.
WHERE THEY FIT:
Smith spent a lot of time out on the wing this year for Queensland, having already ticked the box as an inside beast with incredibly clean hands and fantastic work rate. Possessing great athleticism that she began to use more as the season went on, she is someone who has the running capacity to come in early on, and has that readymade trait about her. Similarly, Mullins is another who has that senior experience at Aspley and did not look out of place against senior opponents.
Expect the natural midfielder to potentially start off a flank, and though the strength of the Brisbane outfit might mean both Smith and Mullins are not automatic starters, do not be surprised if they force their way in with big preseasons. Heslop is clearly a readymade option and could play off half-back or even through the midfield if required, but given departures, she is likely back there. Similarly, Hillier will likely suit in defence given the loss of Indy Tahau, but her ability to switch forward could be crucial. She might be a touch off the midfielders in terms of readymade ability, but has played at senior level so can compete against bigger opponents, though is still ironing out some areas.
Brisbane picked up players on both a best available, and ability to plug holes in the team left by departing players. With Tahau and Maria Moloney out of the team, the Lions have been able to source readymade replacements from their Academy, and the Suns. Given Heslop represented Queensland back in 2019 alongside the likes of Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes, she should have no trouble fitting into the team.