2022 AFLW Draft team review: Essendon

NEWCOMERS Essendon had quite the large haul at the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft, picking up seven players, including two mature-agers to complete the Bombers list ahead of Season 7. The Bombers went for a mix of exciting forwards, natural leaders and club teammates, to cover all areas of the ground, but particularly looked at versatile midfielders. Already boasting a strong foundational list, the Bombers will have plenty of depth, with a lot of the selections readymade talents for the season.


#4 Amber Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays)
#8 Paige Scott (GWV Rebels)
#32 Stephanie Wales (Casey Demons VFLW)
#35 Mia Busch (Eastern Ranges)
#46 Mia Van Dyke (Geelong Falcons)
#62 Amelia Radford (Essendon VFLW)
#73 Ashleigh Van Loon (Geelong Falcons)


Readymade talent. The Bombers have made no secret of their desire to compete from day one in Season 7, and followed up their strong off-season with a big draft haul containing players of whom most are ready to step in Round 1 if required. Along with being readymade, the majority of the list also has good versatility, allowing the red and black side to rotate players.


The Bombers opted for small over tall when it came to Dandenong Stingrays talent, by plucking out utility Clarke with pick four. The blistering speedster will be a Round 1 starter if fit, and could theoretically play in any line. She started her junior career as a running defender, went forward in her bottom-age campaign, then graduated as a forward-midfielder in 2022. Similar to Clarke, Scott is a dynamic forward who spent more time up the ground with a high level of X-factor. Though still ironing out her consistency, Scott is one of the most naturally gifted players in the draft crop.

Fellow top-agers out of Geelong, Van Dyke and Van Loon will provide a mix of inside and outside balance, with Van Dyke athletic and versatile enough to play centre half-back, centre half-forward or even on a wing. Van Loon is a pure inside midfielder, but has incredibly clean hands. Similarly, Eastern Ranges vice-captain Busch has enjoyed a terrific season and was a value selection at 35, having played off half-back and through the midfield. Speaking of the midfield is readymade onballer Radford who joins a host of teammates from Essendon’s VFLW program. Rounding out the haul is Casey Demons’ Wales who provides some height in the side.


Essendon came into the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft with a big draft hand to pick up some quality players. The Bombers collected a range of top-age and mature-age talents, of whom most are readymade to step in if called upon. They beefed up their midfield, and grabbed some swing utilities, but one thing is for sure, the Bombers will be exciting to watch in 2023.

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