FINISHING 13th overall in the AFL Women’s and last among the Victorian sides, St Kilda unfortunately had to wait until the 16th pick in the 2022 AFLW Draft due to expansion sides. The Saints, who dearly missed the dominant young duo of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith last season, will look to try and build from the ground up in Season 7, selecting a couple of readymade players from their VFLW programs, alongside a highly talented top-ager and a father-daughter selection to round out the quartet of players coming into the club.
Tough and contested ball-winners. St Kilda has added four players who can either play defensive roles, or who apply great defensive pressure when the ball is in the area, not afraid to win high numbers of contested ball. Anderson is the most naturally gifted of the four, playing between inside midfield and up forward; with strong hands overhead, and being clean at ground level, whilst laying plenty of tackles. Similarly, Matthews is one who competes in the defensive half of the ground, and is not afraid to take on any opponent. Joliffe provides the run off half-back and a steady head with ball-in-hand, whilst Stuart is a high-volume accumulator who thrives on the inside, which is key given the loss of Tilly Lucas-Rodd to Hawthorn.
WHERE THEY FIT:
The two Round 1 starters should be Stuart and Jolliffe, with both players becoming standouts for the Southern Saints at VFLW level. Stuart was one of the premier ball winners of the VFLW and will slot straight into the on-ball division, adding that strength lost over the off-season and the ball-winning missed by not having Smith or Patrikios in there. Jolliffe will be one who adds another accountable defensive option who can also run off and provide some drive from the back half, making it two best 21 players from the get-go.
Anderson is a player who could play early on, but more as a permanent forward and as she continues to improve her endurance and get used to the Saints’ systems. She is one who will eventually split her time 50/50 between the areas but may not be a walkup starter straight away. Expected to play at some point in Season 7, Anderson will certainly excite with her upside and game sense. Matthews is another player more likely to be later on in the season, but has the experience to be a reliable depth option to be called upon if required.
St Kilda was able to pick up a couple of readymade best 21 options straight out of the Saints’ VFLW program, whilst adding that X-factor type with their first selection. The Saints also added that feel-good story of a hard working father-daughter who got her chance, with Matthews having a strong season to earn her spot on an AFLW list. Though the Saints are likely still to struggle in Season 7, they will be hoping to regain a couple of their star midfielders in 2023.