REIGNING wooden spooners West Coast was handed an extra priority pick and then traded its way to a strong draft position where they took seven of the first eight West Australian AFLW Draft selections in a bid to move back up the AFL Women’s ladder. The Eagles picked a mix of top-agers with a couple of speedy mature-agers to add some serious talent to their overall list, with many of the young guns pushing for Round 1 spots almost immediately. It is hoped that by picking up a generational talent alongside some readymade options – which include a trio of pre-listed players – to turn around the team’s fortunes.
#14 Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)
#15 Lauren Wakfer (South Fremantle)
#24 Abbygail Bushby (Swan Districts)
#36 Zoe Wakfer (South Fremantle)
#43 Emily Elkington (Claremont)
#47 Jaide Britton (Peel Thunder)
#53 Mikayla Western (Claremont)
Best available and midfield depth. West Coast had plenty of flexibility with its draft position and went for the clear standout talents, followed by a developing tall and some speedy mature-age wingers to provide all-round cover through the middle third of the ground. Roberts was the standout prospect not just in Western Australia, but across the whole country, and she made her way to the blue and gold, whilst also being joined by AFLW Academy ruck, Lauren Wakfer. They created the storyline of the night by plucking out Wakfer’s twin sister Zoe to provide extra depth and height in multiple positions, whilst the other two top-age AFLW Draft Combine invites from the State Academy in Bushby and Elkington followed. Britton and Western provide the need for speed on the wings, with Western also able to play inside 50.
WHERE THEY FIT:
Most of the West Coast draftees should fit into the team early on if form permits, with Roberts, Britton and Western in particular the most likely to roll straight into the Round 1 side. Roberts will be a key target inside 50, with Peel Thunder teammate and close friend Britton likely to be on one wing, with Western on the other, or at half-forward. Bushby is the other one potentially able to line-up from Round 1 or at least early in the season, with the Swan Districts prospect likely to begin as a half-forward, and work her way into the onball division.
Lauren Wakfer who is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury will not feature in Season 7, with the ruck replaced by basketballer Eleanor Hartill. Zoe Wakfer is still a raw, developing type who is predicted to come along in leaps and bounds in an elite program, whilst Elkington has potential to start early on, but will likely feature later on in the season as a forward who has outstanding defensive traits and an elite kick. Add in Ella Smith, Sasha Goranova and Kate Bartlett who were all pre-signed and should slot straight in, and the Eagles will be a vastly different lineup in Season 7 to 2022.
West Coast fans should be excited by the future with plenty of young talent coming through, and the mature-age players having many years left as well. The Eagles added speed, skill, upside and class in the 2022 AFLW Draft crop, and though they might take a little while to gel, they have high potential to cause a few upsets and build for a long-term future.