Potential Best 21s – AFLW Season 7: Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton
LATER this month the AFL Women’s Season 7 will kick off and there is plenty to get excited about. While preseasons are underway and coaches are trying to work out a Round 1 lineup, we delved into what each of the sides could look like next season. Over a six-part series, we will examine three teams at a time, starting with Adelaide, Brisbane and Carlton in the first part.
Despite the entrance of Port Adelaide into the AFL Women’s, the Crows have maintained a really strong list that they can still be considered a genuine title contender in Season 7. Picking a best 21 for the Crows is incredibly difficult, and that is credit to the depth at the club. Though the likes of Erin Phillips, Justine Mules, Angela Foley and Jessica Sedunary are a big loss from an experience factor, the amount of youth coming through the Crows will see Adelaide still maintain a strong 21 each and every week.
Expect arrival Niamh Kelly to provide a one-two Irish punch with Ailish Considine, while the likes of Zoe Prowse, Madison Newman and Hannah Munyard should become permanent fixtures. West Coast’s Amber Ward could be one who allows Najwa Allen to play further afield, with her, Brooke Tonon and Lisa Whiteley the next three in line. Right down to the very last player pick in injury replacement Jess Waterhouse, the Crows have a unique situation where every player on the list could play from Round 1 if needed, and new draftees, Keeley Kustermann and Kiera Mueller could certainly slot in if required.
ADELAIDE POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Chelsea Biddell – Marijana Rajcic
HB: Chelsea Randall – Sarah Allan – Najwa Allen
C: Ailish Considine – Teah Charlton – Niamh Kelly
HF: Stevie-Lee Thompson – Eloise Jones – Danielle Ponter
F: Ashleigh Woodland – Caitlin Gould
R: Montana McKinnon – Anne Hatchard – Ebony Marinoff
INT: Hannah Button – Rachelle Martin – Madison Newman – Zoe Prowse – Hannah Munyard
EMG: Amber Ward – Lisa Whiteley – Brooke Tonon
Remaining players: Abbie Ballard, Mckenzie Dowrick, Keeley Kustermann, Kiera Mueller, Jasmine Simmons (rookie), Jess Waterhouse
Inactive: Dayna Cox (personal reasons), Jasmyn Hewett (work) Deni Varnhagen (vaccination policy)
Like Adelaide, Brisbane has lost a chunk of names, but have the depth to cover those losses, even with defensive general Kate Lutkins still on the sidelines recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Curiously as some eagle-eyed Lions fans have noticed, Lutkins has not been placed on the inactive list, and injured her knee in January this year. Though not many have made a recovery within a calendar year, could the Lions be leaving the door ajar for a late season or even finals inclusion?
We have left her out of the potential side at this stage purely because for the most part of the season she will not be avaulable. The defence is largely untouched bar the departure of Indy Tahau leaving them a touch short there. It might mean that players will take on taller opponents on a weekly basis, but the defensive strengths of the midfield allow the pressure to be eased on the back five. The Lions midfield is as strong as any, with Emily Bates, Ally Anderson and Catherine Svarc, while star winger Orla O’Dwyer and her partner-in-crime Sophie Conway will provide drive inside 50. The return of Lily Postlethwaite from an ACL injury will be welcomed, whilst the depth, with the likes of Mikayla Pauga, Ella Smith and Lucinda Pullar among those to push for claims inside the best 21. Expect former Sun Dee Heslop to slot straight in.
BRISBANE POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Shannon Campbell – Phoebe Monahan
HB: Jade Ellenger – Nat Grider – Breanna Koenen
C: Orla O’Dwyer – Emily Bates – Sophie Conway
HF: Isabel Dawes – Jesse Wardlaw – Greta Bodey
F: Dakota Davidson – Courtney Hodder
R: Tahlia Hickie – Ally Anderson – Cathy Svarc
INT: Taylor Smith – Lily Postlethwaite – Zimmorlei Farquharson – Dee Heslop – Ruby Svarc
EMG: Lucinda Pullar – Mikayla Pauga – Ella Smith
Remaining players: Kiara Hillier, Kate Lutkins*, Charlotte Mullins, Bella Smith, Sharni Webb, Luka Yoshida-Martin
Inactive: Maggie Harmer (personal reasons), Gabrielle Collingwood (knee injury)
*Recovering from an ACL injury
Unlike the two teams above, Carlton’s side does not simply write itself. The Blues have undergone a lot of change over the off-season, with the Blues losing Madison Prespakis, Georgia Gee, Nicola Stevens, Courtney Jones and Grace Egan in particular, with the five players managing 46 games last season. They have brought in Phoebe McWilliams and Amelia Velardo from Geelong and Collingwood respectively who should start, as well as readymade defender Jess Jones. All three should slot into the 21, while draftee Keeley Skepper will likely be given a chance early on, and could rotate onto any line.
The Blues do have a lot of question marks heading into Season 7 with a lot of young players filtered around experience, but the development of Abbie McKay and Mimi Hill will only thrive as the pair assume the mantle of the leading onballers. Add in consistent games for last year’s draftees in Keeley Sherar, Brooke Vickers and Annie Lee, and the future is there. The big question mark will be on the talls outside of star ruck Breann Moody, with Jess Good seemingly a lock after eight games last season, but Serena Gibbs returns and former Casey forward Imogen Milford has had a year in the system without cracking into the senior team just yet. Carlton will hope to bring back Lucy McEvoy once she has recovered from shoulder surgery, as well as Brooke Walker who has been running around with the Parramatta Eels in the NRLW.
CARLTON POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Vaomua Laloifi – Paige Trudgeon
HB: Jessica Jones – Kerryn Peterson – Gabriella Pound
C: Madeleine Guerin – Mimi Hill – Keeley Sherar
HF: Amelia Velardo – Jess Good – Keeley Skepper
F: Darcy Vescio – Phoebe McWilliams
R: Breann Moody – Elise O’Dea – Abbie McKay
INT: Lucy McEvoy* – Natalie Plane – Brooke Vickers – Annie Lee – Jess Dal Pos
EMG: Poppy Schaap – Serena Gibbs – Charlotte Hammans
Remaining players: Mia Austin, Lily Goss, Imogen Milford, Taylor Ortlepp (rookie), Brooke Walker**
*Recovering from shoulder surgery
**Late-season return from NRLW