Potential Best 21s – AFLW Season 7: Geelong, Gold Coast, GWS
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, and in today’s article we focus on Geelong, Gold Coast and GWS GIANTS.
Geelong is a side that has plenty of potential to move up the AFLW ladder and the quality of the bottom-end for the Cats has certainly improved to make it tricky to pick a Best 21. The recruit of West Coast star Mikayla Bowen makes the midfield incredibly strong, with the ball-winner alongside fellow hardnuts Amy McDonald and Georgie Prespakis, and defender-turned-midfielder Rebecca Webster. With Nina Morrison getting some continuity in her game, the Cats midfield is young but has plenty of upside, and one that can do a lot of damage around the stoppages. Speaking of continuity, Mia Skinner has the potential to step straight into the best 21 after her leading goalkicker efforts in the VFLW, though Georgia Clarke is another tall hoping to get her chance at some stage.
The defence has been left untouched over the off-season, with the likes of Meghan McDonald, Chantel Emonson and Maddy McMahon holding down the forward. The forward line – which will be without Phoebe McWilliams – will likely feature Dees recruits Shelley Scott and Jacqueline Parry as well as the exciting Chloe Scheer. Expect picking the interchange to be difficult, with Renee Garing ready to step straight back in after missing 2022 due to the birth of her child, while Laura Gardiner will be hoping for more opportunities in the blue and white hoops in Season. It will be equally interesting to see whether or not Tiger recruit Ingrid Houtsma can crack into the side early.
GEELONG POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Maddy McMahon – Georgie Rankin
HB: Chantel Emonson – Meghan McDonald – Madeline Keryk
C: Mikayla Bowen – Georgie Prespakis – Nina Morrison
HF: Shelley Scott – Jacqueline Parry – Chloe Scheer
F: Kate Darby – Mia Skinner
R: Olivia Fuller – Rebecca Webster – Amy McDonald
INT: Darcy Moloney – Renee Garing – Rachel Kearns – Julia Crockett-Grills – Laura Gardiner
EMG: Georgia Clarke – Zali Friswell – Gabbi Featherston
Remaining players: Samantha Gooden (rookie), Claudia Gunjaca, Ingrid Houtsma, Annabel Johnson, Abbey McDonald, Brooke Plummer
Gold Coast was a side that showed plenty in Season 7, and it would not be unreasonable to suggest the Suns could compete for finals this season, especially with the competition expanding to an eight-team finals series. Though they lost a chunk of talent to Port Adelaide, Gold Coast still has a strong core of young stars, headlined by Charlie Rowbottom, who will provide a hard inside midfield group with Claudia Whitfort, Alison Drennan and Jamie Stanton, with Courtney Jones providing much needed support inside 50 coming up from Carlton and will be a key target alongside the revelation that was Tara Bohanna in 2022.
The big question mark is perhaps in defence, where the loss of Hannah Dunn and Jacqui Yorston will be felt. It could open the door for Giselle Davies to get her opportunity, with the youngster learning the craft and continuing to develop last season. Had it not been for a back injury over the preseason, Gold Coast would have unveiled star draftee Alana Gee, with there being uncertainty around her availability in Season 7. If fully fit she will slot straight into the line-up, but for now has the asterisk. Fellow draftees in Jasmyn Smith and Claire Ransom should force their way into the side soon enough, with Annise Bradfield returning from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and should have no problems adapting back into the team.
GOLD COAST POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Vivien Saad – Lauren Ahrens
HB: Elizabeth Keaney – Giselle Davies – Serene Watson
C: Jamie Stanton – Alison Drennan – Daisy D’Arcy
HF: Jasmyn Smith – Kalinda Howarth – Ellie Hampson
F: Courtney Jones – Tara Bohanna
R: Lauren Bella – Charlie Rowbottom – Claudia Whitfort
INT: Jacqui Dupuy – Annise Bradfield – Claire Ransom – Lucy Single – Tori Groves-Little
EMG: Ashlee Atkins – Shannon Danckert – Tahlia Meyer
Remaining players: Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster, Ashanti Bush, Georgia Clayden, Alana Gee*, Wallis Randell, Krystal Scott
Inactive: Maddison Levi (rugby commitments), Teagan Levi (rugby commitments), Jade Pregelj (knee injury)
*Recovering from a back injury
GWS GIANTS have undergone plenty of change over the off-season with retirements and departures making it a tricky period to overcome. With Sydney Swans entering the league, the GIANTS immediately had a state-based rival, and the loss of forward Rebecca Privitelli and young ruck Ally Morphett hurt the side. Throw in the fact Erin McKinnon departed for the Saints, and the GIANTS were let a little short in the ruck department, so convinced ruck-forward Fleur Davies to nominate NSW-ACT and she should be the star tall in the side. Davies and fellow draftee Zarlie Goldsworthy should be Round 1 starters, with the other draftees – in particular Meghan Gaffney and Zara Hamilton – competing for a place.
The GIANTS defence has luckily been left untouched, with Pepa Randall, Tanya Hetherington and Katherine Smith setting up a strong half-back line. Add in the returning Jodie Hicks and the GIANTS have the necessary depth in that area of the ground. Rebecca Beeson will also return after missing half the season in 2022, with the midfielder rejoining elite onballer Alyce Parker and Ally Dallaway, which allows Alicia Eva to potentially use her speed and weapons on the outside. With the ageless Cora Staunton up forward, it will be getting support around her that will be the big question mark in Season 7.
GWS GIANTS POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Brid Stack – Annalyse Lister
HB: Katherine Smith -Tanya Hetherington – Pepa Randall
C: Emily Pease – Ally Dallaway – Alicia Eva
HF: Nicola Barr – Cora Staunton – Zarlie Goldsworthy
F: Jessica Doyle – Georgia Garnett
R: Fleur Davies – Alyce Parker – Rebecca Beeson
INT: Haneen Zrieka – Tarni Evans – Jasmine Grierson – Tait Mackrill – Chloe Dalton*
EMG: Tarni Evans – Jodie Hicks – Meghan Gaffney
Remaining players: Madison Brazendale, Tess Cattle, Georgina Fowler, Zara Hamilton, Jodie Hicks, Cambridge McCormick, Brodee Mowbray, Casidhe Simmons
Inactive: Jessica Allan (work commitments), Emily Goodsir (maternity leave), Isabel Huntington (knee), Isadora McLeay (knee)