Potential Best 21s – AFLW Season 7: Port Adelaide, Richmond, St Kilda
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 Port Adelaide, Richmond and St Kilda.
Port Adelaide being an expansion club is one of the trickiest potential best 21s to do, with a mix of experienced players and high-upside draftees. Some of those draftees are readymade for the elite level, with Hannah Ewings and Sarah Goodwin tipped to be Round 1 starters, while Amelie Borg and Sachi Syme would be the next closest to stepping up. The forward line featuring recently appointed captain and already established GOAT Erin Phillips, alongside ex-Docker Gemma Houghton and ex-Sun Kate Surman has that experience, as will the midfield with the likes of Justine Mules, Ebony O’Dea, Maria Moloney and Jacqui Yorston.
The defence also has some AFLW experience in it thanks to Indy Tahau, Angela Foley and Hannah Dunn, who are all familiar with South Australia. The readymade talent out of both the SANFL Women’s and WAFL Women’s means there is plenty of depth at the club already, with even those players missing out unlucky to do so. Jade Halfpenny, Jade De Melo, Alex Ballard and Lily Johnson are among those making the step up from the SANFL Women’s, while the likes of Julia Teakle, Tessa Doumanis and Abbey Dowrick – who also tested the waters in the SANFLW – will be making the next step from the WAFL Women’s.
PORT ADELAIDE POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Indy Tahau – Angela Foley
HB: Sarah Goodwin – Amelie Borg – Hannah Dunn
C: Justine Mules – Ebony O’Dea – Jacqui Yorston
HF: Erin Phillips – Julia Teakle – Jade De Melo
F: Gemma Houghton – Kate Surman
R: Elizabeth McGrath – Hannah Ewings – Maria Moloney
INT: Cheyenne Hammond – Jade Halfpenny – Abbey Dowrick – Sachi Syme – Maggie Maclachlan
EMG: Yasmin Duursma – Britt Perry – Alex Ballard
Remaining players: Ella Boag, Laquoiya Cockatoo-Motlap, Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap, Tessa Doumanis, Lily Johnson, Olivia Levicki (rookie)
Richmond lost a fair chunk of experience over the off-season, with the key inclusion coming in teh form of Grace Egan. Her inclusion onball allows Ellie McKenzie to potentially play outside, but the flexibility if rotations will be quite strong for the Tigers. Jess Hosking, Maddie Shevlin, Sarah D’Arcy and Beth Lynch all settled into defensive roles in 2022, but could easily play further afield, while the loss of Tayla Stahl will hurt the Tigers in Season 7. Katie Brennan and Courtney Wakefield are the two natural forwards, with a lot of midfielders rolling through the front five, and it could be a role that McKenzie finds herself in.
Stephanie Williams and Jemima Woods are two recruits with AFLW experience and able to slot into that forwardline, whilst unfortunately top draft selection Charley Ryan will sit out Season 7 recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Youngsters such as Stella Reid and Emelia Yassir should get plenty more games into them, while the likes of Tessa Lavey and Meagan Kiely can continue their rise as mature-age or cross-code inclusions to the AFL Women’s. While the Tigers are still building a team to compete, they have some good young players to go forward with in the future.
RICHMOND POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Sarah D’Arcy – Rebecca Miller
HB: Bethany Lynch – Kate Dempsey – Maddie Shevlin
C: Jess Hosking – Sarah Hosking – Ellie McKenzie
HF: Emelia Yassir – Maddy Brancatisano – Tessa Lavey
F: Katie Brennan – Courtney Wakefield
R: Gabrielle Seymour – Grace Egan – Monique Conti
INT: Meagan Kiely – Kodi Jaques – Poppy Kelly – Stella Reid – Sophie Molan
EMG: Stephanie Williams – Meg Macdonald – Laura McClelland
Remaining players: Katelyn Cox, Libby Graham, Jemima Kelly, Charley Ryan*, Eilish Sheerin, Saraid Taylor (rookie), Jemima Woods
Inactive: Hannah Burchell (knee injury), Harriet Cordner (knee injury)
*Recovering from an ACL
St Kilda will be thrilled by picking up their best recruit who was already on their list in Georgia Patrikios. The star two-time best and fairest winner will be a welcome inclusion in the side, especially with Tyanna Smith still recovering from an ACL injury – though notably not on the inactive list – and the likes of Catherine Phillips, Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Jacqui Vogt departing the club. The Saints also picked up ex-Blue Nicola Stevens who can help out in attack or can be swung back, with Bianca Jakobsson a crucial cog in the defensive five. It will reqully be interesting to see how much action mature-age recruits in Hannah Stuart and Deanna Jolliffe get, as well as ruck Simone Nalder who fills the void left by the unavailable Leah Cutting.
The other huge recruit in the form of a ruck is Erin McKinnon with the All-Australian capable of racking up plenty of hitouts. The revelation of star utility Tarni White in the midfield alongside Molly McDonald will be fantastic for their development, with Alice Burke and Nicola Xenos to be those youngsters continually building. Caitlin Greiser is a fantastic target inside 50, and over time, Ella Friend could join her to provide support for Kate Shierlaw with both players capable of playing further afield. The Saints will not have a great deal of expectation going into Season 7, but will be looking to improve on last season and remain competitive throughout.
ST KILDA POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Bianca Jakobsson – Rebecca Ott
HB: Alice Burke – Jayde Van Dyk – Hannah Priest
C: Molly McDonald – Tarni White – Darcy Guttridge
HF: Nicola Xenos – Kate Shierlaw – Nicola Stevens
F: Caitlin Greiser – Jess Matin
R: Erin McKinnon – Georgia Patrikios – Olivia Vesely
INT: Ella Friend – Renee Saulitis – Rosie Dillon – Hannah Stuart – Grace Kelly
EMG: Ashleigh Richards – Nat Exon – Lucy Burke
Remaining players: J’Noemi Anderson, Clara Fitzpatrick, Deanna Jolliffe, Caitlin Matthews, Simone Nalder, Tyanna Smith*
Inactive: Leah Cutting (work commitments)
*Recovering from an ACL