Potential Best 21s – AFLW Season 7: Sydney, West Coast, Western Bulldogs
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 Sydney, West Coast and Western Bulldogs.
Sydney is the fourth and final expansion side in this series, and the Swans may well be the trickiest of any side to select. That is mainly because of the wide variety of sources where they have plucked out their inaugural list, from the NAB League, VFL Women’s, AFL Sydney, AFL Canberra and of course, AFL Women’s recruits. There are many different ways the Swans could lineup, with plenty of versatile players such as Bella Smith and Brenna Tarrant who could both play up either end. Alexia Hamilton (defence) and Rebecca Privitelli (attack) are the other two pillars, while ex-GWS GIANTS ruck Ally Morphett will lead that department.
The onball brigade will be bolstered by Top 10 picks Montana Ham and Cynthia Hamilton, while Sofia Hurley will provide some outside run, though could easily be the third onballer. Expect there to be at least one experienced player in there, with Lisa Steane, Maddy Collier and Brooke Lochland all capable, as are VFLW recruits Bridie Kennedy and Paige Sheppard. With Season 7 being the great unknown for the Swans, it will be fascinating to see how they line-up in Round 1, and how much it will change throughout the season until coach Scott Gowans finds the perfect mix.
SYDNEY POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Lexi Hamilton – Eliza Vale
HB: Ruby Sargent-Wilson – Bella Smith – Molly Eastman
C: Sofia Hurley – Lisa Steane – Maddy Collier
HF: Aliesha Newman – Brenna Tarrant – Brooke Lochland
F: Sarah Dargan – Rebecca Privitelli
R: Ally Morphett – Montana Ham – Cynthia Hamilton
INT: Sarah Skinner – Paige Sheppard – Ella Heads – Bridie Kennedy – Jaide Anthony
EMG: Sarah Ford – Aimee Whelan – Lauren Szigeti
Remaining players: Kiara Beesley, Montana Beruldsen, Tiarne Cavanagh (rookie), Zoe Hurrell, Genevieve Lawson Tavan (injury replacement player), Alana Woodward
Inactive: Alice Mitchell (knee injury)
West Coast could be largely unrecognisable, with the Eagles in line to produce the most debutants outside the expansion clubs in Season 7. They brought in a ton of new talent amid a host of retirements or departures, with midfielder Mikayla Bowen the biggest loss of them all. They recruited some mature-age talent in the form of Jessica Sedunary and Krstel Petrevski who should slot straight in, while Isabella Simmons will provide important depth in what looks to be a ruck role at the blue and gold. Sarah Lakay should be first choice there following the retirement of Parris Laurie, while the inclusion of generational talent Ella Roberts will be a huge boost for the club.
With some exciting youngsters coming through in the form of Charlotte Thomas, Courtney Rowley, Isabella Lewis and Emily Bennett, the Eagles also added the best readymade talent from the WAFL WOmen’s. Winger Jaide Britton and her teammate and WAFLW leading goalkicker Kate Bartlett should be automatic starters, while Ella Smith and Mikayla Western are also tipped to find themselves playing plenty of games. There is still experience across the list including Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker, but the Eagles are largely a young team still looking to make their mark on the competition.
WEST COAST POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Belinda Smith – Ashton Hill
HB: Emma Swanson – Sophie McDonald – Emily Bennett
C: Jaide Britton – Jess Sedunary – Charlotte Thomas
HF: Kellie Gibson – Ella Roberts – Aisling McCarthy
F: Kate Bartlett – Aimee Schmidt
R: Sarah Lakay – Dana Hooker – Isabella Lewis
INT: Ella Smith – Courtney Rowley – Krstel Petrevski – Mikayla Western – Hayley Bullas
EMG: Sasha Goranova – Beth Schilling – Shanae Davison
Remaining players: Abbygail Bushby, Imahra Cameron, Emily Elkington, Eleanor Hartill (injury replacement player), Emma Humphries, Isabella Simmons, Zoe Wakfer
Inactive: Evangeline Gooch (wrist injury), Lauren Wakfer (knee injury)
The Western Bulldogs lost a couple of star forwards in the form of Bonnie Toogood and Isabel Huntington (would have missed Season 7 anyway), which has opened the door for a new-look front five. Coming back from a long-term injury, Gabrielle Newton might be well served to play as a forward and provide some height alongside fellow Northern Knights premiership teammate Nell Morris-Dalton. Ex-Roo Daisy Bateman adds the X-factor lost by Lochland’s departure to Sydney, while Millie Brown could be a fantastic addition to the defensive half of the ground.
The onball group of Ellie Blackburn, Kirsty Lamb and Jessica Fitzgerald is fantastic, with youngster Elisabeth Georgostathis and the experienced Elle Bennetts also able to roll through there. Rylie Wilcox is a draftee who will likely play as a forward in her debut year, then eventually move into a wing role in the future. She could be a very damaging player alongside Bateman inside the front five, and is one to keep an eye on throughout the season. The defensive combination of Sarah Hartwig, Eleanor Brown and Katie Lynch provides plenty of run as the Dogs look to move up the ladder with that new-look forward line.
WESTERN BULLDOGS POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Naomi Ferres – Katie Lynch
HB: Millie Brown – Eleanor Brown – Sarah Hartwig
C: Isabelle Pritchard – Kirsty Lamb – Isabella Grant
HF: Kirsten McLeod – Gabby Newton – Daisy Bateman
F: Nell Morris-Dalton – Richelle Cranston
R: Celine Moody – Ellie Blackburn – Jessica Fitzgerald
INT: Elle Bennetts – Rylie Wilcox – Elisabeth Georgostathis – Deanna Berry – Bailey Hunt
EMG: Alice Edmunds – Gemma Lagioia – Britney Gutknecht
Remaining players: Deanna Berry, Keely Coyne, Amanda Ling, Elizabeth Snell, Annabel Strahan, Brooke Vernon, Heidi Woodley
Inactive: Aurora Smith (knee injury)