DESPITE losing their star defender Kate Lutkins to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at the start of the season, Brisbane showcased its depth by still not only being competitive but finishing third overall on the AFL Women’s ladder for the 2022 season. Midfielder Emily Bates took out the league best and fairest, and the club itself had minimal changes over the off-season, making the Lions one of the top contenders yet again.
Best & Fairest: Emily Bates
Leading Goalkicker: Greta Bodey
IN: Ella Smith, Charlotte Mullins (Aspley), Dee Heslop (Gold Coast), Kiara Hillier (Maroochydore)
OUT: Maria Moloney, Indy Tahau (Port Adelaide), Jess Wuetschner (delisted), Maggie Harmer, Bella Smith (inactive list)
Alexandra Anderson, Emily Bates, Greta Bodey, Shannon Campbell, Sophie Conway, Dakota Davidson, Isabel Dawes, Jade Ellenger, Zimmorlei Farquharson, Natalie Grider, Dee Heslop, Tahlia Hickie, Kiara Hillier, Courtney Hodder, Breanna Koenen, Kate Lutkins, Phoebe Monahan, Charlotte Mullins, Orla O’Dwyer, Mikayla Pauga, Lily Postlethwaite, Lucinda Pullar, Ella Smith, Taylor Smith, Catherine Svarc, Ruby Svarc, Jesse Wardlaw, Sharni Webb, Luka Yoshida-Martin
Inactive: Maggie Harmer (personal reasons), Gabrielle Collingwood (knee injury), Bella Smith (knee injury)
Round 1: vs. Fremantle | Gabba
Round 2: @ GWS | Manuka Oval
Round 3: vs. Gold Coast | Gabba
Round 4: @ Melbourne | Casey Fields
Round 5: @ Richmond | Punt Road
Round 6: vs. Essendon | Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex
Round 7: @ North Melbourne | Arden Street
Round 8: vs. Adelaide | Metricon Stadium
Round 9: @ Hawthorn | SkyBus Stadium
Round 10: vs. Collingwood | Metricon Stadium
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
LEAGUE B&F CONTENDER: Emily Bates
Bates already has one in the bag, but is the most obvious shout to go back-to-back, so is the clear choice here. Having always been a quality midfielder, she received more of the external plaudits in 2022, and is such a key cog in the Lions onball.
BIG YEAR FOR: Lily Postlethwaite
Returning from a season off due to an ACL injury, Postlethwaite was putting up big numbers for Maroochydore in the QAFL Women’s. Now ready to return to the elite level, the talented small midfielder knows how to find it inside or out, and impacts games in a big way.
KEY TALKING POINTS:
Will Kate Lutkins return in Season 7?
It is the question on everyone’s lips given Lutkins – who injured her ACL in Round 1 of the AFL Women’s season back in January – is not on the Lions’ inactive list. It is believed there is hope she could make her return later in the season, with the upcoming one lasting until November. If she could be given the all-clear, even if just for finals or before finals, it would be a huge boost to the Lions.
How many of the Lions’ Academy draftees might play in their debut season?
Brisbane picked up another three graduates from its Brisbane Lions Academy in Ella Smith, Charlotte Mullins and Kiara Hillier. Smith is the most likely to get a crack early with an incredible fitness base and is already a natural ball-winner. Mullins should be the next as a player who can play a role across all three lines and has class and poise to impact at the top level. Hillier is still ironing out areas of her game, but with Lutkins out injured and Indy Tahau departing for Port Adelaide, she provides good depth in defence, and someone who can also swing forward.
Do the Lions have the most potent forwardline in the competition?
It has to be said they do, and the statistics from last year – particularly looking at offensive stats and pure points for – back that statement up. With talls such as Zimmorlei Farquharson and Jesse Wardlaw, the most damaging small in the competition in Courtney Hodder and last year’s club leading goalkicker Greta Bodey, it is easy to see how the Lions averaged 49.6 points per game last season.
What do the Lions need to do to win their second flag in three seasons?
Brisbane would first and foremost look to keep as healthy as possible, because had they had Lutkins for the entire season, who knows if the Lions might have gone a step further in the 2022 season. They could regain her back at the pointy end, but either way, staying fit and being able to add to that midfield depth – which they have through the draft and Postlethwaite’s return – allows the Lions to be a threat once again in 2022.