COMING into their maiden AFLW campaign, Essendon is one of the most intriguing sides coming into Season 7.
As one of four expansion sides coming into the league this season, there are a lot of questions around the Bombers this year and not a whole lot to go off to answer said queries.
They were arguably the most talked about of the expansion teams this season, but will the hype live up to reality? They have the capabilities to make the eight, but the question will be whether they can pull it off.
Sophie Alexander, Isabella Ayre, Daria Bannister, Alana Barba, Olivia Barton, Jorja Borg, Mia Busch, Stephanie Cain, Amber Clarke, Joanne Doonan, Federica Frew, Ellyse Gamble, Georgia Gee, Danielle Marshall, Alex Morcom, Catherine Phillips, Madison Prespakis, Amelia Radford, Caitlin Sargent, Paige Scott, Renee Tierney, Bonnie Toogood, Sophie Van De Huevel, Mia Van Dyke, Ashleigh Van Loon, Jacqui Vogt, Stephanie Wales, Lily-Rose Williamson, Jessica Wuetschner, Jordan Zanchetta
Inactive: Eloise Ashley-Cooper (injury), Georgia Nanscawen (injury)
Round 1: vs. Hawthorn | ETU Stadium
Round 2: vs. Carlton | ETU Stadium
Round 3: @ West Coast | Mineral Resources Park
Round 4: vs. Richmond | ETU Stadium
Round 5: @ Collingwood | AIA Centre
Round 6: @ Brisbane | Moreton Bay Sports Complex
Round 7: vs. Geelong | Reid Oval, Warrnambool
Round 8: vs. Sydney | Ikon Park
Round 9: @ Melbourne | Casey Fields
Round 10: @ Port Adelaide | Alberton Oval
POTENTIAL BEST 21:
B: Danielle Marshall – Mia Busch
HB: Sophie Van De Heuvel – Ellyse Gamble – Alex Morcom
C: Steph Cain – Catherine Phillips – Daria Bannister
HF: Amber Clarke – Bonnie Toogood – Georgia Gee
F: Paige Scott – Sophie Alexander
R: Jorja Borg – Madison Prespakis – Alana Barba
INT: Jacqui Vogt – Renee Tierney – Jess Wuetschner – Frederica Frew – Jordan Zanchetta
EMG: Joanne Doonan – Caitlin Sargent – Isabella Ayre
LEAGUE B&F CONTENDER: Madison Prespakis
It is hard to go past a former League Best and Fairest as a contender to win the award again, especially when it is someone of Prespakis’ calibre.
The only thing that might stand in Prespakis’ way of another win is the strength of her teammates around her, who might pinch votes off her.
BIG YEAR FOR: Sophie Van De Heuvel
A former top three draft pick, Van De Heuvel did not entirely live up to that kind of expectation at Geelong.
However, having established herself in the top flight, she has moved clubs and finds herself in a very different situation in her career.
She has gone from one of the least experienced defenders in her team to the most experienced, so with much of Essendon’s defensive group having no AFLW experience to her name, this season is the perfect chance for Van De Heuvel to step up and prove why she was such a high pick in her draft year.
KEY TALKING POINTS:
How will Essendon counter its defensive experience issues?
Despite the calibre of much of its list, one weakness Essendon has is the lack of AFLW experience in defence.
When your most experienced top level defender is a 21-year-old (Van De Heuvel), that is a really telling sign of the state of your list.
AFLW experience is not the be all and end all of a good side, but playing at AFLW level is not like playing at any other level, so Essendon’s defenders are going to need to get use to the pace and intensity of AFLW, and fast, if they want to do well this AFLW season.
Can Essendon live up to the preseason hype?
As previously mentioned, there has been a lot of hype surrounding Essendon over the past few months, but as one of the expansion sides it is very hard to gauge where the Bombers will finish this season. Expansion sides have generally struggled in the past, but Essendon certainly have the calibre to make the finals.
How will Essendon’s all conquering VFLW Bombers go at the next level?
Anyone who followed the VFLW this year will know how hard it was for anyone to stop the Bombers, and so unsurprisingly many of the stars of that premiership side now find themselves on Essendon’s AFLW list.
But, AFLW is a whole different kettle of fish, so it will be fascinating to see how these players make the transition up to AFLW. Some, such as Danielle Marshall and Jordan Zanchetta have previous AFLW experience, but most of them do not.
How will their very tall forward line work?
Normally forward lines have a mixture of heights, but Essendon has gone with a very different strategy in its inaugural season, opting with a generally taller combination in attack. That is certainly going to stretch opposition defenders trying to match them for height, but at the same time a forward line full of so many talls makes it predictable for the opposition, so it will be fascinating to see what the game plan is in that department from the Bombers.