AFLW U16s Player Focus: Havana Harris (Suns Academy)
GOLD Coast Suns Academy got the wood over Brisbane Lions Academy in a two-game Under 16 series, winning by 65 and 38 points amid both perfect sunshine and pouring rain last week. In a different look to our Player Focus for the carnival, we analysed the performance of high-upside tall, Havana Harris.
The 2006-born Harris has already impressed at Under 18s level, earning All-Australian team honours at full-forward. Standing at 182cm, Harris is more than capable of playing both forward and through the ruck. Back at her own age level, the key position utility averaged 23.5 disposals, 2.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 4.0 hitouts, 2.5 clearances, 5.0 inside 50 and booted 2.4 across the two games.
AFLW UNDER 16s SERIES
Suns Academy 11.15 (81) defeated Lions Academy 2.4 (16)
Stats: 25 disposals (15 kicks, 10 handballs), 4 marks, 3 tackles, 5 hitouts, 4 clearances, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals, 3 behinds
Harris’ first game was her more prolific one, starring in bathing sunshine up on the Sunshine Coast. She started the Suns Academy’s scoring with a brilliant passage of play, running onto it early in the middle and putting it in front of Dekota Baron for the game’s first major.
The key forward would continue to present inside 50 and even had a flying shot on goal that missed to the right. She would finish off a ridiculous first term with a mark and set shot on goal that went through the big sticks.
Harris would continue to have a few shots on goal, and had her radar been more set to ‘on’, then she would have finished the day with a big bag. Her athleticism and ability to compete not just in the air, but at ground level, also created lots of headaches for the opposition.
A perfect example of her two-way impact occurred in the second half when she nearly kicked a ripping goal around her body from a snap, then moments later laid a tackle to lock the ball up.
She would go on to set up Tara Harrington with a goal on the three quarter time siren with a handball, then finish off the game with consistency all the way through. She spent more time in the ruck in the last term, and had another highlight moment by taking it out of the ruck on the wing, bursting away and burning off her opponent then hitting up Nyalli Milne on the lead 40m from goal. Her athleticism in the ruck to get either the tap down, or when in space to run off with the ball, was so rare for a player of her size.
Suns Academy 6.9 (45) defeated Lions Academy 1.1 (7)
Stats: 22 disposals (7 kicks, 15 handballs), 1 mark, 2 tackles, 3 hitouts, 1 clearance, 3 inside 50s, 1 behind
Thought not quite as dominant in terms of highlights – in a day that was far from helpful for a tall – Harris still racked up the ball with ease working hard around the ground. She started forward as she did in game one and presented well at centre half-forward.
Though she did not take the mark in the opening moments, she did crash the pack inside 50 to help out the smalls, then continued to present even having a shot of her own off a step that just missed to the right. Her clean pickup off the deck was ultra-impressive.
Harris had a big first half with 15 disposals in the 36 minutes, and continually showed her strength at ground level. Though her third quarter was a quieter one – just the three handballs – she kept working hard and had a chance in the goalsquare.
Unfortunately Harris could not quite shake off a tackler and get clean purchase on the ball. In the final term, Harris went into the ruck and spent time behind the ball, showing second and third efforts when at the stoppage. Picking up just the seven disposals after half-time, Harris was still able to catch the eye, and given the conditions she had no right to win 20-plus disposals.
CLOSING THOUGHTS …
The 2024 AFL Women’s Draft is stacked with talent as one of the first groups coming through that have been lucky enough to be involved with development pathways their entire career. It is a difficult thought to even try and predict where players will land, but in terms of Queensland, Harris and teammate Harrington will be at the pointy end for the Suns.