SANFLW 23 Under 23 in 2023: #23 Maya Rigter

AS PART of a new countdown series leading into the 2023 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season, we will name 23 players to watch who are under 23. Starting today with the 23rd ranked Maya Rigter and working up to the top ranked player, we are only looking at those players who were born January 1, 2000 or later, have played a SANFL Women’s senior match and have never been on an AFL Women’s list.

#23 Maya Rigter (Sturt)

DOB: 19/07/2000
Height: 168cm
Position: General Defender / Midfielder
Local club: Morphettville Park Roos

One of the most respected players in the competition comes in at number 23, and realistically the 22-year-old Rigter could be higher given her talent. As a junior, Rigter developed as a strong and reliable midfielder with natural instincts to find the ball and use it well, making her debut for Sturt in its inaugural game of Round 1, 2018. From there, she went from strength to strength.

In 2019, Rigter was in the peak of her powers, having only been able to start at the top state level as an 18-year-old, she was now an overager but showing traits that suggest she could make a step up to the elite level. As an inside midfielder, Rigter made the 2019 SANFL Women’s Team of the Year and came runner-up in the Double Blues’ best and fairest award.

Doubling her disposal count from her debut season, Rigter averaged 13.1 disposals and a whopping 7.5 tackles per game. She was a fierce competitor who won a lot of ball at the coalface, and worked hard to spread to the outside as well. Also picking up 2.1 clearances and 2.7 inside 50s per game, Rigter recorded a 76 per cent disposal efficiency that year. In one game alone, Rigter picked up 15 disposals, 11 tackles, five clearances, five inside 50s and two rebound 50s.

Her form continued into the 2020 season where she shared the co-captaincy with Georgia Bevan who would end up heading to Gold Coast 12 months later. Though limited in official statistics due to Covid-19, Rigeter racked up 13.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 7.3 tackles and 2.8 clearances backing up her 2019 form.

Unfortunately just as it looked like Rigter was set for a promising early career, her ankle betrayed her and she required surgery. It would be an ongoing issue over the next couple of years, as the inside midfielder went back to defence to play. Though still performing as best she could, the ankle continued to plague her.

>> FEATURE (2022) | Rigter hopes for clean run, Sturt finals debut

>> INTERVIEW (2023) | Sturt prepared to be hunted after breakout 2022

Fast forward to 2023 and Rigter is in better shape than ever, admitting it was the first proper preseason she had done in quite some time, even able to test at the SANFL Women’s Preseason Testing. Though there is still quite a bit of unknown once it gets to competitive matches, if the Sturt captain can get back on the field and find the form that saw her among the best midfielders in the competition, then she would be more than capable of earning an AFL Women’s spot.

As a player who just sneaks into the Under 23 category, the 2023 season looms as a huge one for Rigter, as she hopes to guide Sturt back to the grand final, and hopefully go one better. If the ankle is feeling good come Round 1, do not be surprised if she adds a forgotten string to her bow and rolls through the midfield occasionally this season.

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