REPRESENTATIVE football returns this weekend, with a combined Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s team taking on Claremont in Darwin on Sunday. The Tigers are reigning premiers in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s, and will get their first taste of competitive action ahead of the season which starts in March.
While the West Australians have not played since midway through last year, the Territory players are match fit, playing their season between October until February. Both teams have now been named and we take a look at how they shape up against one another.
NTFL Women’s All-Stars:
B: J. Ware – E. Niki – J. Fatnowna
HB: S. Hatzismalis – C. McWilliam – J. Iacono
C: T. Perry – R. Hicks – R. Myatt
HF: M. Rioli – M. Althouse – K. Duggan (c)
F: A. Chittick – M. Ward – S. Balding
R: J. Hewitt – S. Ingram – S. Lawrence
INT: K. Zerafa – T. Dochery Cole – T. Hart Aluni – C. Browne – C. Landwehr – B. Byers – R. Hewitt
B: T. Blackburn – C. Ortlepp – J. Kelly
HB: R. Tuckey – M. Webb – C. Wright
C: S. Garstone – J. Harken – K. Orme
HF: E. Campo – B. Whyte – E. O’Donnell
F: J. Ellisseou – A. Moe – R. Ortlepp
R: M. Dyke – A. Arnup – S. Viney
INT: B. Elliott – M. Husband – T. Orzel – J. Valentini – H. Colvin – C. Tompkin – A. Payne
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Kylie Duggan (Darwin Buffaloes / Forward)
The experienced leader has been named captain of the All-Stars side and will be a key player inside 50 to guide some of the younger players rolling through there. Capable of playing further afield and assisting in the midfield, Duggan is someone who will not take a backwards step, which is what the All-Stars will need against a strong Claremont on-ball brigade.
Tatyana Perry (Palmerston Magpies / Winger)
In a team littered with natural footballing ability, Perry stands out as one who has incredible upside for the future. A bottom-ager who is not yet eligible to be drafted until next year, Perry has already proven herself at NTFL Women’s level. Arguably the leading contender for the Rising Star award in the competition, she could gain incredible experience against one of the ex-AFLW listed wingers from the Tigers.
Maria Rioli (Tiwi Bombers / Forward)
Another exciting talent like Perry, Rioli dazzles with her ability to get out of trouble and create highlight-worthy moments. Not a high accumulator of the ball, Rioli has enormous upside for the future and knows how to find the goals. One of the key players in the Bombers’ side, Rioli will be a player to be tightly guarded as the top-ager enters her draft year.
Cassie McWilliam (Nightcliff / Tall Utility)
McWilliam is one who came very close to landing on an AFL Women’s list last year, earning an AFLW Draft Combine invite for her work throughout the season with not only Nightcliff, but Williamstown in the VFL Women’s, and then for the Allies at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Named at centre half-back for the game, McWilliam is just as accustomed to rolling forward or even having a crack in the ruck if she is required.
Jasmyn Hewett (PINT / Ruck)
The most experienced player in the NTFL Women’s side given her AFL Women’s experience, Hewett will look to take full advantage of the ruck battles to get the ball down to her midfielders. The NT team is quick, so if the midfielders can win the clearances, then it lets the forwards go to work. She will provide a target all around the ground, and brings invaluable premiership experience at the top level.
Jayme Harken (Midfielder)
A huge signing in the off-season for the Tigers was ex-Subiaco onballer, Jayme Harken. The ball-winning midfielder will be in her element in this game, as she is able to use the more open spaces to get free and utilise her footy smarts. Though there will be some speedsters on her tail, Harken has the extra nous that will allow her to likely be a second possession winner from a stoppage and go forward, averaging 20.5 disposals in the WAFL Women’s, and should be able to find more of the ball in this outing.
Claire Ortlepp (Defender)
The acting captain from last year once Ella Smith went to West Coast, Ortlepp is a rock in defence with a booming boot that allows her to be a prolific rebounder. With VFL Women’s experienced player Mickayla Ward named at full-forward, the pair will have a great battle. Ortlepp will likely take the kickouts too, and be one who provides the drive out of defence, bringing her teammates into the game.
Kate Orme (Winger)
An ex-AFLW listed talent, Orme provides the run from the wing, and could team up with Ortlepp to make some serious meterage for the Tigers. She works hard both ways and will require a dedicated opponent or she will cut the NTFL Women’s side to shreds with her sheer work rate. One of the more natural pure wingers, Orme can play in other roles, but will set up in her usual role. If she matches up on Perry, that will be a fantastic battle of experience against upside.
Claudia Wright (Utility)
A bottom-age player with plenty of talent, Wright plays an outside role be it on a flank or wing, but has been named at half-back for the representative match. A key to Wright’s game is her awareness in traffic and evasion, able to sidestep opponents or be there to receive the ball and take off down the ground. A classy player with clean disposal and is one earmarked as set to have a breakout 2023 WAFL Women’s season.
Brooke Whyte (Key Forward)
The Claremont key forward is as experienced and crafty as any, and will be difficult to contain. A consistent source of scoring in the WAFL Women’s, Whyte is strong overhead, competes hard anytime she is in the area, and provides a target inside 50. Averaging 11.6 disposals, 4.1 marks and 1.3 goals in the 2022 WAFL Women’s season, Whyte will be a handful for whichever NTFL Women’s defender takes her.
It is anticipated that the NTFL Women’s side will start strongly – having the extra match fitness compared to the Tigers – but Claremont will come home strongly. Having won the WAFL Women’s premiership last season, even losing a number of players to the AFL Women’s or other teams, the Tigers should be too strong here. They might be a bit rusty at first, and it will effectively be an exhibition to trial some new players in certain roles, or current players in new roles, but if everything goes as expected, Claremont should come up comfortable winners given the extra experience on-field.