Preview | SANFLW R1: Blockbusters galore in opening round

A NEW season of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s kicks off tonight under the bright lights of The Parade. Reigning premiers North Adelaide travel to face Norwood there, before the remaining three games take place tomorrow in a Super Saturday, with the most north and south venues of Elizabeth and Noarlunga hosting matches, as well as Richmond in the west.

  • Team
  • Norwood
  • North Adelaide


It might be Round 1 of the season, but there is still much anticipation for both teams. For North Adelaide, a new-look Roosters side will be out to kick off its premiership defence in style, while for Norwood, it will mark the first official match under the new lights at Coopers Stadium. Having missed finals for the first time in women’s club history last year, Norwood will be keen to make a statement over the Roosters, while North Adelaide still has stars across the park that have premiership experience.



B: Emily Bartsch (27), Alison Ferrall (19)
HB: Sarah Branford (9), Rosie Boon (49), Najwa Allen (66)
C: Georgie Jaques (61), Meghan Gaffney (62), Tesharna Maher (14)
HF: Courtney Neale (30), Lana Schwerdt (41), Coby Morgan (51)
F: Rosette Zerella (32), Alana Lishmund (15)
R: Stephanie Simmonds (17), Tahlita Buethke (2), Morgan Johnston (1)

INT: Jade Halfpenny (22), Georgina Birchall (37), Shai Hiscock (13), Nicola Burns (23), Ashlee Gould (16)

North Adelaide:

B: Jamie Parish (20), Ella Metcalfe (40)
HB: Kristen Rothwell (15), Ella Quinn (14), Kristi Harvey (5)
C: Jayde Visser (30), Brianna Arthur (10), Katelyn Pope (13)
HF: Aprille Crooks (10), Sky Jensen (50), Jaimi Tabb (7)
F: Brittany Perry (19), Mattea Breed (3)
R: Isabelle Starmer (11), Julia Clark (33), Chelsea Farr (28)

INT: Lauren Gauci (35), Emma Chapman (8), Jess Edwards (3), Laura Niejalke (60), Laela Ebert (9), Sarcha Taylor (52), Lauren Hoffman (45), Monika Ney (27)


Norwood pulled a surprise selection move, keeping an AFLW-aligned player under wraps with GWS GIANTS’ Meghan Gaffney named in the side. She joins fellow former teenager Georgie Jacques, a tall ruck/forward in the red and navy blue.

They could be among as many as five debutants for the Reglegs, with Courtney Neale, Georgina Birchall and Emily Bartsch named in the 25. Unfortunately top AFLW draft prospect Molly Brooksby is still missing from the lineup, with former South Adelaide speedster Tahlita Buethke named on-ball.

For North Adelaide, the lineup has as many as nine potential draftees in an extended 24-player squad, with 15-year-old Jayde Visser highly touted and named on a wing. Keep an eye out for Tasmanian Aprille Crooks who dominated Division 1 of the Southern Football Association on the Apple Isle after she overcame injury in the second trial game to earn a spot inside 50 for Round 1.

Ex-Norwood tall Mattea Breed and 16-year-old Laela Ebert are also fresh faces inside 50, but perhaps the biggest recruit of the off-season was ex-Bulldog ruck Isabelle Starmer who makes her debut in red and white in the familiar ruck spot.


Two former South Australian teammates could go head-to-head in a massive clash, with last year’s competition leading goalkicker Alana Lishmund up against Jamie Parish. The addition of Gaffney into the midfield will mean it is one of the quickest out there with Buethke and Tesharna Maher, and will test the Roosters.

In defence, captain Alison Ferrall returns after injury put a line through her last month in 2022, while young guns such as Lana Schwerdt and Sarah Branford remain ones to watch. Adelaide’s Najwa Allen makes a surprise Round 1 appearance, named at half-back in the #66. Port Adelaide’s Jade Halfpenny also steps back down to state league level.

North Adelaide is not short of AFLW experience though with Katelyn Pope alongside Jaimi Tabb, co-captain Jessica Edwards, Brittany Perry and Lauren Gauci all having stepped up to the elite level. Breed faces her former side for the first time, will Starmer will have a great battle with Steph Simmonds and Jacques through the ruck. Though the Roosters are missing some quality names from last year’s flag, they still have the bones of that team and will not need to rely on just one name.

Former Tasmanian and current GWS GIANTS player Meghan Gaffney will take to the field for Norwood | Image credit: Rookie Me Central


Norwood has a number of promising talents stepping out in the lower grade, with the likes of Tamsyn Nation, Elle Lineage and Grace Whittaker all top-ager who will be thereabouts most weeks. Ex-Centrals defender Lauren Smith also starts off at Development League level, while for North, top-age tall Timeka Cox and ex-Sturt player Georgia Hamilton are also in that group. League coach Krissie Steen has high raps on talented youngsters Sasha Hardin and Sarcha Taylor too.


It is difficult to tip against North Adelaide in any match given the Roosters’ success, though the Norwood lineup is incredibly strong on paper. At home, the pendulum swings a little into the home team’s favour, but given the advantage in the ruck and the consistency of the Roosters, I’ll tip them by two points in a Friday night thriller.

  • Team
  • Central District
  • Woodville-West Torrens


The league’s two newest teams come off another year of missing out on finals, but both finished the year strongly. As notoriously slow starters, a win in Round 1 will do the victor a world of good. In the trial matches, Central District proved too strong for the Eagles blowing them away in the opening half, before Woodville-West Torrens kept the Bulldogs goalless in the second half, believing they fell just short of running over the top of them.


Central District:

B: Laitiah Huynh (41), Shannon Murphy (10)
HB: Caitlen Teague (17), Demi Sonneman (20), Jessica Schulz (11)
C: Dakota Williams (38), Shelby Smith (1), Jovanka Zecevic (23)
HF:  Jasmine Evans (27), Charlotte Riggs (9), Elaine Grigg (8)
F: Karissa Searle (22), Lauren Breguet (28)
R: Jess Allan (35), Georgia Madigan (7), Sophie Eaton (12)

INT: Caitlin Wendland (42), Tess Gerhardy (33), Georgia Avery (18), Chantelle Reynolds (30), Katelyn Rosenzweig (2), Nicola Biagi (31) Aisha Thomas (16)

Woodville-West Torrens:

B: Sophie Whitwell (42), Nikita McRostie (25)
HB: Hannah Scholar (19), Beatrice Devlyn (6), Mikayla Cavallaro (4)
C: Annie Falkenberg (8), Sophie Zuill (24), Brianna Walling (13)
HF: Olivia Evans (28), Amie Blanden (12), Poppy Waterford (1)
F: Bianca Portaro (3), Chantelle Mitchell (5)
R: Leah Cutting (26), Ella Little (22), Shineah Goody (34)

INT: Tess Andrews (29), Chloe Newton (49), Ashley Baker (44), Marlie Fiegert (30), Audrey Holt (10), Natasha Holmes (40), Grace Martin (7)

Key forward Katelyn Rosenzweig will return for the Bulldogs | Image credit: Scott Starkey


Both teams will unveil plenty of new faces in the Round 1 match, with North Adelaide premiership forward/winger Elaine Grigg a huge inclusion. The return of key forwards Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds will make a world of difference to the Bulldogs after both missed the entire 2022 season.

Add in GWS GIANTS ruck Jess Allan and fellow tall Georgia Avery (ex-Norwood) and all of a sudden Central District has height. Two young guns – Sophie Eaton and Jasmine Evans – are in line to make their debuts depending on the final squad cuts.

The Eagles have eight new faces as part of an extended squad, with former Redleg and current AFLW ruck Leah Cutting, and former West Coast and West Adelaide utility Beatrice Devlyn beefing up the squad. Poppy Waterford (North Adelaide) and Hannah Scholar (West Adelaide) are among those also from other SANFL Women’s clubs.


Central District’s size around the ground is something that could play a crucial part in its success in 2023. With Rosenzweig and Reynolds both capable of kicking multiple goals a game, and Allan rolling through the ruck, height is suddenly no longer an issue for the Bulldogs.

Keep an eye out for the likes of Laitiah Huynh and Madison Lane to have big years, while utility Demi Sonneman has the flexibility to play at both ends. Young gun Sophie Eaton is highly touted by the Bulldogs, while captain Shelby Smith is one of the most consistent players in the league and never drops her effort level.

The Eagles have top AFL Women’s draft prospect Shineah Goody named on-ball, with coach Narelle Smith expecting attention to come each and every week for the talent. Last time it was Lauren Breguet who went to the hard-running utility, but Goody is unfazed by the extra attention.

Ex-Melbourne AFLW midfielder Ella Little returns back to her state league side, while youngsters Chantelle Mitchell and Bianca Portaro are set for big years. The inclusions of Cutting and Devlyn will make a massive difference, especially with the likes of Jordann Hickey and Charlotte Dolan departing.


Central District coach Ben Hunt put a watch on the likes of Akeira-Juliet Whichello and Summer Nelson who will compete for League spots this year, while the depth of the Bulldogs in 2023 is on display, with Ella Mickan needing to start at the lower level and earn a spot with the senior team.

The Eagles are excited by what high-upside talent Zahlia Niemann can produce, while key forward Klaudia O’Neill is another developing talent who has the capacity to step up to the next level. Like Central, the depth of the Eagles squad is improving with the likes of Cher Waters and Brooklyn Kraft named at Development level.


Central District plays well at home and did beat the Eagles in the opening trial match. Having good form against Woodville-West Torrens and will be favourites in the clash. Though the Eagles will undoubtedly improve in season 2023, the overall structure of the Bulldogs has them in the frame for finals and should start off the year with a win.

  • Team
  • West Adelaide
  • Glenelg


West Adelaide kicks off its season at home hoping to break an 11-game losing streak that saw the 2021 SANFLW grand finalists end up with the 2022 wooden spoon. With new coach Bruce Dawes at the helm, the Bloods will be keen to erase that season from their memory, and knock off reigning preliminary finalist, Glenelg. The Bays have also had a fair bit of change, with Lexia Edwards taking over from premiership coach Jason Fairall, and have plenty of fresh faces in the squad for 2023.


West Adelaide:

B: Milli Gentle (3), Jess Chyer (38)
HB: Lucy Boyd (2), Madi Russell (1), Emma Kilpatrick (43)
C: Paige Allan (35), Zoe Greer (4), Bec Hansen (10)
HF:  Olivia Smith (22), Lauren Young (30), Ruby Ballard (51)
F:  Kelly Barltrop (15), Tammy May (32)
R: Tess Huxtable (49), Zoe Venning (9), Keeley Kustermann (8)

INT: Steph Tredwell (42), Jess Macolino (13), Paris Francis (24), Illish Ross (60), Georgie Pater (24), Grace McNicol (21), Ella Maxwell (45), Charlie Scutchings (12)


B: Poppy Scholz (20), Alexandra Walker (35)
HB: Ellen Tyminski (18), Serena Waters (32), Marie Martino (15)
C: Violet Patterson (6), Madisyn Freeman (2), Andi Moliere (16)
HF: Matilda Wilmore (19), Sam Franson (1), Tessa Kohn (13)
F: Brooke Tonon (40), Piper Window (8)
R: Shay’lee Dayman (4), Ellie Kellock (5), Alice Bradley (21)

INT: Rani Grant (34), Caitlyn Swanson (9), Laura Chigwidden (24), Anja Bancevic (55), Renee Wurfel (3)


West Adelaide welcomes back star youngster Lauren Young for the first time in 316 days at state level, with the potential top AFLW draft prospect named up forward alongside fellow inclusion and former North Adelaide leading goalkicker, Kelly Barltrop.

Central District winger Paige Allan and South Adelaide’s Tess Huxtable both end up in Richmond, while an actual former Richmond player in Iilish Ross will switch her yellow sash for a red one this season. Forward and 2007-born Steph Tredwell is another key inclusion for the squad.

Glenelg brought in four previously untried players, with massive wraps on pressure forward Matilda Wilmore. The 2007-born talent shone in the trial matches and looms as a promising star of the future. She is joined by ex-Nightcliff winger Andi Moliere, basketballer Serena Waters and Gunnedah Bulldogs’ Rani Grant in the Round 1 League side.

West Adelaide’s Lauren Young makes her return to the SANFLW from an ACL injury | Image credit: Rookie Me Central


Both sides have some outstanding top-end talents headlined by West Adelaide star, Young. She will provide height up one end with Ross up the other and the pair will be class acts throughout the season.

The on-ball group of Zoe Venning and Jess Macolino is consistent, while Allan provides much needed run on the outside. Adelaide’s Keeley Kustermann drops back to state league level, while bottom-age talents Lucy Boyd and Emma Kilpatrick will flank captain Madi Russell at half-back.

Glenelg will head into the 2023 SANFL Women’s season without reigning league best and fairest winner Jessica Bates, with captain Ellie Kellock the crucial inside midfielder there. Now co-captain with forward Samantha Franson, the Bays will look to youth such as Piper Window and Poppy Scholz to help drive the team forward, though Poppy’s older sister Matilda misses Round 1 due to a hamstring injury. The forwardline also featuring Tessa Kohn, Brooke Tonon and Wilmore will be an exciting one.


Defender Madelyn Zacher will have to earn her stripes in 2023 after eight games at League level last season, joined in there by former Sturt defender Allani Dawes, and top-age talents Grace McNicol and Bethany Sigley.

Glenelg has made a statement with former best 21 players Tamsyn Morriss and Lucy Armitage starting off at Development level, while there are some promising young talents in Mykaela Walker and Jordan Horne named in the side.


Set to be a fascinating clash, West Adelaide will want to get an early win on the board and relieve the pressure valve of last season, while Glenelg will also be looking to settle given the changes to the side.

Though trial match form is not always the greatest indicator of season form, West Adelaide certainly has the upper hand in that area with two wins from as many matches, while the Bays dropped both their games. Based off that, the Bloods are the tip for this game, but it should be a tight one.

  • Team
  • South Adelaide
  • Sturt


Finalists from last year, fourth placed South Adelaide hosts runners-up Sturt in a tantalising Round 1 matchup. The Panthers had plenty of hurdles to jump over throughout season 2022, but still found a way to make finals and compete with the best sides. Sturt shook off its ‘battler’ tag last year to go all the way to the SANFL Women’s Grand Final, but will be focused on going one better in 2023.


South Adelaide:

B: Jaslynne Smith (35), Tiffany Copley (14)
HB: Sam Pratt (22), Caitlin Ross (15), Lucy Northcott (12)
C: Charlotte Dolan (28), Brooke Boileau (37), Czenya Cavouras (11)
HF: Jess Kirk (7) Lily Baxter (56), Senna Gulden (25)
F:  Jorja Hooper (38), Kyanne Campbell (60)
R: Soriah Moon (32), Holly Ifould (2), Nicole Campbell (9)

INT: Bella Rigby (1), Jemma Ellis (6), Gypsy Schirmer (36), Nari Wright (3), Esther Schirmer (23), Jodie Hunt (30), Lauren Clifton (41)


B: Maya Rigter (22), Lucy Earl (26)
HB: Kiera Mueller (33), Georgia Swan (3), Jemma Valente (36)
C: Elsie Dawes (5), Alisha Gepp (15), Molly Fletcher (31)
HF: Monique Besson (16), Alysha Healy (10), Georgia Bevan (7)
F: Ally Ladas (17), Millie McCarthy (1)
R: Alex Pearce (38), Kate Harris (23), Jaimee Wittervan (35)

INT: Lily Whitcombe (24), Zara Walsh (57), Abbey Rigter (11), Hannah Prenzler (20), Tahlia Walker (40), Isabella Drew (28), Amy Brooks-Birve (44)


South Adelaide welcome five potential debutants into the lineup, with ex-Eagle Charlotte Dolan named for her first Panthers game on the wing. She is joined in the side for the first time alongside Northern Territory AFLW Academy forward Kyanne Campbell, while young guns Lily Baxter and Bella Rigby have also earned spots in the side.

Sturt will bring in high-upside youngster Monique Bessen, who is the Double Blues’ star 2007-born talent. She is one of just three fresh faces, with former Sturt junior Zara Walsh – a top-ager – returning from local football in Onkaparinga Valley. Glenelg key defender Lucy Earl is the other inclusion to the side.

AFLW Academy forward Kyanne Campbell will add extra class to the South Adelaide forwardline | Image credit: Rookie Me Central


The South Adelaide forwardline looks as dangerous as any other in the league. Key forward Jorja Hooper returns for the first time since winning the club goalkicking in 2021, while fellow ACL returnee Soriah Moon will finally make her debut at Noarlunga after crossing from the Bays at the end of 2021.

Also inside 50 are the likes of Campbell and Baxter, as well as crafty forward Jess Kirk. Watch out for top-age midfielder/forward Brooke Boileau as a potential big improver, while Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell provide much needed experience in midfield. After missing the trials, co-best and fairest winner Gypsy Schirmer has been named in the Round 1 side on an extended bench.

Sturt will be minus forward India Rasheed for Round 1, which opens the door for over-age tall Millie McCarthy to step up inside 50. She will share the forward 50 with the likes of Alysha Healy and Ally Ladas, with Amy Brooks-Birve and Abbey Rigter coming off the bench. Adelaide defender Kiera Mueller is back in Double Blues colours, while captain Maya Rigter and competitive top-ager Lily Whitcombe are also key players in Michael O’Connor‘s lineup.


South Adelaide has recruited Tasmanian Elise Barwick to beef up its depth and undoubtedly she will get a crack at League level at some point, while defender Alissa Brook and midfielder Melissa Anderson are in the State Academy and not too far away from League chances.

Sturt has plenty of new faces in the Development League, with talented basketballer Jasmin Fejo named in the squad. Larissa Schenscher (four League games in 2022) and teenager Ruby Cunningham are also among the Development listed players.


Looming as a cracker of a game, it should go down to the wire like most of the others. At Noarlunga South Adelaide has the upper hand and is coming off a good preseason with a trial win and a draw, including that victory coming against Sturt. If the game was at Unley Oval or Thebarton, then Sturt would be the pick, but the two likely finalists are at Noarlunga, so South Adelaide is the tip.

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