Overage AFLW Draft Positional Watch: Rucks

KEY position players always take longer to develop, and while many top-age talents might be long-term options, there are a few top chances to keep in mind for Tuesday’s Overage AFLW Draft. For the first of our AFLW Draft Positional Watch pieces, we take a look at some rucks with a focus on those who are yet to play at the elite level.

Matilda Dyke (Claremont)
21/02/2002 | 181cm | Ruck/Key Defender

As it stands, Dyke is our top ruck option across the country, and it is easy to see why. She has rare athletic traits that make her mobile, good below her knees and has an incredibly high endurance base. In the past, Dyke has played as a key defender, boasting strong hands, good positioning and an ability to provide rebound out of the defensive 50.

Why have they been previously overlooked?

Kicking and consistency.

Why pick them?

Dyke has added an extra string to her bow since the most recent AFLW Draft prior to Season 7, and coach Jack Schwarze said her work on her kicking over the off-season has been impressive. With her versatility and endurance to go with her aerial and ground work, Dyke is a player who has long competed against senior bodies, so could be a second ruck or depth early on, for a side.


Georgie Jaques (Norwood)
22/10/2003 | 177cm | Ruck/Key Forward

Similar to Dyke, Jaques is a work horse around the ground, and bears some similar traits, but also difference to the Claremont talent. She is a year younger, but also four centimetres shorter. Having plied her trade as a key forward/ruck for the Allies last season in the AFLW Under 18 Championships, Jaques is a far more influential ruck than she is forward, and has shown that at SANFLW level this season.

Why have they been previously overlooked?

Athleticism and consistency.

Why pick them?

Jaques has been a revelation this year in the SANFL Women’s, and honestly looks like an AFLW player with her work around the ground. There will still be some questions on her mobility, because she covers the ground well, but as a stronger ruck, is not as mobile as some others. Regardless, she is good at winning hitouts then laying tackles, as her high defensive numbers suggest. Has the traits to make the jump.

NOMINATION: South Australia

Isabelle Starmer (North Adelaide)
25/10/1996 | 177cm | Ruck

From two bigger bodied, dual position players to a very different prospect, the next player to focus on is Rooster, Isabelle Starmer. Crossing from Central District over the off-season, Starmer became the most prolific SANFLW ruck last season despite being just 177cm. She is a touch undersized for a ruck, and is more like a “fourth midfielder” who can win the ball and run with it. Looking at her work in transition, she could easily pull off looking like a non key position talent.

Why have they been overlooked?

Size and versatility.

Why pick them?

Starmer has a body of work behind her, and is a latecomer to football. She is older than the other two at 25 years-old, but is also the most mobile of the three. She has a great leap and can match it with others, but is also a natural ball-winner. Hungry to reach the top level, Starmer is a player who switched clubs not just for work, but to see if a change up could help her fortunes. Though almost exclusively having played ruck over the journey, she has the traits that might see a club take a chance on her.

NOMINATION: South Australia

Analea McKee (Geelong VFLW)
07/06/2003 | 183cm | Key Forward / Ruck

One of the most highly touted over-agers last season in the then-NAB League competition, McKee is still only 19 years-old and has plenty of potential. She is more of a key forward than a ruck for her impact, but did spent the majority of her 2021 season – her top-age year – rucking. At 183cm with a terrific vertical leap and smart forward craft, she could fill the void as a second ruck for a club, or be an incredibly handy depth option in with the forward or ruck roles.

Why have they been overlooked?

Consistency and ground work.

Why pick them?

McKee really impressed as an over-ager last season and has enormous upside, perhaps the most of this group. She is mobile, has a great leap and is already at 183cm, making her hard to spoil. The question will come whether or not those traits will be best utilised as a ruck or forward, but her aerial ability is outstanding, and if a club is looking for a contested marking player who can impact around the ground and also play deep forward to kick a few goals, than McKee could be a great option.



Ruby Burgess (East Perth)
Shay’Lee Dayman (Glenelg)
Emmelie Fiedler (East Fremantle)
Ariana Hetherington (South Fremantle)
Matilda Husband (Claremont)
Lauren Jatczak (Northern Knights)
Sarah King (Collingwood VFLW)
Sally Lynch (Darebin Falcons)
Tess Lyons (Subiaco)
Soriah Moon (South Adelaide)
Alex Pearce (Sturt)
Peppa Poultney (Yeronga South Brisbane)
Krystal Russell (Essendon VFLW)
Maddison Torpey (Sandringham Dragons)
Sophie Ure (Essendon VFLW)
Charlotte Vandenberg (Wynyard/TAS)

Given the AFLW Draft nominations list contains more than 500 players, this is far from a complete list of potential rucks. However many of the above have played state league football, or come through the Victorian Under 18s pathway. Given the amount of rucks who have put their hands up for the draft, expect at least a few to be considered.


Clubs are always in need of key position depth, and luckily the advantage of the Overage Draft is mature-age talls are in hot demand. Unlike with the annual AFLW Draft where mature-agers are often at a disadvantage compared to younger players, in Tuesday’s draft, they are the only ones available, and the more runs on the board the better as the need to fill a list hole is more important.

All four of the above players have varying strengths and different strings to their bows. They also have areas they have been working on. It will be fascinating to see which of the above end up on AFLW lists, because all have shown signs to make that next jump.

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