Russo and Usher win AFLW U16s BnFs

WEST Australian Mia Russo and Queenslander Ava Usher have won their respective pool’s best and fairest awards as part of the AFL Women’s Under 16s Championships accolades. Russo was announced as her state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) following the Sandgropers’ loss to South Australia, but was voted the best across the competition in an announcement yesterday.


Russo’s performance was highly detailed in our recent MVP Player Focus article, as was South Australia’s Sophie Eaton who earned her state’s MVP and accepted the trophy as captain. The Croweaters won the Pool A title after defeating both Vic Metro and Western Australia, the only team to go undefeated in the pool.


Usher was the winner of the Pool B best and fairest as her side also finished second in the pool. Showing off her traits as an explosive inside midfielder who can play forward, the Gold Coast Suns’ Academy lost out to Brisbane Lions Academy on percentage alone after both teams went undefeated from two games.

Though Usher won her Pool’s best and fairest award – decided by a committee of AFL Talent staff and various club recruiters – teammate Alannah Welsh was named the Suns Academy’s MVP. The Burleigh prospect was named in the back pocket of the All-Australian team, while forward bottom-age forward Molly Ferguson earned the Brisbane Lions Academy’s MVP.

The remaining Pool A MVPs were no surprise, with Vic Metro’s Chloe Baker-West backing up last year’s honour with a second straight MVP, after a terrific role playing between midfield in defence. Similarly, Gippsland Power’s Ella Stoddart earned the Vic Country MVP following a wonderfully consistent carnival for the ‘Big V’. Both players were also named in the All-Australian team.

Of the remaining Pool B MVPs, Tasmania’s Harriet Bingley took out her state’s honour, while teammate Priya Bowering earned All-Australian honours. Up north, Murray Bushrangers talent Molly McLaren transferred her Coates Talent League form to the national stage with the GWS GIANTS Academy member joining Kiera Yerbury (Sydney Swans Academy) as the NSW-ACT MVPs. St Mary’s Shakaila Gardiner-Dunn (Northern Territory) rounded out the award winners.

All MVPs were selected by the respective coaching staff, and while Bowering was the only player from the above five teams to earn an All-Australian honour, there were four others from the Queensland Academies to squeeze into the side. Two players with ties to the footballing world made it in with Georja Davies was named at full-forward and Sunny Lappin on a wing. Davies is the younger sister of Gold Coast’s Giselle and Darcie, and GWS’ Fleur, while Lappin is the daughter of Carlton and St Kilda forward, Matthew.

Recent QAFL Women’s debutant Mia Geere was one of two bottom-agers in the All-Australian team, named at half-back while West Australian India Bonadeo was named on the interchange. Dekota Baron was also named on the bench with the other Vic Country player along with Stoddart in the team, Stella Huxtable. Vic Metro had two additional representatives with Baker-West; Northern Knights’ Marlo Graham and Eastern Ranges’ Tayla McMillan.

Western Australia had a total of six representatives, with Russo and Bonadeo joining key position players, Olivia Wolmarans, Evie Cowcher and Olivia Crane in the spine, and Alicia Blizard in the forward pocket. Meanwhile South Australia had five players in the All-Australian team. Eloise Mackereth was named on a wing, Chloe Tonkin in the ruck, her West Adelaide teammate Steph Tredwell named on the interchange alongside Charlie Hazelhurst.

The Best and Fairest awards were selected by a panel comprising Kevin Sheehan (AFL Talent Ambassador – Chair), Tarkyn Lockyer (AFL National Academy Coach/Manager), Tanya Hetherington (AFL Talent Development Coach), Jess Smith (AFL National Female Talent Manager) and AFLW club recruiters Phoebe Carter (Sydney Swans), Jordan Loxley (West Coast Eagles), Trent Moseby (Richmond) and Anthony Tang (St Kilda). The panel also selected the 2023 AFL National Development Championships – U16 Girls All-Australian Team.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments