2023 AFLW Draft Power Rankings teaser
ONLY two weeks remain until the first AFL Women’s Draft Power Rankings are released on Monday, June 5, but the rankings are already beginning to take shape. In this teaser article, we take a look at what might have been decided, and what is still up in the air ahead of the year’s first drop.
WHEN WILL THEY BE RELEASED?
The 2023 AFLW Draft Power Rankings will be released on the first Monday of each month leading up to the AFLW Draft at around 8pm. The initial Power Rankings in June will feature 20 names, before extending to 25 in July, and then 30 in the months following that.
For those keen on the boys’ AFL Draft Power Rankings, they will be released on the last Monday of every month, with the first edition to be released on Monday, May 29 at 8pm.
WHO WILL BE THE NUMBER ONE SEED?
There are only two players who can realistically take this spot, and both hail from South Australia. The frontrunner is West Adelaide’s Lauren Young who has returned successfully from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Young is a tall utility who has largely played in attack for Bruce Dawes‘ side, but has also rolled through the midfield and last week even stationed herself in defence.
Young won the South Australian MVP at the AFLW Under 19 Championships as a 15-year-old back in 2021, paving the way for a host of double bottom-agers to compete at the national carnival. Her contested marking, versatility and size makes her a highly sought after talent who has long been described as the “best player in the country”.
The other contender has not put a foot wrong the past 18 months, with that being the smooth-moving Shineah Goody. Completely different to Young in the sense that Goody stands at just 162cm, her attributes make her a unique prospect. What she lacks in size, she certainly does not lack in talent, with the 17-year-old arguably not having a clear weakness in her game.
Woodville-West Torrens Eagles coach Narelle Smith said Goody’s “physical ability and her natural football ability is just a rarity” and “I don’t think we’ve produced anyone like her in the state to-date”. Given Goody’s outstanding mix of endurance and athleticism – including vertical leap – with her inside/outside ball-winning abilities and elite vision and decision making, few could disagree.
WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE TOP 10?
After the clear top two, there is still much to be undecided between the rest of the top-end group. However, there are some names clearly standing out to fill out the top-end of the rankings. The first one is Glenelg’s Piper Window who could well take out the SANFL Women’s League Best and Fairest this year.
A powerful and explosive inside midfielder/forward, Window is near-impossible to stop when at the stoppages due to her mix of strength and speed. Then when the top-ager goes forward, she can clunk pack marks and lay huge tackles to earn shots on goal and apply plenty of scoreboard pressure.
Her kicking is the one area that is still an issue, but while that is below average, just about everything else in her game is above average and more. With time in an elite system, it is clear she could be among the best in the draft crop.
Moving east to Victoria, the top prospect there is dynamic Eastern Ranges small forward Alyssia Pisano who, like Goody, just has elite footballing traits. Her footy smarts, clean hands, goal sense and weaponous left boot make her a nightmare for opposition defenders.
What makes Pisano different is the fact that she can win games off her own boot in the space of a quarter. A defender can do everything in their power to stop her, and she finds a way. Give her an inch, and she will take a mile.
Pisano’s teammate at the Ranges, Laura Stone is another player who has bolted into Top 10 contention off the back of going to another level in 2023. A rebounding defender who spent time in the midfield last year towards the end of the season, Stone was around the mark in terms of her Top 20 prospects, but is now well beyond that and is set to go at the real pointy end of the draft.
A clean midfielder who also has that explosive burst from the stoppages, Stone runs hard both ways and just finds the ball on the outside as well as the inside. A second possession winner at the stoppages, she is neat by hand or foot, with her athletic traits providing that point of difference. Consistent as anyone else going around.
Further south on the Apple Isle, a couple of top-end talents could end up as the first duo from the state to go Top 10 in the same draft – depending on nominations – in Brooke Barwick and Georgia Clark.
Barwick will not feature at any level this year after tearing her ACL earlier this year, but is considered a dual threat on the offensive and defensive ends of midfield. Clark has featured and been dominant as a leading forward for the Devils. A little undersized to play key position at the elite level at 174cm, Clark’s velcro hands are as safe as anyone in the crop.
Looking over a few more names who are pushing into contention for the Top 10 are South Australian duo Molly Brooksby and Elaine Grigg. Brooksby is an elite kick, able to hit targets on either foot and bears a similar athletic balance of endurance and evasion to Goody. Grigg is an elite defensive player with clean hands and a real point of difference in this year’s draft, able to set up goals, but also hit the scoreboard herself.
West Australian tall Georgie Cleaver has emerged as a likely top-end pick for her state given the need for talls and especially ones with her athletic base. She is a dual sportsperson with her netball and football, and in an ideal world would follow a similar path to Diamonds star Ash Brazill who plays for Collingwood in both the Super Netball and AFL Women’s.
Up in the Sunshine State, Sienna McMullen is the Northern Academy’s top one to watch for 2023, with the speedy winger starring in the Under 17s Futures game last year at GMHBA Stadium., McMullen is an explosive talent with high upside and an impressive work rate.
From a NSW/ACT pool perspective, the top Swans prospect is onballer Olivia Morris, while fellow AFLW Academy member Melanie Staunton headlines the GIANTS Academy. Tall defender Cleo Buttifant is one to watch as a draft bolter. In Queensland, Lions Academy duo winger Sophie Peters and Ebony Milne are ones to remember from a Brisbane perspective.
OTHERS IN THE MIX
Fellow Sandgropers Kaitlyn Srhoj and Jaime Henry have been highly touted as top-end prospects. The former on upside given her speed and aerial ability, having won the MVP from the Under 17s Futures game with Goody last year. Henry has been rock solid all year since returning from a long-term corkie and can play midfield or defence.
Western Jets tall Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner is a high upside talent who has had an interrupted season due to injury, but possesses a booming kick. Fellow AFLW Academy members, Lila Keck, Jessica Rentsch and Jess Vukic are other names who are in the mix based off future potential as well as some eye-catching performances. Dandenong Stingrays’ Mikayla Williamson also began building into the season just prior to the community break.
There will also be a few surprise packets knocking on the door of the Top 20, with Claremont’s Ella Slocombe being one of those. Her form could see her as the first West Australian taken, given she mixes explosive speed with an ability to play midfield or forward. Similarly, other forwards Anjelique Raison, Sarah Grunden and Lily Jordan are also in the conversation.
Further afield, Geelong Falcons skipper Chloe Adams has been as productive as anyone else, while Oakleigh Chargers rebounding defender Lara Hausegger and Western Jets captain Kiera Whiley put out consistent performances each and every week. Northern Knights Ava Jordan is learning her craft as a forward given her 148cm height but is a name not to be forgotten.
Across the nation, South Adelaide onballer Brooke Boileau is a player who will be fast rising in her draft stocks off the back of a really consistent year. She will miss the next week or two due to injury, but should have a big finish to 2023. Out west, Eva O’Donnell is four days away from being a bottom-ager and has a nice endurance/speed mix with an eye for goals,
ARE THERE ANY MATURE-AGERS IN THE MIX?
It is rare to see too many non top-agers in the pointy end of the draft, though more common in past AFL Women’s drafts than in the men’s edition. One player to keep in mind out of the box is South Fremantle’s Charli Wicksteed. At 20 years-old, the Bulldogs midfielder has made the switch from being a forward and really caught the eye. Boasting explosive speed and good footy smarts around the stoppages, she is a player who has benefited from teammate Tahleah Mulder moving up to AFL level.
More inside the box and later on in the order is another West Australian in 2004-born Mackenzie Webb. Missing out on a chance in the Supplementary Draft, Webb went on to do a great job on top draft prospect Young at the AFLW Under 18 Championships and really bolster her draft chances at the end of the year.
Another overager just to keep in mind for the Sunshine State is Josie McCabe. The tenacious inside midfielder missed the majority of the championships last year after getting injured early against Vic Metro, but can be a bullocking type on the inside, or play forward and be strong overhead. McCabe is similar to Henry in the sense she can play anywhere and brings as much defensive pressure as she does offensive impact.