Talent League Player Focus: Lou Painter (Bendigo Pioneers)

TOUTED as one of the top prospects for next year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Bendigo Pioneers’ Lou Painter had herself another huge game on the weekend. Representing the Pioneers against Northern Territory Academy, Painter was best on ground in the home side’s win at a wet Highgate Recreation Reserve.

The Pioneers were on the back foot for the majority of the contest before kicking the final five goals of the game to run out 23-point winners. Painter went one better than her 30-disposal effort against Geelong Falcons in Round 7 with 31 touches in Round 8, having hit the 20-plus disposal mark in her past five games.

2023 Coates Talent League Girls: Round 8
Bendigo Pioneers 6.10 (46) def. Northern Territory Academy 3.5 (23)

STATS: 31 disposals (21 kicks, 10 handballs), 5 marks, 5 tackles, 8 inside 50s


Painter started in the middle and won the ball almost instantaneously from the stoppage, the first of many for the day. She cracked in at ground level and was able to feed out a ball to a teammate on the outside, then would work hard into defence. Having played as a half-back at different points this year, Painter is more than familiar with playing that role.

As an opponent looked to kick towards goal, Painter smothered the ball and forced a turnover, before winning it not long after and delivering down the ground to a target on the wing. She would win another touch on the wing in the 12th minute, before turning the next kick over at half-forward. Her other meaningful touch in the final few minutes was a hardball et which she won at the centre stoppage and got the handball away as she was dragged down in a tackle.


Painter won her first main touch four minutes into the second term where she won it out of the centre clearance, shrugged a tackle and kicked inside 50 to the pocket. She would roll back into defence where the Pioneers utility would intercept at half-back and kick effectively to the wing. Moments later, she was up against multiple opponents on the wing and strategically got it out of bounds without giving away the deliberate or last touch free kick.

In the 12th minute of the second term, Painter used her strength to shrug off a tackle at half-back and burst forward to kick to centre half-forward. She won it again in the back 50 a minute later but would slip in the conditions, having to rush off a handball. Painter got her hands dirty in the final five minutes moved back into the middle where she was tightly guarded around stoppages. Still, Painter found some space in the 17th minute where she won it from the stoppage, burst forward and kicked inside 50.


A contested possession win in the opening minute of the term looked good until Painter lost her feet again and had to go back to win it and was immediately tackled. She returned to half-back where she won the ball and kicked long inside 50 with a booming kick, then marked on the defensive 50 and was able to have an effective kick down the ground.

In the ninth minute of the term, Painter won a quick handball out of the middle under pressure to a teammate, then rolled back and marked on the defensive side of the centre square. Her kick went to half-forward to keep the pressure on the opposition defence. A couple of late kicks deep inside 50 maintained that intensity as Bendigo took control of the game, including a long one from a free kick outside 50 to the pocket.


All the momentum was with the Pioneers in the final term and Painter set the tone early by winning the ball in the opening minute and thrusting it inside 50. She would continue to have the ball on a string and then push back to defence where, when required, could mop up any opposition forward thrusts.

Off balance on the wing in the ninth minute, Painter was still able to win it and put it to the danger zone inside 50 for a scoring chance, but remain dangerous behind the ball.

A few minutes later, the Pioneers bottom-ager marked at half-back and kicked to a teammate’s advantage, though was not quite pinpoint so it made her work for it. In the last few minutes, Painter attacked it hard in the middle but could not take it cleanly, but finished the day off with an impressive 31 disposals.


After a quiet Round 1 performance, Painter has hardly put a foot wrong to start her bottom-age campaign. Playing between midfield and defence, she has been a prime mover, particularly in the absence of top-age AFLW Academy member, Lila Keck.

Against Northern Territory, it was clear Painter was the standout player on the ground and she has that balance of skill and strength that makes her so difficult to combat. A key player for Vic Country in July’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, she is one to watch for the future.

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