Season 8 AFLW preview: Carlton

CARLTON comes into Season 8 of the AFLW a new-look and hopefully revitalised side having fallen short of finals for the last three seasons. We preview the Blues’ 2023 campaign, their first under new head coach Mathew Buck.


#1 Amelia Velardo
#2 Jessica Dal Pos
#3 Darcy Vescio
#4 Keeley Skepper
#5 Abbie McKay
#6 Gab Pound
#7 Tahlia Read
#8 Mua Laloifi
#9 Kerryn Peterson
#10 Mimi Hill
#11 Annie Lee
#12 Jessica Good
#13 Lulu Beatty
#14 Marianna Anthony
#15 Chloe Wrigley
#16 Breann Moody
#17 Dayna Finn
#18 Maddy Guerin*
#19 Erone Fitzpatrick
#20 Lily Goss
#21 Harriet Cordner
#22 Mia Austin
#23 Daisy Walker
#24 Brooke Vickers
#25 Keeley Sherar
#26 Paige Trudgeon
#28 Imogen Milford
#34 Taylor Ortlepp
#37 Phoebe McWilliams
#49 Maddy Hendrie

* – injured/inactive


In: Harriet Cordner (Richmond), Tahlia Read (Fremantle), Erone Fitzpatrick (Laois, Ireland), Dayna Finn (Mayo, Ireland), Lulu Beatty (draft), Maddy Hendrie (draft), Marianna Anthony (draft), Chloe Wrigley (draft)

Out: Lucy McEvoy (Sydney), Natalie Plane (St Kilda), Serena Gibbs (Fremantle), Brooke Walker (Essendon), Poppy Schaap (delisted), Charlotte Hammans (delisted), Jessica Jones (delisted), Elise O’Dea (retired)


Round 1: vs. Gold Coast
Round 2: @ North Melbourne
Round 3: @ West Coast
Round 4: vs. Richmond
Round 5: vs. Sydney
Round 6: @ Western Bulldogs
Round 7: vs. Collingwood
Round 8: @ GWS
Round 9: @ Essendon
Round 10: vs. St Kilda


+ Squad versatility
+ Midfield balance
+ Stable leadership
+ Defensive line

Carlton will look to straddle the fine line between versatility and stability in 2023; promising to utilise experienced players in their preferred positions, while also hoping to maintain some level of dynamism across all three lines.

Perhaps the best balance is found in midfield, where Mimi Hill and Abbie McKay reliably control the engine room, as Amelia Velardo and Keeley Sherar blend their time between the inside and outside. The Blues have added to both elements over the off-season and also boast arguably the league’s best ruck, Breann Moody.

Down back, long-time skipper Kerryn Peterson will revert to her natural defensive role, rejoining a strong core of leaders on the last line. It’s always hard getting past Vaomua Laloifi, while Gab Pound controls play on the counter and Harriet Cordner offers another sturdy outlet to aid the developing Paige Trudgeon.

With a strong defence and emerging midfield, the next step for Carlton will be to take toll in attack. Luckily, Darcy Vescio has some star power and should be freed up nicely if marking targets like Phoebe McWilliams, Mia Austin, and Jess Good can stay on the park.

Speaking of staying on the park, part of the Blues’ big lift heading into 2023 has been a revamp of the club’s professionalism. Now, players will have access to full-time staff and should have the right kind of backing to match the standards each leader of the playing group presents.


– Heavy turnover
– Injury woes

For all the freshness of a new head coach, footy boss, and eight recruits, there is no escaping the historically difficult time that such heavy turnover brings. It could work one of two ways; either the Blues become truly rejuvenated and improve out of sight, or will be made to wait a little longer for success.

Carlton’s woes in Season 7, particularly towards the end of the year, could largely be put down to injuries. Coming into 2023, five players have returned to full training after post-season surgeries, on top of Cordner’s ACL recovery from Season 6.

The Blues must also be careful not to steer too far into favouring versatility. While it can be encouraged, one of the issues which seemed to plague the side under Daniel Harford was a sense of over-choice, where a bunch of combinations were trialled over more specific and stable structures.


While captain Kerryn Peterson would be a good shout, it is hard to look past Mimi Hill as the top contender to take out another best and fairest award. The midfielder is now Carlton’s star player in the middle of the park, and may dominate the honour as current-Bomber Madison Prespakis did before her.


Having briefly made a splash upon entering the top level last year, Mia Austin could be one from the Blues’ young brigade who comes on in leaps and bounds in 2023. Internally, she is lauded for her athleticism and marking prowess – traits which Carlton is crying out for up forward. Austin could be anything, and fellow Eastern Ranges product Keeley Sherar is another in that boat.


It’ll be difficult for the Blues to not improve after a season which yielded just two wins. Better results were close – see their two draws – and this group has arguably not performed up to the sum of its parts over the last three campaigns. Carlton could realistically push for finals, but may just fall short among a relatively tight group of contenders. The closing run of fixtures will be telling.

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