OVER the next three weeks, Rookie Me Central will be counting down our 23 Players Under 23 years of age to watch in the upcoming 2023 season. The criteria is the player must be born in 2001 or later, and must have played at least one AFL Women’s match in Season 7. As the list is completely subjective, the opinion is that of the individual author.
#8 Isabella Lewis (West Coast)
Bella Lewis enjoyed a wonderfully consistent season for the Eagles, which was her third at the elite level. She has a unique backstory as a dual sportsperson, competing at a national level in Trampolining until 2018 where she honed in as football took her main priority. Representing Claremont in the WAFL Women’s and the Western Australia in the AFLW Under 18 Championships, it was evident Lewis was going to be something special at the top level.
Taken with the first West Australian pick in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft, the third selection made her mark at the gold and blue with a Round 1 debut in 2021 against Adelaide at Lathlain Park. She went on to win both the club’s best first year player and overall club best and fairest. After nine games in her first season, Lewis moved more inside after that, becoming a balanced midfielder known for her defensive pressure.
SEASON 7 KEY STATS:
Disposal Efficiency: 59.7
Contested %: 61.7
Metres Gained: 243.5
Inside 50s: 3.1
Score Involvements: 1.9
Time of Ground %: 80.5
In Season 7, Lewis played every game for the Eagles and was one of the shining lights in an overall disappointing season. Lewis averaged 15.4 disposals, 3.2 clearances, 3.1 inside 50s and 5.7 tackles to lead by example through the midfield. In the absence of Mikayla Bowen who headed to Geelong, Lewis was the number one midfielder in the side, and lead an extremely young outfit throughout the season, putting her body on the line and trying her heart out across four quarters every game.
Given the age profile of the Eagles’ list, it is easy to forget that Lewis is only 20 years-old herself. Not missing a match last year, Lewis picked up double-digit disposals in all bar two matches, with three games of 20-plus touches. Her best game came against Hawthorn in Round 6 where she had 24 disposals at 79.2 per cent disposal efficiency, laying 10 tackles and having a whopping nine clearances. Along with a 22-disposals, eight-mark, four inside-50 and four rebound-50 effort against the Western Bulldogs in Round 9, Lewis showed she can find plenty of the ball and be influential with it.
Bella Lewis is still a young, developing player, and though she is a season or two ahead of most of her teammates – indicating just how young the Eagles are – she has shown what she can do in the midfield. Expect her to enjoy sharing the load more in Season 8 as they develop, and with the likes of Ella Roberts, Courtney Rowley and Jaide Britton all becoming household names in the midfield, the Eagles core is looking strong for years to come.