Earning a second shot: Over-age Draft Combine invites

FIVE players earned AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites above the typical top-age draft season. Ranging between over-age (2004-born) and what is deemed mature-age (2003 or older), the five players have all caught the eye of AFLW Clubs enough to test their athletic capabilities at their respective combines.

Tshinta Kendall (Bond University)
11/04/2001 | Forward

The former rugby sevens player is a raw talent with outstanding power and the athletic traits you would expect from a cross-code athlete. Still adding layers to her game from an understanding perspective, the Bull Sharks 22-year-old spent the season in the QAFL Women’s Reserves, where she kicked 23 goals in 10 games. Scoring a goal in nine of the 10 matches, she had a purple patch midseason, kicking 11 goals across three weeks. Kendall also kicked two goals in the Bull Sharks’ winning Reserves grand final, and cracked in for three League games.

Mylee Leitch (East Fremantle)
21/01/2004 | Forward/Wing

Leitch is an over-ager who has done plenty to improve her game over the last 18 months. After being overlooked due to perhaps lacking the consistency of some others, the East Fremantle midfielder has worked hard on her game and did not let a mid-season injury this year curtail her season. She missed the first AFLW Under 18 Championships match for the Sandgropers, but returned in style to show off her traits in the second half of the season. A dangerous player in the forward half of the ground, Leitch has some great smarts and plenty of goal sense, with the West Australian rapidly improving the defensive side of her game, with her WAFLW tackle average rising from 2.4 to 4.0 this season.

Cassie McWilliam (Swan Districts)
25/02/2003 | Forward/Ruck

McWilliam is no stranger to being thereabouts with regards to Draft Combines, having previously been invited. Now 20 years-old, McWilliam is well-travelled for her age, having come the NTFL Women’s where she played for Nightcliff, and plied her trade in the WAFL Women’s for Swan Districts. This followed a season with Williamstown in the VFLW. Though she has been utilised in a number of roles including the ruck, McWilliam spent 2023 as a marking forward for the Black Ducks. Across 12 games, McWilliam kicked 9.12 from 9.3 disposals per match.

Jemma Rigoni (Oakleigh Chargers)
04/06/2004 | Utility

The highest ranked over-ager in the Rookie Me Central Power Rankings, Rigoni is also the highest club-tied player, as an eligible Melbourne father-daughter selection. Always showing talent coming through the Chargers’ program as a bottom-ager, Rigoni missed her top-age year due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. After playing as a forward at times prior to her injury – as well as her now more familiar key defensive post – Rigoni has most recently been running off a wing for the Chargers. With outstanding speed for a tall and a great understanding of the game, Rigoni is a name to remember in the upcoming draft.

Asha Turner Funk (Manly Warringah Wolves)
29/04/2004 | Midfielder

Backing up her Draft Combine invite from last season, Turner Funk has again stepped up to put her name into consideration. A consistent player with draftable qualities, Turner Funk was arguably the Allies’ best midfielder through the national championships. Turner Funk averaged 16.3 disposals, 3.7 marks, 5.0 tackles and 2.7 clearances at the carnival, showing her strength both at ground level and overhead. Having work hard to improve her endurance over the off-season and become more powerful, Turner Funk certainly showed enough for clubs to re-consider her as a prospect this year. The talented onballer averaged similar numbers in the Coates Talent League for the Swans Academy.

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