2023 Talent League Girls team reviews: Metro non-finalists

ANOTHER season is quickly coming to a close in the Coates Talent League Girls and we take a look at how 2023 panned out for each of the 13 sides. In the second of these team reviews articles, we take a look at the two Metropolitan-based non-finalists, diving into their season, draft prospects and some names to remember in coming years.


Position: 8th
Metro pool: Fifth
Wins: 5
Losses: 8
Percentage: 102.5

Sandringham Dragons were unfortunately the victims of the conference-based finals system, missing out on the post-season series despite finishing eighth overall on the Talent League Girls ladder. The Dragons showed plenty of promise throughout the year, but it was a slow start that hurt the metropolitan team, with the Dragons really hitting their straps mid-season and storming home.

The Dragons slumped to an 0-5 start before an impressive 12-point win over Tasmania Devils in Round 9 ignited their year. They went on to win five of the last eight games but ultimately fell well short of the sixth placed Northern Knights, who had the opposite win-loss record of eight wins and five losses. Still, the bottom-age contingent of the Dragons gave great hope for the future.


Sandringham has a number of draft prospects in the frame, with speedster Isabel Bacon having a really strong second half of the season, symbolic of the Dragons’ form. She has found a great balance between offence and defence and would be in contention for that second round region of the draft.

Fellow Vic Metro representative Emily Gough started her year as a key forward, went into defence for Metro and has recently spent time on a wing for the Dragons as well, becoming the ultimate utility. Though she has some fundamentals to work on, Gough is athletic and powerful with a strong contested marking game.

Jasmine Shepherd is another player who did her draft chances no harm with a really solid season. She generally makes good decisions, works hard and has an aggressive approach to winning the ball which will endear her to clubs. Teammates Annabelle Embelton and Mia Zielinski have become consistent features of the defensive and attacking ends respectively to earn Draft Combine invites.


It is hard to look past Carlton father-daughter eligible Sophie McKay who headlines a handy Dragons 2024 AFLW Draft crop. The smooth-moving midfielder has the balance of inside and outside traits down pat, and is very creative with ball-in-hand.

Fellow 2006-born players to watch include the classy Daisy Flockart who got better and better as the season went on, as well as winger Scout Howden whose year ended early after a consistent first six matches. Also showing traits for next year are the likes of forward Olive McLean and inside midfielder Judie Goldman.


Position: 14th
Country pool: Sixth
Wins: 3
Losses: 10
Percentage: 51.6

Reigning premiers Western Jets felt the only downside of having a successful top-age crop that led the side to a flag last year, which was a heavy turnover of that top-end talent. That turnover, combined with some injury interruptions and gelling issues saw the Jets struggle to find ascendancy throughout the year. Despite having some AFLW Academy talents, they only won the three games for the year, but blooded some other youngsters in the process.

The Jets won their first game in Round 11 against the Bushrangers, storming to a 51-point victory in impressive circumstances. Unfortunately for the reigning premiers, by that stage, they were 0-6 for the season and ultimately it was playing for pride in the run home. Back-to-back wins in Rounds 15-16 against the Bushrangers again, and GWV Rebels gave the side something to cheer about as the Jets look forward to next year.


Leading all-comers is first round lock and likely Top 10 talent Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner, with the tall forward overcoming a broken wrist to finish the season with one Metro appearance and a handful of Talent League games in the run home. It was no surprise her presence made the Jets look more dangerous, and her first game back was the second win over Murray. An explosive athlete with enormous potential, she is one to remember for the draft.

Fellow AFLW Academy member Kiera Whiley is a smart contested ball-winning midfielder who knows her way around stoppages. She had her moments at the national carnival and returned to the Jets to find her best form in the last month as well. She along with top-age forward/midfielder Tamara Henry were able to showcase their own sets of traits, with the latter being a strong mark and a player with X-factor.


Western Jets have two standout prospects for next year in the form of Lou-Lou Field and Sierra Grieves. Field is a talented rebounding defender who moves well and can push up to have an impact further afield. Grieves is a clearance jet who thrives on the contested ball, but also can play forward and clunk contested marks.

From a double bottom-age perspective, Vic Metro Under 16s representative Alex McBride-Loane is among the most promising prospects for that draft crop, with good hands and mobility for a tall. She averaged 3.4 marks in her Jets debut season, including clunking nine grabs from 19 disposals against the Rebels.

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