The race for Pick 1: 2023 AFLW Draft
WESTERN Bulldogs currently holds the top pick in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft after a season the red, white and blue would rather forget. Given the fast turnaround between the season end – which concludes next weekend – and the off-season, the Bulldogs fans will not have long to wait to see which player they bring in with the top pick.
Of course there might be a chance they trade it to another team in order to gain an experienced player in the door, but given what is on offer, chances are they opt to keep it. Their last number one pick in Gabrielle Newton has been in the centre of a potential shift to Fremantle that would surely hand the Dogs another first round pick and allow them to be flexible with their selections.
But, to focus on the number on pick alone, we take a look at the three top candidates for the selection.
Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
01/07/2005 | 178cm | Key Forward
Few players have more upside in this year’s AFLW Draft than the ultra-athletic Weston-Turner. She impressed as a bottom-ager for the Jets during their premiership season of 2022, and though a wrist injury kept her out of large portions of 2023, Weston-Turner showed her ability against Vic Country and in the second half of the Talent League season.
Boasting explosive speed, terrific aerial ability and a penetrating kick, Weston-Turner would be the favourite for the selection. At 178cm she has the rare size-athleticism combination that clubs are crying out for. That, coupled with the fact that if Newton leaves, Weston-Turner can slot straight into that role, makes it the most obvious choice. Oh, that and she’s a Bulldogs fan too from the western suburbs.
Brooke Barwick (Tasmania Devils/Tasmania)
29/07/2005 | 159cm | Midfielder
One of the most all-round midfielders on offer, and in our opinion the best available for a Victorian team, Barwick has all the traits of becoming a top-line onballer at the elite level. She might be small, but she packs a punch, with her contested work, footy IQ and overall skills being sublime. Her consistency throughout the last couple of years has been a credit to her character, taking on a coaching role this season.
The reason she took on that coaching role with the Tasmania Devils is due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury she did in the preseason. Barwick will need to build her endurance back up and might need to start as a small forward, but is as classy as she is tough. The Tasmanian is keen to settle in Victoria, and has the option for North Melbourne, but it is the Roos or national, which could mean the Eagles swoop in at pick two if Weston-Turner goes one.
Alyssia Pisano (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/07/2005 | 162cm | Small Forward
The other potential candidate for the top pick is dynamic small forward Pisano, who has enormous hurt factor and match-winning ability. Though not the tall the Dogs might be looking for inside 50, she is so dominant at ground level, and can win her own ball on a lead, that she can still add a point of difference inside 50.
A Richmond fan, Pisano is unlikely to make it all the way down to the Tigers, with even a Victorian nomination leaving the Hawks, Blues and Pies all ahead of the Tigers. Pisano would be most linked with the Hawks given her alignment through the Eastern Ranges-Hawthorn agreement which saw a trio of teammates picked up as pre-listings. She wanted to go through the draft experience, and she will, but could end up in the brown and gold as well.
There is still plenty to play out before the first name is read, with trade period potentially shaking up the landscape. But for now, the Dogs hold the prized number one pick, and like any year, it will take a good offer for it to change hands.