2023 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks & Tall Forwards
AS the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft edges closer, we take a look at some of the key players who could shape the draft by each position. The second article in this series takes a look at those tall forwards who can influence a game inside 50, or can roll into the ruck.
TOP POWER RANKING PICK:
Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner (Western Jets / Vic Metro)
01/07/2005 | 178cm | National
One of the top picks available in the AFLW Draft and a player who could hear her name first off the board, Weston-Turner is the best available tall in the December 18 draft. Boasting explosive speed, outstanding evasion and an ability to do damage inside 50 both on the scoreboard and setting teammates up, Weston-Turner is one with plenty of upside to go with her ability both in the air and at ground level.
Georgie Cleaver (East Fremantle / Western Australia)
14/08/2005 | 181cm | Western Australia
Of all the talls in this category, Cleaver fits the bill as the top pick who can play ruck and forward, with the 181cm Shark capable of starting at centre bounces or in the goalsquare. With outstanding athleticism and an ability to get her hands dirty at ground level, Cleaver is just as capable below her knees as she is in the air where she can clunk some big grabs. A dual sportsperson who splits her time with netball.
HIGHEST UPSIDE (FORWARD):
Rania Crozier (Lions Academy / Queensland)
18/11/2005 | 179cm | Queensland
Brisbane is eyeing off adding the 179cm Crozier to its list after the tall nominated Queensland helping the Lions ward off interstate interest. The Aspley tall has developed quickly in a short space of time, has great hands above her head, moves well and can play high up the ground as well as inside 50. Similar to Cleaver without the ruck element, Crozier has some fantastic upside for the future.
HIGHEST UPSIDE (RUCK):
Jacinta Hose (Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro)
05/09/2005 | 185cm | Victoria
Arguably the best pure ruck in the draft, Hose suffered a second straight anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in just her second game back from her first knee injury. At 185cm she often towers above quite a few others, and has good touch in the ruck. At ground level she competes, and has a contested marking ability to her game. She has missed a lot of footy, but has natural talent for a club to enhance.
HIGHEST FOOTY IQ:
Georgia Clark (Tasmania Devils / Tasmania)
11/12/2005 | 173cm | National
The AFLW Academy member has some of the safest hands in the draft, with her contested marking and work rate among her standout traits. She might be a bit smaller than a traditional key position player, but clunks marks without issues and has a lovely set shot routine. A first round talent, with only that athleticism and groundball work the next step for Clark.
Sophie Butterworth (Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country)
11/12/2005 | 179cm | Victoria
Similar to Clark, Butterworth has safe hands above her head and a consistent set shot routine. The powerful left-footer is a booming kick and works hard around the forward 50 providing an option. She can pinch-hit in the ruck as well, but shows off her forward craft both through her leading and reliability in front of goal.
DRAFT COMBINE INVITEES:
Zara Walsh (Sturt / South Australia)
12/03/2005 | 173cm | National
The Sturt speedster quickly rose up the ranks from local footy into the SANFL Women’s and then representing her state to eventually earn an AFLW Draft Combine invite. Good overhead and able to leave opposition defenders in her dust, Walsh has a lot of potential for the future. Not a huge production player, she has a high impact-per-possession.
Lilu Hung (Lions Academy / Queensland)
07/06/2005 | 176cm | National
A contested marking target inside 50, Hung missed the majority of 2023 with stress fractures in her foot. Despite her injury, the Lions Academy member showed enough potential in the last couple of years, and came with high regards off the field, to earn a Draft Combine invite. Hung has terrific footy IQ and reads the game well, allowing her to provide a presence up forward.
Tshinta Kendall (Bond University / Queensland)
11/04/2001 | 174cm | National
The explosive rugby 7s convert is sheer raw potential and enjoyed her first season at QAFL Women’s level. She only managed the three games, largely playing through the reserves including in Bond University’s premiership win, but showed off her explosive speed, power and ability to burst through would-be tacklers. One who could be a low-risk, high-reward pick.
Chantal Mason (Geelong Falcons / Vic Country)
28/05/2005 | 176cm | Victoria
The Talent League Girls leading goalkicker was huge throughout the season, with some massive goal hauls, particularly mid-season. Though her national carnival was not as prolific, Mason put herself on draft radars with her strong hands, leading patterns and scoreboard impact. She looms as a potential key forward option.
Kendra Blattman (Swans Academy / NSW-ACT)
09/07/2005 | 176cm | New South Wales
One of only two New South Wales nominees from the Draft Combine invites, Blattman hails from the Swans Academy and is a strong marking, powerful kicking forward-ruck. She did the latter throughout the Allies’ national campaign and held her own in that competition and for the Swans Academy in the Talent League Girls earlier this year.
Mia Zielinski (Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro)
21/07/2005 | 174cm | National
Though she missed on Vic Metro representation, Zielinski presents as a traditional forward, with her hands and powerful kicking action her standout attributes. Athletically lacking, Zielinski’s forward craft, footy IQ and fundamentals when it comes to her aerial ability and set shot technique is what holds her in good stead and keeps her in the conversation as a draft prospect.
Cassie McWilliam (Swan Districts / Northern Territory)
25/02/2003 | 179cm | National
Over the last couple of years, McWilliam has played a variety of different roles in a multitude of teams across various states. From the Top End to Victoria and across the Nullabor to Western Australia, McWilliam is a marking target predominantly inside 50 and through the ruck, with some nice athleticism to-boot.