2023 AFLW Draft preview: Geelong

GEELONG came agonisingly close to reaching the 2023 AFL Women’s Grand Final, falling in the penultimate round to the eventual premiers. The success was close enough that the Cats did not need to make wholesale changes, keeping a relatively low profile over the off-season, with a one-in, one-out approach during the Trade Period, while moving up the draft order for their later selections.


In: Bella Smith, Pick 32, Pick 41
Out: Renee Garing (retired), Samantha Gooden, Ingrid Houtsma, Mia Skinner (delisted), Annabel Johnson (traded), Pick 36, Pick 57

Draft Selections: 17, 32, 41, 75

Geelong only brought in the one player over Trade Period in Brisbane Lions’ Bella Smith who adds further depth to a strong inside midfield. Se thrives on the contested ball, with defender Annabel Johnson heading west, joining the retired Renee Garing and three other Cats on the departures list. Geelong did manage to boost their second and third selections allowing the Cats to move up to three picks within 41, positioning themselves stronger for value picks.


Holding Pick 17 due to the Cats’ success in the 2023 season, it is later than usual for Geelong, but still gives the club a chance at either nabbing a slider or potentially filling a need. It is easy to look at the local pathway, with Geelong Falcons skipper and Vic Country co-captain Chloe Adams and obvious candidate if she is still on the board.

Adams is a natural leader, competitive as they come and can also run off half-back as well as playing inside or outside through the midfield. Predominantly a contested ball-winner, she is clean by hand or foot and dual-sided with a strong defensive element to her game.

Bearing similar traits is Calder Cannons midfielder and Vic Metro MVP Kayley Kavanagh who the Cats will no doubt look closely at. She is equally good around the stoppages, and has really developed her game over the last few seasons. Her Cannons’ teammate Sarah Grunden also fits a need as that distributor inside 50, bearing similar traits to recent inclusion, Kate Surman.

From a forward perspective, Lila Keck is another option if she remains on the board, hailing from the Bendigo Pioneers and has some outstanding X-Factor inside 50. However the big question mark will come surrounding Keck’s Pioneers teammate in Bryde O’Rourke whose father Ray played two games for the Cats back in 1969. A bid for her could come prior to Pick 17, but is more likely to come after leaving her to be a steal at 32


Geelong has a further two picks that are still inside the Top 50, now at 32 and 41 which will allow the Cats to pick up those who fill a need. O’Rourke would be the Pick 32 if not bid on earlier, which would add speed and versatility to the mix, playing an aggressive gamestyle for the Pioneers and Vic Country.

From the Falcons, there are two further AFLW Draft Combine invites in Chantal Mason and Johanna Sunderland. Mason is a contested marking tall forward, while Sunderland is a reliable, rebounding defender.

Given the Cats focus on applying scoreboard pressure the last 12 months, Geelong could look at either of the Jordan’s in the draft – Lily Jordan or Ava Jordan – both of whom can be dangerous inside 50. Lily prides her game off defensive pressure, an element that went up massively this year after being a pure scorer, while Ava stands at just 145cm but has elite footy IQ and is an outstanding distributor.

Tall defender Indiana Williams could be a suitable get later in the draft, with the tall mobile enough to compete against key position players as well as general forwards, and can swing into attack. From the other end of the ground, fellow Lions Academy member Lilu Hung could be a unique selection, providing a contested marking option inside 50

Other attacking players who would suit Geelong’s style are the likes of Jacinta Baldwick and Keely Fullerton who can both play wing or forward and have nominated nationally for the AFLW Draft. Another one to consider is Cats VFLW forward Olivia Cicolini, who has nominated alongside the likes of Mia Fuller and former Blue, Poppy Schaap.


Geelong is in a tricky position in the draft to predict as there is a lot of wait and see about the Cats’ picks. They are later on in the first round due to their on-field success in Season 8 which on the flip side is a massive positive. Geelong loves to bring in attacking players who can transition the ball, and fill needs around the ground so do not be surprised if the Cats opt for a couple of surprises.

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