2023 AFLW Draft preview: North Melbourne

GRAND finalists North Melbourne came agonisingly close to an inaugural AFL Women’s flag, and remain a contender in 2024. Bringing in a strong readymade defender, the Roos are set to go again, having moved on five players to open up a further four list spots at the club heading into the AFLW Draft.


In: Libby Birch, Pick 25, Pick 27, Pick 47
Out: Hannah Bowey, Charli Granville, Cassidy Mailer, Sophie McCarthy (delisted), Ellie Gavalas (traded), Pick 19, Pick 38, Pick 52, Pick 59

Draft Selections: 25, 27, 47, 77

North Melbourne essentially traded out a midfielder in Ellie Gavalas to secure another defender in Libby Birch which considering the Kangaroos’ depth through the middle, is a huge win They also bid farewell to another four players in a tough list management cull, and ended up entering the AFLW Draft with their first selection at Pick 25, followed shortly by 27.


North Melbourne’s first two selections come close together, so the Kangaroos will be able to pick a couple of players in quick succession. By that stage of the draft, the options are starting to open up, with North Melbourne set to pounce on any sliders who go outside the first round.

A potential option could be looking at a high-upside player like Gippsland Power’s Amber Schutte who could be around the mark for the Roos. She has explosive pace and a penetrating right boot that would only get better under the tutelage of Emma Kearney off half-back.

Tasmanians will always be linked with the Roos given the club ties, and though none eventually nominated the Roos from those with AFLW Draft Combine invites, North Melbourne might consider tall utility Tunisha Kikoak as a player with high upside for the future given her athletic prowess and natural strength. Equally athletic Alissa Brook is another talent who is in the second round frame.

If for some reason a Meg Robertson hasn’t come by this stage, expect the Roos to throw that down to make Carlton at Pick 28 earn its father-daughter selection.


At Pick 47, the Roos will likely target a more readymade player who can fill a role, potentially from the VFLW or a state league competition across the country. Given the Roos are so close to a flag, they might not worry about age and go for best available with Steph O’Brien from Southport a readymade star. Winning the Zielke Medal this year, O’Brien is an elite athlete with good size and can play on all three lines, but is 34.

Out of the VFLW, Jessica Bates would be able to step straight up to the midfield, though the Roos have a lot of depth in there, so might look for a more raw talent like Magpies teammate Nyakoat Dojiok for a bit of X-Factor up forward.

Also liking outside run in the past, North Melbourne could look to a type such as South Adelaide’s Holly Ifould or Bendigo Pioneers’ Keely Fullerton depending on whether or not they are available later on in the draft. If the Roos stick with the Tasmanian theme, then hard-running midfielder Jasmyn Thompson could provide depth across the ground given her athletic traits.


North Melbourne is not far off a flag so the Roos could go down the unconventional route of readymade players to step straight in and provide depth to the squad. Expect a couple of younger players first up, before looking fo a mature-age need later on as the Roos hope to go one better in 2024.

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