2023 AFLW Draft preview: Sydney

IT WAS almost a dream year from Sydney who went from winless debutants in Season 7, to finalists in Season 8. The Swans forced their way into a semi-final, and while ultimately they did not quite have the class to knock off the more experienced Adelaide, showed the building blocks are there for the future.


In: Holly Cooper (pre-listed), Kiara Hillier, Giselle Davies, Pick 30
Out: Jaide Anthony, Kiara Beesley, Sarah Ford, Jenny Higgins, Bridie Kennedy, Kate Reynolds (delisted), Aliesha Newman (traded), Pick 34, Pick 73, Pick 55

Draft Selections: 15, 30

Sydney was content with its list in Season 8, essentially keeping a relatively steady group with only a choice of five delistings – and then Bridie Kennedy delisting herself – and just the one player in Aliesha Newman traded to her fourth club. They targeted defensive depth by picking up Lion Kiara Hillier and Sun Giselle Davies who will have more opportunities in the red and white, while also picking up the classy Holly Cooper who is an elite athlete.


Sydney is in an interesting spot at Pick 15, with the range just outside the top-enders, but also still able to grab a player with the potential to make the next jump. Given the Swans have to look to a player with national nomination, they might target the likes of Kayley Kavanagh or Kiera Whiley, both of whom nominated nationally and provide immediate inside midfield depth.

Kavanagh won Vic Metro’s MVP this year at the national carnival and has great hands on the inside, while Whiley is able to exit a stoppage with grace and hit targets down the ground. If Evie Long was still without a bid, expect the Swans to plant one here as the tall winger/forward is too good to remain there for much longer, while Giants Academy tall Cleo Buttifant would be snapped up in a heartbeat by the Swans if she was still available.


Sydney’s next pick comes at selection 30 and this is where another developing tall might jump in, assuming the Swans went for a midfielder with the first choice as expected. West Australian captain Anjelique Raison would be a perfect fit for the Swans given her leadership and ability to play across every line. She along with Indiana Williams and Lilu Hung might be pinched earlier than expected depending on what the final draft order looks like.

Looking more locally – and depending on list numbers – Sydney could look to long-term talent Gabby Eaton who would be eligible as a Cat B rookie, but has kept her options open by nominating nationally. Fellow Swans Academy members Marnie Robinson – the Allies’ MVP and All-Australian – and Olivia Morris are also in the frame, as would be talls Kendra Blattman and Serina Baukes.


Sydney only has the two picks inside the first four rounds, but will be able to add to its list and then have flexibility with what it does next. The Swans will likely add a midfielder and a tall to fill gaps where required, but it would depend on whether or not there might be a slider from the first two rounds.

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