2023 AFLW Draft preview: Western Bulldogs

AFTER a season to forget which included collecting the wooden spoon, sacking coach Nathan Burke and having four best 21 players walk out the door, the Western Bulldogs are set to build from the ground up once again. The Dogs might still be searching for a coach, but picked up some experience this offseason with six inclusions to go with three additional picks inside the first round.


In: Vaomua Laloifi, Ellie Gavalas, Zimmorlei Farquharson, Lauren Ahrens, Jasmyn Smith, Analea McKee, Pick 4, Pick 6, Pick 11, Pick 51
Out: Richelle Cranston (retired), Bailey Hunt, Daisy Bateman (delisted), Celine Moody, Katie Lynch, Kirsty Lamb, Gabrielle Newton (traded), Pick 22, Pick 41, Pick 61  

Draft Selections: 1, 4, 6, 11, 51

There was a mix of emotions from Bulldogs fans over the off-season, as heart and soul midfielder Kirsty Lamb requested a trade to Port Adelaide, former number one pick Gabrielle Newton asked to join Fremantle, ruck Celine Moody chose to reunite with her sister at Carlton, and Katie Lynch headed north for a change. The Bulldogs made the best of a bad situation, bringing in picks four, six and 11, as ell as some depth across the field in Vaomua Laloifi and Zimmorlei Farquharson up either end, and former Dog Ellie Gavalas returning to the midfield rotation.


Western Bulldogs will be on the clock first on Monday night, and while there were a few the Dogs tossed up between, they look likely to settle on athletic forward, Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner. The Western Jets talent is a Bulldogs fan, and though she nominated nationally and reiterated she was keen to head interstate if required, the niche tall forward seems too good to turn down at the selection.

If the Bulldogs did opt to pivot over the next 48 hours, it would likely be to Tasmanian midfielder Brooke Barwick, with the talented young gun more than capable of stepping straight in and having an impact at Whitten Oval. There is every chance the pair goes and one and two in the draft, because if the Dogs did overlook Weston-Turner, then the Eagles would swoop on her with pick two, though Barwick, may not be there at pick four.


In a dream scenario for the Dogs, they would grab Weston-Turner and Barwick with picks one and four, adding some serious upside and class to the lineup. One would become a focal point inside 50, while the other would deliver pinpoint passes in transition, and also add defensive pressure around the ball.

If the Bulldogs missed out on Barwick, they would seriously consider GWV Rebels skipper Jessica Rentsch with pick four, to add some explosive speed off half-back. Eastern Ranges small forward Alyssia Pisano seems too good to turn down at this pick, but the Dogs are looking at adding some speed and versatility to the lineup.

They will need to likely clear off some more list numbers in order to make the full four picks which one would expect them to do given how high they are, with tall defender Cleo Buttifant the other target. She could go as high as pick six, or the Dogs may run the gauntlet and take a risk that the Magpies and Saints won’t pick her up.

Mature-age ruck Jorja Borg is another player the Dogs have been linked to, but will likely use their final selection (11) on her given the lack of top-age readymade ruck options. Mikayla Williamson and Kayley Kavanagh are other players who fit the list needs at the Dogs, as does West Australian, Ella Slocombe.


The Western Bulldogs will exit the 2023 year with some positivity having picked up four young guns inside the top 11 picks in the AFLW Draft. They should collect a couple of talls, and some more midfield depth to make a more competitive unit in 2024 as they hope to push back up the ladder after free-falling to the wooden spoon.

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