2023 RMC AFLW Phantom Draft and Q&A

TONIGHT the 2023 AFL Women’s Draft will kick off, and there is plenty intrigue about how the picks might fall. As it stands, some is known, but plenty is unknown, and we try to take a look at just what might happen.

Given the evolving nature of any draft, one change at the top end could see a completely different order, while the further along it goes, the more difficult it is to predict, but we have named who might be around the mark and who your club could be looking at.

We also put out the call via our Instagram to answer any questions you had about the AFL Women’s Draft, and we picked a handful, which are seen below.

What are the details to watch the AFLW Draft?

The AFLW Draft is held from 7pm tonight and can be watched via the AFLW Official App or on AFL.com.au. Unlike the men’s draft which runs over two nights, the AFLW Draft will be completed in its entirety this evening.

How old do you have to be to be eligible for the draft?

For players in the 2023 AFLW Draft, you must have been born in 2005 or earlier. As well as meeting the age requirement of turning 18 prior to the 2024 calendar year, players must have nominated for the draft.


Who’s going to go pick #1?

As you’ll see below in our Phantom Draft, clubs have braced for Western Jets athletic tall Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner to join her childhood club, the Western Bulldogs.

Could Fremantle make a play for Georgie Cleaver since she nominated WA?

Theoretically, if West Coast choose not to select Cleaver with its first four selections prior to Fremantle entering the draft, then yes, the Dockers could scoop her up with Pick 52. It would be a steal for the first round talent, but seems unlikely, however.

PICK 1 – Western Bulldogs – Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner (Western Jets / Vic Metro)

The Western Bulldogs have seemingly settled on the star athlete and tall forward out of the Western Jets with the childhood Dogs fans looking more likely to don the red, white and blue. Weston-Turner has been quite open about her willingness to pursue opportunities outside Victoria, but the Bulldogs know that 180cm explosive athletes don’t grow on trees, which has tipped them that way.

If not, who else?

Tasmanian Barwick is the other name the Dogs took a long hard look at, and rate the 157cm midfielder highly. With the belief she will be there at Pick 4, the Bulldogs will pair up the tall and small combination.

PICK 2 – West Coast – Jessica Rentsch (GWV Rebels / Vic Country)

The GWV Rebels skipper is another Victorian who has been very open about moving interstate, with the Penshurst local one who will have to relocate regardless. A natural leader with a high character, her explosive speed and determination to return stronger from a broken leg last year really endeared her to clubs. Having family ties in Western Australia helps the Eagles’ confidence that she will be a long-term player.

If not, who else?

The other player who is neck and neck with Rentsch is Barwick, but with Rentsch having the local ties, it comes with more confidence, as well as the fact she has played multiple positions successfully, helping the Eagles’ versatility.

PICK 3 – GWS Giants – Kaitlyn Srhoj (Peel Thunder / Western Australia)

The West Australian talent looks set to head to the east coast where she will look to slot onto a wing and provide some run for the Giants. She is the player the Giants have been laser focused on, retaining a top three pick to ensure she is available. Srhoj’s aerial ability and game sense adds a point of difference, being a taller midfielder with great hands holds weight.

If not, who else?

Unless Weston-Turner was left on the board, it is unlikely to see another player land here. GWS Giants childhood supporter Rentsch would likely be the pick if the Eagles backflipped and picked Srhoj, but this seems to be the order.

PICK 4 – Western Bulldogs – Brooke Barwick (Tasmania Devils / Tasmania)

The well-balanced Tasmanian who missed 2023 due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear looks set to head to the Whitten Oval as the Dogs get their top two choices with picks one and four. Barwick is wonderfully skilled and blessed with great decision making, and though she is small, provides outstanding defensive pressure to go with her natural offensive charm.

If not, who else?

If Barwick went to West Coast – the other possibility – then it is likely Williamson will be the choice at four, with the Dogs also having a vested interest in the Dandenong Stingrays’ speedster. A third chance is Pisano given it is believed the Demons rank Williamson higher than Barwick meaning the Dogs could get all three of Weston-Turner, Barwick and Pisano.

PICK 5 – Melbourne – Alyssia Pisano (Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro)

Melbourne recruiters would be rubbing their hands together knowing they have a huge opportunity to select the most damaging small forward in the draft pool. With a potent left foot and elite goal sense, Pisano will only make the Demons’ forwardline stronger and has enormous potential. A genuine steal at Pick 5, helped by her state nomination.

If not, who else?

The Demons are looking for that game-breaking player, with Williamson another chance to go here. The Stingrays midfielder could also run off half-back and is that natural leader the Demons enjoy.

PICK 6 – Western Bulldogs – Mikayla Williamson (Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country)

After being considered as high as four – Williamson finds her home here in this mock draft, with the Bulldogs happy to take on the speedster. Her speed-endurance mix is outstanding, and being a co-captain of Vic Country, is one who will fit in seamlessly to any group. As tough as she is quick, Williamson is great value at the selection.

If not, who else?

The other main choice is Buttifant who the Dogs are right into, and may well pick at number six. The Dogs’ choice here is what will change the rest of the top 10, as the Blues would snap up Williamson if available.

PICK 7 – Carlton – Lila Keck (Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country)

Carlton is looking to gain some more firepower up forward, and the damaging small in Keck looms as the best choice here. She is terrific at ground level and loves a celebration, something that will endear her to Blues fans. Keck is one with a high hurt factor inside 50, and her ability to hit the scoreboard consistently will be huge in the Blues’ move up the ladder.

If not, who else?

As mentioned, if Williamson was available, then the Blues would likely pounce as a talent too good to turn up, but they would not want to miss out on Keck. Buttifant some chance as well, but the small forward is the preferred choice. However in the scenario Melbourne went Williamson, and Pisano was still available, the Blues would snatch her up very quickly.

PICK 8 – Collingwood – Elaine Grigg (Central District / South Australia)

Collingwood is flushed with bigger-bodied inside midfielders, so adding Grigg to the mix would be a point of difference. Though light, Grigg is pound-for-pound as tough as they come, and ultra-courageous. She brings high energy wherever she goes as an outstanding athlete with elite defensive pressure. Will likely play forward and have midfield rotations in the future.

If not, who else?

The Pies might consider taking Buttifant or Clark first here if that is the way they go with a tall and a small, though they might even place a bid on Long with one of these selections. They won’t get her though with the Lions quickly matching.

PICK 9 – Collingwood – Georgia Clark (Tasmania Devils / Tasmania)

The Tasmanian tall has strong hands and is a presence inside 50. She works hard up and down the ground and showed her ability to get her hands dirty when required. Though slightly undersized for a tall forward, Clark punches above her size and is a booming and accurate kick for goal. One who could land anytime in the next few picks.

If not, who else?

The Magpies could take a look at Slocombe as an explosive midfielder to add to the ranks, but could also deviate for a tall and snatch up Buttifant as well. Given the two picks, they have some flexibility in what they do.

Ella Slocombe

PICK 10 – St Kilda – Ella Slocombe (Claremont / Western Australia)

The explosive midfielder/forward is one with enormous upside, having produced a breakout year in 2023. With an ability to win the ball both inside and out, and hit the scoreboard when it counts, Slocombe is a player that does so much right. She might come into consideration at the Pies’ picks, but the Saints have had the most interest in the West Australian.

If not, who else?

If for some reason Williamson made it here – unlikely but not completely out of the realms of possibility – she wouldn’t slip any further. The Saints are known for picking up local talent, and she fits the bill. From those still on the board in this mock draft, Clark is the other name to keep in mind.

PICK 11 – Western Bulldogs – Cleo Buttifant (GWS Giants Academy / NSW-ACT)

In this scenario the gamble to leave Buttifant would have paid off, with the Western Bulldogs interestingly leaving a fifth pick in the bank at 48 – for ruck Jorja Borg – in order to scoop up Buttifant here. The athletic tall defender has plenty of offensive drive and is one to watch for the red, white and blue with her intercepting and explosive speed something to enjoy.

If not, who else?

The Bulldogs might take a look at Borg here and pass Pick 48 to look at a player over the Summer, but otherwise they will consider bidding for Long, and then keep close tabs on Bacon and Gough.

PICK 12 – Brisbane – Evie Long (Lions Academy / Queensland) – BID MATCHED

The Lions Academy member is guaranteed to be bid on inside the first 20 picks, and it is just as certain that the Lions will match said bid. An athletic wing/forward, Long is terrific overhead with an ability to be just as clean at ground level. Good skills and an all-round explosive base, the Sandgate talent will be the Lions’ first pick.

PICK 13 – Melbourne – Georgia Stubs (Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro)

Another potential AFLW Draft bolter who has had plenty of interest, Stubs has explosive speed and is not afraid to take the game on. Able to play off both half-back and through the middle, the Eastern Ranges talent has some big fans and should land inside the top 30, with this region being the top end of her range.

If not, who else?

The Demons might look to Whiley as another suitable replacement, while Gough and Bacon could be choices depending who is on the board.

PICK 13 – Richmond – Isabel Bacon (Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro)

It gets a little tricker from here on, with so many unknowns and the draft group evening out. Bacon is a player who fits the way the Tigers play – with explosive pace and high level physicality – which means she could be taken as high as here. A draft bolter in every sense, she will take the game on and is not afraid to put her body on the line for her team.

If not, who else?

The Tigers might go tall and look at Bacon’s Sandringham Dragons’ teammate Gough, or even take a squizz at Adams as a readymade midfield/defender option.

PICK 15 – West Coast – Kayley Kavanagh (Calder Cannons / Vic Metro)

Kavanagh has produced an ultra-consistent season in 2023, going from a late inclusion to the Under 23 All-Stars side to making Vic Metro, and then becoming Vic Metro’s MVP and an All-Australian. She will be one who has interest across the nation, but the Eagles could do with a rock solid midfielder. She is tipped to be around this range.

If not, who else?

West Coast might consider another midfielder at this choice in Whiley, but could also spring a surprise and bid for Coorparoo’s Jacinta Baldwick.

PICK 16 – Sydney – Kiera Whiley (Western Jets / Vic Metro)

The AFLW Academy member is an accomplished midfielder and a player that just does so much right. She will likely go in the top 20 due to her national nomination, with her inside craft and her ability to also play off flanks, important for clubs. Whiley would be the second Western Jets talent to be picked in the AFLW Draft behind Weston-Turner and should find a home inside the Top 20.

If not, who else?

Sydney might follow on from their men’s side moniker of being ‘Bidney’ and take a long look at any three of Long, Robertson and Rigoni as options to force the Lions, Blues and Dees’ hands. All three teams will match, but is worth the bid, while Kavanagh is another option at this pick.

PICK 17 – Hawthorn – Sophie Butterworth (Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country)

The more one thinks about it, the more an additional key position forward for the Hawks makes sense. Butterworth provides a fantastic marking ability and a powerful left foot, and given the Hawks’ star midfield, they would deliver it well for her to do the rest. One of the most consistent goal threats in the Talent League, she could slide further, but there is a feeling some clubs are ready to pounce early.

If not, who else?

The Hawks might look to add another midfielder/defender to the list in Adams if there, while Whiley would fit the bill as a medium midfielder with nice versatility is she is also in the mix. The brown and gold might even look for defensive versatility and select Gough.

PICK 18 – Geelong – Emily Gough (Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro)

Geelong likes having versatile players, and it gets just that – and plenty of height – in Gough. She can play any position having gone back, forward, ruck or on-ball. That kind of versatility is incredibly rare, and boasting a booming kick and great contested marking ability, the Dragons talent is one who will come into consideration in the first round, and be likely snapped up by the second.

If not, who else?

The obvious choice is Geelong Falcons skipper Adams who would be familiar with the club. She is not an immediate need, but has all the traits to slot in where required. O’Rourke will find her way into the hoops but will likely get a bid after this selection, which is incredible value.

PICK 19 – Port Adelaide – Piper Window (Glenelg / South Australia)

It is not often that Pick 18 is the easiest selection to work out in a mock draft, but in this case, the Power could not read out Window’s name faster. The SANFL Women’s League Best and Fairest is arguably the best player in the pool, but due to her South Australian state nomination, slides all the way down to Pick 18. Daylight robbery at its finest, the Power have a genuine star in the making.

If not, who else?

It’s going to be Window, but the Power’s next choice would be their club-tied talented midfielder Boileau, who will instead head across to the Crows.

PICK 20 – Melbourne – Jemma Rigoni (Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro) – BID MATCHED

It is difficult to work out when the Rigoni bid will come, and Melbourne will hope it is after Pick 23. However the likelihood is it comes just before, with the selection fair value for the explosive over-ager. The daughter of 100-gamer Guy will fit in nicely off half-back for the Demons, but can also play in other positions.

PICK 21 – Essendon – Keely Fullerton (Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country)

The Bombers land at a tricky spot at Pick 21, with some higher upside types alongside readymade talents. Winger/forward Fullerton fits a nice spot inside Essendon’s squad, with her running capacity and damaging left foot something that could impact both directly and indirectly on the scoreboard. They might go a tall, but would warm to Fullerton’s versatility.

If not, who else?

Essendon might opt for a tall here with several still in the board including Geelong Falcons’ Chantal Mason and West Australian Anjelique Raison available. If Long is yet to have a bid for some reason, the Bombers will be sure to make the Lions earn her with the next pick.

PICK 22 – Brisbane – Sophie Peters (Lions Academy / Queensland)

Our top ranked Lions Academy member for 2023 finds her way into the draft at Pick 21. A mix of athletic prowess with footballing skill, Peters is an eye-catching winger who has the potential to move inside. She is a top 20 talent, so the ability for Brisbane to snap her up at 22 is great value.

If not, who else?

Brisbane could raffle it and go Crozier instead, or in the scenario somehow teams forgot to bid on Long, this could be Long, but more than likely the Lions stick to the script and pick up their Academy talents.


Adelaide (Pick 22):

The Crows are set to pick up Brooke Boileau, with the inside midfielder a consistent player throughout the 2023 season. She earned All-Australian honours and has outstanding clean hands at the coalface, while working hard on improving her overall impact on games.

Fremantle (Pick 52):

The Dockers have already committed to Airlie Runnalls with their second selection so will just have the one pick. That could be Claremont’s Eva O’Donnell or mature-age Swan District talent Courtney Zappara both of whom could fill the void of the departing Mikayla Hyde.

Gold Coast (Pick 35):

Expect the Suns to either match a bid from Brisbane, or just take Sienna McMullen outright with Pick 35. The Suns Academy member is skilful and athletic, and would be a top-end inclusion to add to the squad. A top 20 talent too, so another steal in the draft order.

North Melbourne (Pick 25):

North Melbourne could look at a player like Gippsland Power defender Amber Schutte with Pick 25. The Vic Country back has a penetrating right boot, plays an aggressive style of game, and competes hard in the air and at ground level.

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