Clubs to Watch in 2024: Claremont Tigers

IN a new series over the course of January, Rookie Me Central takes a look at some of the clubs across the nation that could be worth watching for a combination of AFL and AFLW Draft prospects, as well as being ultra-competitive or a title contender in their respective competitions.

Next up in our series is a giant in the WAFL Women’s, coming off a runner-up placing in the 2023 season after winning the flag in 2022. Under coach Jack Schwarze, Claremont Tigers remain one of the teams to beat – and arguably have the right to flag favouritism given some of the Tigers’ off-field signings over the last couple of months.

Claremont is a side that would stack up against most across the country with no major weakness other than an undersized ruck department after Matilda Dyke was recruited by Essendon. Or at least, that was the case in 2023. Over the off-season, the Tigers have picked Subiaco ruck Jessica Ritchie and East Fremantle forward/ruck Anjelique Raison.

All of a sudden the Tigers have a combination that will be far more effective than the 173cm Kobi Nichols who battled well above her height and did well, but can be released to play more of a midfield role rather than being that fourth midfielder through the ruck.

Claremont also saw defender Mackenzie Webb drafted to West Coast, and explosive midfielder Ella Slocombe will depart the club after landing at North Melbourne. However they picked up 18-year-old Raison from rivals East Fremantle, in a move that will add versatility to the squad. Raison will likely play between ruck and forward, but has shown she can play back and even midfield if required.

The Tigers midfield is stacked, with Dhara Kerr Medallist Jayme Harken leading the on-ball brigade and AFLW experienced winger Kate Orme providing run on the outside. Matilda Sergeant is another who is coming off a huge 2023 season after being listed with Fremantle, and her form saw her land on the Eagles list for 2024.

Up forward, the Tigers are dangerous with the likes of leading goalkicker Adele Arnup relishing as the number one forward, while the talent of Eva O’Donnell and Eva Campo adds pace to the front half of the ground. Throw in the developing Bec Anderson and Rachel Ortlepp and scoring should be no problems.

Though Webb departed the defence after a sensational half-season with the club, her twin sister Georgia Webb showed promising signs. With Claire Ortlepp leading the defence, and the experience further afield of Jacinta Valentini and Tess Blackburn, it is evident the Tigers will be a team to watch again.

Looking to this year’s AFLW Draft, Claudia Wright is a promising utility who is athletic, good overhead and has plenty of X-Factor. Her bottom-age season was wiped out due to injury, but she finished off the season in the AFLW Under 18 Championships and Under 17 Futures match to earn a spot in the AFLW Academy.

As it stands, Claremont looks hard to beat on paper, but as usual will have challengers in the form of East Fremantle and the rising South Fremantle, as the Tigers look to win their second flag in three seasons.

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