Over-age Player Focus: Tunisha Kikoak (Tasmania Devils)

TASMANIAN tall Tunisha Kikoak is a unique AFLW Draft prospect in the way that she plays and covers a lot of bases. The over-age tall missed out on being selected in last year’s draft but returned to the Devils this year and has predominantly played through the ruck across her two Coates Talent League games to date.

Kikoak has shown in her short time in 2024 that her understanding of the game and ability to impact around the ground has increased. Her disposal numbers have almost doubled from 13.0 last year to 25.0 this year, albeit off a very small sample size. Still, there is a lot to like about what Kikoak could offer to an AFLW team.


+ Athleticism
+ Versatility
+ Strength
+ Production
+ Upside

Kikoak has shown over the last three seasons, that her athleticism is what helps her standout, and that mobility along with strength enables her to impact in the air and at ground level. She might not have found a position in 2023, but in 2024, her role through the ruck and then going forward has paid dividends, booting two goals in her first game this season, and then racking it up in her second game once again.

Her production has lifted enormously – again via a limited sample size – and her ability to play on all three lines captures attention. Her upside for a player of her size – 180cm – and strength is obvious, especially when a player is as mobile as Kikoak is. While not quite the finished product just yet, she has shown enough in 2024 to suggest she has improved on her efforts last year.

Furthermore, her kicking, while still being able to further develop, is powerful and penetrating, and it showed for the Under 23 All-Stars against the AFLW Academy. On that day she had 20 disposals and ran at 70 per cent, while winning 10 contested possessions and having six hitouts through the ruck. She competed against potential pick one Havana Harris in the ruck who has elite levels of athleticism and an extra couple of centimetres on Kikoak, but the Tasmanian competed strongly.


– Endurance
– Consistency

Kikoak cited her own improvement area as her endurance last season, and that was evident in the preseason testing where here endurance was a “growth area” when compared to her peers of the same age at the start of 2023. Fast forward to this year, and the then-18 year-old Kikoak smashed the yo-yo test out of the park, going from a growth area to “very good” and increasing her shuttle runs by a whole level.

That increase in endurance helped her consistency across the first two games and Under 23 All-Stars, and she has lifted from being a mid-teens accumulator to a 20-plus ball-winner. Even against the country’s best players, she was able to find the ball, and that in itself will have ticked a lot of boxes for clubs who were perhaps were a little shy in going off pure upset.


Kikoak has a nice fundamental base now to go further this season, and while she is still capable of being a little cleaner at ground level, her competitiveness and repeat efforts help her shovel it out to teammates to act as a “fourth midfielder”. The Tasmanian is one of those players who can improve a bit across the board, but the mobility and improvements from last year to this year are what will suggest to clubs she can go to another level.


Coates Talent League – Round 4

By: Michael Alvaro

Stats: 26 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 15 hitouts

Returning another monster stat line in the ruck, Kikoak imposed herself as any good over-ager should. She utilised her size to win the ruck duels and was not afraid to grab the ball out of the air and prise her own clearances. While a little clumsy at times, the 180cm talent clunked a couple of nice intercept marks to lock the ball into Tasmania’s forward half, ruling the airways all game.

Coates Talent League – Round 3

By: Peter Williams

Stats: 24 disposals, 2 tackles, 15 hitouts, 5 inside 50s, 2 goals

The over-age ruck acts as a “fourth midfielder” at times with her mobility around the ground a feature of her game. Though not as impactful in the air in this game, Kikoak got involved in scoring chains, playing the majority of her time in the ruck before booting two final term goals in the space of two minutes to put the icing on the cake for the Devils.

Under 23 All-Stars

By: Peter Williams

Stats: 20 disposals, 2 marks, 6 hitouts, 2 clearances, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

A standout for the Under 23 All-Stars considering she largely went head-to-head with Havana Harris in the ruck. Though unable to match her opponent in the air, Kikoak held her own at ground level and ended up winning more disposals than anyone else on her team. Boasting a booming kick, Kikoak looked to punt the ball to safety and had a couple of inside 50s as well, while taking a great mark midway through the third term and delivering to Poustie.


2023 AFLW Draft Combine

On chatting to clubs at the AFLW Draft Combine last year:

“I think it’s just an opportunity to be amazed by and an opportunity to take, being here and being around other people with my skills and ability, and the dream to be drafted. I think that’s amazing and I’m really keen for it. Talking to clubs I think is awesome. Talking to anyone is great, I’m a very bubbly person, I like to talk and so I think it’s just exciting.”

On her preferred role:

“I think honestly I like the ruck, it’s a good position, I like it a lot. But I think I’m a utility and I think I can play anywhere. I can put my mind to it and I can do it. I can bring down tackles, I can take aerial marks, I can kick goals to a degree, and I can run in the midfield so I think I can play in the midfield.”


“At the moment I’ve been really focusing down on the ruck positioning. Where to be on-field, and then learning tap forward, tap back, being able to start in different positions and just work my way around.”


Tunisha Kikoak is a long-term prospect who has improved her endurance rapidly over the last 12 months. A determined preseason has paid massive dividends for the Tasmanian who is fitter and stronger than ever, and it has shown in the first three matches she has played this year. Expect her to be one to watch in 2024.

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