Queensland: AFLW Draft depth into top-end talent next two years

WITH the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships underway, it gives fans a chance to not only view AFLW Draft prospects who could join their club at the end of the year, but also those for future seasons. A number of bottom-agers have shown their wares over the last 18 months and loom as potential top-end talents for 2025.

In our recent 2024 AFLW Draft Power Rankings, Queensland had just two players inside the initial Top 30 which were our overall top contender Havana Harris, and fellow AFLW Academy member Tara Harrington. Given Queensland is every chance to go through the national carnival undefeated, it is worth taking a look at where all the talent lies in the Sunshine State.


Outside of the obvious two AFLW Academy members, Queensland has a number of prospects in the next bracket, which unfortunately meant where the cut-off was, they missed out on the initial list, but had it been extended to 35 or 40, they would have certainly been in.

Two players who are right on the mark are Mia Salisbury and Heidi Talbot, while Lions Academy duo Lilly Baker and Isabella McDonough are others on the cusp of that top group. Three of those four players have had injury interrupted seasons at different points, but we will discuss them now.

Salisbury caught the eye last year as a defender, but playing for the Suns Academy what stands out is her composure in pressure situations, and ability to dispose of the ball on the boot. She was one of the best on Sunday in the Maroons’ win over Vic Country, and expect her to be right in the top 30 mix for the next edition even without extended rankings. It was just a case of seeing how she performed in a stacked team against a stacked team and she passed with flying colours.

Mia Salisbury has performed strongly this season and looms as an impressive developing midfielder. Image credit: Rookie Me Central

Talbot is unfortunately out with a shoulder injury as it stands, but is highly rated internally and it is easy to see why. Her role change to half-back has brought out the best in her game, and she has a rare endurance-speed mix that is valuable in outside runners. She has a crack too which always helps, but is around the second round mix and in that next bracket.

Baker and McDonough are likewise, with Baker a member of the AFLW Academy but has not had the luck with injury this year, only recently returning via the AFLW Academy match and is still getting back into the tempo. With Harris and Georja Davies serving as the two main rucks on the weekend, Baker was able to ease back into it. Her athletic traits and versatility to play just about any role make her a prospect to watch.

McDonough is one who is unfortunately is currently out injured, but showed glimpses of her talent for the Lions Academy in the Coates Talent League. She can play inside or outside, and even go forward and hit the scoreboard, with a penetrating left boot eye-catching. One player who has a lot of upside, it will just come down to whether or not she has had enough runs on the board, but the Lions themselves will be keeping close tabs on their co-skipper.

Other 2006-born players who have also been in the mix through either All-Star representation or Under 17 Futures selection are the likes of speedster Nyalli Milne and tenacious utility Zimra Hussain. Both produced strong games on the weekend as a wing and forward respectively, and have developable traits. Defenders Siobhan Ross – who played her role to perfection – and Farrandai Hopkins are also top-agers, while over-age teammate Laura Roy would be one of the top 2005-born prospects available.

In summary, if looking at just the pure 2006-born players – ie. those available for the 2024 AFLW Draft – Queensland would have between five to six in the Top 40, but three to four of them are just outside the top 30. In saying that, the national carnival is a great way to boost draft stocks, and with QAFLW finals also on the horizon, clubs will be keen to see what prospects can do.

Ava Usher might be missing this year’s national carnival with an ACL injury, but she is universally regarded as the best player in next year’s draft. Image credit: Rookie Me Central


When it comes to Queensland talent, the Maroons have always had top 10 quality players, and each year the depth has been growing. In 2025 though, the Sunshine State could well have the best three prospects in the AFLW Draft, and potentially four inside the top 10.

There is a long way to go until then, but Ava Usher is universally regarded as the best player, denied a bottom-age season due to a dreaded anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, but has a near flawless game. She, along with athletic talls Dekota Baron and Davies could well make up the top three spots.

Of course draft preferences and the passage of time over the next 18 months changes plenty, but it is an exciting draft crop that does not stop there. Utility Alannah Welsh is right up there with the top echelon of players and could be among that top 10 group. Add in Carlton and St Kilda father-daughter prospect Sunny Lappin who has promising traits, and Queensland is going to be a haven of talent in 2025.

In fact there are already nine 2007-born and two 2008-born players on Queensland’s national carnival list, making 11 underage players from a squad of 30, and that is without the injured Usher. The 07s all showed promising signs on the weekend in Annabelle Foat, Aleah Stringer and Bronte Parker, the latter of whom has been very impressive in 2024 in particular, while ruck Monique Corrigan will wait to get her chance for the Maroons.


Over the course of the two AFLW Drafts in 2024 and 2025, Queensland will likely slot into second overall behind Victoria for players taken. Though in 2024 the depth is what stands out in the Maroons lineup – with a number of mid-draft players to complement the couple of the top-end – 2025 is the year where the top-end talent shines, but with depth to compliment it to.

The quality of the talent pathway has always been strong in the women’s space, and over the last few years, the Maroons have remained a contender and will likely rival South Australia on percentage this year to determine who wins the 2024 national championships. The reason they are so competitive as a team is the stretch of talent in numerous age groups, which is poised to translate to draft board domination in the near future.

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