2024 AFLW U18s Player Focus: Mia Salisbury (Queensland)

PROMISING top-age Queenslander Mia Salisbury has adapted into life as a midfielder this year after a promising bottom-age national carnival as a defender. The Bond University draft eligible player was among the better players for the Suns Academy during its Coates Talent League Girls stint earlier in the year.

In the absence of a host of top Queensland midfielders such as Tara Harrington, Isabella McDonough and Ava Usher due to injury, Salisbury got her chance and took her full-time midfield minutes with both hands. She attended every centre bounce and was consistent throughout the four quarters in the win over Vic Country, which included an eight disposal third term.

Her performance, which was was the pick of the smaller/medium players was the subject of our Player Focus for the clash.

Mia Salisbury

Height: 168cm

Weight: -

DOB: 27-06-2006


2024 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships:
Queensland 7.11 (53) defeated Vic Country 4.8 (32)

#10 Mia Salisbury (Queensland)
Stats: 22 disposals (15 kicks, 7 handballs @ 63.6% efficiency, 45.8% contested), 5 marks, 6 tackles, 6 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50


Mia Salisbury started the game on-ball at the first centre bounce against potential pick one Ash Centra and immediately found out about the task ahead of her. Twice she tried to tackle her but got shrugged as Centra would clear the ball from the stoppage. Quickly learning, the next centre bounce she wrapped up her opponent with a strong tackle to lock the ball up.

At the repeat centre bounce, Salisbury let Centra go into the contest and stayed out the side in space but Havana Harris won the clearance as it stood. Salisbury would have her first touch in the opening few minutes, when, after a ball bounced off her chest trying to make in defensive 50, the Suns Academy member was quick to react and tidy it up via a rebound 50 to Zimra Hussain at half-back.

She would lay another tackle in the defensive 50 – this time on Olivia Wolter – and would remain central in her positioning, protecting the defensive goalsquare when required, then pushing back to the 50m line when numbers were deep.

Continuing her great battle at centre stoppages on Centra, the next on at the 10-minute mark she locked up her opponent after tracking her, then got in front of her at the 13-minute mark and won her first of six clearances for the game by throwing it on the boot quickly and sending it to centre half-forward.

Another quick handball later at a stoppage before being dispossessed prior to an additional touch, Salisbury managed to self-umpire by pointing out to the officiant in green that Claire Mahony had overstepped her mark in the 16th minute after taking a mark at half-back. She went to just outside 50 and kicked towards Sunny Lappin. Though not pinpoint, Salisbury managed to put it to her teammate’s advantage.

In the final 90 seconds, Salisbury attended a sixth centre bounce, but was on Sara Howley for the last one. She went in beside her and laid a tackle, Howley won the handball away, but Salisbury pressure ensured she could not get clear.

At quarter time, Salisbury had five disposals, one mark, two tackles, one inside 50 and one rebound 50.


The second quarter started with Salisbury at the centre bounce on Howley, but quickly put her body in front of Centra at a follow-up play when the ball came in the pair’s vicinity for a marking contest. Being the smaller one in the contest, Salisbury brought the ball to ground and went back to attack it.

In the fourth minute, Salisbury won two handballs at the centre bounce up against Howley, with the second one coming as she was being tackled but managed to get the hands free. Less than two minutes later, Salisbury was at half-forward and laid a fantastic technical tackle on Mahony to win a holding the ball free kick.

The Queensland midfielder’s defensive pressure remained high midway through the term with a tackle on Kayla Dalgleish to force a rushed kick. Back at the centre bounce, Salisbury was utilised as the sweeper against Lou Painter with her opponent winning the ball on this occasion and handballing it clear, caught a touch too reactive in the middle.

Covering the ground well, Salisbury continued her hight level of pressure acts, applying multiple acts on opponents along the wing midway through the term, then pinned one arm of Holly Egan in a tackle. She would apply another strong tackle in the middle shortly after to force a turnover and then one on Howley to force her to handball rather than burst away.

Rounding out the quarter, Salisbury thumped the ball on the boot to record another clearance, and though it was intercepted down the ground, the Queensland midfielder ran hard to be an extra number once it turned over and won it via a handball receive and dished off herself.

At half-time, Salisbury was up to nine disposals – the second most of anyone on her team – and three clearances, as well as two inside 50s and a rebound 50. She had won four of her touches via a looseball get and was operating at a sizzling 77.8 per cent disposal efficiency.

Mia Salisbury looks to evade Vic Country’s Lou Painter in the defensive 50. Image credit: Rookie Me Central


Salisbury’s third quarter was where she got her hands on the ball plenty. She started at the first centre bounce on Howley, with her individual first touch coming two minutes into the second half. Holding a hard line outside the stoppage, she stayed loose to take an uncontested mark then hit a short pass to Nyalli Milne well. She pushed to the top of 50 to receive Milne’s kick, though with few options ahead of her, dished off quickly to the running Milne beside her.

In the fifth minute, Salisbury was once again opposed to Centra, tacking her on the forward side of the wing and putting pressure on, before dong the same to Elise Cook at half-forward a few minutes later. In the 10th minute, Salisbury laid a strong tackle on Painter, then won the next clearance as Harris gave her the run at the ball from a set play, blocking Painter in the process.

Salisbury would take full advantage and thump the ball down the ground, though it did go wide and bounce out of bounds unluckily. At only the second centre bounce of the quarter, Salisbury had a new opponent in Jasmine Sowden, and both went towards the ball but the Queenslander could not quite take it cleanly, bouncing it off her hands.

At another centre bounce a few minutes later, Salisbury went head-to-head against Painter and as it spilled out to the wing, the Maroons midfielder was first on the scene, winning it and throwing it on the boot. Once again it bounced out of bounds however.

In the final couple of minutes, Salisbury gathered well at half-forward and hit up a nice kick to centre half-forward, before winning another touch in the final 30 seconds where after gathering it on the wing, her kick was smothered, but it bounced back into her arms and she got a handball away cleanly.

By the final break, Salisbury had 17 disposals, three marks, six tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s and a rebound 50. The Queenslander had an impressive eight-disposal quarter, albeit with a five effective, three ineffective disposal split.


The final term saw Salisbury starting on-ball yet again, and though she got it on the forward side of the centre, she was dispossessed. Her first official disposal came in the seventh minute when after a big marking collision between Centra and Mahony, Salisbury was first to pick up the loose ball inside the defensive 50. She gathered it well and her short pass to an outlet defender was effective enough without being pinpoint.

In the eighth minute, Salisbury marked on the forward side of the wing and her kick towards Alannah Welsh was effective, it just slipped through the forward’s hands. An attempted tackled on Howley in the middle of the term followed, and though the Victorian got her kick away, shortly after a turnover would result in a Harris goal.

Heading back to the centre bounce, Salisbury got it clear to half-forward after a couple of handballs that fed out to her, and then pushed forward playing an aggressive running game now given Queensland had the momentum.

Salisbury’s elite passing when having time and space such as a mark at centre half-forward was on display in the 13th minute, when the Queenslander turned and hit a precision pass to Sunny Lappin. Winning it again off the turnover a few minutes later, Salisbury kicked from the wing to the top of the forward 50 for another touch.

At the last centre bounce of the game, Salisbury went head-to-head with Painter, though neither got involved on this occasion, with Zoe Besanko instead winning it clear and getting it forward. It would largely remain in Vic Country’s half of the ground for the last two minutes, which is where Salisbury would almost take a mark but was just spoiled by Wolter at the last second.

In the quarter, Salisbury would finish with five disposals, but only credited with one effective – the pass to Lappin – which shows how efficiency stats can be misleading. One kick marginally missed the target but was able to be recouped in defence, and the other – to Welsh inside 50 – was on target, just dropped and mopped up by Vic Country.

Mia Salisbury scans the forward 50 preparing to kick. Image credit: Rookie Me Central


Mia Salisbury finished the game with 22 disposals, the third most on ground, and second most of her team. She also had an equal game-high six clearances and five inside 50s – the most on her side – while kicking at just 46.7 per cent. However the number is not indicative of her true efficiency – as explained in the last quarter, with a more accurate number being around the 60 per cent mark or so.

Salisbury with time and space is a lovely kick of the ball, and most of the time her ineffective kicks came from clearances around the ground looking to clear the ball. At Coates Talent League Girls level, Salisbury showed great poise and composure around the stoppages, though naturally with the lift in talent, the pressure is greater.

Having played as a defender last year, Salisbury is still adjusting to life as a full-time midfielder at this level. What stands out about her game is her footy IQ and general game sense, able to hold a good line down the centre corridor, get into space to win the ball, but also get her hands dirty when required.

She has a quick release by hand, can compete overhead well, and though she is not overly tall – 168cm – she can compete against players in the tall bracket as well as smaller opponents. A prospect who was in our 30-35 bracket heading into the national championships, her performance definitely put her hand up to be inside our top 30.

There are improvements to come, and it is likely with confidence and more minutes at the level she will add the additional composure around the ball she has shown throughout the Coates Talent League Girls and Academy representation level. She has great technique and smarts which will help her along the way.

Overall, Salisbury was in the top three players for Queensland, and the standout sub-170cm player on the ground. She ticked a lot of boxes and was crucial with Queensland missing the likes of Harrington, McDonough and Usher, as well as Heidi Talbot off half-back who would also provide that important run and carry.

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