Leagues: Coates Talent League Girls, AFLW U18 Championships
Brooke Barwick is an all-round talented prospect who unfortunately missed 2023 due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. With outstanding footy IQ, a taste for contested ball and a balance of offensive and defensive traits, her season-ending injury is not expected to affect her draftability.
A talented player out of the Apple Isle, Barwick has plenty going for her as a prospect. Long considered one of the better Tasmanians in her draft class, she showed her talent in glimpses as a 15-year-old in 2021. After playing seven games that year and averaging 9.6 disposals and 4.0 marks, Barwick stepped up as a bottom-ager in 2022.
Her class and toughness came to the fore last season, as she upped her numbers to 15.6 disposals and 6.2 tackles. Though only a small player at 159cm, Barwick packs a punch for her size, and is not afraid to take on much bigger opponents. Even at last year's national carnival for the Allies, Barwick held her own with an average of 14.5 disposals and 4.5 clearances in the two games as a full Allies outfit.
Barwick's clearance ability, combined with her defensive pressure, stands above all else, but she is also clean and effective with ball-in-hand. She picks the right decisions and has the footy smarts to get herself out of trouble. A well-balanced player by hand or foot, she does not have a dominant predisposition to either, and therefore plays each possession on its merits.
The pocket rocket rarely plays a bad game which speaks to her consistency and natural footballing ability. Though she was robbed of a chance of playing in 2023, her body of work over the two years prior leading up to her draft year is testament enough to what she is capable of.
Due to her ACL injury, Barwick did not test in the preseason, but it is evident from her on-field play that her speed and particularly her evasion standout. Naturally as a 159cm player, her aerial ability is not a major improvement but still an area she can get better at, especially if stationed as a small forward at AFLW level.
Another area she can improve is in her endurance. When speaking to Rookie Me Central during pre-season, Barwick's desire to improve came in that area to enable her to get to repeat contests. Given her time off, the last few months in particular would have been largely focused on that, so it will be interesting to see how she fares when she returns.
Barwick obviously does not have any 2023 data or matches to go off, but as the saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent, and Barwick has plenty of the latter. Despite her injury, it would be surprising to not hear her name read out first from the Apple Isle, and she will likely play as a small forward to start with before cracking into a midfield in a not too dissimilar vein to a Tyla Hanks.
The Tasmanian teenager draws comparisons to the Melbourne premiership player, sharing a similar ability to win the ball on the inside and outside, and have an influence going forward in transition.
Brooke Barwick is a top 10 pick on talent, and though she has missed 2023 due to a knee injury, will have no problem playing at the elite level. With her outstanding balance of offensive and defensive traits, she is a player with outstanding upside and an innate knowledge of the game that will only help her game improve further.
Coates Talent League Girls
AFLW U18 Championships