Leagues: WAFL Women's, AFLW U18 Championships
Peel Thunder’s Ella Roberts is the leading pick one candidate for the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft. Having burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old kicking multiple goals to lead the Thunder to a WAFL Women’s flag in 2020, the young star is nothing short of eye-catching with her combination of athleticism and creativity. Starting her career as a tall forward, Roberts has proven she can play further afield, but it is her elite speed, ground level work and off-the-charts footy IQ that make her such a terrific player.
Ella Roberts is easily the most complete player in the 2022 AFLW Draft pool. From a traits perspective, she has the lot - athleticism, skill, footy IQ, and high impact aerially and at ground level - and it is splitting hairs to pick out anything detrimental about her game. Roberts herself says her defensive work could improve, and while the defensive running is an area she can always build up, she lays multiple tackles per game and certainly brings the defensive pressure.
Roberts has long been a player to watch for this year’s AFLW Draft. She burst onto the scene as a 15-year-old to help guide Peel Thunder to their first flag coming off a wooden spoon season. She kicked a couple of vital goals to get them over the line, and then was again a key cog in their back-to-back premiership triumph. She has collected two West Australian MVPs, two All-Australians and the 2021 AFLW Under 18s MVP.
It has been difficult to stop Roberts over the years, though when being fully tagged at WAFLW level, she has been able to be nullified, though it speaks volume of a player who copped her first tag at 16. She will get a lot more of that at the top level, which will be an area she will have to adapt to. That is one of the few question marks in her game and the difference between state league and the top level.
Breaking down her strengths, Roberts is as clean in the air and at ground level as anyone that has come through the pathways. It is a nightmare for opposition defenders to know that even if they split the aerial battle with a well-timed spoil, chances are Roberts has already recovered and is away. Her footy IQ and skills, particularly by foot are exquisite, and she can launch shots on goal from 50 metres. From a positional analysis, Roberts is a natural forward, but has spent time on a wing and now inside. Without any doubts whatsoever, Roberts is going to be a very special player at the next level.
Ella Roberts is the only player to have won two state MVPs and receive two All-Australian jumpers (as well as her 2021 AFLW Under 18 Championships MVP) in the 2022 AFLW Draft class.