Leagues: NAB League Girls, AFLW U18 Championships
Emily Shepherd has been an eye-catching player over the years, and been able to impact both in the middle and up forward with strong success. While at times she has areas she can work on such as her vision going forward and kicking consistency, she has a penetrating kick and is strong overhead and at ground level.
A powerful player with a booming kick and strong hands, Emily Shepherd is someone who could go far if everything clicks. She has a lot of talent and upside for the future, being able to play both inside and outside, as well as being a leading forward. Her one-on-one ability and cleanliness in the air make her a threat when inside 50, and the fact she can launch shots on goal from around the 50m mark - such as the important goal she kicked against Eastern Ranges to help win the Dandenong Stingrays the game - shows just how damaging she can be.
The knock on Shepherd is two-fold. Her kicking can be inconsistent at times, often rushing out of a stoppage and chucking it on the boot. Then when having time and space, she can often look to kick longer than she needs to, or set her sights on goal rather than lowering her eyes to pick out a target inside 50. If she can assess the situation and utilise her penetrating kick to advantage, then she can become an even more damaging team player and impact the scoreboard through score assists as well as directs scores. Her off-ball work could also improve, which will come with time and learning what might be required in terms of unrewarded running.
Though there is a bit to work on, there is little doubt Shepherd has high level traits. She can be a player that with the right development, could be incredibly potent at the top level. She has that match-winning ability, and the confidence to back herself to kick the winning goal or make the important pass. As someone with a powerful boot and an eye for goal, Shepherd is a player to watch for the future because if she does get overlooked in the 2022 AFLW Draft, then expect her to be highly considered as an over-ager if she can tweak certain areas in her game.
Emily Shepherd had multiple games of 20-plus disposals in the NAB League Girls competition this year, but perhaps her best performance came up forward against Tasmania Devils in Round 10, where she slotted five goals from 15 touches and five marks.