Leagues: SANFL Women's League, AFLW U18 Championships
Lauren Young is one of the rare players that needs no introduction, but in the off chance you might have missed hearing her CV, spoiler alert, it’s a long one. From a league best and fairest at SANFLW level, to All-Australians and state MVPs, then leading goalkicker this year, all wedged either side of a disappointing anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, it has been quite the ride for Young the last few years.
+ Contested marking
+ Work rate
+ Kicking penetration
+ Hurt factor
- Set shot consistency
Young is a player whose profile could go on for a long time, as she is the top pick in this year's AFLW Draft, and for Port Adelaide fans - who should not have to wait too much longer to hear her name pre-listed - there is quite a lot to look forward to.
Making her SANFLW debut back in 2021, the then 15-year-old Young went on to earn a Rising Star nomination on debut, taking the most marks, having the most disposals and rebound 50s on the ground, all while playing in midfield and floating to defence. From there, she won the Breakthrough Player Award and competition best and fairest - despite being one of the youngest in the league - while making the SANFLW Team of the Year.
It was pretty evident from game one that had she needed to step up to the AFLW a week later, that she could have coped, but instead, it was the AFLW Under 18 Championships where South Australia sought - and received - special allowance to play Young as a 15-year-old. She went on to not only hold her own, but win her state's MVP and earn All-Australian honours off just two games.
At the end of the year, disaster struck, and she tore her ACL, missing the entire 2022 season. Returning in 2023, Young had hardly missed a beat, playing up forward for West Adelaide, and then for South Australia, winning the leading goalkicker at the national carnival. She made the All-Australian team again, as well as SANFLW Team of the Year, and further cemented her place as the top player in the country.
It is quicker to go through ways she can improve, so that is where we start. The one area where Young can further tidy up is just in her polish around the ground. She has a booming kick and can hit targets just as well as anyone else, but considering the majority of her game is considered "elite" for her age, it is arguably say "above average", and just sharpening up a few of her touches, particularly by foot when on the move will further help her.
That, along with her set shot consistency - which at times can be deadeye, and others not in range - are her main improvements. But focusing in on the strengths, it is easy to see why Young is widely regarded as the best player in this year's AFLW Draft crop.
If you had to pick one area that stands above all else, it would be Young's contested marking. She is incredible overhead, and as soon as she gets into position, it is close to goodnight for any defender. She will clunk them consistently, and even if she doesn't, she crashes the pack and brings it to ground.
With ball-in-hand she has a powerful kick that can travel up to 50m on a good day, and she is capable of kicking goals from anywhere. Though others might be more agile, she still moves well on-field and converts chances that few others could. That being said, Young has also played in defence and midfield, showing off incredible versatility along the way, and at 178cm, Young is a great size to compete anywhere on-field.
Covering the ground is not a problem either, with Young's work rate right up there too, as she is able to get back and help the defence, or push forward and take a vital mark. When around the stoppages, she holds her own and could easily be a tall inside midfielder.
All of her strengths combined make her an incredibly damaging player, and after multiple years of SANFLW fans watching her dominate as a teenager, they will soon see her on the big stage Young has overcome adversity and done it as a genuine and humble star, and few could deny that she has a huge future ahead of her.
Lauren Young put simply is i the best player in the AFLW Draft. As part of the Port Adelaide Next-Generation Academy, Young will head to Alberton and immediately improve the side along with a number of other great young talents such as Shineah Goody. There is not really a box Young is yet to tick over her junior career, and now she takes that next step to the elite level.
SANFL Women's League
|West Adelaide Women's