Essendon VFLWEssendon VFLWMedium Forward


Sarah Grunden

height: 168cm


D.O.B: 25-02-2005

Leagues: Vflw, Coates Talent League Girls, AFLW U18 Championships

  • Snapshot
  • Analysis
  • Summary


Sarah Grunden is a draft bolter off the back of a strong 2023 season, where her draftable traits came to the fore. Though she had some ups and downs in terms of production – which ebbed and flowed with Calder and Metro’s success – her natural footballing ability combined with her offensive and defensive traits have shown more than enough that she can impress at the top level.


+ Vision
+ Footy IQ
+ Kicking
+ Defensive pressure
+ Clean hands
+ Forward craft


- Scoreboard impact
- Consistency


Grunden burst onto the scene in the opening three rounds of the season for the Cannons, announcing herself as a genuine draft contender. Having spent preseason with the Western Jets two years ago, a fitter and more experienced Grunden found herself back in the Under 18s elite talent pathway, but this time with Calder.

Across the course of the first three weeks, Grunden averaged 18 disposals, 2.3 marks 3.7 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s and booted 4.3. Those trio of games ended up being three of her highest production games for the season, and gave a glimpse into what she was capable of. As a midfielder at local level who became a forward at the Cannons, Grunden fitted well inside 50.

Even when she was not kicking goals, she was setting up her teammates and showing great forward craft to assist her side to best get the win. Her kicking and vision in the front half particularly stood out and added a point of difference compared to individual heavy volume scorers.

Grunden was not a consistent scorer, and in face after the first three rounds only kicked another three goals for the season, but being a forward, it fluctuated with the Cannons' form. A Round 11 standout game of 17 disposals, five marks, four tackles, five inside 50s and two goals reminded everyone what she is capable of, and she strung together another four double-digit disposal games.

Though consistency and her ability to hit the scoreboard more effectively are areas to build on, Grunden's natural footballing ability is evident. Her clean hands - both in the air and at ground level - is a crucial element in her game, and her kicking - and more importantly her ability to see the right option before executing - helps her remain a key player in the forward 50.

Another point of difference for the creative forward is Grunden's attack on the contest. She averaged around five tackles per match in 2023, which is ultra impressive for a player who does her best work with ball-in-hand. That defensive pressure coupled with the impact she has in transition, makes her a well-rounded prospect with development still to come.

Athletically she is sound, and while not elite in anything, moves well enough and her smarts outweigh her physical speed. Going forward, there are ways she can further develop, but the tools to become a damaging two-way forward are in place, and she will have number of suitors given her inclusion not just for Vic Metro, but the Under 23 All-Stars as well.


Sarah Grunden is a player who will likely find a home somewhere in the first two rounds of the AFLW Draft. Clubs can see the long-term picture that she offers with her mix of offensive and defensive traits, and while the consistency can waver, her impact with ball-in-hand is very high.

Clean hands
Defensive pressure
Footy IQ
Forward craft
Scoreboard impact


2023Essendon VFLW16710000100011.

Coates Talent League Girls

2021Western Jets000000000000000000000
2023Calder Cannons8847135200054102817118.04.312.

AFLW U18 Championships

2023Vic Metro Girls176237614100150135.
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