Draft Central’s Collaborative 2022 AFL Women’s Top 50 Countdown: #47 Eden Zanker
IN a new exciting collaborative countdown, the Draft Central has teamed up with other independent media organisations to bring a 2022 AFL Women’s Top 50 Countdown. Every weekday from now until December 17, a new player will be named starting from 50th down to 1st, stemming from a combined eight Top 50 submissions. Among those who submitted Top 50s include Siren Sport‘s Gemma Bastiani, Women’s Australian Rules Football (WARF) Radio‘s Peter Holden, and a combined Outer Sanctum team’s Top 50.
If you looked at Eden Zanker’s progression as an AFL Women’s footballer, you would see a steady climb over the years. She grew from a raw key forward in her first year in the system out of Bendigo, averaging 4.3 disposals and not booting a goal in her first three games. The next season she started to come of age, rotating between forward and ruck, slotting five goals from seven games, and lifting her average up to 6.6 disposals and 10.3 hitouts, as well as 3.1 tackles. By 2020, she was one of the most mobile talls, with 10.3 disposals, 11.0 hitouts and 3.6 tackles, being prominent across the forward half of the ground.
Teaming up with Lauren Pearce, Zanker added an extra element to her game in 2021, by working hard defensively and really covering the ground. She had a rebound 50 per game, something she had not come close to in her first three seasons. Her clearance rate also exploded, being that “fourth midfielder” at 183cm, averaging as many clearances as she did hitouts (2.2) as the Demons were able to utilise her in different ways. Still maintaining about a 50 per cent contested possession rate, Zanker became even more valuable, and the soon-to-be 22-year-old has plenty of years left to still develop.
Still young, Zanker became the first player to feature on four lists, which earned her a spot in 47th. One list predicted she would be inside the Top 20, with the other three later inside the Top 50. There is plenty of potential for the young key position player to soar up the boards, and now she has some younger talent to mentor in Tahlia Gillard and Georgia Campbell coming to the club, as well as Tayla Harris providing an extra marking target inside 50.
DRAFT CENTRAL’S 2022 AFL WOMEN’S TOP 50
Picture credit: Michael Willson / AFL Photos