NORTH Melbourne's entry into the NAB AFL Women's competition appeared to be marked by a flurry of top-end signings, a perception that's backed by Champion Data’s analysis of the 10 teams’ lists.
And the contrast with fellow newbie Geelong couldn't be starker.
Ten of the Kangaroos' 30 players – Emma Kearney, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner, Emma King (all rated elite), Jamie Stanton, Jenna Bruton, Kaitlyn Ashmore, Tahlia Randall, Danielle Hardiman and Kate Gillespie-Jones (rated above average) – are ranked in Champion Data's upper echelon of players.
Three are former Collingwood players, another three were with Brisbane, with the remaining four ex-Carlton or Western Bulldogs players.
Adelaide and the perennially strong Melbourne each have 10 players on their lists rated either elite or above average, the highest number of all clubs.
This includes Crow Rhiannon Metcalfe (left knee reconstruction) and Demon Daisy Pearce (pregnancy), who will both miss the season.
At the other end of the scale, Geelong has just three players rated above average – Richelle Cranston, Phoebe McWilliams and Aasta O'Connor – and none rated elite.
It is a clear example of the contrasting list-build tactics used by the two new clubs: North Melbourne recruited heavily from other sides, while Geelong based its squad around its VFLW side.
As such, the Cats have a whopping 20 players who are not included in Champion Data's rankings, so their performances should be better than projected on paper.
Adelaide was last year criticised for being overly reliant on its top few players at times – Erin Phillips, Chelsea Randall and Ebony Marinoff – and its 2019 list includes 11 players rated either below average or poor, the most of any club.
There has been development at the top end of its list however, with veterans Angela Foley and Courtney Cramey, emerging defender Sarah Allan and running flanker Dayna Cox taking a step up into the elite or above average categories.
The Western Bulldogs had a well-balanced list in its premiership year of 2018, with six players rated elite or above average, and another six considered below average or poor.
This year, the start with five elite or above average players, with six in the lower group.
Elite and above average players at your club
Adelaide - 10
Brisbane - 9
Carlton - 6
Collingwood - 4
Fremantle - 6
Geelong - 3
GWS - 6
Melbourne - 10
North Melbourne - 10
Western Bulldogs - 5
Odds and ends
Brisbane has been the most consistent team of the past two years, reaching the Grand Final on both occasions. The Lions are also the youngest team in the competition for the second year running, with an average age 23.4 years.
Greater Western Sydney has the oldest squad in the competition, with 37-year-olds Courtney Gum and Cora Staunton pushing its average to 26.1.
Collingwood's average age has steadily been dropping, from 27.3 in 2017 to 26.3 last season and down to 24.7 this year, in line with the club’s quest to focus on youth in drafts.
The average height of players is uniform across the competition. Geelong's ruck division of Erin Hoare (at 194cm, the tallest player in the competition) and Rene Caris (184cm) ensures the Cats have the tallest line-up at an average of 173cm, while the Giants – who have diminutive pair Haneen Zreika (157cm) and Delma Gisu (158cm) – have the shortest squad at 169cm.
All statistics from the 2019 AFLW Prospectus, published by Champion Data.