Ready to rumble: Where your club sits ahead of season 2019

IT'S BEEN 10 months since the Western Bulldogs beat the Brisbane Lions to win the second AFL Women's premiership.

Plenty has changed in that time, so here's a snapshot look at where each team – including newcomers Geelong and North Melbourne – sits ahead of round one of the 2019 season.


2018 position: 5th Wins: 3 Losses: 3 Draws: 1

After an inconsistent 2018, Adelaide retained its key players and looks to be a dangerous prospect if it can manage recent injuries.

Draftee Jess Foley will shoulder a heavy load in the ruck with Rhiannon Metcalfe out for the season after tearing her left ACL in a recent practice match against Fremantle.

Jasmyn Hewett escaped a bone break after landing awkwardly on her right ankle in the same match, but ligament damage is set to sideline her for several weeks.  

The ruck could be the Crows' problem position, with Jess Allan also absent after taking a year off for a role with the Australian Army.

Co-captain Erin Phillips' 2018 season was hampered by a quad injury, but the star veteran has enjoyed a strong pre-season.

The Crows drafted six players in October, with Chloe Scheer impressing up forward in the practice match against Fremantle.

Adelaide appointed Matthew Clarke as coach, with the former player and Crows' AFL assistant replacing 2017 premiership coach Bec Goddard.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity and excited about what our club can achieve by building on the strong program that has already been established," he said.

Erin Phillips will again be a key playmaker for the Crows

Brisbane Lions

2018 position: 2nd Wins: 4 Losses: 3 Draws: 0

If Brisbane is to make a third consecutive Grand Final, it will have to do it without some key players.

Midfielders Brit Gibson, Jamie Stanton and Kaitlyn Ashmore and defenders Nicole Hildebrand and Tahlia Randall departed at the end of the 2018 season.

The Lions will also be without promising youngster Sophie Conway, a NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee last season. Conway was ruled out of this season after rupturing her left ACL while training last July.

Those losses presented the Lions the chance to add some fresh faces. They drafted seven players including Natalie Grider, Lauren Bella and West Australian McKenzie Dowrick, who made a confident debut at half-forward in the practice match.

Fans will be pleased to see defender Sam Virgo back after a right knee reconstruction about 18 months ago.

Virgo will feature in the leadership group, supporting new captain Leah Kaslar, alongside former skipper Emma Zielke and Kate Lutkins.


2018 position: 8th Wins: 2 Losses: 5 Draws: 0

New coach Daniel Harford has wiped the slate clean on a disappointing 2018, when the Blues started well but spiralled to finish last.

Harford wants the Blues to play fast, attractive footy, encouraging his players by fostering a strong, positive and fun culture.

"I have a real passion for developing young football talent, so I hope I can build on the program, while also leaning on my previous coaching experience," said Harford, who spent a year with Collingwood's AFLW team after a successful coaching stint in the Eastern Football League in Victorian Amateur Football Association.

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Captain Brianna Davey returns after a right ACL rupture sustained in round two last year, with the 2017 best and fairest, normally a defender, excelling as a forward in a recent practice match against Geelong.

The Blues bolstered their midfield in the off-season, signing Amelia Mullane (nee Barden) from Collingwood and drafting promising prospects Madison Prespakis and Abbie McKay, who are both expected to make an impact.

Carlton players pose for a selfie


2018 position: 6th Wins: 3 Losses: 4 Draws: 0

After an inconsistent 2018, Collingwood lost several key players but welcomed a fleet of youngsters.

The Pies were among the teams hardest hit by expansion club recruiting, with most of their forward line heading elsewhere.

They took to the draft to rebuild their list, with an impressive crop of nine recruits including five in the first two rounds. Early draft picks Jordyn Allen and Katie Lynch impressed in a recent practice match against the Western Bulldogs, and will need to shoulder plenty of responsibility this season.

But it might take some time for the new players to fill the shoes of those lost, including Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner, Moana Hope and Emma King (who all signed with North Melbourne) and leading goalkicker Christina Bernadi (who went to Greater Western Sydney in a five-way trade that netted the Pies picks 11 and 19).

Collingwood will also be missing last season's NAB AFLW Rising Star Chloe Molloy, who will help in a coaching role while recovering from a right foot injury sustained in last year's VFLW preliminary final.


2018 position: 7th Wins: 3 Losses: 4 Draws: 0

New Fremantle coach Trent Cooper has vowed to focus on basics as he aims to drive improvement.

The Dockers retained the bulk of their list, including star Dana Hooker who flirted with the idea of joining the Western Bulldogs.

Kara Donnellan will captain the team for the third consecutive year, with Ebony Antonio returning from minor Achilles surgery last July to join the leadership group. Antonio, who made her name as a defender, is also expected to line up as a forward.

Cooper joined Fremantle after coaching Western Australia's under-18s girls. He was previously an assistant coach with WAFL team Swan Districts.

Cooper has promised improvement in basic skills, with the Dockers going 'local and older' at last October's draft. Their crop included Jasmin Stewart, Sabreena Duffy, Philipa Seth, Courtney Stubbs and Parris Laurie.

Midfielder Brianna Green will miss the 2019 season while she recovers from a right knee reconstruction.

Ebony Antonio is returning from minor Achilles surgery


New club

Geelong has flown under the radar ahead of its inaugural AFLW season, quietly building a list around local talent peppered with star recruits and promising draftees.

The Cats have some of the best youngsters in the competition in Nina Morrison and Sophie Van De Heuvel (the first two picks in the October draft).

They also landed big names Melissa Hickey and Richelle Cranston (from Melbourne) and Western Bulldogs premiership ruck Aasta O'Connor.

Cranston will have to wait until round three to run out in her new colours while she serves a two-match ban for rough conduct in a recent practice match against Carlton.

Hickey, who was named captain, is working back to full fitness following a left knee ACL injury and will miss round one.

Much of the Cats' local talent has played with the club's VFLW team, which reached the Grand Final against Hawthorn.

Greater Western Sydney

2018 position: 4th Wins: 3 Losses: 3 Draws: 1

The Giants showed marked improvement last year from their wooden spoon finish in 2017 and are a team to watch closely this season.

They drafted eight players, with young midfielders Haneen Zrieka and Alyce Parker standouts in a recent practice match against Brisbane.

"We feel as if we've strengthened all areas – midfield, forward, defence and ruck," said coach Alan McConnell when assessing the draftees.

The Giants signed forward Christina Bernardi from Collingwood but lost Phoebe McWilliams (Geelong) and Renee Forth (in a trade to Adelaide).

They locked in Irishwoman Yvonne Bonner, who looked dangerous when teaming with fellow Gaelic star Cora Staunton in their practice match victory over the Lions.

Amanda Farrugia returns as captain having fully recovered from the foot injury that sidelined her over winter.

Irishwoman Cora Staunton starred for the Giants last season


2018 position: 3rd Wins: 4 Losses: 3 Draws: 0

Melbourne was among the clubs most impacted by expansion recruitment and will also have to deal with the loss of star captain Daisy Pearce (pregnancy).

The Demons said goodbye to six players, including veterans Melissa Hickey and Richelle Cranston (who both joined Geelong), but traded for defender Talia Radan from Adelaide and dynamic half-forward Madison Gay from Carlton.

Pearce has taken on an unofficial coaching role during her pregnancy, with Shelley Scott and Elise O'Dea shouldering captaincy duties in her absence.

The Dees added four players at the draft – including Tyla Hanks and Madeline Brancatisano, who will add to the team's midfield depth – having already signed rookies Shae Sloane and Chantel Emonson.

Defender Sarah Lampard returned to full training after a left knee reconstruction late last season, while forward Ainslie Kemp is also poised to return in 2019 after a right knee reconstruction sidelined her last season.

North Melbourne

New club

North Melbourne built a star-studded list after an aggressive recruiting strategy that saw it sign a host of players including last year's ALFW best and fairest Emma Kearney, Brisbane star Kaitlyn Ashmore and Collingwood forward Moana Hope.

The question for the Kangaroos will be how their line-up works together, at least initially.

North also added five draftees, with the bulk from partner state Tasmania.  

North Melbourne's only injury concern heading into the season is former Bulldogs midfielder Daria Bannister, who is recovering well from a left knee reconstruction and should feature in 2019.

Scott Gowans, who was an assistant with Carlton's AFLW team, is the Roos' inaugural coach. He has highlighted the need for belief and trust among the newly formed playing group.

Recruits Kaitlyn Ashmore and Mo Hope chat to Kangaroos fans

Western Bulldogs

2018 position: 1st Wins: 5 Losses: 2 Draws: 0

Despite losing a number of key players in the off-season, the reigning premiers will be confident of again performing well and being among the teams to beat.

Importantly, co-captain Katie Brennan is fit again after a right ankle reconstruction. Her experience will be needed to help offset the loss of 2018 premiership players Emma Kearney, Daria Bannister and Jenna Bruton (who all signed with North Melbourne) and Aasta O'Connor (Geelong).

Young forward Isabel Huntington's return from a right knee reconstruction was delayed after she sprained the knee in December. She might not return until round five.

The Dogs will also miss exciting forward and last year's AFLW leading goalkicker Brooke Lochland, who fractured her right fibula in a pre-season practice match. The club is hopeful she'll return for the last few rounds of the season.

The Dogs bolstered their stocks with recruits including endurance runner Eleanor Brown, West Australian forward Kate Bartlett and Gaelic footballer Aisling McCarthy.

They also signed delisted Fremantle midfielder Belinda Smith, who has enjoyed a strong pre-season.

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