What we learned in 2019 and what we might see in 2020

WITH season three of the NAB AFL Women’s competition in the books, we asked a selection of reporters and broadcasters who covered matches in 2019 to provide a glimpse of what they liked and what to look for in 2020. 

SARAH BLACK

Who or what caught your eye?

The influence young players had on the competition. Madison Prespakis, Alyce Parker, Sabreena Duffy and Danielle Ponter all had match-winning bursts in their first seasons. 

What you might see in 2020:

The rise of medium forwards. With the ball often on the ground, tall, slower marking targets are starting to be phased out of the game. 

NAT EDWARDS

Who or what caught your eye?

Daniel Harford. The man they call ‘Big Shorts’ was a revelation for Carlton in his first senior coaching job in the AFLW. Encouraging his players to have the courage to back themselves and be themselves on the football field paid dividends. It’s clear the players respect and love him, and a Grand Final berth was just reward for the Blues and their beloved coach.

What you might see in 2020:

Daisy Pearce. The former Melbourne skipper missed this season after giving birth to twins Roy and Sylvie in February. Upon announcing her pregnancy, the star midfielder said she hoped to return to the footy field but admitted there were no guarantees. Having watched on from the couch for most of the season, there is no doubt this competitive athlete will have her sights on a 2020 comeback and will have two new cheerleaders in the crowd egging her on.

BRUCE MATTHEWS

Who or what caught your eye?

New rules improved game-flow by reducing congestion and stoppages for a better spectacle. More scoring with quicker delivery to long-kicking forwards like Carlton's Tayla Harris and Melbourne's Tegan Cunningham. 

What you might see in 2020:

Back-to-back Adelaide flags. No player retention problems with only seven on the Crows' list not from SA or NT. Without a cross-town rival, Adelaide shouldn't have to worry about new teams raiding their players. 

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MARC McGOWAN

Who or what caught your eye?

Erin Phillips' superiority. She took all before her in year one before a quad issue held her back in 2018. A fit Phillips was a leviathan again this season as the Crows won a second flag in three years. 

What you might see in 2020

Criticism about expansion happening too quickly. New clubs Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast will make it a 14-team competition, so look for this topic to stir similar debate to the conference system. 

MITCH CLEARY

Who or what caught your eye?

Speed wins games. Crow Eloise Jones, Docker Gemma Houghton, Lion Kate McCarthy and Demon Aliesha Newman proved that if they're given space ahead of the ball, there's no stopping them.

What you might see in 2020

Nina Morrison to fulfil the potential she showed in the opening four quarters of 2019 before entering into a head-to-head battle with Madison Prespakis for the best midfielder in the competition. 

BEN GUTHRIE

Who or what caught your eye?

The improving athletic capabilities of the players. Adelaide's premiership team was stacked with speedy players, especially across half-forward. Teams are starting to focus on playing more of a transition game, with players much more physically equipped to cope. 

What you might see in 2020

More first-year players like Nina Morrison and Madison Prespakis having a big impact on the competition in their first seasons. The greater investment in development academies has young players better prepared to make the leap to AFLW level and perform from the outset of their careers.

DINNY NAVARATNAM

Who or what caught your eye?

The creativity of Bulldog Monique Conti. We knew she was good, but she excelled under the burden of added responsibility in a midfield that had lost Emma Kearney and Jenna Bruton to North Melbourne.

What you might see in 2020

A firing Isabel Huntington. She didn't show her true talent this season after a delayed start following a serious right knee injury in 2018. The key forward has the ability to take huge pack marks – expect to see her doing that if she's fit. 

RILEY BEVERIDGE

Who or what caught your eye?

The role momentum can play in an even competition. Adelaide and Carlton were both the beneficiaries of this throughout the season, putting disappointing 2018 campaigns behind them on their way to the Grand Final. 

What you might see in 2020

First-year players can become immediate stars. Chloe Molloy and Madison Prespakis have proven this in recent years. Look for another debutant to star in 2020.

TRAVIS KING

Who or what caught your eye?

There is no doubt the overall standard of games took a significant step up and the increased skill level, better ball movement and higher scoring bode well for the future.

What you might see in 2020

Establishing the fledgling competition has been the priority to date but with four more teams arriving expect to see rivalries, especially in Queensland and Western Australia, where derbies will be in play.

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ADAM CURLEY

Who or what caught your eye?

Irish recruit Yvonne Bonner lit up the Greater Western Sydney forward line alongside countrywoman Cora Staunton, and was a shining light in a poor season for the Giants. 

What you might see in 2020

A new generation of stars led by Madison Prespakis and Alyce Parker will start taking over the competition with experienced big names being overtaken. 

LUCY WATKIN

Who or what caught your eye?

First-year players. Whether it was top draftees Madison Prespakis and Sabreena Duffy, cross-coders like Jess Foley or state league players including Ash Ridell and Bec Goring taking their opportunities, several stepped up and had an immediate impact.

What you might see in 2020

A lot of fan favourites in different colours. With four new teams joining the competition in 2020, expect to see plenty of player movement in the trade and signing period. 

JASON BENNETT

Who or what caught your eye?

The immediate impact of the next generation. Players capable of coming in and being the best in their teams from round one. 

What you might see in 2020

The standard of footy to improve again as teams effectively continue to play together in state leagues through winter, developing skills, footy IQ and fitness even more.