Injuries could cause a perfect Strom for young Freo ruck

FREMANTLE'S Mim Strom is facing one hell of a season coming into round one. 

Having only turned 18 in November, the draftee is set to shoulder the entire ruck load for the Dockers for the whole AFLW season.

'A NEW NORM' Women's football keeps growing at a rapid rate

And against Geelong, she'll be playing her very first match at the highest level.

Aine Tighe's untimely torn ACL has left Strom as the only fit recognised ruck on Fremantle's list.

She's likely to be supported by key forwards Roxy Roux and Gemma Houghton, who can chip in at times, but it's still a daunting workload for the 2019 AFLW under-18 All-Australian.

Roxy Roux (left) may need to help Strom out in the ruck. Picture: AFL Photos

Fremantle skipper Kara Antonio is backing Strom to take the step up, having coached the youngster last year at Swan Districts in the WAFLW all the way to the Grand Final.

"The growth I've seen from her over the off-season has been fantastic. She was our sole ruck there at WAFLW level too," Antonio told womens.afl.

"Obviously, I know it's a jump up, but she's had a really solid pre-season. She's a young kid, she's a sponge who wants to learn and has done a lot of ruck work – as Aine had – with 'Sandi' (Aaron Sandilands) coming down.

INJURY LIST All the AFLW ins and outs ahead of round one

"She'll grab that challenge with both hands. I'm really excited to see how that goes. The midfield group will get around her and look after her, and she'll play a real pivotal role for us."

The Dockers' injury list has steadily grown this summer, with Tighe, Matilda Sergeant (hip), Alex Williams (the final stage of an ACL injury) and Ann McMahon (broken leg and ACL in a workplace incident) sitting on the sidelines.

With AFLW lists sitting at just 30 – and Melbourne in particular with six players ruled out of round one – the strain is already showing at the start of the season.

"It would be great to have a bigger list size, I think it would be great to also have a bigger pre-season and have more contact hours at your football club," Antonio said.

"An eight-week pre-season leading up to round one isn't massive. All of us players do a body of work in the off-season to make sure we're fit and ready to go for round one. I think a bit more contact hours and human resources at an AFLW level would be fantastic.

"Unfortunately, injuries are part of the nature of our game, which sucks, but I think something needs to be done to reduce the risk of injuries and particularly ACLs happening in the pre-season matches already.

"Touch wood nothing serious happens around round one and into the season, but you play knowing the risk of injury."

Mark of the Year

Who took this year's best mark? Watch and vote.

Coates Hire Goal of the Year

Check out the best goals of the AFLW season. Vote now!