THE FUTURE of the NAB AFLW competition is bright, with seven players aged 21 or under named in the AFLW Team of the Week for round one.
Sophie Conway, Anne Hatchard, Alyce Parker, Olivia Purcell, Maddy Prespakis, Sabreena Duffy and Isabel Huntington are the young guns to have made the cut.
AFLCA VOTES Check out who polled in round one
It was a relatively even spread between the 14 AFLW clubs, with Fremantle's three nominations leading the way.
The team is selected to mirror the All Australian side: five defenders, six midfielders (including a ruck), five forwards and five interchange players.
Like the All Australian team, it has players selected in general categories, rather than in traditional positions. The 16-a-side set-up often means teams play with varying configurations, making set selections (e.g wings and flanks) difficult.
Defenders: Libby Birch (Melbourne), Isabel Huntington (Western Bulldogs), Stacey Livingstone (Collingwood), Kate Lutkins (Brisbane), Phoebe Monahan (Richmond)
Former Bulldog Birch had a debut to remember for Melbourne, repelling numerous forward forays, with Lutkins (17 disposals, eight marks) reminding everyone of her standing in the competition with a similar performance.
Livingstone was impossible to pass, Monahan put in a dogged performance in an under-the-pump Richmond defence and usual forward Huntington's reading of the play impressed in her defensive debut.
Midfielders: Breann Moody (Carlton, ruck), Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs), Kiara Bowers (Fremantle), Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne), Anne Hatchard (Adelaide), Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood), Maddy Prespakis (Carlton)
Moody set the tone early for Carlton, recording the first hit-out and clearance virtually before anyone else had touched the ball.
Hatchard (35 touches) led all comers with an AFLW disposal record, Bowers (22 disposals, 14 tackles) hassled Geelong all match and Lambert (18, seven tackles, 1.0) was a constant thorn in West Coast's side.
Carlton's Prespakis (21 and 1.1) was a game-changer, Blackburn was her industrious best while Garner (18, four marks and four tackles) impressed with an all-round performance in a new position.
Forwards: Sabreena Duffy (Fremantle), Tayla Harris (Carlton), Kate Hore (Melbourne), Dana Hooker (West Coast), Gemma Houghton (Fremantle)
Fremantle's forward line will be difficult to stop all season, with Duffy (four goals) and Houghton (17 disposals and 1.3) dominant against Geelong.
Hore (2.1 from 13 touches) was the difference for Melbourne, Harris once again impressed in the air and Hooker (18 and 1.0) sneaks onto a flank instead of the midfield by dint of kicking West Coast's first goal.
Interchange: Lauren Ahrens (Gold Coast), Sophie Conway (Brisbane), Ash Riddell (North Melbourne), Alyce Parker (GWS), Olivia Purcell (Geelong)
It's a performance that would have slipped under the radar, but Lauren Ahrens made a very impressive debut at full-back for the Suns in torrid conditions.
Riddell (20, five tackles and 1.0) made a welcome return to North Melbourne colours, as did forward Conway (14 and six tackles) for Brisbane.
Two second-year midfielders – Parker (17 kicks from 22 touches) and Purcell (27 disposals and five marks) – round out the best 21 from week one.
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