AFLW Insight: How generation next is already kicking goals

THREE rounds into the NAB AFLW season, a quiet revolution is taking place in the forward lines of teams around the competition.

The next generation of forwards have arrived, and they're not just making up the numbers.

Six players have kicked at least four goals this season. Five of them are 21 or under, with North Melbourne's Kaitlyn Ashmore the only outlier.

AFLW leading goalkickers after three rounds

Name

Goals

Age

Sabreena Duffy (Fremantle)

5

19

Jesse Wardlaw (Brisbane)

5

20

Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda)

4

21

Danielle Ponter (Adelaide)

4

20

Kaitlyn Ashmore (North Melbourne)

4

28

Roxy Roux (Fremantle)

4

18


Among the others to have kicked three goals are Olivia Purcell (19 years old), Daisy Bateman, Kalinda Howarth, Georgia Gee (all 20) and Chelsea Biddell (21).

WATCH IT LIVE How to follow the AFLW this weekend

Wardlaw, Greiser, Roux and Howarth have also picked up four of the six NAB AFLW Rising Star nominations on offer so far this season.

By comparison, this was the final leaderboard from the 2019 season (after seven rounds of footy):

Name

Goals

Age in 2019

Stevie-Lee Thompson (Adelaide)

13

27

Erin Phillips (Adelaide)

9

33

Emma King (North Melbourne)

8

24

Gemma Houghton (Fremantle)

8

25

Jess Wuetschner (Brisbane)

8

26

Moana Hope (North Melbourne)

8

31

Tegan Cunningham (Melbourne)

8

31


Aside from Hope (delisted) and Phillips (injured), the other players have taken to the field this year, although Wuetschner has played just one game as she recovers from a lightning strike.

Duffy, Wardlaw and Ponter are in their second seasons at their respective clubs, with Wardlaw in particular finding her feet with a year under her belt.

The group of young forwards are equally adept in the air as they are on the ground, with contested marking a strong point of Wardlaw, Greiser and the undersized but high-flying Roux.

That's a Wrap: AFLW R3, pace-setting Dockers bucking the trend

10:17 Feb 25. 2020. 6:21 PM

AFLW experts Jason Bennett and Sarah Black recap a gripping weekend and delve into Fremantle's strong start to the season

It continues a trend which has developed in the NAB AFLW under-18 championships over the past few years, where overhead marking has noticeably improved.

Of the young players to have kicked three or more goals this season, all except Greiser and Biddell have come through the national championship pathway.

POWER RANKINGS Who's on the rise? Who's fallen?

The contrast in player ages between the two years is an example of the strength of the young talent coming through, and how rapidly those players have caught up to – and will eventually surpass – their older counterparts.

It's a promising sign in a competition which has added four new sides in 2020.

The development of young players is crucial for the sustainability of the AFLW, and the emerging group of mobile forwards shows for now, the competition is in good hands.