A WEEK on from the NAB AFLW Draft, the dust has settled and 61 players have joined the AFLW ranks.
YOUR CLUB'S DRAFT All you need to know about the 57 new faces
What did we learn from last Tuesday's event?
1. Is the time right for Port Adelaide to join the competition?
With just the minimum three list spots available on Adelaide's list for the 2021 season, interstate clubs hit South Australian talent hard, with five players leaving the state for opportunities elsewhere. Clubs are increasingly concerned about the strength of Adelaide. The Crows have exclusive access to the top talent in South Australia, a state with a rapidly growing women's game, which has been buoyed by the success of its AFLW side. It remains to be seen if the financial impact of COVID-19 on the footy industry will be a sticking point for Port Adelaide's entry into the AFLW.
INS, OUTS, TRADES, DRAFTEES, ROOKIES Every club's complete list for 2021
2. Melbourne is rebuilding on the run
After a disastrous or opportunistic Trade Period (depending on your point of view), Melbourne hit the draft hard, adding six players to replace the likes of Elise O'Dea, Harriet Cordner, Bianca Jakobsson and Katherine Smith. All six newbies are 17 or 18 years old, and given AFLW lists contain just 30 players, the majority will be expected to feature at some point in 2021. The Demons are attempting to mimic the likes of AFL sides Geelong, Hawthorn and Sydney, replenishing their list while remaining in the upper echelons of the ladder. It's something we haven't really seen before in the AFLW.
3. Brisbane will be a very different side in 2021
Despite its most consistent off-season in years – changing just five players – Brisbane should have clubs looking over their shoulders next season. All five newbies – key forward Taylor Smith (Trade Period), utilities Courtney Hodder and Indy Tahau, forward Zimmie Farquharson and defender Ruby Svarc – have great athletic attributes. Farquharson and Svarc are quick, but Hodder could be one of the fastest players we've seen at AFLW level, while Tahau is very mobile for her height (180cm).
4. The Kennel is choc-a-block with first-rounders
The Western Bulldogs have suffered some fairly significant player losses through two expansion periods, losing elite players Emma Kearney, Monique Conti, Katie Brennan and Jenna Bruton (among others), but they've been fairly recompensed. After some canny trading, list manager Mick Sandry ended up with three first-rounders at his disposal this year, using the picks on Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard. It takes the number of first-rounders on the list to 10. Carlton is the next best Victorian club with six.
5. Good luck stopping Fremantle's forward line in 2021
Already one of the more formidable attacking line-ups in the AFLW, the Dockers added another player with pure X-factor in Mikayla Morrison. The forward doesn't need too much of the footy to have an impact, whether that's through a clever handball or hitting the scoreboard herself. The re-drafting of Tiah Haynes will also add depth to the midfield, and she should suit their gameplan well.
6. Saints land consecutive midfield steals
St Kilda held pick three in the Victorian portion of the state-based draft last year and drafted Georgia Patrikios, the third of a clear top trio. The classy midfielder made an instant impact at AFLW level, and the Saints look to have once again been the beneficiary of a stand-out top tier. This time with pick four in the Victorian pool, St Kilda "ended up" with the clever Tyanna Smith, who wouldn't have raised any eyebrows if she was selected at pick two.
7. The 2020 draft was one for the kids
Restrictions on state league competitions around the country due to COVID-19 no doubt contributed to the small number of "mature-age" talent drafted, especially given not a single VFLW match was played. Twenty-one of the 61 drafted players were above the age of 18, and just seven of that 21 came from Victoria. Last year – albeit an expansion period – 25 VFLW players were drafted, plus another 21 were added as expansion signings. While there are still plenty of opportunities to graduate to the AFLW from state leagues, clubs are increasingly leaning towards the under-18 pathways.