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AFLW: Who to watch out for in 2018

With the industry about to immerse themselves in the second AFLW season, spoke to a member of each club to identify a senior player who could take the next step in 2018, and which of the new breed they’re most excited to play alongside.

Brisbane — Emma Zielke says…

She’s not totally a senior girl because she’s in her second year, but Talia Randall, who had a really good year last year as a key defender, might be thrown up the ground a bit more this year and you’ll expect to see her in the ruck as well. She does a good job in there and it’ll be nice to be on the end of a few taps from her.

One of our draftees, Sophie Conway, is going to break her way into the team. She’s an elite runner and has a bit of flair about her, she loves to sell a bit of candy so watch out for that one, and she’s been working really hard.

She has a lot of confidence about her. There are 12 new players in our side and she has the composure and confidence that you need.

GWS Giants — Amanda Farrugia says…

Someone with a bit more experience is Cora Staunton, who we recruited from Ireland. She’s 36 years old and has done absolutely everything humanly possible in Gaelic Football, she’s a star over there but is trying something new in Australia which is extremely brave.


She’s come here and you could see straight away why she’s so good at what she does. She can work her way through traffic, has great skills on her left and right foot and is a really strong mark — I think she’ll do great things. She’ll play up forward around the half-forward mark, I’d say.

A young girl who’s done well in her initial pre-season is Haneen Zreika, who is a local Western Sydney product. She has a rugby background so she’s brilliant in the defensive area. She also had a great 2km time-trial and is learning a lot about the game — she has great potential.

Adelaide — Abbey Holmes says…

Courtney Cramey is one of the most experienced members of our team and has been added to our leadership group which was voted for by the players. She has so much experience and oozes leadership in our group.

Over the last pre-season, she is 110 per cent better than she was this time last year in terms of her fitness levels and has been following the program to a tee and it’s definitely showing out on the track.

Eloise Jones is one to watch out for. We picked her up in the draft last year and while she’s clearly a young member of our squad, she’s so electric and I can’t wait to see what she can produce for us in 2018.

She actually turned down a basketball scholarship in America to follow her football dreams. She’s quite slight in terms of her stature but she’s so quick. She’ll play in the forward line and I have no doubt we’ll see her kick some freaky goals during the next couple of months.

Melbourne — Daisy Pearce says…

I think Melissa Hickey is going to have a big year, which is pretty impressive given she’s in her 30s and one of our more experienced girls. She’s played a lot of footy previously as a defender but was thrown into the midfield a couple of times last year and played a lot through there with Darebin in the VFLW season just gone.

She’s done a lot of work in developing her specific midfield craft and it’s been impressive to see where she’s taken her game in the last 10 months. I’m looking forward to seeing all her hard work come together in real games for points. She’s a great competitor and that’s always been a hallmark of her game. She’ll have a real impact this season.

Every time you’re in a drill with her, you need to be at a pretty high intensity to compete — she’s had a big influence on our group.

All the younger girls we’ve brought in have had an impact and that’s proof that the pathway is working because they’re already so much better than what we were.

Madeleine Guerin has been exciting. She was our second pick in the draft and played at the Fitzroy Junior Football Club and the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup. She’s just a great kid, wants to learn and she has about four more gears than what I’ve got so she’s exciting when she gets the footy because she’s so quick and takes the game on.

She has a lot to learn in terms of the structural and tactical side of the game, which a lot of kids do when they’ve come from an environment where they’ve dominated but ‘Mads’ has been exciting. She’s only just scratching the surface.

Carlton — Katie Loynes says…

Jess Hosking is a senior player but she’s starting fresh. With all the setbacks she’s had and where she’s got herself to now, I really admire that.

Everything she’s been through and to get to where she is now and to be selected for Round 1 is really inspiring for the girls.

I just can’t go past Tayla Harris. She is only 20 but it feels like she’s been playing for so long with all the exhibition games she played along the journey. She has immersed herself in the Carlton program and culture. I think she’ll take it to the next level for sure.

It’s not just her work rate but it’s her ability to give and receive feedback. For someone who has had as much experience as Tayla’s had, like playing in those exhibition games and in a Grand Final last year, the girls really look up to her.

Collingwood — Stephanie Chiocci says…

Jaimee Lambert for me. She came across from the Western Bulldogs last season as a highly underrated midfielder — I think she’s an A-grader who can also go forward. She’ll light up the stage.

As for an up-and-coming youngster, Jasmine Garner, is running really well, she’s super fit and she obviously kicked the first goal in the history of the game. She’s added an extra something to her game and I’m looking forward to running out alongside her in 2018.

Fremantle — Kara Donnellan says…

There’s obviously a number of girls I’m excited about playing alongside in 2018, but one senior girl is Ebony Antonio. The way she has developed her football and leadership in the past six or seven months has been exciting. I’m really looking forward to seeing what she can bring this year.

One our rookies, and she’ll hate me saying this, she’s one of the older girls in the team but Lisa Webb has been elevated to the senior list due to some unfortunate injuries. She’s grown significantly during this pre-season period, winning our 2km time-trials and her skills and knowledge of the game have grown so much. I can’t wait to run out with her and see what she can do.

Western Bullsdogs — Emma Kearney says…

From a senior point of view, Asta O’Connor has really impressed me on the track. Last year, she was coming back from an ACL reconstruction so her confidence wasn’t as high as what it would’ve been and she didn’t have the impact she would’ve liked.

For me, the leadership she has brought to the group has been impressive, and she is really influencing some of the younger girls.

Aisling Utri comes from a hockey background and played a bit of junior footballl. She’s a strong-bodied midfielder that has an exceptional tank and she’s one I’m really excited to play with. She’s strong through the hips and will be hard to tackle and with that hockey background.