With the fourth AFLW season upon us, aflplayers.com.au spoke to the AFLW captains and asked them to identify their breakout star and player most likely to receive a nomination as a first-time All Australian from their clubs during the 2020 season.
Adelaide – Chelsea Randall
Breakout player: Anne Hatchard. She’s really been up and coming the last few years and I think this year she’s going to kill it.
First time All Australian: Sarah Allan. It’s about time she’s in the mix and she’s got a leadership role this year so I think she can take her game to a new level.
Brisbane – Emma Zielke
Breakout player: Nat Grider. She’s young, but she’s been so competitive and won’t lose a one-on-one at the moment at training so I’m really looking forward to seeing her and I think that she’ll have a great year.
First time All Australian: Cathy Svarc. She lights up the track and has unreal run and carry for us. She’s an exciting player and is a bit of a weapon, because no-one really knows about her, so I think she’s going to bring so much to our team.
Carlton – Katie Loynes
Breakout player: Jayde Van Dyke. Jayde has such a great balance of being a lockdown defensive player and silky skills to run and attack up the ground. She is super reliable.
First time All Australian: Brea Moody. Brea has put a mountain of work in over the pre-season and is the fittest I have ever seen her. She is such a presence around the ground and her ruck craft has improved year on year.
Collingwood – Steph Chiocci
Breakout player: Lauren Butler. She’s only a young kid in her second pre-season, but her growth has been phenomenal. She had a few games at VFLW level and she played really well there but she has absolutely torn up the track this summer and I think she’ll be really impressive.
First time All Australian: Sarah Rowe. She’s an Irish girl and will play a slightly different role this season, but she’s got an immense tank and is really quick and skilful and is a lot more comfortable with the game now.
Sarah Rowe in action for the Magpies.
Fremantle – Kara Antonio
Breakout player: I’m tipping it will be young Roxanne ‘Roxy’ Roux. She really impressed me over the pre-season and I think she’ll have a really good first year. She’s very versatile and has a lot of energy.
First time All Australian: Hayley Miller. She’s had a really strong pre-season both one and off-the-field with her leadership stuff as well. I really think she’ll blossom over the year.
Geelong – Melissa Hickey
Breakout player: Nina Morrison. We saw a glimpse of her in round one last year (before injury) about the type of footballer and athlete she is. I’ve seen how hard she’s worked in her rehab over the last 11 months and she looks so strong, fit and just determined. She’s a great person to have around the club.
First-time All Australian: Maddy McMahon. She’s got a lot of confidence in her game now and she reads the play so well.
Melissa Hickey is tipping a big year for Nina Morrison after an injury-interrupted first AFLW campaign in 2019.
Gold Coast – Leah Kaslar
Breakout player: Kate Surman. She’s got a really good work-rate and is a really hungry ball-winning player.
First time All Australian: Jamie Stanton. She’s got a bit of experience under her belt having played at a few different clubs and she just reads the play really well and has been putting in a lot of work this year into her game.
GWS Giants – Alicia Eva
Breakout player: Nicola Barr. She’s going to play on the wing but has played at half-back the last few seasons and she’ll go between there and the midfield but I think she’ll take her game to a new level this year.
First time All Australian: Nicola Barr. For all the reasons set out above.
Melbourne – Daisy Pearce
Breakout player: Casey Sherriff. This is her second year and hasn’t been playing footy for a long time. She came into the program last year and had some issues with her back and missed most of the pre-season as a result. She’s had a full pre-season this year and I think we’re going to see the best of her now in a position on the wing.
First time All Australian: Kate Hore.
North Melbourne – Emma Kearney
Breakout player: I reckon Ash Riddell is ready to take the next step. She only played two games with us last year and then had some injuries. But she’s been flying this pre-season so I reckon she’ll add a lot of depth for us through the midfield.
First time All Australian: Jenna Bruton. She’s one of our most underrated midfielders and won our best and fairest last year and I love playing with her so I hope she can find herself on the All Australian team.
North Melbourne’s Ash Riddell breaks away from the pack.
Richmond – Katie Brennan
Breakout player: Courtney Wakefield. She’s lit up our pre-season and is a tall marking forward so I think she’ll be a good option for us.
First time All Australian: Tayla Stahl. She’s another of our forwards who knows where the goals are and she’s really handy in the forward line.
St Kilda – Rhiannon Watt
Breakout player: Tilly Lucas-Rodd. She might be a bit of a dark horse this horse this year. This year she’s in our backline and she’s absolutely pivotal to making things happen for us.
First time All Australian: Nat Exon. She’s been playing the game for a really long time and she’s really strong and works really hard.
West Coast – Emma Swanson
Breakout player: Niamh Kelly. She’ll surprise a lot of people given she’s a cross-code player coming from Ireland. She’s picked up the game better than what I’ve ever seen anyone pick up the game. We call her ‘wheels’.
First time All Australian: Kellie Gibson. She’s played half a game against Richmond (in the clubs’ practice match) and any team with Kellie Gibson up forward I want to be part of.
Western Bulldogs – Ellie Blackburn
Breakout player: We’ve got Gabby Newton coming on who I think will mould really nicely with our team. ‘Lizzy G’ (Elizabeth Georgiostathis) is a bit of a livewire and one who has played VFL all year for us and I think she’ll play some good footy and be a real difference maker for us.
Surprise All Australian: I reckon Kirsty Lamb could make her way up there. She’s worked extremely hard in the off-season and deserves the nod if she’s had a good year.
The 2020 AFLW season starts this Friday night at 7.45pm when Carlton host Richmond at Ikon Park.