CLUB lists for AFLW season seven are almost finalised, with the NAB AFLW Draft the last real opportunity to recruit talent. Expansion and trade and sign periods have seen 75 players head to new clubs, and a further 61 recruited via expansion or priority.
Despite this, some teams still have gaps to fill, so what does your team need to find at the draft?
>> THE 2022 NAB AFLW DRAFT WILL TAKE PLACE ON JUNE 29 AND BE STREAMED LIVE ON WOMENS.AFL AND THE AFLW APP
The reigning premier was able to protect the bulk of its list from Port Adelaide's advances, and in doing so doesn't have too many gaps heading towards season seven. That being said, with Erin Phillips gone, Ashleigh Woodland becomes the sole big-bodied, marking, stay-at-home forward so a key-position forward wouldn't go astray. In addition to this, the Crows' defence is their oldest line with both Marijana Rajcic and Stevie-Lee Thompson over 30, so in planning for the future adding more youth to their defensive stocks may be an option.
Another side that doesn't have any debilitating gaps, but Kate Lutkins' ACL injury last season, combined with Indy Tahau's return to South Australia, has left the Lions wanting for a tall, key-position defender. Finding a solid one-on-one defensive option who has some height will really secure the back half of the ground for Brisbane, after being opened up by tall, contested marking key forwards at times this year.
Despite perceptions that the Blues have been gutted in recent years, they actually look quite even across the board and are building a strong, young list across the park. In attack, they would do well to target a skilful small forward after losing both Georgia Gee and Nicola Stevens. Poppy Schaap has been retained and has the potential to move into that role, but she can't do it all alone. Meanwhile, on the ball, another big-bodied contested midfielder would be handy. Lucy McEvoy can likely step into that role, but given her versatility it's unlikely the club will want to rely on her too much around the ball and lose flexibility within games.
The Pies' issues really do present through the middle of the ground, with both Brianna Davey and Britt Bonnici listed as inactive for season seven. They will get Jo Lin back, and the likes of both Mikala Cann and Alana Porter can increase their midfield minutes, but finding another skilful midfielder who can excel in transitioning the ball into attack would be the number one priority at Collingwood. Otherwise, some planning for the future may be on the cards. Both Alison Downie and Stacey Livingstone are closer to the end of their careers than they are the start, so finding some depth in the ruck and key position defence may be on the club's mind.
For its inaugural AFLW side, Essendon has recruited a whopping 12 current AFLW players, and an additional five who have AFLW experience, so look ready to hit the ground running. While they have an embarrassment of riches in attack, including Bonnie Toogood, Daria Bannister and VFLW gun Federica Frew, the story isn't the same in defence, so the Bombers will undoubtedly be looking to bolster their backline via the draft. Through the midfield they also have a good balance of inside and outside players but will likely want to add depth there as well.
Where in the past the Dockers may have looked a little thin through the middle of the ground, ahead of this draft it's at either end of the ground instead. Adding some firepower up forward will be important given Mikayla Morrison and Ashley Sharp will both be watching season seven from the sidelines and Gemma Houghton's move to Port Adelaide, while finding another reliable key defender would be helpful. When Janelle Cuthbertson was out due to injury last season, Aine Tighe was moved into defence and while she more than played her role, it really robbed Freo's attack, and more key defensive depth would prevent the need for Tighe to swing back.
Some interesting list changes at the Cats has seen significant turnover this off-season. They have bolstered their attack with the recruitment of Shelley Scott and Jackie Parry, to add to Chloe Scheer's addition last year, but now they are starting to look thin in the ruck. Olivia Fuller remains the only real ruck on the list, with Kate Darby able to offer support, but targeting a pure ruck to develop over several years would serve Geelong well. On top of this, some younger key defenders to take the mantle from Maddy McMahon and Meghan McDonald in the coming seasons wouldn't go astray.
Gold Coast is another side that has seen significant change in recent weeks, with nine players out the door. The most glaring loss is key forward Sarah Perkins, not so much for her goalkicking prowess, but for the support she was able to provide Tara Bohanna with last season. Finding another key forward who will force defensive units to split their focus will be important if Bohanna is to continue her impressive form. Through the middle of the ground, the Suns have a lot of tough, clearance-winning midfielders but have lost a little of their run, so a classy winger should certainly be on the club's list going into the draft.
Greater Western Sydney
In the space of just a couple of months, GWS has gone from an abundance of rucks to none. Jess Allan will again be inactive due to work commitments, while both Ally Morphett and Erin McKinnon have moved on to new clubs, so a ruck (or two) will be at the top of the Giants' list. What hasn't quite changed, however, is their lack of forward depth. The club's reliance on Cora Staunton has been well documented, and the recruitment of Isabel Huntington certainly helps, but planning for life after Staunton must be a priority.
The Hawks have gathered a good array of experience and leadership for their inaugural AFLW side, but there are areas they will be looking to bolster via the draft. As it stands, Hawthorn's ruck division is Tegan Cunningham and Tamara Luke, who are both serviceable but aren't going to take the mantle for the next five seasons. Cunningham will also be a vital focal point in attack, so finding a developing ruck and tall forward will help the club in coming seasons.
A club still in its sweet spot, Melbourne really doesn't have any glaring gaps in its list. Youth that has been sitting on the sidelines developing in recent seasons looks ready to step up to AFLW level in season seven, while the experience of Charlotte Wilson and Jordan Ivey will solidify both ends of the ground. It's likely the Demons will be looking to add more young midfielders to develop and prepare for the future.
North Melbourne said goodbye to more players than most would have expected during the offseason, and will now look to refresh via the draft, with five open list spots. Outside of Sophie Abbatangelo, the club doesn't really have any pure forwards left, with both Daria Bannister and Daisy Bateman out the door. Rebuilding that forward line will be key, and adding a dashing defender to replace the important Aileen Gilroy will also be vital.
For its inaugural AFLW team, Port Adelaide has managed to recruit fairly evenly across the park. The area that the club will likely want to bolster, however, is on the wing. Much of the midfield unit the Power have recruited is stronger and more contested - think Maria Moloney, Ebony O'Dea and Jacqui Yorston - so finding those outside runners who can get on the end of that contested work and move the ball forward will be important.
After some significant movement in recent years, Richmond has developed an impressive, even list that can now grow together. In the past the midfield was Conti or bust, but some clever recruitment has found depth and talent around the ball. Heading into the draft, Richmond will be looking to take the best available talent, while potentially skewing to add strength at each end of the ground.
The Saints have already recruited to fill some glaring holes on their list, particularly boosting their attack with the inclusion of Nicola Stevens and Grace Kelly, but there are still improvements to be made at the draft. In the midfield, some more class and agility wouldn't go astray, with Tyanna Smith the only point of difference in the club's midfield group, and she is still on her way back from an ACL rupture.
There is plenty of flexibility within Sydney's list to date, with some key position players at each end of the ground and hybrid options to prop them up. For that reason, Sydney will look to nab the best available talent, which is likely to include talented Victorians Montana Ham and Sofia Hurley, and local Cynthia Hamilton.
The Eagles have said goodbye to 13 players during this off-season – almost half the list – and are now looking to the draft to fill their remaining seven open list spots. In attack, the club needs to find a focal point, as all its forwards are smaller, ground level players. Having a key position forward for those others to work off will likely increase their efficiency in the forward half. In the ruck, Parris Laurie's retirement has left them a little thin, with Sarah Lakay and Beth Schilling likely to share the mantle as exciting draft prospect Lauren Wakfer has injured her ACL so will be unable to play the coming season.
After a few off-seasons building a young list across the park, the Bulldogs are fairly well placed after the recruitment of Millie Brown and Daisy Bateman for the attacking line. An extra key position player at each end of the ground would be helpful, but given the list profile, they wouldn't necessarily need to have an immediate impact at AFLW level in season seven.