New kids on the block no more: How the 2020 expansion sides are faring

THE UPCOMING season seven of the NAB AFLW competition marks the fourth time Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast will have fielded an AFLW team.

With another four new teams having just joined the competition, it's timely to look back at the last round of expansion, and just how those squads have evolved over the past two-and-a-half years.

 

Gold Coast

Richmond

St Kilda

West Coast

Still on list

8

11

12

8

Playing elsewhere

10

7

11

6

Delisted

8

8

4

11*

Retired

4

4

3

7

The Eagles had a list of 32 (instead of 30) due to two inactive players in 2020

GOLD COAST

Gold Coast's retention of its initial squad of 30 was heading towards being the best of the four sides until Port Adelaide came knocking in the most recent off-season, losing five players and dropping its inaugural player tally from 13 to eight. 

The players remaining are all best-21, although Jade Pregelj will sit out this season with a torn ACL.

From a structural point of view, the Suns have held onto two key backs, their No.1 ruck and two of their best mids, but the forward line has been a constant area of reinvention heading into their fourth season.

The four senior leaders of the club in 2020 – Sam Virgo, Leah Kaslar, Tiarna Ernst and Sally Riley – have all hung up the boots, opening the door for the next generation to steer the club.

Still on list: Lauren Ahrens, Lauren Bella, Tori Groves-Little, Ellie Hampson, Kalinda Howarth, Jade Pregelj, Jamie Stanton, Serene Watson
Playing elsewhere: Hannah Dunn, Cheyenne Hammond, Brittany Perry, Kate Surman, Jacqui Yorston (all Port Adelaide), Charlotte Hammans (Carlton), Dee Heslop, Taylor Smith (Brisbane), Jasmyn Hewett (Adelaide), Lexi Hamilton (delisted, now Sydney) 
Delisted: Georgia Breward, Jordann Hickey, Paige Parker, Emma Pittman, Molly Ritson, Maddy Roberts, Tayla Thorn, Kitara Whap-Farrar 
Retired: Tiarna Ernst, Leah Kaslar, Sally Riley, Sam Virgo 

Gold Coast players have a laugh during the official team photo day on August 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

RICHMOND

Surprisingly, Richmond has a similar list spread to Gold Coast, but has retained a couple more players than the Suns.

The Tigers cut hard and early, with the majority of their delistings coming after seasons one and two, making significant alterations to the initial list build.

Things stabilised somewhat in the last off-season, but opposition teams have come hard for Richmond's delisted players, seeing value where the Tigers either didn't or had an oversupply in the area.

Bec Miller is the lone defender still on the list from 2020 (with Laura McClelland able to play at either end), with the forward line and midfield remaining comparatively unscathed.

Still on list: Maddy Brancatisano, Katie Brennan, Hannah Burchell, Monique Conti, Kate Dempsey, Kodi Jacques, Laura McClelland, Bec Miller, Sophie Molan, Gabby Seymour, Courtney Wakefield
Playing elsewhere: Phoebe Monahan (delisted, now Brisbane), Alice Edmonds (delisted, now Western Bulldogs), Alana Woodward (Sydney), Sabrina Frederick (Collingwood), Sarah Sansonetti (delisted, now Collingwood), Akec Makur Chuot (delisted, now Hawthorn), Grace Campbell (North Melbourne) 
Delisted: Christina Bernardi, Nekaela Butler, Ciara Fitzgerald, Emily Harley, Emma Horne, Iilish Ross, Cleo Saxon-Jones, Holly Whitford
Retired: Laura Bailey, Tayla Stahl, Lauren Tesoriero, Ella Wood

Richmond players pose at their official team photo day ahead of AFLW season seven on August 9, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

ST KILDA

Perhaps reflective of having won the most games of the expansion quartet, the Saints have also held onto the most players.

Isabella Shannon is also expected to return to the club, having taken the upcoming season off due to study commitments.

The Saints also have the highest number of 2020-listed players plying their trade at another club, with a number of them having been delisted and finding new homes.

The backline has seen the most movement – just Clara Fitzpatrick remains as a pure defender, with both Hannah Priest and Tarni White spending time in the midfield.

Still on list: Rosie Dillon, Nat Exon, Clara Fitzpatrick (re-listing), Caitlin Greiser, Darcy Guttridge, Molly McDonald, Georgia Patrikios, Hannah Priest, Kate Shierlaw, Liv Vesely, Tarni White, Nicola Xenos
Playing elsewhere: Alison Brown, Samantha Johnson, Rhi Watt (all delisted, now Melbourne), Alison Drennan, Claudia Whitfort (Gold Coast), Tilly Lucas-Rodd (Hawthorn), Tamara Luke and Kate McCarthy (delisted, now Hawthorn), Jess Sedunary (West Coast), Poppy Kelly (Richmond), Cat Phillips (Essendon)
Delisted: Melissa Kuys, Kelly O'Neill, Isabella Shannon (currently on temporary study break), Nadia von Bertouch
Retired: Selena Karlson, Emma Mackie, Courteney Munn

St Kilda players run out onto the field ahead of a practice match against Brisbane at RSEA Park on August 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

WEST COAST

The Eagles have close to completely revamped their inaugural list, choosing to start again in their build.

They've also comfortably had the most players to have hung up the boots entirely, with five retirements coming after the 2022 season alone.

One contributing factor to the lower number of players still on lists elsewhere and the higher number of delistings may be the state-based nature of the AFLW, as it is more difficult to find another home without moving across the country.

Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson have been the midfield core, while Belinda Smith has been a mainstay off half-back and Sophie McDonald has developed nicely into a key defender.

Still on list: Kate Bartlett (re-listed), Hayley Bullas, Imahra Cameron, Kellie Gibson, Dana Hooker, Sophie McDonald, Belinda Smith, Emma Swanson
Playing elsewhere: Ashlee Atkins (delisted, now Gold Coast), Mikayla Bowen (Geelong), Maddy Collier (Sydney), McKenzie Dowrick (delisted, now Adelaide), Grace Kelly (St Kilda), Niamh Kelly (Adelaide)
Delisted: Mhicca Carter, Cassie Davidson, Rosie Deegan, Beatrice Devlyn, Brianna Green, Alicia Janz, Emily McGuire, Kate Orme, Chantella Perera, Danika Pisconeri, Tarnee Tester
Retired: Emily Bonser, Melissa Caulfield, Andrea Gilmore, Courtney Guard, Ashton Hill, Parris Laurie, Talia Radan

West Coast players during the team's official photo day on August 10, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos