FREMANTLE jet Kiara Bowers is the prototype AFLW player.
The AFLW competition continues to grow more physical and contested, with Bowers – the 2021 League best-and-fairest and three-time All-Australian – perfectly embodying the direction of the women's game.
As the League continues to evolve, providing more statistical clarity on what makes a good AFLW player, Bowers has quickly established herself as one of the game's best since overcoming a horror injury run in the competition's early stages.
Champion Data notes that, in terms of 2022 averages, the AFLW has a far higher contested possession rate (46.5 percent) than the AFL (38.6 percent) counting for the last women's season and the current men's season.
It's a similar pattern in terms of hard-ball to loose-ball get rates in the AFLW. The split was 40-60 in this year's earlier AFLW season, while the rate has been 34-66 throughout the current AFL campaign.
Pressure factor is also higher (2.12 to 1.81) in the AFLW, while the number of tackles per 100 minutes in the women's game (76.3) far outweighs that of the men (46.3). Put simply, it is a more physically combative competition at the moment.
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For that style of footy, Bowers has few peers. Throughout her 33-game AFLW career, the Fremantle midfielder has instantly emerged as a brutal ball-winner that has both the ability to win her own footy and explode from stoppage to gain territory.
Last season, she had a contested possession rate of 61 percent and ranked No.2 in the competition for contested possessions per game (13.8). That would be the equivalent of 23 per game in a longer men's match.
She ranked No.1 in the League for clearances, averaging 6.7 per game and significantly clear of second on 5.6 per game. She was also ranked No.1 for tackles at 13.2 per game, miles ahead of second on 8.5 per game.
What makes Bowers unique is that she is not simply a bash-and-crash midfielder. The veteran also has the lateral movement and neat ball-use forward of centre that complements her inside game so well.
So long a recognised face of women's footy in Western Australia, Bowers has now become the player to replicate on a national stage. Expect her to be crucial to Fremantle's premiership hopes later this year.