EVERY year we see a new group of players take a step forward in their development, becoming stars of the game.
Ash Riddell, Anne Hatchard, Sarah Allan and Libby Birch came into their own in 2020, so who will join them next season?
INS, OUTS, TRADES, DRAFTEES, ROOKIES Every club's complete list for 2021
Forward Scheer has had a horror run with knee injuries, missing her draft year with a torn ACL then suffering another tear in the 2019 AFLW Grand Final. She's a natural footballer with a powerful boot who's ready to tear a game apart. The COVID break in South Australia was actually beneficial for Scheer, making her comeback to footy in July with Payneham NU in the Adelaide Footy League, booting 23 goals from eight matches.
O'Dwyer wasn't far off the pace in her first ever season of football, averaging eight disposals as a half-forward and just accuracy preventing her from adding to her tally of one goal. With one season of footy already under her belt, and the ability to have continued her camogie back in Ireland, she's ready to take the next step.
The utility settled in the forward line and rotated through the midfield in her first season of AFLW footy. She didn't look out of place at the top level, but having built some experience, she should have a greater impact on games in 2021, especially in a powerful Blues outfit.
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Cann has come back to pre-season in very strong form and should demand greater midfield time in 2021. A fierce tackler, her running power and endurance will hold her in good stead as Collingwood looks to take another step forward next year.
Dockers fans would argue O'Sullivan has already had a breakout season or two, but she's not often recognised by the wider AFLW community. The high half-forward often does the hard-to-spot hard running, and with the development of Roxy Roux, Sabreena Duffy and Ash Sharp, could well slip under the radar of opposition defenders.
Taylor's second AFLW season was ruined by an ankle injury suffered in round two, but she'd shown some nice signs in her opening match. A mid-sized utility who can play at either end of the ground, she's well-poised to take the next step in 2021.
Bella had her first full season as the No.1 ruck in 2020, and while she was beaten in a few games by more experienced opponents, there were some very solid performances in her seven matches. She's got all the attributes to dominate in the air in years to come.
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Another who floated under the radar, midfielder Steane averaged 10.2 disposals from her six games. Like teammate Elle Bennetts before her, Steane will have benefited from her time in an elite football environment, and will provide an important midfield rotation for the likes of Alyce Parker, Alicia Eva and Bec Beeson.
It was a tumultuous trade period for the Demons, but one who should be a beneficiary is the third-year Hanks. Elise O'Dea had been a mainstay of Melbourne's engine room, and while Hanks was gradually increasing her midfield time last season, she'll be needed on a near full-time basis in 2021.
Bannister has managed only three games over two seasons at North Melbourne (and one at the Dogs), sidelined by injuries. She's been in ripping form for Launceston in the TSLW, and the powerful forward/midfielder can be very dangerous around goal.
At Collingwood, Dargan was a junior member of the side who was starting to rack up more midfield time, but at new club Richmond, she has comparatively more AFLW experience. Dargan is agile with clean skills and will be an important member of the Tigers' line-up.
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Dillon was just starting to come into her own before St Kilda's AFLW season was abruptly ended after round six. While she's small, Dillon is a clever and ferocious inside midfielder, and plays a crucial role feeding it out to the likes of Georgia Patrikios.
It was a baptism of fire for draftee Bowen, needing to be a key player in a weaker and inexperienced midfield (Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson aside). She was dominant at under-18 level, so six AFLW games will have helped, but the vast majority of Eagles players did not play WAFLW this year.
There were a few questions from fans why Morris-Dalton didn't make her debut earlier than round six, the key forward showing some nous and picking up eight touches in her first game. Like all Victorians, the lack of winter footy wouldn't have helped her development, but she's a smart and athletic player who should be a key target for the Dogs for years to come.