As the AFLW Draft approaches on July 27, The Inner Sanctum has taken a look at the top prospects across Australia.
Speed and agility are the plentiful skills South Australian footballers have to offer at this year’s draft.
According to the SANFLW, up to 39 players from the league have put their hand up for selection by the Adelaide Crows at the draft.
Another dozen or so South Australians have allowed for other clubs across the country to pick them up.
Here are some of the top prospects heading into this year’s draft.
Zoe Prowse – Sturt
Ruck/Key position utility – 03/07/2003, 177cm
The fact that Zoe Prowse was playing footy less than two months after being hit by a car, which resulted in a broken hip, tells you all you need to know about how gutsy she is.
It’s no surprise that Brodie Grundy is her favourite footballer, as she plays a similar style to him; not only does she just have a great jump to help her in the ruck, she uses her body well and is willing to do the work at ground level.
Prowse is a member of the NAB AFLW Academy, which a reflection of her talents – and so is her 2020 best and fairest award at Sturt Football Club in her second SANFLW season.
At the NAB AFLW Championships she averaged 17.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.5 inside 50s, and 20 hit outs.
She was invited to the SA leg of the AFLW Draft Combine, where she topped all three jumping elements. Her vertical jump was 46cm. running vertical jump (right foot) was 55cm, and running vertical jump (left foot) was 64cm.
She also finished third in the 2km time trial with a time of 8.46 minutes.
Gypsy Schirmer – South Adelaide
Tall utility – 03/07/2003, 178cm
Clubs looking for a quick and agile tall player who can fill any hole on the field would be silly to look past Gypsy Schirmer.
Describing herself as “versatile”, Schirmer slots right into the midfield, defence, or attack – something that helped her be named among her team’s best players often at the NAB AFLW Under 19 Championships.
During the competition she saw plenty of the ball, averaging 17 disposals, while racking up 4.5 tackles a game.
At South Australia’s AFLW Draft Combine, she clocked the fastest 20-metre sprint with a time of 3.295 seconds, and came third in the agility test with a time of 8.618 seconds.
She reached 45cm in the vertical jump, putting her in second on the state leaderboard, and her running vertical jump (right foot) of 48cm was the third-highest at the event.
A natural leader, Schirmer was the captain of the Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy side when she made her debut, and she is now a member of the NAB AFLW Academy.
Brooke Tonon – Glenelg
Half back/Wing – 19/09/2003, 167cm
A classy user of the footy, Tonon plays off half-back or can push onto the wing.
A mid-year call-up to the NAB AFLW Academy, Tonon is particularly strong by foot and reads the play well, setting up the team’s rebounding play. She hails from Mount Gambier, and made the SANFLW team of the year for 2021 despite being 17.
She has an incredible game sense, being able to make clever decisions to intercept play then speed along the wing to provide strong delivery by foot into the forward line.
Tonon can play along the wing thanks to her speed and ferocious tackling ability.
She competed in two games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships and averaged 15.5 disposals, 3.5 tackles, and 2.0 rebounds.
She made the SANFLW Team of the Year this year, aged 17 years, and was invited to take part at the AFLW Draft Combine as a result.
Tonon finished equal second in the running vertical jump (left foot) with 54cm, and also recorded the third-fastest 20m sprint with a time of 3.359 seconds.
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Zoe Venning – West Adelaide
Midfield/Half forward – 19/07/2003, 168cm
A composed player at every contest, Zoe Venning sets the midfield alight not only with the amount of possessions she collects, but they way she disposes of the ball.
She has the endurance to run out a full game in the mid and provide options in the forward line, continually working hard and playing a real team game.
Venning represented South Australia at the AFLW Under 19 Championships and averaged 20 disposals and eight tackles in her two games against Victoria Country and the Allies, resulting in her being amongst her team’s best for both matches.
At an SANFLW level, she was named the Breakthrough Player of the Round in round two this year.
Her fearless playing style is exciting to watch, and seems to be one of the state’s biggest draft hopefuls this time around.
Tahlita Buethke – South Adelaide
Midfielder/Utility – 23/07/2002, 167cm
Speedy Tahlita Buethke can always be relied upon to get plenty of the ball in the midfield.
She is an in-and-under player but also knows how and when to hold space, especially along the wing.
She is known for her ferocious tackles and her ability to provide accurate forward 50 entries.
Buethke has played 13 games at a state level with the South Adelaide Football Club and was named the SANFLW Breakthrough Player of the Round in round eight this year.
Before getting a regular gig at the Panthers this year, she saw great success at her local club, McLaren, in the Great Southern Football League Women’s, winning the 2020 premiership and being amongst her team’s best players.
Abbie Ballard – West Adelaide
Inside Midfielder – 16/04/2002, 159cm
Abbie Ballard is a bulldog when it comes to her midfield work.
Not afraid to get in and amongst it, her years of SANFLW experience means she is a role model at West Adelaide, even though she is just 19 years old.
Her leadership skills saw her act as captain during the SANFLW grand final after skipper Bec Owen broke her leg, and she led her team valiantly in defeat.
This year was one of her strongest yet, despite being injured at the start of the season and missing her last year of the AFLW Under 19 Championships.
While she is best as an inside midfielder, she can also play outside, and is a handy defender with her fierce tackles and valuable up forward thanks to a strong left foot kick.
At the AFLW Draft Combine this year, she came second in the agility test with a time of 8.575 seconds.
Leah Cutting – Norwood
Ruck – 14/03/1992, 185cm
Norwood has been home for Leah Cutting since she joined the club in 2017, and has become one of the household names in the SANFLW.
There is no better example of her durability as a player than the fact she was the first player to reach 50 league games, all played consecutively at Norwood.
Her skills as a ruck are second-to-none and she can also play key positions as a target.
Cutting’s experience could see her easily slot into an AFLW side anywhere around the country – a step she is willing to take.
She was invited to the AFLW Draft Combine and came first in the 2km time trial with a time of 7.56 minutes.
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