26/02/2024

A host of players were involved in massive trades including Daisy Bateman, Erin Phillips and Izzy Huntington. (Image: @aflwomens Twitter).

With the AFLW Sign and Trade period done for another a year, The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the moves that that were made.

The recent AFLW Sign and Trade has wrapped up, with several clubs securing several big names ahead of the upcoming drafts and the 2023 season.

The inclusion of the four expansion clubs Sydney, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Essendon resulted in some big wins for some, and shock departures for others.

With all sign and trade period recently coming to a dramatic conclusion, The Inner Sanctum dives into where your club now stands and where the holes are in your club’s list that needs filling.

Who departed: Angela Foley (Expansion signing – Port Adelaide), Justine Mules (Expansion signing – Port Adelaide), Nikki Gore (Traded – Fremantle), Erin Phillips (Expansion signing – Port Adelaide), Jessica Sedunary (Traded – West Coast)

Who arrived: Niahm Kelly, Amber Ward (Both traded – West Coast)

What they still need: With the loss of midfielder/forward Erin Phillips, it is argued that if the Crows could get a midfielder that pushes forward to kick goals that would be what they would need to replace. Having said that, the Crows have replaced their losses with a quick outside player (Kelly for Mules) and key defender (Ward for Foley). The Crows have lost depth and talents but it’s expected that the list will still be full of the same quality as past seasons.

Rating 9 / 10

Madeline Irwin

Who departed: Indy Tahau, Maria Moloney, (Expansion signings – both Port Adelaide), Jess Wuetschner (Delisted)

Who arrived: Nil

What they still need: The Lions haven’t lost much during the trade period as Moloney was only depth and Tahau was finding her feet at the level. Another target down forward might be handy for the Lions who utilised Greta Bodey heavily last season only but also delisted Jess Wuetschner in the off-season. The Lions rely on contributions from their small forwards but another big target could help down forward.

Rating 9/10

Madeline Irwin

Who departed:  Madison Prespakis, Georgia Gee (Expansion signings – both Essendon),  Lauren Brazzale (Traded – Collingwood), Grace Egan (Traded – Richmond), Courtney Jones (Traded – Gold Coast), Nicola Stevens (Traded – St Kilda),  Charlotte Wilson (Traded – Melbourne)

Who arrived: Phoebe McWilliams (Traded – Geelong), Amelia Velardo (Traded – Collingwood)

What they still need: It’s been another dramatic offseason at Ikon Park with another handful of strong, first-choice players exiting for other clubs, making that up to 11 departures in the last two seasons. While Carlton did get back into the draft and will be on the search for young talent, the hole of mature bodies and quality players with AFLW experience looms large.

While their defensive core remains intact, the Blues will be looking for some contested ball-winning midfielders and some scoring power in the upcoming draft to fill the big holes that have left the club in the trade period.

Rating 2 / 10

Jono Baruch

Who departed: Sophie Alexander (Expansion signing – Essendon), Aliesha Newman (Expansion signing – Sydney), Ebony O’Dea (Expansion signing – Port Adelaide), Imogen Purcell (Delisted), Bella Smith (Expansion signing – Sydney), Amelia Velardo (Traded – Carlton)

Who arrived: Olivia Barber (Traded – Geelong), Lauren Brazzale (Traded – Carlton), Emily Smith (Rookie signing – Tasmania Cricket)

What they still need: Injuries to key midfielders Brianna Davey and Brittany Bonnici didn’t stop Collingwood from making finals, despite falling short of the grand final. With the next season starting earlier than originally anticipated, this may have an impact on when those players return. The departure of Ebony O’Dea to expansion club Port Adelaide is arguably the biggest loss for Collingwood, with her tackling and pressure helping the team this season with its continued surge.  The Magpies need to improve their ruck and forward stocks, with Chloe Molloy spending most of her time up forward, they would be also looking for someone to assist on that half-forward line. Another key loss is Sophie Alexander to expansion club Essendon, but if Sabrina Frederick can fire up again and get back to her best, then the loss of Alexander won’t necessarily feel as heavy, as they aim to go deep into finals again.

Rating: 6 /10

Monique Quercio

Who arrived: Georgia Nanscawen (Open age), Maddy Prespakis (Expansion signing – Carlton), Georgia Gee (Expansion signing – Carlton), Bonnie Toogood (Expansion signing – Western Bulldogs), Caitlin Sargent (Open age), Steph Cain (Expansion signing – Fremantle), Sophie Alexander (Expansion signing – Collingwood), Dani Marshall (Open age), Federica Frew (Open age), Joanne Doonan (Open age), Jordan Zanchetta (Open age), Sophie Van De Heuvel (Expansion signing – Geelong), Jacqui Vogt (Expansion signing – St Kilda), Daria Bannister (Expansion signing – North Melbourne), Cat Phillips (Expansion signing – St Kilda), Jorja Borg (Open age), Ellyse Gamble (Expansion signing – Western Bulldogs), Eloise Ashley-Cooper (Open age), Bella Ayre (Open age), Renee Tierney (Open age)

What they still need: At the end of the trade period, the Bombers have signed 20 players to their inaugural list, with only four having no prior AFLW experience. The midfield and forward lines in particular are stacked with players that have been known performers at the elite level.

Essendon’s thinnest line at the moment seems to be its defence. While Dani Marshall and Ellyse Gamble make for a formidable key position pairing, Nat Wood’s side will want to look for at least one tall defender draft prospect for the future. Marshall will be 32 years old at the start of the new season and hasn’t played the position at AFLW level yet, so will likely not be a long-term option. Mackenzie Eardley and Charlotte Taylor both loom as first-round Victorian selections and should be on Essendon’s draft radar.

Likewise, Jorja Borg is the only true ruck currently signed to Essendon’s list. Many of the regular finalists have excelled with a two ruck-pairing, and at least having a backup will be a necessity. Otherwise, with a slew of picks available, the Bombers will have the luxury of signing some of the best young talent in the country to round out their list.

Rating: 8/10

Alex Catalano

Who departed: Gemma Houghton (Expansion signing – Port Adelaide), Maggie MacLachlan (Expansion signing – Port Adelaide), Steph Cain (Expansion signing – Essendon)

Who arrived: Nikki Gore (Traded – Adelaide)

What they still need: The Dockers will be thankful they avoided too many losses to expansion, with just three players departing in the expansion and signing period. Already a finalist again in 2022, Fremantle will be heading into season seven as top eight fancies once again.

Houghton and Cain are no doubt major losses, as top choice tall forward and wing options. The Dockers have now lost their three top scorers in two seasons, with Ashley Sharp and Sabreena Duffy playing no part in last season. Both are still on the inactive list, but should they return, Fremantle’s forward stocks would look strong once again. Otherwise, they may want to look to the draft or state leagues for other long-term options.

Performing well in her debut AFLW season, Airlie Runnalls will grow into Cain’s role. Adding depth into the midfield with Gore, the Dockers’ list still looks strong. One of the biggest boons of their off-season was retaining the Antonios, with the pair linked to a Victorian move early on.

With West Coast holding the majority of the West Australian picks, the Dockers will simply look to unearth more young forward talent and continue to build their depth for this season.

Rating: 7/10

Alex Catalano

Who departed: Danielle Higgins (Retired), Jordi Ivey (Traded – Melbourne), Phoebe McWilliams (Traded – Carlton), Olivia Barber (Traded – Collingwood), Sophie Van De Heuvel (Expansion signing – Essendon), Steph Williams (Traded – Richmond), Millie Brown (Traded – Western Bulldogs)

Who arrived: Shelley Scott (Expansion signing – Melbourne), Jackie Parry (Expansion signing – Melbourne), Ingrid Houtsma (Traded – Richmond), Mikayla Bowen (Expansion signing – West Coast).

What they still need: With the signing of Shelley Scott, former co-captain and best and fairest winner for Melbourne, it’s hard to think that these new arrivals won’t improve Geelong’s form this coming season.

The Cats’ have already proved they are stars in the midfield, by signing on four new midfielders it will be exciting to see if this is the right call – is it overkill or is it the perfect formula?

Additionally, Geelong in 2022 was unable to create forward pressure and lacked a scoreboard presence. With the retirement of veteran Danielle Higgins and only signing one forward, the team is still lacking in the scoring department and requires more key forward presence if they want to dominate this season.

Rating: 6/10

Juliette Aubert

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Who departed: Alana Barba (Delisted), Britt Perry (Traded – Port Adelaide), Cheyenne Hammond (Traded – Port Adelaide), Dee Heslop (Delisted), Hannah Dunn (Traded – Port Adelaide), Jacqui Yorston (Traded – Port Adelaide), Janet Bird (Expansion signing – Hawthorn), Kate Surman (Traded – Port Adelaide), Sarah Perkins (Expansion signing – Hawthorn)

Who arrived: Courtney Jones (Traded – Carlton)

What they still need: The Suns remain with a fair chunk of their playing list at the end of the trade period, but there will be a few considerations for the Suns to make heading into the upcoming draft. The pickup of midfielder Courtney Jones will certainly help cover for the losses of Sarah Perkins and Kate Surman. But given that the team already has several midfielders already rostered on, as well as having traded out several midfielders during the sign and trade period, the Suns should turn their focus on developing other aspects of their game.

Among their key issues, the defence was something that Gold Coast struggled with this season. As a result of this, the Suns should aim to secure another defender in the future. The side often was overpowered by the opposition and wasn’t able to apply pressure when it mattered. The Suns also require another ball magnet as they ranked 12th in the competition for total disposals last season.

Rating: 5 / 10

Ashleigh Matosevic

Who departed: Ally Morphett (Traded – Sydney), Rebecca Privitelli (Expansion signing – Sydney), Erin Lorenzini (Retired), Erin McKinnon (Traded – St Kilda), Katie Loynes (Retired), Libby Graham (Traded – Richmond), Lisa Steane (Expansion signing – Sydney), Louise Stephenson (Expansion signing – Hawthorn)

Who arrived: Isabel Huntington (Traded – Western Bulldogs)

What they still need: The arrival of former Bulldog Isabel Huntington will be a boost for the Giants due to her versatility. Though her impact on the side will yet to be known for a while as Huntington is currently still recovering from an ACL injury. Another key forward will be valuable for the Giants given that Huntington will be unavailable and the departures of Louise Stephenson, Rebecca Privitelli, and Erin Lorenzini. The Giants also need to secure players who are reliant on goals. Throughout the 2022 season, the side’s style of play exemplified the issue of a lack of contributors with the side being too dependent on Cora Staunton.

Rating: 5 / 10

Ashleigh Matosevic

Who arrived Kaitlyn Ashmore (Traded – North Melbourne), Janet Baird (Expansion signing – Gold Coast), Zoe Barbakos (Open age), Catherine Brown (Open age), Dominique Carbone (Open age), Tegan Cunningham (Open age), Bridget Deed (Open age), Jess Duffin (Expansion signing – North Melbourne), Tahlia Fellows (Open age), Aileen Gilroy (Expansion signing – North Melbourne), Ainslie Kemp (Open age), Sophie Locke (Open age), Tilly Lucas-Rodd (Expansion signing – St Kilda), Tamara Luke (Open age), Akec Makur Chuot (Expansion signing – Richmond), Sarah Perkins (Expansion signing – Gold Coast), Isabelle Porter (Open age), Jenna Richardson (Open age), Eliza Shannon (Open age), Tamara Smith (Open age), Louise Stephenson (Expansion signing – GWS)

What they still need: In a word, Depth. Bec Goddard and her recruitment team have been very strategic in their approach to building Hawthorn’s first AFLW list.  They quite deliberately recruited a blend of experience through the likes of Jess Duffin, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, and Kaitlyn Ashmore, and youth with exciting small forward Zoe Barbakos and first-ever signing Bridget Deed. Attack through Sarah Perkins and Tegan Cunningham, defensive strength from Louise Stephenson and Eliza Shannon, along with an impressive array of midfield ball-winners.

The framework is there on which to be built. The next step is to ensure that there is cover in all areas of the park for when the inevitable injuries hit. Get this part right and Hawthorn’s first AFLW season could be a very competitive one.

Rating: 7 / 10

Hugh Maclean

Who departed: Maeve Chaplin (Delisted), Lauren Magee (Stepping away), Jackie Parry (Traded – Geelong), Krstel Petrevski (Traded – West Coast), Shelley Scott (Traded – Geelong), Issy Simmons (Traded – West Coast), Brenna Tarrant (Expansion signing – Sydney). 

Who arrived: Charlotte Wilson (Traded – Carlton), Jordan Ivey (Traded – Geelong), Rhi Watt (Delisted Free Agent)

What they still need: Melbourne has done an amazing job at retaining most of its list throughout the sign and trade period. The inclusion of Jordan Ivey down back is a good one, given she was a reliable player for the Cats and will bring some extra experience to the team. Meanwhile, Charlotte Wilson is another great addition. A versatile young key defender, who has been developing well at Carlton, with many Bluebaggers sad to see her go.

Going into the draft, Melbourne’s earliest pick currently is 45 (the latest first selection of any team in the league), so it won’t be calling any names out for a while. Its best bet is to pick up young players that add further depth and can be developed over the years. 

With the loss of former co-captain Shelley Scott, and current captain Daisy Pearce nearing the end of her career, a couple of young utilities would be smart pick-ups. Ivey and Wilson both bring extra depth down back, so another forward would be a handy selection to finish.

Melbourne has set itself up well regardless of its decision and, with some other teams being picked apart in the last few weeks through expansion signings, the consistency they’ve maintained in its list could be a huge factor going into this season.

Rating: 8/10

Brandon Patane

Who departed: Kaitlyn Ashmore (Traded – Hawthorn), Daria Bannister (Expansion signing – Essendon), Daisy Bateman (Traded – Western Bulldogs), Jessica Duffin (Expansion signing – Hawthorn), Aileen Gilroy (Expansion signing – Hawthorn), Lexi Hamilton (Expansion signing – Sydney)

Who arrived: Erika O’Shea (Rookie), Vikki Wall (Rookie)

What they still need: North Melbourne has got a heap of holes on its list now due to more players leaving than was expected during the trade and sign period. Losing Gilroy and Ashmore has left the Kangaroos lacking pace so look for them to top up with some pacey wing and midfield options. Some athleticism could be injected into the side given the additions of Wall and O’Shea, however, given they are rookies to the league they may not be ready come round one. They have also lost Bannister and Bateman from their forward line which will be a loss considering they lacked offensive weapons this season. A mature and ready-to-go-forward target will be one that the Kangaroos will need to consider.

Rating 2/10

Madeline Irwin

Who arrived: Abbey Dowrick (Open age), Alex Ballard (Open age), Ange Foley (Expansion signing – Adelaide), Britt Perry (Traded – Gold Coast), Cheyenne Hammond (Traded – Gold Coast), Ebony O’Dea (Expansion signing – Collingwood), Erin Phillips (Expansion signing – Adelaide), Gemma Houghton (Expansion signing – Fremantle), Hannah Dunn (Expansion signing – Gold Coast), Indy Tahau (Expansion signing – Brisbane), Jacqui Yorston (Traded – Gold Coast), Jade De Merlo (Open age), Jade Halfpenny (Open age), Julia Teakle (Open age), Justine Mules (Expansion signing – Adelaide), Kate Surman (Traded – Gold Coast), Laquoiya Cockatoo-Motlap (Open age), Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap (Open age), Liz McGrath (Open age), Olivia Levicki (Open age), Maggie MacLachlan (Expansion signing – Fremantle), Maria Moloney (Expansion signing – Brisbane), Tessa Doumanis (Open age).

What they still need: At the end of the trade period, Port Adelaide has signed 23 players to their inaugural list, with only nine having no prior AFLW experience. List Manager Naomi Maidment has done a stellar job creating a list with plenty of experience but a little sprinkle of some younger talent.

The Power’s midfield is stacked and will have several players fighting for spots, but their overall talent is well-spread over the field. With a slew of high draft picks available, Port will have the luxury of signing some of the best young talent in the country to round out its list.

Rating: 8 / 10

Jordan Janssen

Who arrived Grace Egan (Traded – Carlton), Libby Graham (Traded – GWS Giants), Steph Williams (Traded – Geelong)

Who departed: Christina Bernardi (Delisted), Sarah Dargan (Expansion signing – Sydney), Ingrid Houtsma (Traded – Geelong),  Akec Makur Chuot (Expansion signing – Hawthorn), Hannah McLaren (Delisted), Sarah Sansosnetti (Delisted)

What they still need: The Tigers knew they needed defensive cover for season seven with Harriet Cordner ruled out with an ACL injury and they went and filled the void with the acquisitions of Libby Graham and Steph Williams, bolstering their back half.

While the Tigers bolstered their engine room with Grace Egan returning to Punt Road, the Tigers must continue building midfield depth so the bulk of the work doesn’t continually fall on the shoulders of their superstar Monique Conti, Egan, and Sarah Hosking.

Rating 7 / 10

Jono Baruch

Who departed: Rhi Watt (Delisted), Kate McCarthy (Delisted), Alana Woodward (Delisted), Paige Price (Delisted), Tahlia Meyer (Delisted), Isabella Shannon (Delisted), Jacqui Vogt (Expansion signing – Essendon), Cat Phillips (Expansion signing – Essendon), Tilly Lucas-Rodd (Expansion signing – Hawthorn)

Who arrived: Erin McKinnon (Traded – GWS), Nicola Stevens (Traded – Carlton), Grace Kelly (Traded – West Coast), Clara Fitzpatrick (Delisted Free Agent)

What they still need: The Saints are down in experience for season seven, with half of their leadership group departing. Co-vice captain Rhi Watt was delisted after tearing her ACL late last season, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd leaves for expansion side Hawthorn after a career-best year.

Already thin on several lines, St Kilda needs more talent in every area of the ground. Key defenders will be top of the list, already struggling to stop scores last year with Bec Ott as the number one option for large parts of it. Bianca Jakobsson is also coming off a career-best season, but can’t do it all herself.

With the loss of a first choice inside midfielder, winger, and ruck, the Saints have plenty to figure out in the middle of the ground too. The eventual return of Tyanna Smith is hope yet, but the question marks still surrounding Georgia Patrikios’ place on the inactive list leaves much unanswered.

The addition of McKinnon alongside Leah Cutting should do enough for the ruck group in the short-term future. The Saints may be in for another bumpy season with the loss of major talent and leadership.

Rating: 4/10

Alex Catalano

Who departed: N/A 

Who arrived: Jaide Anthony (Open-age), Kiara Beesley (Open-age), Montana Beruldsen (Open-age), Maddy Collier (Expansion signing – West Coast), Sarah Dargan (Expansion signing – Richmond), Molly Eastman (Open-age), Sarah Ford (Open-age), Lexi Hamilton (Expansion signing – North Melbourne), Ella Heads (Open-age), Zoe Hurrell (Open-age), Bridie Kennedy (Open-age), Brooke Lochland (Expansion signing – Western Bulldogs), Alice Mitchell (Open-age), Ally Morphett (Traded – GWS Giants), Ailesha Newman (Expansion signing – Collingwood), Rebecca Privitelli (Expansion signing – GWS Giants), Ruby Sargent-Wilson (Open-age), Paige Sheppard (open-age), Sarah Skinner (Open-age), Bella Smith (Expansion signing – Collingwood), Lisa Steane (Expansion signing – GWS Giants) Lauren Szigeti (Open-age), Breanna Tarrant (Expansion signing – Melbourne) Eliza Vale (Open-age), Aimee Whelan (Open-age)

What they still need: Although Sydney missed out on most of its major targets it has still recruited very well, with established AFLW talent on every line. The good news continues with the Swans also having the first draft pick in the upcoming draft, one that allows them the pick of the board on draft day.

With a whopping six first-round selections, including five top 20 picks, they can sure up every line with talent such as midfielder Ella Roberts who can lineup alongside Collier and Kennedy, utility Amber Clarke, who can support Skinner, medium defender Sarah Goodwin who can potentially lineup with Mitchell, and ruck forward Fleur Davies, who can supplement Morphett and Hamilton, all of whom (Roberts, Clarke, Goodwin, Davies)  are expected to be taken in the top 20 of this month’s draft.

Rating 7/10

Thomas Grattan

Who departed: Amber Ward (Traded – Adelaide), Andrea Gilmore (Retired), Ashlee Atkins (Delisted), Courtney Guard (Retired), Grace Kelly (Traded – St Kilda), Lauren Gauci (Delisted), Maddy Collier (Expansion open age signing – Sydney), Mikayla Bowen (Traded – Geelong), Melissa Caulfield (Retired), Niamh Kelly (Traded – Adelaide), Parris Laurie (Retired), Tayla Bresland (Retired)

Who arrived: Ella Smith (Priority – WAFL), Isabella Simmons (Traded – Melbourne), Jessica Sedunary (Traded – Adelaide), Kate Bartlett (Priority – WAFL ), Krstel Petreveski (Traded – Melbourne), Sasha Goranova (Priority – WAFL)

What they still need: The Eagles copped an unexpected hit during the trade period with the surprising number of retirements, and players departing from the club.

Parris Laurie’s retirement now leaves the side in a precarious position. The loss of Laurie only adds to the team’s woes. At the moment, the only ruck on their list is Sarah Lakay. Though the 19-year-old has only come into the ranks recently, as she made her debut in 2022 and has eight games to her name. Another ruck would help assist to fill the gap for the Eagles, particularly to form a backup for the team.

A silver lining for the Eagles comes in the form of their three priority picks which will help to soften the blow of player departures. But the loss of several key players would cause headaches for West Coast given that half the contributors of their defensive line have departed the club.

Rating: 4/10

Ashleigh Matosevic

Who departed: Ellyse Gamble (Expansion signing – Essendon), Ashleigh Guest (Retired), Isabel Huntington (Traded – GWS Giants), Brooke Lochland (Expansion signing – Sydney), Hannah Scott (Retired), Bonnie Toogood (Expansion signing – Essendon)

Who arrived: Daisy Bateman (Traded – North Melbourne), Millie Brown (Traded – Geelong)

What they still need: Given the Bulldogs have lost sizeable talent, it seemed like they would have trouble come season seven. When you consider that the loss of Gamble will be offset with the evolution of Issy Grant down back as well as the addition of young defender Brown.

Isabel Huntington did not feature in any more than one game last season, while she would be missing the next whole season so that loss is not as dire as it appears. The loss of Lochland and Toogood would be tough to stomach however Bateman will flourish in the forward line. Some experience from a lower league such as an experienced forward would be one to target to offer leadership for the young side while helping to kick scores.

Rating: 7/10

Madeline Irwin

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