15/04/2024

Laila Lappin, Chloe Adams, and Sophie Butterworth in action for their respective teams. (Photo: AFL Photos)

The progression of female football has continued to thrive in recent years, and this year’s crop of female talent in the Vic Country region is no exception.

The Talent League is beginning to see teams that have girls purely brought up on a football diet, especially coming through the Vic Country region.

Ahead of the National Championships carnival commencing for Vic Country this Sunday, the boys from The Craft of the Draft podcast take a look at the top prospects in the region.

Dandenong Stingrays

Mikayla Williamson

Becoming one of the classier ball users in the draft class, Williamson has continued to prove why she is considered one of the top 20 in the talent pool.

The midfielder is best known for explosiveness out of stoppages, metres gained, and breaking out of packs to deliver neat kicks down the line to advantage.

Williamson’s ability to lower the eyes inside 50 has been her weapon in 2023, averaging 3.6 inside 50s a game. Williamson can provide pressure throughout the middle of the ground and halt the opposition’s transition, averaging 5.3 tackles per game.

Sophie Butterworth

Butterworth has become an idealistic power forward in the Talent League and has stated her case pretty well to be taken seriously come the back end of the year. Standing at 181cm, Butterworth often has the height advantage over her opponent and the capacity to dominate aerially.

As the year has progressed, there has been a bigger emphasis on outworking her opponent in more ways than just aerially, which has been evident in her strong leading patterns that demand the ball. Butterworth has averaged two goals and 3.6 scoring shots a game.

There’s still a lot of room for development for Butterworth with the timing of her leads and jumps at the ball, but the foundations for a dominant forward have been established so far.

Sophie Butterworth in action for the Dandenong Stingrays (Photo: Jazz Bennett)

Meg Robertson

Robertson has proved a handy utility for the Dandenong Stingrays as the season has progressed and has stood up immensely in all the representative games thus far and is one to watch in Vic Country’s first National Championships game.

Robertson is a composed ball user around the contest and has the ability to find gaps to dispose of the ball and aid transition moving forward.

When moving back into defensive 50, Robertson’s able to read the flight of the ball well and intercept mark. Her drive out of defensive 50 is another area of her game that has developed extremely well and still has a lot of potential for growth.

Bianca Lyne

Lyne got the opportunity to play in the Under 23 All Stars v AFLW Academy game a few weeks ago and was solid in defence. Her height makes her a difficult matchup and has plenty of upside.

The 174cm versatile tall has lifted her game since that representative match and will be looking to prove she firmly belongs in discussions by stringing together longer periods of form, having been a ‘moments’ player so far in 2023.

Ruby Murdoch

Murdoch has been a lively figure for the Stingrays on the wing, using her high aerobic capacity to run her direct opponents into the ground. At her best, she is an important link player for the Rays when going forward with her spark and creativity.

Murdoch is clean below her knees and isn’t afraid to be bold in any third of the ground which makes her a handy asset for any team. She will be hoping to consistently find her best form at Vic Country level having been a little bit up-and-down at Dandenong.

Ruby Murdoch in action for the Dandenong Stingrays. (Photo: Jazz Bennett)

Jemma Ramsdale

The Dandenong skipper shuts down her opponent each week and part of her Monday recovery must be regaining her voice, so noticeably vocal on-field during games and breaks. With ball in hand, Ramsdale is a cool head, knowing when to take marks and when to spoil.

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Geelong Falcons

Chloe Adams

Adams would be the standout in just about any other midfield in the Talent League but flies under the radar in a Falcons side containing ball magnet Sara Howley.

It speaks to Adams’ productivity that she averages more than 25 possessions but is probably just as regarded for what she does without the ball as her work rate, pressure and contested craft help others shine.

Adams does the dirty work as well as anyone inside, ranking third for the most tackles in the league. She is clean below her knees and able to extract the football and make quick decisions by hand.

Chantal Mason

Mason’s natural forward craft, leading lanes, and knack for goals make her seem like a long-time forward. This season is, however, her first extended go-in attack in her career.

After a quiet first month, she has exploded since the first girl’s community break, with 26 goals in that period shooting her to the top of the girls’ Talent League goal-kicking tally.

As well as averaging four shots on goal per game, she averages 4.7 marks to have the third most marks this season.

Chantal Mason in action for the Geelong Falcons (Photo: AFL Photos)

Bendigo Pioneers

Lila Keck

Keck is a player who loves the big moments, proven in her outing for the Australia Academy side against the Young Guns, booting two goals with quite memorable celebrations.

Keck has balanced her roles throughout the year, spending time through the midfield at Talent League level, whilst applying her trade inside forward 50 as a dangerous small forward. Keck is best at reading the loose ball, with strong ball sense in centre stoppages and at the drop of the ball inside forward 50.

Keck has showcased a good balance of speed and agility to break out of contests, with her height being smaller for a midfielder allowing her to duck and weave effectively. She still has a long way to go with her development but she’s a player committed to her craft with a lot of upside.

Lila Keck in action for the AFLW Academy (Photo: AFL Photos)

Keely Fullerton

Fullerton has shown glimpses of how handy she can be, with a high football IQ that often guides her around the ground. She has balanced her time between halfback and the wing, often providing strong run and carry.

Fullerton’s leg speed has proven helpful on the offensive end, capitalising inside 50 with three games with two goals.

Steph Demeo

Demeo is a player you’d want to have the football in their hands when looking to exit defensive 50. She is in a team that has been put under lots of duress this year, but she remains unflustered, providing run off half back and assessing her options well.

Bryde O’Rourke

O’Rourke is one of the most established names in the draft class, the Pioneers product has athleticism, power, and speed which gives her upside in the eyes of people who matter.

She plays with confidence and energy which makes her entertaining as she puts herself in positions to use her eye-catching weapons.

Her defensive intent recently has added another string to her bow, with her chase-down and desperate tackles in close important for the Pioneers this year.

Gippsland Power

Amber Schutte

An intercepting halfback who can accumulate the footy at Talent League level and provide drive out of the back half, Schutte reads the dropzone of the footy well, backs herself to take marks, and uses her long kick to clear immediate danger.

Averaging 17 disposals and four rebound 50s, she is the clear standout top-aged prospect for the Power.

Amber Schutte in action for the Gippsland Power. (Photo: DAEJ Media)

Murray Bushrangers

Kaylea Kobzan

The only Bushranger to feature in the Vic Country squad, Kobzan has continued to build on an impressive year. The left-footer has spent most of her time in the backline, with a commanding kick that is handy in clearing congestion in the defensive 50.

Kobzan’s decision-making has been on show across the year, which has been evident in her ability to use both sides of her body through congestion. Kobzan’s a player that can provide short and sharp intense efforts, which have proven useful in her time up forward in recent weeks.

Kaylea Kobzan in action for the Murray Bushrangers (Photo: AFL Photos)

GWV Rebels

Lily Jordan

Jordan has produced some glimpses of strong football as the season has progressed but has been able to string games together consistently.

The small forward has shown how dangerous she can be inside 50 with her agility and quick feet to shrug off opponents and get shots on goal.

With a quieter middle of the season, Jordan is starting to regain some of her form, pushing higher up the ground as an outlet to move the ball inside 50 with more productivity in that area.

Jessica Rentsch

Currently projected to go in the top five of this year’s draft, Rentsch has continued to dominate at Talent League level with her trademark burst through the corridor out of defensive 50.

Renstch reads the ball with great accuracy in the defensive 50 and is able to cut off incoming kicks and compose herself to burst out of contest and create the first chain in offensive transition.

Rentsch has aggressiveness in her game that can lighten the load off defenders around her, showcasing her ability to crash a contest and lay really hard tackles, hitting a season-high 15 tackles against a talented Gold Coast Academy.

Laila Lappin

Lappin came into 2023 playing most of her bottom-age year as a ruck but has spent most of this year balancing her forward and ruck craft with a stronger focus on making her positioning in the ruck more dangerous.

Lappin has certainly been able to do that in recent weeks at Talent League level, grabbing the ball out of the ruck and disposing it to a running midfielder. The ruck has shown she can provide good run through the midfield at times during the season proving productive and reliable inside 50 entries.

Laila Lappin in action for the GWV Rebels. (Photo: AFL Photos)

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