Lila Keck. Picture: AFL Photos.

The Inner Sanctum Network’s Craft of the Draft podcast has listed the players to watch following the pre-season of the Coates Talent League.

Dandenong Stingrays

Coach – Josh Moore

First match: Saturday 18 March v Sydney Swans Academy


–          Bianca Lyne: the 2022 ruck is known for her vertical leap but that is not where she’ll play at the next level so she is expected to play other positions including off halfback in 2022. Ran an impressive yo-yo at the preseason testing.

–          Ruby Murdoch: has set herself up well in preseason and is expected to play the Taylah Gatt-style running winger role at Dandenong. Is less exposed than some teammates but there are high hopes.

–          Meg Robertson is the name from outside Vic Metro who it is hoped can push up. Impressed in a practice match against Eastern last week with her drive from stoppage – has a basketball background which no doubt complements her skillset.

–          Sophie Butterworth’s preseason has caught the eye. She shaved 40 seconds off her two-kilometre time trial which will enable her to push up the ground more effectively in 2022.

–          The Stingrays were the equal fittest and equal fastest club at the girls testing day and also have a host of other Vic Country talent in their team: Tara Quinn, skipper Jemma Ramsdale, Jemma Reynolds, while tall prospects Zara Clavarino and Zoe Besanko are also impressing.

Tasmania Devils

Coach – Jodie Clifford

First Match: Saturday 18 March v GWS Giants Academy

–          The main news to come out of Tasmania in preseason is that the highly-regarded Brooke Barwick has done an ACL injury ruling her out for the season. Though, the coaches have been impressed with how she’s responded, seamlessly transitioning to a coaching role. Former Devil Charlie Vandenberg is also assisting the coaching staff.

–          There’s a lot of hype about Tassie’s trio of key forwards: Bellah Parker, Grace White and Georgia Clark. White is a strong lead at the ball and has been recast, having previously played in defensive 50, Clark is part of the AFLW Academy and Parker has a netball background and good fitness base to play a higher role. How well they play in-sync will have a big say on what sort of score the Devils put on the board in 2023.

–          An athletic key defender who is an important part of the way Tassie transition with a long kick and athleticism is Tunisha Kikoak. Watch for her to impact in 2023.

–          The Thompson girls Lucy and Jasmyn are also generating some excitement. Lucy has the ability to run through the middle and hit the scoreboard while Jasmyn has a basketball background.

Bendigo Pioneers

Coach – Whitney Kennedy

First Match – Sunday 19 March v Murray Bushrangers

–          A ball-winner and clearance midfielder, there will be plenty of eyes on how Lucia Painter goes in 2023. She’s a powerful bottom-ager who is seen as among the best in her pool.

–          Lila Keck was named Bendigo skipper for 2023 and is another who’s part of the AFLW academy from Bendigo. She reads the play well and generates scoring opportunities.

–          How’s this for a story of commitment? To get to the AFLW Academy camp at the Hangar earlier this year, Upper Mildura prospect travelled eight hours up and back. It was a train ride to Swan Hill and bus trip to Melbourne, which she then did on the way home, arriving at 2am, to front up for school that day. She can play either forward or back; is agile and nimble and backs herself.

Geelong Falcons

Coach – Mel Hickey

First game – Saturday 18 March v GWV Rebels

–          The Falcons will be well serviced up forward by Maddie Seebeck who thrives on physicality. She hits the aerial contest well and if she doesn’t mark it, it is at least coming to ground.

–          A Vic Country squad member, Chloe Adams will lead the Geelong midfield in 2023. She attacks the contest hard and her fierceness to get her own footy has impressed coach Mel Hickey in match-simulation.

–        After a disrupted preseason,   Lucy Marescuk’s ready to build into a solid year. Speed is her asset and she can be used either as a wing or high forward.

Murray Bushrangers

Coach – Emma Mackie

First game – Sunday 19 March v Bendigo Pioneers

–          Murray will be rapt that Grace Hay looks fully committed to footy after playing high level netball. She’s a defender who reads the play well, her limited footy background giving her a high ceiling.  

–         Defenders Kaylea Kobzan and Paige Duffy will lead the way for the Bushys in 2023 as the top-aged Vic Country representatives. Kobzan has shown she can compete at Talent League level, albeit has lots of development left, while Duffy also has experience.

–         Just outside of Vic Country is speedy defender Kloe McElhinney. Attracted some attention last year, has an excellent left peg and if she can become fitter across the season, is one who could push up.

–         One who might be given a go through the ruck for Murray is Destiny Dodd. She’s something of an unknown that might also run through as a pure midfielder and be part of the forward mix.

GWV Rebels

Coach – Sally Riley

First game – Saturday 18 March v Geelong

–          Jess Rentsch is the name all and sundry will be drawn to when watching GWV. She runs well, does the dirty work and is explosive making her the modern-day prototype to look out for in pathways footy. Been flying in preseason and word is the skipper’s ready to hit the season in good form.

–          Being able to kick off both feet is always a weapon and it’s one that GWV will look to showcase with Lillee Barendsen in 2022. She’s a strongly built footballer with great ball skills.

–          A host of other names are impressing those in Ballarat with how they cover the ground: bottom-aged ruck Laila Lappin is ready to fire, Bella Davies is small and tough in the contest and Molly Walton’s leadership has caught the eye.

–          A pair of bottom-agers have also been named in the round one squad after showing some potential in preseason. Elise Cook has kicking ability that is ready to match it at the level and Millie Lang reads the play well and is capable overhead before setting the play up with her left foot.

Gippsland Power

Coach – Nathan Boyd

First game – Sunday 26 March v GWS Giants Academy

–          Amber Schutte is the top-ager from Gippsland who is catching the eye. A well-rounded player who will lead the midfield and get exposed positionally, she’s athletic, competitive and carries a defensive mindset which is a skillset that lends itself well to being among the best at this level.

–          A powerful 2024 prospect whose name you can get used to hearing about is Ash Centra. The AFLW Academy member is clean overhead and on the ground and her decision-making is also a strength but she’ll be looking to turn spurts of dominance into a consistent period in 2023.

–          Alisha Molesworth is one with an outstanding fitness base she’ll look to showcase in 2023. She won her yo-yo at the preseason testing day and caught the eye having arrived straight from a Box Hill VFLW practice match.

–          Zahri Gallagher is a strong and competitive type unafraid to win her own footy who has impressed in match simulation and is ready to build into 2023.

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