After 17 games predominantly as a forward for St Kilda, Jacqui Vogt looks set to have a bigger influence at Essendon as a defender.
Playing a role behind the ball in Essendon’s practice match against Port Adelaide, her influence was undeniable. Vogt used her height and natural athleticism to out-mark the Power forwards and begin rebounding plays for her side.
It seems to play more closely to her strengths and smarts as a player. Originally a football (soccer) player, even playing with Melbourne Victory in the A-League Women, she played in the back third at the highest level in Australia.
Vogt would primarily line up in St Kilda’s forward line, but often failed to make an offensive impact. She kicked just four goals in her time there, with only one last season.
This new role not only holds the possibility of unlocking Vogt’s potential as a player, but also supports her teammates and the defence’s needs.
Ellyse Gamble is set to miss the early part of the season as she continues to recover from ankle surgery. Recruited from the Western Bulldogs and standing at 180cm, she was set to be Essendon’s primary key defender after an injury interrupted season.
Even healthy, Gamble only has 24 games of AFLW experience under her belt. She missed every game in 2018, and played just three games in 2019 and 2022 respectively.
Dani Marshall, similarly, has only played a defensive role at VFLW level. She spent most of her time at the Bulldogs playing either in the forward line or chopping out in the ruck.Embed from Getty Images
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Vogt’s strength and aerial ability could see her able to take on one-on-one match-ups with the competition’s best forwards.
The combination of herself and Marshall against Sarah Perkins and Tegan Cunningham, Darcy Vescio and Phoebe McWilliams, and Aimee Schmidt and Kate Bartlett will be a crucial one to get right.
Having another older and wiser head in defence gives coach Nat Wood the ability to rotate the promising youngsters through the backline without too much pressure on their shoulders.
Stephanie Wales and Mia Van Dyke both showed great potential to play strong marking roles behind the ball in Saturday’s practice game.
Wales will be required to rotate through the ruck alongside Jorja Borg, but looks best suited to resting in defence rather than as a deep forward.
Van Dyke, similarly, was touted as a junior for her ability to play key roles in any area of the ground. She was at her best in defence against Port Adelaide though, even matching up on Gemma Houghton at times.
A player like Olivia Barton also won’t be burdened with taking on a powerful marking forward. Her best attribute is her versatility in defensive roles, and having Vogt frees her up to play in whatever way is required of her.
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