Images (AFLW), Design (Will Cuckson)

The Inner Sanctum has taken a look at the potential All Australian candidates from every club in time for the AFLW awards season.

The Inner Sanctum has been keen watchers of the AFL women’s competition in 2022 and decided to cast our minds forward to the AFLW awards season to decide a few players for each team who deserve to be spoken about in All-Australian terms.

Adelaide Crows

Sarah Allan

The key defender for the Crows has been instrumental in marking the oppositions key forwards and taking them out of the game. This year she deserves to get her third consecutive All-Australian selection. Not only has she helped the Crows in achieving first place honours in the regular season but has averaged more disposals and tackles than her career average with 11.5 and 1.8. 

Erin Phillips

The veteran player and 2x AFLW league Best and Fairest had an amazing year continuing her form from last year. She averaged 17.7 disposals and had an efficiency rate of 57.2%. It has been hard for Phillips since her injury at the end of 2019 but she has proved that she shouldn’t be forgotten in the Crows midfield, with her performances against the rest of the teams in the league.

Ebony Marinoff

The reliable midfielder shattered many records this year and became one of the best players of the league. After being the first player to reach 1,000 career disposals in AFLW, she continued her form averaging 24.8 throughout the season, three more than her career average. Marinoff has been featured in numerous ‘Team of the Week’s’ for her dominant performances such as round five’s game against Carlton where she had a season high 31 disposals, 20 kicks and 8 marks.

Ethan Lee Chalk

Celebrations were aplenty in Ebony Marinoff’s 50th game at Norwood Oval against Collingwood

Brisbane Lions

Natalie Grider

This young gun is up on all her averages this season coming off the back of her breakout year in 2021. Grider’s consistency throughout the season has seen her average 14.2 disapoals, 8.7 kicks and 3.0 marks. The 21-year-old also had 158.2 meters gained in 2022, up from her career average of 127.3. Although it may be difficult for her to get picked as a result of the high calibre of other medium defenders, her stellar performance this year should rule out for All Australian selection. 

Emily Bates

The 2017 club’s Best and Fairest continues to go from strength to strength, and 2022 was no exception. Bates performance throughout the season made up of 21.7 disposals, 6.9 tackles and 5.6 clearances, showcased just why she is one of Brisbane’s best. With the 25 year old already a two-time All Australian, there won’t be any surprise should she add another one to her name. 

Alexandra Anderson

The Midfielder has been sensational for her side in season 2022. Anderson was an important key for the Lions, delivering her side the goods with the averages of 16.8 disposals, 10.7 kicks, 6.1 handballs, 4.2 tackles and total clearances of 3.1. 

Ashleigh Matosevic

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Carlton Blues

Maddie Prespakis

If the pressure that comes with being the midfielder by which others in the AFLW are measured weighs heavily on Maddie Prespakis, it doesn’t show.  The consistency of her output over her four seasons in the league has not wavered, and 20.4 disposals, 2.1 marks and 3.4 tackles per game in 2022 continues this trend.  Her influence in helping her teammates around her walk that little bit taller only adds to the eye-catching package that is Prespakis, and that puts her amongst the favourites for a second Best & Fairest, and a third All-Australian team berth.

Breann Moody

Carlton’s first choice in the ruck had her best season to date in 2021.  In 2022 she built upon that, establishing herself amongst the very best tall players in the womens’ game.  Her 19.7 hit-outs and 11.9 disposals per match were slightly up on her 2021 output, highlighted by some brilliant individual efforts such as a possible best-afield showing against Geelong in round three.  Moody was crowned All-Australian for the first time in 2021, and it would not surprise to see her make that two in a row this year.

Gabriella Pound

Gab Pound has had arguably her most consistent season since winning an All-Australian blazer in 2019.  As a no-frills, hard-running defender she was rarely beaten this year, setting up many counter attacking raids for her side from within the back half.  With her position wide open in terms of candidates for a team of the year berth, her reliability could be a key factor in attracting the eyes of the selectors, and she could well see her name called out this year.

Hugh Maclean

Collingwood Magpies

Jaimee Lambert

The reliable midfielder has had yet another outstanding season. Controlling the midfield for the Pies, she has averaged 21 possessions per game including 10 of those being contested. In the absence of some key players she was not shy to stand up in the big moments highlighted by kicking 3 crucial goals against the Western Bulldogs.

Ruby Schleicher

The athletic utility has established herself as one of the premium defenders of the league. Her performance against the Adelaide Crows in their Round 9 clash proved she is All-Australian worthy, where she had 31 disposals, 5 tackles and a remarkable amount of intercepted marks. With her dominating in the backline against the minor premiers, she deserves to be a part of the AA team as she can defend even the best of forwards.

Brit Bonnici

Until her season was cruelly ended due to an ACL injury she was having a terrific season in the midfield. Bonnici is the heart and soul of the Pies and is looking to receive her second consecutive All-Australian blazer. With an average of 19 possessions, 5.5 tackles and over 3 total clearances a game, her stats don’t lie about what a gift she is for the Pies midfield. If her performance continues like this she will not only be getting an AA blazer this year but will continuously receive it.

Ethan Lee Chalk

Fremantle Dockers

Gemma Houghton

Houghton went from strength to strength this year and was a key pillar down forward for the Dockers. This season the energetic forward averaged 9.8 disposals, 1.9 marks, 2.5 tackles, 3.5 score involvements, 2.3 inside 50’s and kicked eight goals. Another potential smokey, this time in the forward line.

Hayley Miller

After taking over as captain from Kara Antonio, Miller took her game to another level in 2022. Having a career best season, she kicked the equal-most goals for the Dockers (nine) and averaged 17.7 disposals, 6.2 tackles, 3.2 marks, 4.1 inside 50’s, 3.3 clearances, 9.7 contested possessions, 14.3 kicks and 373.7 metres gained per game. With these figures she could be set for her first AA Blazer.

Gabby O’Sullivan

She was in a new role this year in midfield and O’Sullivan flourished. Whilst Bowers and Miller were the Dockers best midfielders she was the third best, averaging 15.8 disposals, 8.8 contested possessions, 3.3 clearances, & 7.4 tackles per game. It will be tough for her to be selected given the quality of other midfielders, but could be a potential smokey.

Josh Ward

Geelong Cats

Maddy McMahon

McMahon began the season as a shining light for the Cats, looking to be becoming one of the best intercept markers in the competition. She averaged career highs in disposals (11), marks (3.8) and rebound 50s (1.9). In a tough year, she was often the best line of defence, weathering a huge amount of forward entries per game.

Rebecca Webster

Following on from a strong finish in the VFLW in 2021 (including a best on ground 28 disposal performance in the preliminary final), Webster took her form into the AFLW season. It was a breakout year for the 21-year-old midfielder, who seemed to benefit from the stronger midfield surrounded by an improved McDonald, Georgie Prespakis, and the returning Nina Morrison. She averaged 16.8 disposals, a massive 6.3 tackles, 2.4 inside 50s and kicked two goals.

Amy McDonald

In a season full of stunning midfield performances, McDonald has continued to stand out week after week as one of the best contested players in the competition. Up on all her averages from last year, she averaged 21 disposals (13 of those contested), eight tackles, 5.6 clearances and two inside 50s. Picking up a massive 12 clearances against the Eagles in a narrow win stands as one of the best individual performances of the year. Now entering her prime, we’re in for much more from the 24-year-old McDonald in years to come.

Alex Catalano

Gold Coast Suns

Alison Drennan

Drennan played all 10 games for the Suns this year and was a vital part of their midfield revival. Her experience and composure allowed the Suns to build a strong midfield which they lacked in the 2021 season. She averaged 18.4 disposals, 5.5 tackles and 3.1 clearances for the season. The highlight of her year would have been the performance against Geelong with 30 disposals, 4 marks and 5 tackles. 

Charlie Rowbottom

Rowbottom was the No.1 draft pick for the season and did not take long for her to prove why she was rated so highly. Rowbottom came straight into the side in round 1 and 11 disposals and 6 tackles on debut, making her presence felt in the team. Rowbottom didn’t slow down at all and was a key figure for the Suns for the whole season, finishing with 15 disposals and 6 tackles a game for the year. 

Tara Bohanna

In her first season at AFLW level Bohanna took a couple games to get comfortable at the level but once she found her feet she was an important part of the Suns resurgence. Bohanna was a feature in the forward line where she kicked 13 goals at 56% accuracy. Across the rest of the game she averaged 2.8 marks and 8.2 disposals for the year. 

Kristin Sims

Greater Western Sydney Giants

Alyce Parker

Parker has put another incredible season in the midfield for the Giants, proving to be one of the best young players in the AFLW competition. Having averaged over 16 disposals since her debut season, Parker once again was a ball magnet, averaging 18 disposals. Her numbers were down on the previous season, having averaged 20 disposals over the past two seasons, but was still an influential and key member of the Giants midfield.

Cora Staunton

The general of the Giants forward line, Staunton was once again the leading goal scorer for the Giants. Additionally, she was one of the most damaging forwards in the competition this season, finishing 2022 the second-equal top goal kicker in the AFLW, scoring 18 goals, her best goal tally thus far. 

Alicia Eva

The Giants captain had one of her career best seasons in the AFLW competition, being Parker’s partner in crime in the Giants midfield. Averaging 18 disposals, Eva was amongst the top ball winners for the Giants, and was also impressive defensively, averaging six tackles a game. 

Giacomo Bruno 

Melbourne Demons

Karen Paxman

The veteran defender continued to go from strength to strength in the 2022 season, leading her side in disposals with 19.4, continuing to dominate across the backline and through the midfield. Paxman has continued to establish herself as a genuine superstar of the competition, and her leadership has been vital to Melbourne’s success.

Lily Mithen

It was another terrific season for the experienced campaigner in 2022, winning plenty of footy on her way to a career best season. Mithen averaged 19.3 disposals throughout the season, with 6.1 being contested possessions. It was no secret that without the dominance of Mithen, the Demons would not have achieved the successes which they did. 

Tayla Harris

Harris had an incredible start to life at the Demons in 2022, finishing second in the leading goalkicker race. Harris’ move from Carlton to the Dees sent the footy world into shock, and with a point to prove, Tayla never looked back. Harris booted 18 goals across the season, setting the competition alight. The superstar was at her best against the Lions, booting two goals from 13 disposals, and breaking a competition record with seven contested marks.

Lachlan Dand

North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos

Jasmine Garner

Garner is an incredible all round player with the ability to run out from the midfield and hit the scoreboard, somehow she continues to get better year on year. This season was different, averaging 21 disposals, 4 marks and 4 tackles a game with 10 goals for the year. The pairing of her and Ash Riddell has been causing trouble for opposition teams all year. 

Emma King

King has been strong in the ruck for the Kangaroos all season, her ability to also drop back into the forward line and provide a marking option has elevated her game this year. Averaging 9 disposals a game and 3 marks has been a big improvement on her 2021 season. In the ruck she is averaging 12 hit outs a game providing the Kangaroos with plenty of opportunities at ground level. 

Emma Kearney

You can’t have a conversation about All Australian spots without Emma Kearney. In a new role this year in the backline, Kearney has been the key piece to the Kangaroos transition game. Averaging 18 disposals a game which is only slightly under the numbers she was averaging in the midfield shows just how well she has adapted to her new role. 

Kristin Sims 

Richmond Tigers

Monique Conti

The leading disposal winner (23.9) as well as the player with the most metres gained (337 metres gained) for the Richmond Tigers was Monique Conti. She had a great first full season only playing AFLW and not juggling her WNBL career, which freed her up for Richmond.

Not only were her disposal counts impressive but most of her disposals each week were contested, she averaged 15.2, the most in the league. As well as being a ball winner, carrier and distributer, she also averaged nearly six tackles a game.

Katie Brennan

Richmond’s captain Katie Brennan has had a fantastic season in 2022. Brennan was the fourth highest goal kicker in the competition with 14 goals, one in each of the nine games she played this season. She kicked two goals in five games for the year being the model for consistency down forward.

In terms of tall/marking forwards, she probably sits behind Bohanna, Harris and Woodland but her consistent output should be rewarded with a place in the All-Australian squad.

Tessa Lavey

Playing Aussie Rules football at the highest level isn’t easy, Tessa Lavey makes it look easy and juggles her WNBL career with the Bendigo Spirit on the side as well as playing for the Opals mid-season.

After kicking no goals last season to four goals and an extra disposal per game, she has added the extra class and dash the Tigers needed to connect their midfield and forward groups. Her best haul was a two goal, 12 disposal and three tackle game against Melbourne.

Madeline Irwin

St Kilda Saints

Hannah Priest 

Leading from the front as captain, Priest went to the next level of her game this season. She averaged 15 disposals this season and collected her career-high count of 24 disposals against West Coast, where she also matched her club record of the most intercepts in a game with 10. She showed versatility by playing both down back and in the middle, and even kicked her first AFLW goal against the Crows. In a tough season for the Saints, she was one of the shining lights her side needed in ways that aren’t registered as stats – I expect to see her go ‘round as captain again next season.

Tarni White

One of the best words to describe White is ‘tough’. First of all, she sustained and recovered from two ACL tears before she turned 20. But playing-wise, she is hard at the ball, difficult to catch, and knows a thing or two about laying a tackle herself. White averaged 6.6 tackles a game this season; she laid a whopping 12 against Melbourne in round three. She kicked the very first goal of the season and she increased her average disposal count to 12.7 this year. She was named in the AFLPA’s AFLW 22Under22 squad for the second time and also nabbed Mark of the Round in round five.

Tilly Lucas-Rodd

Lucas-Rodd was one of the Saints’ most consistently strong players this season. She was voted the ‘Sainter of the Round’ by fans five times. An impressive display in round nine saw her become only the third player in AFLW history to collect 10+ contested possessions, 10+ clearances, and 10+ tackles in a game, joining Ebony Marinoff and Kiara Bowers on the list. That day she also became the player with the equal second-most clearances in a game on record with 12 – eight of those were by half time. She averaged 20.1 disposals and seven tackles per game.

Dani Brown

West Coast Eagles

Dana Hooker

Finished the year second in the Club Champion count for the Eagles, Hooker had an injury interrupted finish to the season. She was diagnosed with a subluxed acromioclavicular joint injury to rule her out for the season after the loss to the Bulldogs.

In Round 4, she was a major part of the effort which saw them win against St Kilda by two points. She had 20 disposals, five tackles as well as asserting her usual influence within the midfield.

She averaged 16 disposals and three tackles a game in tandem with Emma Swanson in the midfield. Hooker will probably not make the squad over Swanson and the likes of Marinoff or Blackburn at the very least.

Mikayla Bowen

Having been selected in the 22 under 22 squad, the young Eagles winger/forward had a great second season in the AFLW. With an average of 12.6 disposals and 5.8 tackles per game she gets the ball into her team’s hands and produces turnovers through pressure.

She also averaged two marks a game which often resulted in goals for the Eagles.

Emma Swanson

Having already been announced as the Eagles’ Club Champion for this season, Swanson has been every bit the captain of this side this year. The tough midfielder has played what seemed like a lone hand during games for the Eagles, doubling the tally of the second finishing Dana Hooker, from just nine games.

Swanson’s improvement from last season was vast averaging 16.4 disposals up to 22.2 disposals per game this year.

She had her best game against the Richmond Tigers in a loss with 2 goals and 22 disposals to join Hooker as the two main figures for the Eagles.

Madeline Irwin

Western Bulldogs

Naomi Ferres

In the 10 games Ferres played in this season, she aided her Western Bulldogs side with a stellar performance which was a step up off the back of the season last year. She averaged 13.5 disposals in 2022 with her top season performance seen against Geelong in round seven, to which she pocketed 18 disposals.

The medium defender showed her versatility among her other stats, up from her performance in 2021. Ferres, who was nominated for the AFLW rising star award in 2019, had a season which encompasses the averages of 7.5 kicks and 162.3 metres gained. 

Eleanor Brown

The 22-year-old was a prominent part for the side following on from a breakout season in 2021, as she averaged 13.2 disposals with a 70.5 disposal efficiency. Brown continues to be one of the Bulldogs top performers, ranking fifth for her side’s average disposals. Brown also averaged 6.8 kicks and 6.4 handballs.

Elisabeth Georgostathis

Georgostathis really stood out for the Western Bulldogs side this year, particularly in her stellar performance in round seven against Geelong. Her ability to provide pressure on her opponents was made clear with her 47 tackles made this season.

She also was significant in her disposals, in which Georgostathis made an average of 13.3. The rising star nominee put on a show in round seven where she made 23 disposals against the Cats.

Ashleigh Matosevic

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