The Greater Western Sydney Giants opened proceedings at the inaugural NAB AFL Women’s Draft with the coveted number one draft pick. With that pick they secured talented local product Nicola Barr. The 20-year-old plays for Sydney University and was recently awarded the Sam Mostyn Medal for the best player in AFL Sydney’s Premier Division women’s competition.
(From left: Ashleigh Guest, Nicola Barr, Louise Stephenson and Jess Dal Pos. Photo: GWS Giants)
While it is no secret that the development of women’s football in NSW is a little behind that of the traditional football states, the Giants have gone to great lengths to bolster their best local talent with experienced players from interstate.
The interstate brigade is headed by marquee signing Emma Swanson from the East Fremantle Sharks. (Renee Forth will miss the 2017 season with an ACL injury). Swanson is joined by a trio of Victorian priority signings: Phoebe McWilliams, Louise Stephenson and Jess Dal Pos. The interstate priority signings are rounded-out with Alex Williams, a key defender also from the East Fremantle Sharks.
Two more interstaters were added on draft day. Although, what would be most encouraging for Giants fans, is that the rest of their list is made up of local talent. (Note – The three Free Agency spots are still to be filled)
With their Rookie selections, the Giants have opted for experienced elite athletes in recently retired Canberra Capitals WNBL star Jess Bibby and current Canberra United player Ellie Brush. Brush, who recently returned from a stint with the Houston Dash in the NWSL, will juggle her W-League duties with her new AFL career.
2016 #AFLWDraft - Brisbane Lions
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2016 #AFLWDraft - Fremantle
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While the much talked about base contracts have prohibited a lot of player movement across state lines, some players have made the move. One of those players is VU Western Spurs veteran Ashleigh Guest. Taken with the Giants second pick (Pick 16 overall) Guest has seized her opportunity.
“I work for a company called Guest Building Group. It’s a family company and I work in the RTO department running the building and construction course. We work with a lot of AFL players at GWS in particular, so the tie-in was really easy for me.
I had the idea of doing it and I went to work and I had a chat to my boss and they said that they’d support me 100 per cent. They gave me the all clear and they’re going to help with accommodation and they’ll pay me up there, so I’m really lucky.” Guest said.
The prospect of bringing her vast football experience from football's heartland to a growing football state was another lure.
“Somewhere like Sydney where women’s footy isn’t big, having us go up there and bring our knowledge and experience. Phoebe (McWilliams) and myself have played for 10 years, so we’ve got that extra bit of leadership to bring and then Dally (Jess Dal Pos) and Lou (Louise Stephenson) are obviously great players and fantastic people. All of us are on the same page in that we want to help develop women’s footy up there.” Guest added.
KEEP AN EYE ON:
One of the top talents to come out of NSW, 21 year-old Collier made history as the first home-grown signing for GWS. An inside midfielder with fantastic skills, Collier also has the ability play off the half-back line. The University NSW product is sure to be a staple of the GWS line-up in 2017.
McKinnon is an exciting talent who was in outstanding form for NSW/ACT at this year’s National Youth Girls Championships. Standing at 189cm, McKinnon is an imposing ruck who also impacts around the ground. Her dominance at the Youth Girls Champs was rewarded with an All-Australian selection.
M: Renee Forth (injured) - Coastal Titans WA
M: Emma Swanson - East Fremantle WA
P: Maddy Collier - University NSW
P: Alex Williams - East Fremantle WA
P: Jess Dal Pos - Darebin Falcons VIC
P: Phoebe McWilliams - St Kilda Sharks VIC
P: Louise Stephenson - Melbourne University VIC
1: Nicola Barr - Sydney University
16: Ashleigh Guest - VU Western Spurs VIC
17: Amy Schmidt - Coastal Titans WA
32: Rebecca Beeson - University NSW
33: Kate Stanton - Woollongong Saints
48: Erin McKinnon - Mosman Swans
49: Mai Nguyen - University NSW
64: Amanda Farrugia - Macquarie University
65: Jacinda Barclay - University NSW
80: Britt Tully - Gungahlin Jets
81: Kristy De Pellegrinni - Southern Power
96: Renee Tomkins - University NSW
97: Clare Lawton - Army 3rd Brigade
112: Ella Ross - Queanbeyan Tigers
113: Stephanie Walker - Sydney University
R: Jess Bibby
R: Ellie Brush
FA: Codie Briggs - Newtown Breakaways
FA: Isabela Rudolph - Sydney University
FA: Hannah Wallett - Belconnen Magpies
FA: Alex Saundry - Melbourne University VIC
M: Marquee Player, P: Priority Pick, R: Rookie, FA: Free Agent