With pick number five in the NAB AFL Women’s Draft – and the second pick of the Victorian clubs – the Western Bulldogs selected Eastern Devils dynamo Jamiee Lambert. Lambert is tough in-and-under midfielder who can also hurt the opposition on the scoreboard. Lambert had a stellar 2016 season for both the Devils in the VFL Women’s competition and the Western Bulldogs throughout exhibition series. Her performances didn’t go unrecognised either; she was named in the VFL Women’s Team of the Year, claimed the Devils’ Best & Fairest Award and the Western Bulldogs Susan Alberti Award for the best women’s team player.
(From left: Jamiee Lambert and Western Bulldogs coach Paul Groves. Photo: AFL Photos)
With their next two picks, the Bulldogs secured Darebin’s Aasta O’Connor and another Eastern Devil in Hannah Scott. Returning from an ACL injury, O’Connor has long been considered one of the best rucks in the country and her experience and professionalism will be invaluable. Scott is another tough, inside midfielder with a booming kick. She brings impressive depth to a midfield already boasting elite talent such as Ellie Blackburn (marquee signing), Emma Kearney (priority signing) and Lambert.
Western Bulldogs coach Paul Groves, was thrilled with how their draft selections panned out.
“We never knew who was going to be the top (Victorian) pick, so for BJ (Bianca Jakobsson) to go number one, it gave us the opportunity to go with Jamiee Lambert and as I said on stage, she’s got tricks and I really rate her as a footballer. Then her little Eastern Devils buddy Hannah Scott slipped to pick 21 so we were really rapt to get her. Then obviously Aasta O’Connor at pick 12. Everything checked out really well in terms of the medical and we’re excited by her. I think she can be in the top couple of players in the comp.” Groves said.
The Bulldogs have covered all bases with their list build. The aforementioned midfield is deep and more importantly it includes a number of players that have played a lot of football together. Blackburn, Kearney and Brooke Lochland all play together at Melbourne University. Similarly Lambert and Scott from the Eastern Devils. Throw in Darebin Falcons pair, Nicole Callinan and Kate Tyndall – who are both important role players at the Falcons – and the Bulldogs midfield is looking formidable.
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Down back they have experienced campaigners in Lauren Morecroft and Kimberly Ebb. Morecroft is one of the toughest key defenders in the game and Ebb loves to rebound off half-back, but can also play through the midfield. Their ruck stocks are overflowing with players who can both ruck and hold down a key position. This includes the likes of O’Connor, Lauren Spark, Ellyse Gamble, Tiarna Ernst and Courtney Clarkson.
The Bulldogs forward line features their other marquee signing, Katie Brennan. Only 24 years old and already a superstar of the women’s competition, Brennan is one of the hardest working forwards in the game. Her athleticism not only allows her to burn off her opponents, but also play through the middle of the ground making her a nightmare match-up for opposition midfielders. Brennan will be joined up forward by Cranbourne’s Kirsten McLeod, a dangerous small forward and potentially her Darebin teammate Meghan McDonald, who throughout 2016 proved she could hold down a key position at either end of the ground. The Bulldogs forward line will also be assisted by their goal-kicking midfield. Blackburn, Kearney and Lambert are all proven goal-kickers.
With their rookie signings, the Bulldogs opted for elite junior netballer Libby Birch and Berwick footballer Romy Timmins. Birch served her football apprenticeship on the Darebin Falcons half-back line through the second half of 2016 and Timmins is a hard at it midfielder who is returning to the game after a three year break.
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The young Tasmanian has played a lot of her junior football in the ruck, but has also been used as a forward for her local team the Burnie Dockers. In fact, her four-goal haul in their 2016 premiership victory saw her claim best on ground honours. Gamble also captained Tasmania in this year’s Youth Girls National Championships and has represented the Western Bulldogs in the exhibition series.
One of the genuine utilities in the draft, Gardner is a hard runner with fantastic pace. Used in a variety of positions during her season at the St Kilda Sharks, her true versatility will be invaluable. We expect her to fulfil a number of roles for the Bulldogs throughout the 2017 AFLW season.
M: Katie Brennan - Darebin Falcons
M: Ellie Blackburn - Melbourne Uni
P: Emma Kearney - Melbourne Uni
5: Jamiee Lambert - Eastern Devils
12: Aasta O'Connor - Darebin Falcons
21: Hannah Scott - Eastern Devils
28: Kirsten McLeod - Cranbourne
37: Kimberley Ebb - Seaford
44: Hayley Wildes - Cranbourne
53: Brooke Lochland - Melbourne Uni
60: Bailey Hunt - Melbourne Uni
69: Ellyse Gamble - Burnie Dockers
76: Lauren Spark - Melbourne Uni
85: Nicole Callinan - Darebin Falcons
92: Lisa Williams - Diamond Creek
101: Lauren Morecroft - Diamond Creek
108: Tiarna Ernst - Diamond Creek
117: Kate Tyndall - Darebin Falcons
124: Courtney Clarkson - Cranbourne
131: Jess Gardner - St Kilda Sharks
138: Kirsty Lamb - Diamond Creek
143: Laura Bailey - St Kilda Sharks
R: Libby Birch - Darebin Falcons
R: Romy Timmins - Berwick Hawks
FA: Rebecca Neaves - St Kilda Sharks
FA: Meghan McDonald - Darebin Falcons
FA: Angelica Gogos - Melbourne Uni
M: Marquee Player, P: Priority Pick, R: Rookie, FA: Free Agent