The AFLW is full of young talent who are yet to debut at AFLW level going into the 2022 season, with Charlie Rowbottom and Georgie Prespakis just to name a few that are ready to make their mark at AFLW level.
With AFLW to kick off on Friday night,Edge of the Crowd'sAussie Rules team takes a look at who from your club could make their debut this season.
Adelaide: Zoe Prowse
The Adelaide Crows need to blood a second full-time ruck.
Rhiannon Metcalfe’s absence is sure to be felt this year, and while Caitlin Gould has proven she is a strong alternative, it is a good chance to give other potential second rucks a run and see who slots in best. This includes draftee Zoe Prowse.
She is tall and has a huge vertical leap, and has the potential to be a first choice ruck once she has game time under her belt and a bit more muscle on her body.
Trusting her to get the job done early in her career would give her confidence and only see her flourish.
Brisbane: Maggie Harmer
Homegrown talent, Maggie Harmer, was taken at Pick 18 in the draft, and is a good chance of debuting this season, though not in Round One as she overcomes a minor foot complaint.
The Maroochydore defender has a high football IQ and reads the play incredibly well from the back half of the field.
As a Brisbane and NAB AFLW Academy player, Harmer was always set to join the Lions when the time came and her athleticism will help her develop into a versatile player.
After some retirements off the back of the Premiership in 2021, there is a great opportunity for the young Brisbane talent to step up and fill roles, especially at the defensive end.
She will be wearing the number eight for Brisbane and you’ll no doubt see her taking intercept marks across the backline as soon as she is fully fit.
Carlton: Annie Lee
After losing Jess Hosking in the 2021 trade period who spent some time across half back, bringing in a classy up and coming defender such as Annie Lee was a great move for the Blues, not only for season 2022 but for many seasons to come.
Lee was selected in pick 10 in the draft, after being highly sort after by many of the Victorian Clubs after a successful season with the Geelong Falcons. Lee had also been named across half back for the Under 19 All Australian Team.
Lee has a great read on the footy, with her decision making and footy smarts a highlight of her game. She’s also great in the air, with the ability to lock down her direct opponent and provide speed across half back.
She’ll fit in nicely with the Carlton defensive group, with the likes of Kerryn Harrington, Charlotte Wilson, Gab Pound and Natalie Plane.
Collingwood: Imogen Barnett
After a successful season with Collingwood’s VFLW team, the 26-year-old was picked up by the Magpies with pick 33 in the NAB AFLW Draft.
Barnett is a key forward, standing at 176cm, she’s very strong overhead and has a booming kick. Although her selection for some may have come from left field, those who watched her play in the VFLW in 2021 know what she’s capable of. Barnett kicked four goals on debut against Geelong’s VFLW team
Barnett was the leading goalkicker (Rohenna Young Medal) with 21 goals in the VFLW in 2021. She played a key role in the Magpies journey to the Grand Final, also being selected at full forward in the VFLW team of the year.
With Sabrina Fredrick joining the Collingwood forward line as well this year, the possibility of having them both up forward this season is a scary sight for any team's defence.
Fremantle - Airlie Runnalls
Airlie Runnalls is a classy outside midfielder with speed to burn. Hailing from Victoria, Runnalls only started playing football a few years ago when in University but with her skills and great kicking ability, it looks like she’s been playing for ages.
Runnalls was recruited from North Melbourne’s VFLW team where she had a stand out finish to the 2021 season. In her final five games of the season, she averaged 23 disposals, six marks and four tackles, as well as being named best on ground on four occasions.
Although it wasn’t until her final two games that put her on Fremantle's radar, having 32 and 33 disposals in those last two games for North Melbourne.
Runnalls capped off a fantastic VFLW season with a spot in the Team of the year before being selected with pick 44 by Fremantle.
While Fremantle already has a solid midfield, Runnalls could make an immediate impact in the Dockers side, with an early debut not out of reach.
Geelong: Georgie Prespakis
Drafted at Pick two to the Geelong Cats, Georgie Prespakis is in line to debut in Round One of the 2022 season.
You could argue Prespakis would walk right into any AFLW side, however, there is a clear gap in the Geelong midfield after Olivia Purcell’s departure at the end of the 2021 season.
Prespakis is a tough inside midfielder, who has spent time in the VFLW with Essendon, where she averaged 17 disposals across the 2021 season.
In the NAB League, she was twice named best and fairest, in 2019 and 2021, and she’s a ready-made AFLW star, as impressive as draftees come.
While she is the younger sister of Carlton midfielder Maddy Prespakis, and many comparisons have been, and will continue to be, drawn, she is set to light up the competition in her own way in 2022.
One of the favourites for the Rising Star award, Prespakis is expected to play a lot of footy in her debut season.
GWS: Ally Morphett
The Giants are one of the teams with a number of players who are yet to debut, including Ally Dallaway, Brid Stack, Georgie Fowler and Brodee Mowbray (to name a few)
Young ruck Ally Morphett is expected to slot straight into the GWS Giants side, after spending time in the AFLW Academy in 2021, and will likely become a key cog very quickly.
The Giants picked up the 18-year-old ruck from Wagga Wagga and Canberra has a penetrating kick, and will add to the ball skills around the football for the Giants. Morphett’s strength (literally) makes her hard to move away from the contest, and she will provide an outlet option down the line to the Giants across half back.
At 188cm, Morphett has the size to become a dominant ruck in the AFLW competition, and with the quality of the Giants’ midfield at her feet, expect the Giants to be able to move the ball smoothly.
Morphett has reportedly been working on her consistency since joining the Giants, and the impact that she has on games will only grow further over time.
Gold Coast: Charlie Rowbottom
Charlie Rowbottom was the number one overall pick in the 2021 AFLW draft, and as a young midfielder, is expected to have an impact early on.
After being named in the midfield of the 2021 AFLW U19 All Australian side, and a member of the AFLW Academy, Rowbottom vaulted up the draft rankings, becoming the consensus number one pick.
Older brother James has slotted in well at AFL level as a powerful inside midfielder, but Charlie has shown a great ability to mark overhead, and provide a presence up forward, as well as playing through the midfield.
Rowbottom had a slightly disrupted preseason, as border restrictions meant that she was unable to get into Queensland at the start of the training period. She lived in Northern NSW for a few weeks to be able to train as part of the border bubble, before moving up to the Gold Coast just before Christmas.
With a young team around her at the Gold Coast, Rowbottom will have a chance to show off her leadership skills and set the tone in the Suns’ midfield. Expect her to make her presence felt, and to be able to see her impact from the first bounce.
Melbourne: Eliza West
The Melbourne Demons have a pretty set team going into their sixth AFLW season, with the Premiership a clear goal in 2022.
However, there may be room for a cross-coding rookie who starred in the VFLW for Casey last season, Eliza West.
West was playing college basketball in the United States, but since her move to Aussie Rules in 2021, she not only won Casey’s best and fairest but was also named the Debbie Lee Rising Star and now she has earned herself a rookie contract at Melbourne.
The midfield at the Demons is looking particularly strong this season, but coach Mick Stinear might have to find a spot for West when she’s this impressive off one season of footy and has even more room to grow.
North Melbourne: Tess Craven
Tess Craven slid to pick 13 in the NAB AFLW draft and North Melbourne was quick to snap the gun midfielder up.
The Geelong Falcons product has clean skills, even under pressure, and across her Falcons and Vic Country footy in 2021, she averaged 21 disposals a game.
The most challenging part for Craven is that she has landed at a club with a strong midfield group and she will find it tough to crack into.
Currently boasting classy midfielders such as Kaitlyn Ashmore, Jasmine Garner, Emma Kearney and Ashleigh Riddell, it won’t be easy for Craven, but that will make her debut all the more worth it when it does arrive.
If there is an injury or a COVID in the Kangaroos’ camp, it’d be great to see Craven crack into the midfield because once she is in, she’ll be hard to omit.
St Kilda: Leah Cutting
Norwood SANFLW Premiership player Leah Cutting was signed to St Kilda as a free agent, adding depth to its ruck and making a double-ruck combination possible.
Fastest through the two-kilometre time trial at the South Australian combine, the 185cm ruck is athletic, agile, and able to get to contests around the field.
The 29-year-old is a class SANFLW player, and with over 50 games of experience, a premiership and a stint as co-captain, she has experience and insight that will be valuable for St Kilda’s improving list.
The ruck pairing with Rhi Watt made its debut in a practice match against Carlton in mid-December and will look to use this combination for certain match-ups in 2022.
If not in Round One against the Tigers, Cutting will be due for a debut early in the season so look out for the number 26.
Richmond: Stella Reid
In the very first move of the 2021 trade period, Sabrina Frederick departed Richmond after two years at the club. The tall, marking forward left a huge hole in Richmond’s forward 50.
However, an Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership player, with a classy left foot looks set to light up the Tigers’ attack.
Stella Reid was drafted to the Tigers at pick five, the 173cm has played all over the field in recent years, but without Frederick, it’s likely she’ll find her home in the Tigers’ forward line.
She had some strong performances in the 2021 season for the Chargers and Vic Metro, including a 23 disposal, six mark, two-goal performance against Vic Country.
After impressing through preseason, she is almost certain to find a place in the forward line for Round One.
West Coast: Charlie Thomas
Charlie Thomas joined the Eagles with pick one in the Western Australian draft (third overall), although missing most of the 2021 season for Subiaco with a wrist injury, she spent her time on the sidelines getting herself prepared to be able to play against those mature aged players.
Standing at 175cm, Thomas is a utility who is great under pressure and has a clean disposal, with her decision making and ability to read the play one of her strengths.
Thomas had her first hit out in Eagles colours in the practice match against Fremantle, with utility looking comfortable in the Eagles midfield and was able to give clean delivery inside fifty, creating scoring opportunities for the forwards.
She’s also no stranger in front of goal as shown in the practice match against the Dockers, slotting a goal early.
Eagles fans won’t have to wait too long to see Thomas in action, as she’s expected to make an early debut.
Western Bulldogs: Amanda Ling
Amanda Ling was taken at pick 22 of the AFLW draft, which shocked many with experts tipping her to go earlier in the draft, but the Bulldogs were able to snap her up at the clubs first pick.
After missing out on the draft in 2020, she went back to the NAB League and had a successful season with the Oakleigh chargers, she was in the top five for disposals, inside fifties and tackles during the 2021 season.
Her 2021 season culminated in Ling receiving best on ground honours in the NAB League Grand Final as well as being named in the NAB League team of the Year.
Ling is a midfielder who can burst out of the stoppages and is clean when she delivers the ball inside 50. She’ll fit nicely in the Bulldogs young developing midfield and can start to take the pressure off Ellie Blackburn in the middle. After a good preseason, Ling will be eager to debut in Round One.