Tag: vic country

Football culture wins over Denby Taylor

DESCRIBED as “Dad’s only son”, Denby Taylor has forged her own sporting pathway after growing up balancing both football and netball. Taylor said he father was a “footy nut” and could not be prouder that the Geelong Falcons star had followed football.

“I’d probably say my dad has been the biggest influence,” she said. “I suppose getting four daughters, given he’s a footy nut, wasn’t the best thing I suppose, for him, I think now he’s pretty happy and proud of where I’ve come. “I finished netball last year so I was playing that for about maybe nine years or so. “I followed my sister’s footsteps in the netball path, and sort of made my own pathway in the football. ‘Dad’s only son’ I get called.”

Taylor said she loved the fact that football just focused on the sport itself, and enjoyed the physical nature of the contest compared to other codes she had tried.

“The difference in the games obviously so much more physical and there’s the culture as well,” she said. “I think netball and a lot of other sports can get a little bit political, but footy just focuses on the footy and I really like that. “Footy for me is probably the culture that keeps me coming back, I really like how much of the culture and the tight knit community that the club provides. I suppose the physicality of the game as well, it’s quite different to most other games, it’s quite enjoyable.”

Taylor was kicking a football around from a young age, but then gave up the sport to pursue netball, before returning once Youth Girls had begun to rise in popularity.

“I started with Auskick, dad brought me down to the local club and started playing there and then after a couple of years I wasn’t very keen on playing with the boys so I gave up the footy and then started again when I was about 13 with the youth girls,” Taylor said. “Then I continued playing Youth Girls up until last year, and then representative footy as well along the way. “(I) did Geelong Falcons for the past couple of years and the national carnivals for a couple of years as well. “Between that I was playing netball as well for Newtown and Chilwell.”

While Taylor had been known best as a rebounding defender this season, her stints up forward were actually a throwback to where she had played the last few seasons.

“I’ve only recently started playing back and I’ve been loving it so, it’s a really great experience to switch up roles, but I suppose I’m comfortable down forward, it’s where I played a lot of my footy,” Taylor said. “It’s quite a big transition but I’m really happy being down back now.”

Upon reflection, Taylor said she and the rest of her Geelong Falcons teammates had enjoyed the 2018 premiership following a perfect, undefeated season, but now her focus was purely on the draft. In particular, the versatile utility said she was working hard to build her fitness ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next month. She knows the competition has intensified at both TAC Cup Girls and AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.

“I think some of my family comes and watches the games,” Taylor said of the TAC Cup Girls. “They say every year it lifts so much, the quality and the community and how everyone’s getting around it is just getting a lot better. “It (the AFL Women’s Championships) was in Queensland again. “I had family up there who hadn’t seen football for a whole year between the last championships and they pretty much just said ‘wow, that’s unbelievable how much it’s changed and how much it’s changed since last year’ so I think that really put it into perspective, because i get to see it every day I suppose.”

Outside of her football, Taylor enjoys spending the majority of her time outdoors getting plenty of fresh air.

“I do woodwork as a subject at school, that’s something I really enjoy doing outside of school as well,” Taylor said. “That and I’m also into bike riding and skating so yeah, pretty much all the outdoorsy sort of things. “Next year I’m going to take a gap year and just work and sort out what I might want to do and I think sort of what’s on the plate at teh moment, is a teaching degree. maybe teaching sport or something along those lines, something I’m comfortable with.”

But the most immediate goal for Taylor is clear – get drafted onto an AFL Women’s list.

“I think for me footy was more of a social thing for a long thing and then once I started playing rep footy and started getting a bit better, I was like ‘oh this could be fun’,” Taylor said. “I might keep going, and once I got put in the National Academy I thought ‘alright I might as well give it a go’. “I’ve got the opportunity, I didn’t want to let it go.”

Webber rises to success against the odds

AS a youngster who loved to watch her brother play football, Nikia Webber asked her dad if she could do the same.

He was against the idea because he perceived football as a masculine sport at the time. But after persistence from a young Webber, she got the opportunity to kick a footy around in a local team.

“Dad wouldn’t let me play because I was a girl,” she said. “Then I sort of just kept asking and asking and he sort of just gave in so then I played my first game in under 12s and then from there on, I just loved the game.”

Webber concedes that her father was not happy with the idea of his little princess playing football, but came around to it eventually.

“Because I’m his little princess, obviously he was pretty upset when I said I wanted to play footy, it wasn’t a girls sport at the time,” she said. “But now that he’s seen how far I’ve gone, he sort of agrees with what I’m doing now so that’s probably a positive out of that one.”

Her Dad also now takes time out of his weekend, along with her Mum, to take her wherever she needs to be, helping her to achieve her dream of playing AFL Women’s. Webber said that representing Vic Country at this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships made her want to seriously chase this dream and make it a reality.

“That experience made me want to pursue my dream and play AFLW,” the 17 year-old said. “It was a really good confidence-builder.”

She also admits that the experience was surreal, as she got to play with and against some of the most talented female footballers in the country.

“It was overwhelming up there” the Gippsland forward said. “It didn’t feel real until I was actually up there playing in those colours against all the other teams. “It was a really good experience because I’m such a young age so it was really good.”

Despite being a young age, Webber found herself stepping up as a leader in the Gippsland Power side. Although it was a big step-up, she benefited from being able to pass on her knowledge to the young, up-and-coming players.

“This year was a big step-up,” she said. “Obviously I was one of the older ones so all the new girls that we had come into the program, I sort of got to show them around, (show them) what I did and where I started from. “It gave them an opportunity and gave them an open mindset to be who I am.”

She realised she had leadership capabilities thanks to a stellar year in the forward line where she kicked 12 goals in eight games.

“In previous years, I was sort of quiet and now this year, I sort of realised that I can be one of those players who stands up and obviously kick a few goals and be a team leader, even though I wasn’t in the leadership group,” the 17 year-old said.

Webber has certainly come a long way since her first year in the Power program as a 14 year-old. She admits that it was pretty daunting to start playing for an elite side, but is thankful that she had an older player, who was her mentor, to show her the ropes.

“In that environment with the older girls, I didn’t know what to do or what I was in for,” the Vic Country representative said. “It was pretty weird. “I had a mentor so one of the older girls took me under their wing and sort of showed me around, what to do, what not to do. “It was really good. “If I didn’t have the mentor, I would be lost. “I was so nervous going in through those doors, seeing all those high-skilled girls and they were all older than me, so yeah I was pretty nervous.”

Before receiving this opportunity, Webber was a dedicated basketballer, venturing off to the sport after her Dad said she couldn’t take up football. She says her training was intense, and after getting sick of the high-pressure environment, she decided to pursue a career in football instead.

“I was training for that (basketball) non-stop,” Webber said. “I had a personal trainer, I went into all the basketball camps and then decided that I didn’t want to play basketball anymore so that’s when I took on footy.”

She has not looked back since then, and has had a breakout year in 2018. After being the Power’s leading goal kicker during the TAC Cup Girls season, she went on to represent Vic Country up on the Gold Coast to cap off a wonderful football season. 

Scouting notes: U17s – Vic Country vs Queensland

IN the first game at Ikon Park yesterday, Vic Country defeated Queensland in an exciting contest. We review all the players from both teams.

Vic Country:

By: Peter Williams and Craig Byrnes

#1 Kobe Brown

Had an early shot on goal on the run, but had an unlucky bounce and it went to the wrong side and out of bounds. A highlight-worthy moment came later in the game when he cleanly picked up the ball off the deck and side-stepped an opponent on the forward 50 arc. Fantastic agility.

#2 Jye Chalcraft

One of the more impressive Country players, Chalcraft showed fantastic strength and composure inside the forward 50 arc. We already knew he had top-class agility, but he went out with a real desire to hunt the football and the ball carrier in a contested brand of football. Spent a little bit of time through midfield, but majority inside 50, booting a goal in the final term to ice the game for Country. Laid some fantastic tackles and almost had a goal early in the game but just missed on the run.

#4 Jarryd Barker

Had one of the best clearances out of the middle early on, managing to burst away and hit-up a teammate lace-out in the first term by lowering the eyes. From then on it was a workman-like performance, laying some big tackles and he did well by hand or foot, lowering the eyes going inside 50. He had a shot on goal in the final term, but missed to the right. He still accumulated the footy, but a lot of it was in the contest, and often feeding it out to teammates, playing an important role at the stoppages.

#5 Flynn Perez

An exciting talent who oozes X-factor. His consistency throughout games still needs to improve, but when he has the ball he can do some magical things with it. He lowers his eyes going inside 50 and hit-up Fraser Phillips coming through the midfield when he was coming off half-back. Clean hands at ground level and his closing speed is top-notch. He was used in transition going forward, and was rewarded for hard running by playing deeper, marking 35m out and converting the set shot.

#6 Riley Baldi

An absolutely huge first half, having the ball on a string and seemingly covering the ground with ease. He was strong at the packs, winning clearances, cracking in hard at the contested ball and just extracting the ball to teammates in space. He was moved around in the second half, from half-back to half-forward and did not have as much impact as the first half through the guts, but he was still very solid and got to the right positions when required.

#7 Mitch Martin

Some players seem to step up at the higher level, and Mitch Martin was one of those players today. At the Rebels, Martin is always solid, but with the extra time and space, and plenty of midfield minutes, he thrived on the open spaces of Ikon Park. His kicking was sublime and equally matched by his vision. He is not a huge accumulator, but every time he won it, he seemed to use it well, setting up Flynn Perez for a goal in the third term. He almost kicked one himself after a good mark but missed to the right.

#8 Lachlan Williams

Cracked in hard and while he was another who did not win a lot of it, he had a couple of ‘wow’ moments in the third term. He used great vision to kick inside to Fraser Phillips, then teamed up with Phillips again with a pin-point pass to his teammates’ advantage amongst a pack of Queensland opponents who had zoned off in defence.

#9 Fraser Phillips

Building a rich vein of form of late and that continued on the weekend, with some really good play inside 50. He is a good runner and moved up to half-forward well, kicking inside 50 with good precision. He lowers the eyes when entering the 50 and gave his teammates chances to score. Booted a goal early in the peace by running back with the flight and nailing the short-range set shot, and just missed a couple of chances later on in the game.

#10 Leo Connolly

Provided good pressure on his opponents to force turnovers, and in one instant, took a mark off the next possession from the turnover. Laid a massive tackle early to bring his opponent to ground and keep the ball in the middle.

#12 Isaac Wareham

Not his best game, but was playing a defensive role in the back half. Just kept a close eye on his opponent at all times.

#13 Izaac Grant

Ultra-impressed with what Grant showed at IKON Park. Coming into the game I hoped to see if he could play a role other than the pigeonholed small forward which he has been thus far, and he showed some serious intent, not just in the midfield, but in contested situations as well. He was a lovely kick in space and not only used quick hands, but blocked an opponent while handballing to a teammate to give his teammate an extra couple of seconds. One of the better field kicks out there, and still showed his vertical leap. Did not kick a goal which is his forte, but his game was better than matches where he has kicked multiple goals – another string to his bow.

#14 Tye Hourigan

He plied his trade in defence as he usually does for Gippsland with commitment. While he only stands at 188cm, Hourigan is very capable in a key position role and is difficult to move off the ball. He generally reads the ball before his opponent, as shown during the third term when he took a strong intercept mark. More of a stopper at this stage, but I feel there is another offensive gear in him.

#15 Jake Van der Plight

Was in and out of the game a bit, but generally produced quality moments when he got his hands on the ball. Starting mostly on the wing, he ran up and down the ground, winning an excellent ground ball in the defensive 50 during the third term which was sharply released by hand. He is a lovely size at 188cm and is capable of playing multiple positions. He is another Gippsland bottom ager to keep an eye on next year.

#16 Jesse Clark

Clark looks an interesting type behind the ball. He was particularly calm when he gained possession in the defensive arc, displaying good skills and well thought out decisions. During the second term he was given the ball under pressure deep inside defensive 50, but found a teammate in the corridor by foot with minimal fuss to release the immediate pressure. I’m looking forward to having a closer look over the next 15 months or so.

#17 Riley Ironside

After a relatively quiet first half, Ironside came to life in the third term with a lovely left foot pass inside 50 to Martin. That classy piece of play saw him become more involved and while he shanked a set shot not long after, he started having an influence at the stoppages and spread to offensive positions. He hit another brilliant left foot pass inside 50 to Williams in the final quarter to show he has some forward of centre weapons at his disposal.

#19 Jimmy Boyer

Boyer was another player who was dangerous running out of the back half, moving the ball forward with speed whenever he got the opportunity. Vic Country looked likely of scoring when he had the ball and his kicking was first rate on most occasions. While his offensive football was what immediately stood out, he also laid a heavy tackle in the third term to earn a holding the ball free kick.

#20 James Schischka

The Bendigo Pioneer was one of Vic Country’s better players on the day, controlling things in defence with his ability to read the play quickly and peel off his man when required. He took two strong intercept marks in the first term that appeared to spark his confidence to get to as many aerial contests as he could. While there were times he had to play deep KPD, when the opportunity presented he would look to swap with an opponent and get in the dangerous space. He laid a vital tackle in the final term to finish off a very solid outing.

#21 Darcey Chirgwin

Chirgwin was one of Vic Country’s more impressive performers and arguably produced the most transferrable AFL attributes. He is a tall inside midfielder who stands 190cm and while he looked lanky at times, he presented moments of class and time under pressure that would have excited the club representatives in the stands. In the first half he spun around an opponent with ease to kick inside 50. Later in the game after being disposed, he gathered the ball cleanly, regained balance and brilliantly hit a target near the arc. He looks a likely type.

#22 Sam De Koning

Battled well by manning some of Queensland’s taller forwards. He killed a few long Queensland entrances and took the kick outs on occasions. He perhaps would have liked to use the ball better at times, but is usually a reliable kick.

#23 Zac Skinner

Having lacked opportunities at Gippsland due to so many other tall options, Skinner would have enjoyed the chance to spend more extended periods on the ground. He started the game well, taking a mark on the lead inside 50 early in the first term. He was then rotated in the ruck, showing a soft touch in the air and was especially clean below his knees for a 199cm kid. He has composure with the ball and often makes good decisions by hand.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

The 195cm Nyuon provided some eye catching athleticism with his minutes forward and in the ruck, especially the latter where his outstanding vertical leap often won him the hit out. He gave his midfielders some excellent taps to advantage without breaking stride and competed defensively when the ball hit the ground. He didn’t win much of the ball, but that will come with further development.

#25 Josh Smith

The big, bullocking forward had a day out inside 50, kicking four goals and had a huge influence on the result. He made his presence known early in the game, taking a strong mark in the pocket and kicking truly with a brilliantly executed banana set shot. He demanded the ball all day and took a huge contested mark inside 50 during the third quarter. His work wasn’t all done in the air either, as he cleanly picked up a ground ball in the fourth term to set up a scoring chain. His fourth goal gave Vic Country the lead to end a great outing in the best possible way.

#26 Aaron Gundry

The 198cm Bendigo tall struggled to get consistently involved, but showed signs throughout the game forward and at times in the ruck. His best moment came deep inside in the pocket where he cleanly collected the ball and handballed to Smith for a goal assist.

Queensland:

By: Michael Alvaro and Ed Pascoe

#1 Danial Davidson

Davidson was slow to come into the game but began to rack up more possessions as the contest wore on. His tackling was good as a smaller midfielder, and he showed a willingness to attack the ball when the game was up for grabs in the second half.

#3 Hawego Paul Oea

The smooth moving forward posed a threat throughout the game with his pace and ability to find space in good areas. With ball in hand, Oea looked to move it on more often than not and was a valuable link between the wing and forward 50. He provided a smart assist to Will Martyn with a cutting ball from near the boundary in the fourth term, putting his smarts on full show.

#5 Corey Joyce

Joyce covers the ground really well and showed a solid work rate from the wing. While he didn’t rack up as much of the ball as in previous Maroons outings, Joyce was clean in possession and showed good agility in traffic. He has the potential to play above his size too, as he gets himself in handy positions to intercept and impact contests around the ground.

#6 Jack Wingrave

Wingrave was entrusted with the kick-out duties early on and spent most of his time in the defensive half. His long kicking out of the back is an asset, and he used it to good effect when clearing his own arc. A highlight of Wingrave’s game was a tough tussle with Country’s Fraser Phillips late in the piece, where the two battled hard for the ball deep in Country’s 50 with little separating the sides, showing his willingness to compete.

#7 Lachlan Barry

Sporting a yellow headband, Barry did not find huge amounts of the ball in his deep forward role but had a decent last quarter. He laid a hard tackle in the final term and hit up big-man Samson Ryan with a pin-point pass into the forward 50, which was his best moment.

#8 Coby Williams

Williams was another who was quiet until later on, but he made his presence felt with a big tackle on Country star Jye Chalcraft in the fourth quarter, as well as a nice intercept mark in the centre square to cap off his day.

#9 Connor Budarick

The skipper was one of the Maroons’ best throughout the day with an all-round performance from midfield. The Allies and Gold Coast Academy star has good speed around the contest and showed tenacity to win much of his own ball from the stoppages. He may be small in stature, but Budarick is solid and stood up in tackles – despite being caught holding the ball once in the third term. He bounced back from that with a nice take-on and run from half-back not long after.

#10 Jack Moseley

Moseley showed glimpses of promise from half-back, looking a natural footballer. Despite starting off with a crude in the back free kick against him, he went on to prove his worth with displays of agility and a cool head in traffic. His highlight was managing to deliver a perfect kick to Hawego Paul Oea after keeping his hands up and evading a tackler, showing off a bit of class.

#14 Will Martyn

Martyn was arguably his side’s best in an industrious midfield shift. While he was fumbly early on, the Brisbane Academy member continued to crash in and win the ball out of the stoppages through brute force. Martyn’s kicking improved alongside his handling as the game progressed, with some good balls inside 50 providing scoring opportunities. His final term was particularly impressive, as he stood courageously under a loopy ball to take a mark and slot his first goal, backing it up shortly after with a second set shot major to put his side in front, with an early celebration to boot.

#15 Bruce Reville

The wingman was another Maroon to really impress with good athletic traits and a knack for finding the footy in dangerous areas. Reville has good handles and can gather the ball at pace, highlighted by a nice gather at speed from a third term centre bounce. Based on the wing for most of the game, Reville had a brief stint at the centre bounces to start the second half, but quickly moved back outside where he continued to assist his forwards with effective inside 50 entries.

#16 Campbell Aston

Aston was quiet but battled hard in the back half, recording nine disposals. His highlight was a solid grab against the highly touted Riley Baldi in the first term where he showed good attack on the footy.

#17 Josh Gore

Gore continued his good form in the Queensland jumper with another effective display up forward. While he only managed the one major this time around, Gore had plenty of opportunities and was able to find the ball inside 50 well. His goal came from a decent mark backing deep towards the goalsquare in the second term, and he converted the set shot. Gore worked to find the ball further up the ground in the second half and proved calm when delivering the ball forward. He also laid a solid holding the ball tackle in the third quarter to cap an all-round game.

#18 Brandon Deslands

Deslands started the game in defence and was trusted with a kick out, you used his solid kicking up the ground more in the third and fourth quarter. Deslands managed to get some time in the midfield in the last quarter getting involved and laying a nice tackle.

#19 Gracen Sproule

Sproule played as a forward and he showed great movement and skill throughout the day. His best quarter came in the second when he kicked a nice long goal from beyond 50. What stood out from Sproule was his clean takes on the run and clean use by hand and his ability to move through traffic.

#21 Matthew Fraser

Had a quiet day but he looked good at ground level with his front and square work really impressing, he read the ball well and was clean at ground level. Fraser was not afraid to tackle and have an impact when the ball was in his area.

#22 Thomas Jeffrey

Jeffrey was impactful with his strong marking ability and long kicking being used to effect all over the ground. He had a lovely kick inside 50 in the 2nd quarter and got involved in a nice passage of play in the last quarter showing both his good marking and kicking ability.

#23 Sam Butler

A good user of the ball throughout the day, his best moment came with a good long kick to the hot spot in the first quarter hitting up teammate Matthew Conroy. Butler was neat with his handballing and his kicking was sound.

#24 Nickolas Haberer

Haberer played well down back taking some nice intercept marks and providing some good spoils and using his body well in one-on-one contests. Haberer did the defensive acts well with good tackling and spoiling while also using the ball well down back.

#26 Matthew Conroy

Conroy made a statement in the first half kicking a nice set shot goal in the first quarter and kicking a long bomb in the second quarter which hyped up his team. He competed well in the ruck and up forward before a quieter second half.

#27 Ashton Crossley

Queensland’s best player on the day, Crossley was industrious through he midfield using his strong body to crash packs and win the contested ball. Early in the game he had a few long kicks which were not accurate, but he improved as the game went on with one of his kicks in the last quarter coming from a nice mark and then unleashing a long penetrating kick out wide. His strong marking and contested ability was important for Queensland around the ground and he was a solid four-quarter player.

#28 Max Newman

Newman did some nice things down back with some timely spoils with one on the last line in the third quarter. Not a huge game but played his role well. 

#30 Joshua Hammond

Hammond was one of the better defenders for Queensland with some fantastic spoiling efforts especially in the first quarter where he was most prominent. Hammond did not get much of the ball but he did not give his opponents an inch and if he was not spoiling he was tackling hard and blocking for teammates. With a bit more confidence it would be good to see how well he could rebound himself to really make him a more complete modern day defender. 

#32 Thomas Wischnat

Wischnat was a permanent forward often giving good leads but wasn’t always rewarded. He kicked a nice snap goal in the first quarter and he took a nice lead up mark in the 2nd although he missed the set shot. Wischnat could have done more at ground level but also could have hit the scoreboard harder with better supply from teammates.

#33 Sampson Ryan

The 203cm Ryan not only use his height to his advantage in the ruck, but also managed to keep involved all over the ground working into defence to intercept and also resting forward, providing a good option despite spraying many of his opportunities at goal. What stood out with Ryan was his smarts around the ground for a ruckman with some nice visions by hand and even a solid opposite foot kick in the last quarter.

Country girl Caris passing on lessons from “amazing experiences”

WHEN the siren sounded at the end of last year’s Herald Sun Shield Grand Final, Ballarat Grammar’s Rene Caris joined her teammates in rejoicing the win. It was not just a one-point victory, it was the result of many years of hard work and a close bond between the players.

“I first started when I moved away to boarding school in Year 10 and then a few of us all us boarders from farms in the country, we all just decided to start playing footy,” Caris said. “So we just joined the footy team at school, it wasn’t very high standard or anything but we just did it for a bit of fun. “When we were in Year 12 and we worked for three years to win the Herald Sun Shield and I was with all my best friends that I’d been in the boarding house with, and we ended up winning that game by a point – that was probably one of my most favourite experiences.”

Hailing from Quantong, a small town 15km west of Horsham, Caris knows the challenges associated with living in a rural area more than most.

“I did Auskick as a kid obviously,” she said. “Dad was the coach so I went along to that, but kind of stopped when I was about 12 I think. “You couldn’t obviously play girls footy past 14 so obviously that limits a lot of opportunities but yeah moving to Ballarat was the next best step I think so now I’ve eventually moved to Melbourne and there’s even more opportunities there.”

Caris is using the experience of playing with the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, Vic Country and the AFL Women’s Academy to help teach others how to improve and play to their full potential.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Caris said. “I’ve learnt so much and I think it’s just great how us three girls from the Academy (Caris, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke) can learn stuff at such a high level and teach these girls when we come back. “Even take it even further back when we go back to our clubs at home, like in Horsham. “So I feel like the word about playing girls footy has spread out a bit which is good.”

The strength in girls football is improving rapidly, and Caris cannot help but smile at how many aspiring female footballers are taking up the sport at her home club.

“Yeah definitely (it’s improving),” Caris said. “Last year I was part of Horsham girls. “Horsham Saints had a team, and you can already see how much the girls love it, they want to play, but there just really isn’t much of an opportunity and now there is. “There’s so many little Year 7s running around, it’s amazing.”

Caris is an athletic ruck who has stood out since returning from a back injury that kept her out of the early games in the TAC Cup Girls season. She played for the AFL Women’s Academy against Geelong Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side at GMHBA Stadium, and represents Carlton in the same league.

The 19 year-old recalls her first training session at Ikon Park.

“It will be incredible (playing for Carlton),” she said. “Just been at the trainings, I was already star-struck with Darcy Vescio being my training partner in the warm-up. It’s going to be incredible to learn from these girls.”

After a successful stint as Vic Country’s ruck at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, and showing off her versatility around the ground, Caris is hoping to finish the year on a high and improve her strength and marking, something she admits will come “hand-in-hand”.

With height and athleticism at a premium in the AFL Women’s, like every talented Victorian representative, everyone will be keeping a close eye on the country girl who is turning heads in the big smoke.

Raw ruck talent learns to juggle workload

FINDING diamonds in the rough are what every recruiter and talent manager looks for, and if Geelong’s VFL Women’s and Geelong Falcons’ trial days are anything to go by, they are finding plenty of future footballers. For ruck Zoe Inei, it was about swapping the round ball for it’s oblong counterpart.

“I played soccer for six years and then I went to the VFL Cats Women’s Trial Day and then from that I just got into it for a bit of fun with one of my friends from school,” she said. From that (Trial Day), [Geelong Falcons Female Talent Manager] Katie (Geerings) came up to me and asked if I wanted to play and was talking to me a bit about the soccer. “Then I got an email asking if I wanted to play Falcons, so that was my first season and then I played local last season and now I’ve played my second season of Falcons.”

In 2018, Inei has been a key contributor to the Falcons’ outfit, providing a strong presence around the ruck contests, but also covering the ground with her athletic nature on show. Having had the extra season under her belt, Inei is feeling more comfortable playing at the level.

“It’s been really good.,” Inei said. “It’s very good because it’s longer, last season was five weeks and now it’s nine. “So it’s been really good just so we can have extra time with the other girls, and the coaching has been really good as well, the team’s really fun.”

A raw talent with plenty of improvement left, Inei said she knew there was plenty to work on, and she was striving towards becoming the best possible player she could be.

“I think (what I’m) looking to improve on is just a bit more skills and bit more speed and decision making with the skills,” she said. “Then I think a strength of mine is more encouraging my teammates and going hard at it.”

Her decision making and balancing is something she has had to get better at, as the workload between school and football increases and she learns how to deal with everything thrown her way.

“It’s alright because I have quite a few spares at school so I get most of my stuff done at school,” Inei said. “It’s good because I just come to footy and I just squish in whatever else around other times.”

Still unsure of what she wants to do as a career pathway, she knows where she wants to go with her football.

“Well so far, I just know after that (Vic Country representation) finishes I’ll be going to play local Under 18s comp and from there I’ll just see what happens,” she said.

Her dream is to play AFL Women’s like so many others, and she has been building a nice resume in the process as she looks to become as versatile as possible.

“So I have been playing ruck mostly,” she said. “But this season Jason (Armistead, Geelong Falcons Girls coach) has been putting me forward for a rest. “That’s been good, I’m happy to just go wherever they want.”

Now Inei will focus on finishing off the year and hopefully chasing that dream she has followed since she jumped codes.

Scouting notes: AFLW U18 Championships – Wednesday, July 11

THE story of the day was Queensland getting an upset win over Vic Metro in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships in a wonderful performance. The other winners of the day were in-form teams, Vic Country and Western Australia. Julia Montesano and Peter Williams were there to take notes on all the action that unfolded.

 

Queensland vs. Vic Metro

Queensland: 

By: Julia Montesano 

#5 Lily Postlethwaite

Played a fantastic game for Queensland and was one of their key players during the game. Delivered a nice composed kick to a teammate in the back half, showing composure with the ball in hand. Also demonstrated great run and carry which was highly effective in the fast-paced game. Her tackling was particularly a highlight as she laid an excellent run-down tackle to win herself the opportunity to create a scoring shot for Queensland.

#6 Zimmorlei Farquharson

Farquharson was the game-changer for Queensland, kicking the last two goals of the game to seal the upset win for her side. One goal was truly wonderful, as she kicked it from a difficult angle near the boundary line on the run. Her second goal bought the house down, as it proved to be the match-winner and was reward for her hard work during the day. She ran hard inside 50 and showed good acceleration when she needed to.

#7 Isabel Dawes

Displayed excellent run and carry through the forward line and was a jet inside 50. Her tackling was aggressive and it paid off, as she was able to put forward pressure on the Metro defenders. Displayed great agility to kick a goal, which was a highlight of her game.

#10 Jacqueline Yorston

Delivered a nice kick into the forward line to a player on the lead and laid a good tackle inside 50 to dispossess the ball of her opponent in a danger zone. Followed this up with another great tackle on Maddy Brancatisano, stopping her in her tracks. Delivered a perfect centering kick to a player in the forward line, demonstrating her great kicking. Also combined it with her agility when she executed a clean pick up off the deck and delivered a nice kick down the line.

#14 Tori Groves-Little

Laid a lovely run-down tackle in middle of the ground in the first quarter and won a free kick for efforts. Groves-Little did some clever things throughout the game such as executing a great slide to trap the ball. Did well to execute a great pick-up off the deck and followed this up by displaying wonderful running down the win. When she aimed to spoil and it didn’t work out for her, she immediately tackled her opponent, displaying a good second effort.

#18 Ellie Hampson

Displayed nice agility to dodge around her opponents and get the handball away. Backed this up with a great pick-up off the deck, followed by a clever spin around her opponents and a nice kick while being held. Also took a great mark running back with the flight of the ball, demonstrating her good intercept work.

#20 Natalie Grider

Provided good run and carry for Queensland and ran into space well. Took a great contested mark and also took a fantastic intercept diving mark, demonstrating strong hands. A highlight of her game was when she emerged out of a park and accelerated well with the ball in hand.

#24 Charlotte Hammans

Executed a great side step around two opponents to run into a goal just outside the goal square, which was Queensland’s first major of the day. Executed a great kick around her body inside 50 and gave off a great quick-fire handball to Zimmorlei Farquharson who was streaming into goal, being the catalyst for that game-changing passage of play. Led well and took a great mark lace-out. Also showed good composure to lower her eyes and spot up Serene Watson on the wing.

#26 Serene Watson

Took a nice mark in the centre of the ground. Although she knew she had space, she didn’t blaze away, showing good composure. Laid a great tackle to put the pressure on Metro in a stoppage. Demonstrated great reading of the footy when she trapped it behind the back the back of the pack. A great role player for Queensland.

#27 Tiarna Ahwang

Executed a good pick-up off the deck and a nice kick down the line. Delivered a nice high kick inside 50 and showed great run and carry before she disposed of the ball, highlighting her exciting pace. Gave her teammates the opportunity to attack footy in space with these kicks, proving to be very important in terms of forward 50 entries. Did well to trap the ball after she dropped the mark and executed a nice kick around her body, showing her clever footwork.

#35 Lauren Bella

Bella fought hard in the ruck and did extremely well, bringing the ball down well for her midfielders. She took a good intercept mark in the middle of the ground to send it back forward for Queensland, displaying good composure under pressure. Competed hard all day and is having a really consistent tournament.

 

Vic Metro: 

By: Peter Williams

#3 Emerson Woods

Had a really promising start to the game, working in close and using her superior vision to find teammates on the outside. Her agility and ability to move swiftly through traffic was on show, and she covered the ground well.

#6 Madison Prespakis

Another impressive game from the Calder Cannons skipper who just keeps on performing at a high level. She won plenty of the ball, often running into space and using her high work rate to work over her opponents and win the footy on the wing or in holes around the field. Prespakis kicked the final goal of the game, and while it was not enough to change the result, she finished the game with a terrific 20 disposals. She dropped back into defence and helped out, mopping up on a number of occasions.

#8 Georgia Patrikios

Clean, classy and versatile, Patrikios spent some time at half-back as she did in game one, then would push up the ground and use her foot skills to advantage in the front half. Just goes about her business well and rarely wastes a touch, kicking over all distances and having the perfect balance between inside and outside.

#17 Georgia Macpherson

One of Metro’s best in the game and was a rock at half-back intercepting everything she could. Macpherson took some fantastic intercept marks and rebounded out of the back 50, making the Queensland side have to pick their way through the set-up and put more pressure on her back there. Really strong one-on-one in the air and ground level.

#18 Abbie McKay

Another solid performance from the Sandringham Dragons midfielder who was often found in the middle of a contest, right at the coal face. In the opening term she took a strong mark and also won an important one-on-one along the wing. In a midfield full of stars, she was important on the inside.

#20 Gabby Newton

Newton played a really inside game and was often found handballing to teammates in space more so than her traditional long kicking. She still had a number of long bombs going forward, but covered the ground really well, winning the football in each third. A good four-quarter performance overall.

#21 Eleanor Brown

Stood out across half-back and through the middle, particularly in the second half. She mopped up everything in defence best she could, and just found the ball with ease. Ended up with the second most disposals behind Prespakis and won the majority of them in a contest. Took some vital marks and spent plenty of time through the midfield.

#22 Katie Lynch

A really prominent opening term, Lynch was often the player her teammates released to on the outside as she ran past. A long kick of the football, she was not as influential as the first game, but still managed to find the football and use it fairly well.

#27 Gabby De Angelis

The exciting forward was strong and clean throughout the game and while she does not win a heap of the football, she uses it pretty well. In the second term she used her goal nous to pounce on a loose ball in the goal square and kick Metro’s first major of the game.

#32 Lauren Szigeti

An important defender for Metro, she had a really nice run along the wing in the second term and was able to rebound plenty in the second half. Thought her way through her kicks and stood tall when the defence was under siege in the final term.

#36 Holly Bate

Did not win a heap of it, but booted a goal and set up another. She took a good running mark in the second term and had a crack from long range, where it was spilt and Gabriella De Angelis managed to boot the goal. In the final term, a 50m penalty saw Bate kick the easiest of goals from the square.

 

Vic Country vs. Central Allies

Vic Country:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Shelley Heath

Used her trademark dash to create some run and carry down the field across the four quarters. She was strong in the contest in the final term, taking a good mark under pressure, and kept running with a series of handball receives and kicking forward to break through the opposition defensive zones.

#3 Kodi Jacques

Always battled away hard, using her body underneath packs and laid some strong tackles. Courageously went up for a mark in the final term, backing back with danger coming from all sides, and despite not holding it, backed it up with second efforts.

#6 Tyla Hanks

Just worked hard across four quarters rotating between midfield and up forward. Early on she had some great bursts out of congestion and was strong overhead and at ground level. In the second term, Hanks produced a great snap from the boundary line and she delivered a good pass to the advantage of Lucy McEvoy who won a free and goaled. A consistent, four-quarter effort.

#7 Olivia Purcell

Played a really strong inside game, winning the ball at the coal face, then spreading into space where she was able to provide an option. Purcell also laid some strong tackles and linked up well in transition, often winning the ball at half-back or in the middle and sent it forward with interest.

#8 Sophie Van De Heuvel

One of Country’s best, just needed to finish a little better. Had numerous opportunities and kicked four behinds. Despite this, she had the opportunities to hurt the opposition and was constantly involved in the play. Van De Heuvel created good run in the forward half and used her long kick to advantage.

#9 Nina Morrison

One of Vic Country’s top midfielders, Morrison backed up her top performance in the opening game with another sensational effort in the second match. She showed good vision and speed throughout, and had multiple bounces along the wing in the fourth term. Threw herself into contest after contest with little regard for her safety and took a really strong mark in the air, clunking it cleanly with pressure from behind.

#10 Nikia Webber

Almost like a defensive forward’s game, Webber was able to provide a target, while also working hard to lock the ball inside the forward 50. On paper she might not have won a lot of possessions, but every time she went near it, she was either putting pressure on an opponent, or opening up space for a teammate. She was rewarded for her hard work in the third term with a good mark on a lead and goal from a set shot. A really underrated performance and once that was worthy of being in the best. 

#14 Jordyn Allen

A strong captain’s game from the midfielder who managed to cover ground really well and find plenty of the football. She used her thumping kick to clear the defensive zone and go deep inside 50, and also took a number of intercept marks in the middle of the ground. Had a shot on goal from 50m after taking a bounce, but her shot had an unlucky bounce and bounced back into play.

#21 Rene Caris

The ruck showed off her versatility by also playing forward and back, winning a lot of the ball in midfield, then taking some important grabs around the ground. Her last quarter was really important in defence, clunking a couple of contested intercept marks and clearing the zone when Central Allies attacked vigorously.

#22 Rebecca Webster

Played on the inside and predominantly used her body to shield opponents from winning the easy clearance, particularly working hard against Nikki Gore when Gore was starting to take control in the middle. She laid a strong tackle in the third term to force a turnover, and continued to present around the ground.

#23 Lucy McEvoy

Another match-winning performance up forward from the bottom-ager who is so strong and smart inside 50. She booted her first goal in the second term, and then had an opportunistic moment in the moments later off the deck, while winning a freekkick and converting from 15m out in the third term, then running into an open goal in the final term. Just a dominant performance up forward.

#35 Lucy Cripps

Worked her opponent well and restricted her direct opposition too much opportunity to do damage. Was outmarked by Katelyn Rosenzweig on one occasion giving away the free kick, but otherwise did really well. She charged out of defence, peeling off her opponent and providing a contest up the ground, and took some good intercept marks.

 

Central Allies:

By: Julia Montesano

#7 Janet Baird

Displayed great run and carry through the middle of the ground, as she just loves to get and go. She also did well defensively when she caught her opponent in a tackle and did well to dispose her of the ball.

#8 Danielle Ponter

Made a real impact in this game with two of her side’s three goals. Kicked a great goal from just inside the boundary line to kickstart her day. Displayed great reading of the play to run onto the ball for her second major. I thought her hands were also strong and were handy up forward for the Allies.

#10 Hannah Munyard

Munyard for me was one of the Allies’ key players and was also a good role player in Monday’s match. Plays a real team role and shows great hunger to win the ball. Did well during the game to show clean hands when picking the ball up off the deck, following this up with getting a kick away. Delivered a nice composed centering kick to an opponent in another instance, showing composure when she gets the ball on her foot. Also showed her aggressive side when she laid a great run-down tackle on Sophie Van De Huevel to stop her in her tracks.

#20 Rachel Dunstan

Dunstan’s hands were superb on the day as she used great body work to take a defensive mark. Followed this up with a good lead-up mark in defensive 50 to stop Country from penetrating forward. Used her body well to take a lovey contested mark, using her strong hands to effect. Also demonstrated nice kicking when she executed a good kick down the line.

#22 Jaslynne Smith

Kicked a long ball out of defence that gave her teammates opportunity to run onto it. Showed courage when she ran back with the flight of the ball and got a kick away. Did well to trap the footy and cause a stoppage after some good run and carry from Vic Country was showing worrying signs for Queensland.

#23 Teah Charlton

Took a nice lead out mark, displaying great hands. Followed this up with a good lead out mark on the chest, repeating her efforts effectively to get the ball forward for the Allies. Did well to get a kick away while being tackled

#24 Amber Ward

Trapped the ball well and followed it up by smothering Tyla Hanks’ kick towards goal. Took a great mark and displayed good run and carry to stream away immediately, showing great footy smarts and acceleration. Demonstrated good strength in a one-on-one defensive contest and also when she was able to fend-off a player and get the handball away. A highlight of her game was when she laid an excellent smother on the last line of defence to save a certain Rene Caris goal.

#25 Bella Clarke

Executed a great spoil that prevented a mark inside 50 for Country’s Rene Caris. She then took a great mark on the last line of defence to prevent a goal, showing her defensive prowess. Used good body work on Amy Dunn as well, demonstrating that she is talented in many defensive areas.

 

Western Australia vs. Eastern Allies 

Western Australia 

By: Julia Montesano 

#5 Mikayla Hyde

Hyde came to life in the second half, kicking all three of her goals in that period. Nothing is to be taken away from her first half though as she showed consistent hunger to win the footy. Displayed nice run and carry throughout the match and also good composure, such as when she handballed the footy backwards to create time inside 50 rather than blaze into the goals. Hyde kept running after the ball even when she got tackled, showing her intent to go hard at the footy and take heavy hits. Her leading towards the footy was superb and she blew me away when explosively led to the ball to kick her first major of the game. For her second goal, she got on the end of a downfield free kick and kicked the goal from a difficult angle. Ran in for her third major of the day in a great forward display.

#8 Ella Smith

Laid a great tackle to dispossess her opponent of the footy. Also delivered a nice kick towards the centre of the ground. Showed great agility when she executed a nice pick up and quick kick out of the pack. A very agile player who runs well across the ground.

#9 Sabreena Duffy

Duffy is one of the most composed players I have seen and is great to watch. Took a great one-on-one intercept mark from a full back kick in and then executed a great pick-up in defence. This was followed by lovely run and carry down the wing of the ground, displaying her exciting speed. Read the play well when it came off a pack and composed herself well with a kick to the wing. I thought she did really well on the last line of defence when she was there. Did well to take the game on out of full back when she played on to herself and provided great run and carry. Kicked a bullet of a ball to Mikayla Hyde which was outstanding, as it displays the variety of kicks she can pull off. Took a great intercept mark and displayed wonderful run and carry once again to create a chance for Western Australia up forward.

#10 Matilda Sergeant

Like Duffy, Sergeant is another composed player who is a great user of the footy. Her intercept marking was amazing, and she was often in the right spots to send the ball straight back inside 50 for Western Australia. Sergeant also read the play well and showed excellent desperation to get the handball out to Ella Smith while she was falling over near the boundary line.

#14 Rikkiesha Carling

Carling was buzzing around the contest and tackling hard all day. She picked up the ball well and showed agility when she performed a good spin inside 50. A highlight of her game was when she laid a great tackle to dispossess her opponent of the ball.

#17 McKenzie Dowrick

Dowrick was influential as always, being a playmaker in her side’s victory. She took a good mark down the line and also delivered a great long kick towards inside 50. Used this long kick again down the line, which gave her teammates the opportunity to win the ball aerially. Accelerated well out of a pack and followed it up with a good quick-fire handball to Sabreena Duffy. Showed her kicking prowess again when she excellently pinpointed kick down the line to Ella Smith. Did well defensively too when she laid a great smother to save a kick for goal inside 50.

#20 Abbey Dowrick

Dowrick is one of the most aggressive players I’ve seen which is a fantastic trait of hers. Blew me away when she executed an excellent pick-up off the deck and had a great long range punt at goal that sailed through. Displayed good hands when handballing and also marking, such as when she executed a great lead up mark in the forward line. Laid a clever tackle late in the match where she didn’t exactly dispossess her opponent of the ball, instead simply snatching it out of her hand. Dowrick goes hard at every ball and is always hungry to win it.

#23 Emma O’Driscoll

O’Driscoll was solid all day for Western Australia, simply playing her role and not overdoing it. She showed a great burst of acceleration with the ball in hand out of defensive 50. Also laid a great tackle on Chloe Haines to save a certain goal, which was a fantastic effort.

 

Eastern Allies 

By: Peter Williams

#1 Alyce Parker

A smooth mover who was once again among the Eastern Allies’ best. She thinks her way through situations and has a nice blend of pace, acceleration and agility to get out of trouble. Wins plenty of the ball and has a high work rate, laying strong tackles. Parker knows how to extract the ball out of a stoppage and always puts in a consistent four quarter effort.

#8 Georgia Garnett

A classy player who is a quick thinker and has a smart sidestep. She used good pace and nous to trap the ball in the air and keep it in front of her during the third term, and just won the football in and around the contest, spreading to the outside.

#11 Eliza Cumming

A real strong outside player who can also win the ball on the inside. Not as consistent across the four quarters as some, but the tools she has show her talent is untapped. She has good hands in traffic, a lovely burst of acceleration and a strong frame she uses to outmuscle and out-body her opponents.

#14 Mia King

King was busy early and is one player who has great agility and can win a one-on-one. Still a couple of years away from being draftable, King has class and can kick long to dangerous areas. Really classy player who used a neat sidestep to kick long and set up a goal

#16 Lauren Stevenson

One of Eastern Allies’ top defenders on the day, she kicked long out of the back 50 and was really consistent in her defensive efforts across the four quarters. The highlight was a fantastic goal-saving tackle on the last line on the red-hot Mikayla Hyde in the second term to deny her an easy goal.

#17 Netty Garlo

Just has that raw talent and X-factor, while the consistency is not there yet, you get the sense with time and development it will piece together. She has elite acceleration and her ability to close down opponents in short spaces of time is exciting. Garlo also hunts the opposition when they have the ball and is a strong pressure player. In the opening term she used her acceleration to lock the ball in at a contest against two opposition players and did well not to be caught holding the ball.

#20 Alexia Hamilton

Hamilton was another piece in the defensive puzzle for the Eastern Allies who was strong overhead and positioned herself at half-back. She took a number of good intercept marks and looked downfield to kick long and open up the game for her teammates. She was one of the top performers on the day and put pressure on her opponents throughout the match.

#21 Chloe Haines

One of Eastern Allies’ top players on the day, Chloe Haines was terrific across the ground, finding space on the wing, kicking long and then getting back and helping out the defence. She laid some great tackles to win a free kick in the midfield, then kicked the ball off the ground for a goal in the third term. She capped off her game with an important smother inside 50 in the final quarter to lock the ball in there.

#24 Brea Quinlivan

Was the main target up forward for the Eastern Allies across the four quarters and just missed opportunities to put it on the scoreboard early. She kicked a couple of behinds, but finally was rewarded for effort with a great goal on the run near the boundary line in the third term just before the siren. Constantly involved in the play up forward and made multiple leads, working hard to double back towards goal.

#25 Libby Haines

Played primarily in defence and moved up the ground at times, Libby Haines was another in the Eastern Allies best. In the first term she laid two fantastic smothers showing a great defensive intent, then laid a great tackle on the wing in the second term to dispossess her opponent and kick long. She took a strong one-on-one mark in the third term and kicked clear, then showed good vision at half-back to handball to a teammate in space.

AFLW U18 Championships previews: Vic Country

ON paper, Vic Country is one of the most dangerous sides in the AFL Women’s U18 Championships. Littered with premiership players, the side is a formidable outfit to say the least. Country may have suffered a loss to Vic Metro but will be keen to make amends on the Gold Coast. We took a look at the side’s key players and its upcoming fixture ahead of round two of the National Championships on the Gold Coast.

Key players:

Olivia Purcell

A 2017 All Australian, a Geelong Falcons premiership player and an AFLW Academy member, Olivia Purcell sure has a fitting résumé for this prestigious tournament. She is a hard-nut midfielder whose tackles were one of the strongest in the competition. Purcell’s penetrating kick and acceleration was often the catalyst for many Geelong forward thrusts. She also has an aggressive side which can challenge the opposition players who have been tasked with the role on her. Purcell will be damaging on the inside for Vic Country.

Tyla Hanks

Hanks too is a 2017 All Australian and an AFLW Academy member. The Gippsland Power co-captain was named in her side’s best players in every match she played in the TAC Cup Girls season, thanks to her versatility. Not only is Hanks a prime inside ball-mover but she can also float down to the forward line and kick some majors in an instant to get her side some points on the board. She was one of the best players for Vic Country in their loss against Vic Metro, which does not come as a surprise, considering she is one of the most in-form players in the Championships.

Lucy McEvoy

Coming into the tournament as a premiership captain, Lucy McEvoy will definitely be a player to keep an eye on. McEvoy is a classy defender who has strong hands and a good kick. She too is a 2017 All Australian and an AFLW Academy member, which will allow her to bring poise and experience to the side. The 17 year-old can also play up forward and can be quite dangerous there, thanks to her great marking which she has demonstrated so well in the back line.

Jordyn Allen

Jordyn Allen is a player that will never let you down, as she gives her all in every game. The Vic Country captain led the Dandenong Stingrays this season in the TAC Cup Girls competition, made the All Australian side last year and is in the AFLW Academy, giving her license to let her experience do the talking on the Gold Coast. Allen primarily plays in the back line and creates a wall of her own, intercepting any ball that comes her way. She can also make an impact in the midfield thanks to her booming kick and strong tackling. Allen’s great season with the Stingrays has awarded her with a spot in the Casey Demons Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side, giving her another accolade to add to her growing list.

Georgia Clarke

Georgia Clarke was one of the most consistent players in the TAC Cup Girls competition, as she always did a solid job for the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at centre half-back. Her fantastic season was rewarded with a club best and fairest win. Clarke too is a member of the AFLW Academy thanks to her unbelievable intercept work and marking in defence. She can play a great lock-down role as well, meaning that it will be very difficult for opposition players to get past her.

Nina Morrison

Nina Morrison was one of the best outside runners in the TAC Cup Girls competition. Her closing speed was also remarkable, and assists in her tackling, as she would hit her opponents hard. She can run all day and is a good user of the ball both by hand and by foot. A premiership player for the Geelong Falcons and an AFLW Academy member, Morrison has excelled in many assets of her football career, and now adds a Vic Country representation to her accolades.

Tamara Smith

One of the more underrated midfielders in the Vic Country team, Smith took out the Murray Bushrangers’ Best and Fairest award for season 2018. She has good hands on the inside, is not afraid to win her own ball and propels it forward with tenacity. She does all the defensive things right and expect her to be one that might match up on a strong opposition midfielder and be the one shovelling the ball out to teammates on the outside.

Kodi Jacques

The sole Bendigo Pioneer in the side, Jacques is another underrated midfielder who can play inside or outside. She will work well with the rest of the midfield group and look to win her own ball, while providing an option to run and kick to her forwards. She can play around the ground if needed, but is often in close knuckling down to win the hard ball.

Fixture:

Game 1: vs. Queensland

Monday July 9 at Metricon Stadium

The ruck battle between the AFLW Academy’s Rene Caris and Queensland’s vice-captain, Lauren Bella could be one of the most enthralling battles of the tournament. Both players are coming into the carnival in good form, with both being named amongst their side’s best players in the lead-up matches to the Gold Coast. Expect Lily Postlethwaite to spend some time next to the likes of Olivia Purcell, Nina Morrison and Tyla Hanks, which will be a challenging task but a great battle nonetheless.

Game 2: vs. Central Allies

Wednesday July 11 at Broadbeach

Georgia Clarke could have the job on dangerous forward, Danielle Ponter, who has been on fire for Essendon in the VFLW. Both players have strong hands and position themselves well under the flight of the ball, which could mean that we could have an even battle on our hands. Clarke or fellow defender, Lucy McEvoy could even line up on the Allies’ focal point in the forward line, Katelyn Rosenzweig, who is no stranger to bagging plenty of goals. Seeing 17 year-old midfielder, Nikki Gore go head-to-head against Vic Country midfielder, Tyla Hanks could be one of the best battles of the game, as both players go in hard for the footy and possess sensational skills.

Game 3: vs. Western Australia

Friday July 13 at Bond University

Black Swans dominant goal kicker, Kate Bartlett could have her work cut out for her if she is to match up on the likes of Georgia Clarke or Lucy McEvoy. However, Bartlett is coming to the Gold Coast on good form, having kicked three goals from Western Australia’s two games against Queensland. Undoubtedly all eyes will be on Tyla Hanks and McKenzie Dowrick, as the two versatile midfielders could go head-to-head in this match. Both are huge impact players, meaning the game could be won and lost in the midfield.

Potential 22:

B: Bec Webster – Lucy McEvoy – Denby Taylor
HB: Emily Haeusler – Georgia Clarke – Shelley Heath
C: Nina Morrison – Tamara Smith – Jordyn Allen
HF: Julia Harvey – Nikia Webber – Sophie Van De Heuvel
F: Courtney Jones – Isabella Shannon – Lauren Butler
R: Rene Caris – Olivia Purcell – Tyla Hanks
INT from: Kodi Jacques – Lucy Cripps – Molly McDonald – Amy Dunn – Sophie Molan – Mille Brown

‘Jonesy’ sets sights on All-Australian goal

AFL Women’s Academy member and Dandenong Stingrays’ mid/forward Courtney Jones has no problem aiming high in a bid to try and get the most out of herself. The versatile player who has kept getting better throughout the 2018 TAC Cup Girls season is eyeing off a spot in the All-Australian side. While the huge accolade is an achievement that only few receive each year, ‘Jonesy’ has been working hard to reach her dream which she set a while ago.

“I’m hoping to make the All-Australian side if I can, it’s been a goal for a while now,” Jones said. She also has a broader goal in mind for the conclusion of the national championships. “I’m really just learning new things, being with a new bunch of girls every year and just improving.”

Jones’ pathway started from a young age, with her focus being on getting the most out of football and fitting in however she could to play as much football as she could.

“I started at Under 9s and worked my way through the boys,” Jones said. “Once I realised I couldn’t play the boys anymore I went to the girls. I didn’t really know there was a pathway or anything like that and first year girls I started finding the pathways, doing interleague and then eventually Stingrays and worked my way from there.”

This year Jones has enjoyed being a part of the Dandenong Stingrays’ program, improving her leadership and learning new structures – something she has built on with her experience in both Vic Country and the AFL Women’s Academy.

“It’s been a great experience and developing with things, learning new game plays, making new friends as well and just learning off the coaches to be a better leader,” Jones said. “It’s been an elite program, it’s been hard to transition from work to footy to Stingrays to Vic because they’re all different levels and all have different styles of play but it’s been good to learn to new things and improve as a player, on-field and off-field. “It’s been really good meeting new girls from other states and being able to work together as one group. Having the best coaches you could I guess, teaching you all about footy, what to do, what not to do on and off the field.”

Outside of football, Jones has not decided exactly what she wants to do, but is considering following her father into a trade, with her preferred trade being an electrician. Looking ahead to the national carnival, Jones wants to build on the foundations she has set this season in the TAC Cup Girls.

“I think I started off slow in Stingrays but I worked my way through it and finished off really strong and hopefully get to Nationals and have a good carnival there,” Jones said. “My improvements are my running but I think my strengths is my read of the play, my kicking.”

While performing at the nationals are the immediate task at hand, Jones is well aware that a lifelong dream could come to fruition in the near future.

“Definitely, as a kid it’s the thing (getting drafted) that I wanted,” Jones said. “I wanted to play in the AFL, I wanted to get there one day and it just wasn’t there until a couple of years ago, so it’s good to see AFLW coming out and really getting bigger.”

Expect Jones to play between midfield and forward in the upcoming carnival next week, with Vic Country starting their campaign against Queensland on Monday.

Weekend previews: National U18 Championships – Round 4

IN what will be a big five days for the most talented Under 18s in the country, the National AFL Championships continue tomorrow in the first of two double headers in Victoria. Tomorrow, teams clash at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong before reconvening next Wednesday at Etihad Stadium. Vic Metro has the bye tomorrow, while Vic Country plays its final game of the series in Geelong.

ALLIES VS. SOUTH AUSTRALIA

Friday, June 29, 2.10pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

The Allies come into this clash after a good performance against Vic Metro where they narrowly fell short in the dying minutes. Jacob Koschitzke was one of the most impressive, restricting potential number one pick Ben King to just one goal – unfortunately it was the match winner. His job does not get any easier this week, with a potential match-up on likely number on pick Jack Lukosius. He will look to work in tandem with Dirk Koenen – who also played well in the last match – likely to take fellow tall Hugo MunnFraser Turner was the Allies’ best in the last game and he could line-up on AFL Academy member and potential first round pick Connor Rozee, while on the inside, Connor McFadyen joins Tarryn Thomas and Chayce Jones against the A-grade midfield of Izak RankineLuke Valente and Tom Lewis, with Jackson Hately rotating between midfield and forward. Kieren Briggs and bottom-agers Thomas Green and Mitchell O’Neill are others who have impressed in the championships thus far.

In defence, Riley Grundy and Will Gould have been impressive and will likely be given the jobs on Caleb Graham and Nick Blakey, while Mathew Walker provides a medium-tall option in attack, with plenty of smalls creating havoc at ground level. Jez McLennan has looked good this carnival in defence, while Hayden Sampson has shown promising signs in attack and through the midfield. The attacking end for South Australia is unbelievable, with Lukosius and Munn joined by high-flying overager Oscar Chapman who returns to the team, while clearance machine Boyd Woodcock makes his debut for the Croweaters. Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy member Kai Pudney leads the strong depth on the bench with Ben Jarvis and Kade Chandler – others who have impressed at times this carnival.

South Australia head into the game as deserving favourites, but given the Allies were able to push Vic Metro all the way and South Australia was largely challenged by Vic Country, anything is possible in this game. A win to South Australia sets up a tantalising match with Vic Metro next week in what would decide the 2018 National Under 18 Championships title.

 

VIC COUNTRY VS. WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Friday, June 29, 4.40pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

In the second game of the double header, the two sides without a win do battle to open their account in the National Under 18 Championships. Vic County has lost all three of its games thus far and will want to end the carnival on a high, while Western Australia can finish off with two wins if it can topple Country and then the Allies next Wednesday. After losing to South Australia by 89 points in the opening round, Western Australia were much improved at home against Vic Metro. In this game, the exciting Jason Carter returns to provide some speed on the wing, joining a talented Black Swans outfit that will be without Jarrod Fazioli who booted three goals against Country in last year’s National Championships. The midfield of Luke FoleyDeven Robertson and Luke English is a consistent base, while Ian Hill and Rylie Morgan are always dangerous up the forward end. In defence, Jake Pasini and Louis Miller come into the team, while Regan Spooner and Damon Greaves will be hoping to continue their form.

For Vic Country, Murray Bushrangers midfielder Ely Smith receives the call-up to replace the injured Mitch Riordan, and will be hoping to back-up his 37-disposal game in the TAC Cup last weekend. Smith is joined in an extended side by teammates Zane Barzen and Hudson Garoni, while Gippsland bottom-agers swap spots with Brock Smith coming in and Caleb Serong heading out. Connor Idun and Kyle Reid have been consistent in defence and will want to finish the carnival with a positive note taking on the likes of Dillion O’Reilly and Tyson PowellTom Berry will have a strong challenge against Hill, while Laitham Vandermeer and Hayden Young will look to create run out of defence. Ely Smith joins Sam Walsh and Sam Fletcher in the midfield, while the forward set-up of Oscar BrownlessNed McHenry and Xavier Duursma seemed to provide opportunities last week, with Brodie Kemp coming into the mix for his first game.

Following her brother’s lead pays off for Jordyn Allen

DANDENONG Stingrays captain, Jordyn Allen followed her brother around as a youngster, throwing herself into any sport he did.

Unlike many TAC Cup Girls players who have come from a netball or basketball background, Allen’s journey into Aussie Rules has been quite unique.

“I think I did one ballet performance and tried a couple of horse riding things but it never really stuck,” she said. “Then I raced motocross for seven years when I was younger. “For three or four years, I was playing footy and racing motocross and then footy kind of started to amp up a little bit.”

It came about because her brother took up the sport, and little did she know that she would be picked to play for the Dandenong Stingrays as a 13 year-old and captain the side in 2018.

At the start of the year, captaining the side was a challenging role for Allen, who had to remain positive despite five losses to start the season. But being a mature person, that was not a problem for one of the best captains in the TAC Cup Girls competition.

“We were in it to win games,” Allen admitted. “That was the whole thing, we just needed to get to that next level. “We lost a lot of games by making silly errors so it was about refining that and addressing that, overcoming it and adjusting our game plan and our style of play around that.”

Thanks to Allen’s positive reinforcement, as well as her stellar football, the Stingrays stormed home to win their last four games of the season.

As for her own season, Allen has had the opportunity to represent the AFLW Academy against Geelong’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side, and captain Vic Country in its first hit-out of the AFL Women’s National Under 18 Championships. The Dandenong Stingrays captain believed that being a part of the AFLW Academy has benefitted her in many ways as she strives for a spot on an AFLW list.

“That (AFLW Academy) is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of,” Allen said. “It’s so awesome. “You have access to elite coaches and facilities and some of the opportunities that have arisen from it have been phenomenal. “It really does take your football to the next level. “It’s an awesome thing to be a part of.”

Allen’s most recent football achievement comes from the Casey Demons VFLW club, where she has played two games for the side so far. Although it is another commitment to add to her busy schedule, she admits that being in the Casey side has helped to balance her week.

“Now that I’m with Casey VFLW, I get two sessions in one,” Allen said. “We do gym after training so it kind of takes the edge of me having to find time to do another training session during the week. “I train twice with Casey during the week but it was harder to juggle school and TAC because I was training two nights then having to do two weight sessions as well as school and settling into Year 12. “It was stressful at times but I probably wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Next, she is off to the Gold Coast to don the ‘Big V’ for Vic Country in her fifth year of representing Victoria. Despite being selected so many times for Vic Country, Allen admits that receiving the letter of invitation to represent her state is still a moment that gives her goosebumps.

“It (being selected) still gives you tingles every single time you get selected,” the 17 year-old said. “It’s no guarantee you’re going to get selected regardless if you’re an Academy player or a TAC Cup player and I think more so this year, it was more of a relief because there’s so much talent coming through. “It was more like my job’s not done, I still have a lot to prove.”

Allen is not only hoping to prove herself in the ‘Big V’ but has her eyes well and truly set on proving herself in an AFLW jumper.

“AFLW is the dream for me, I have my heart set on it,” the Dandenong Stingrays captain said. “Obviously I want to have a career in another field on the side, but AFLW’s definitely something I’m aiming for.”