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AFLW 2020 club by club: lists, key players and predictions

Coach: Matthew Clarke
Co-captains: Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall
Squad: Caitlin Gould, Eloise Jones, Angela Foley, Chloe Scheer, Courtney Gum, Hannah Button (nee Martin), Nikki Gore, Najwa Allen, Deni Varnhagen, Ebony Marinoff, Rhiannon Metcalfe, Chelsea Biddell, Maisie Nankivell, Erin Phillips, Stevie-Lee Thompson, Danielle Ponter, Ailish Considine, Madison Newman, Ruth Wallace, Sophie Li, Nicole Campbell, Montana McKinnon, Courtney Cramey, Justine Mules, Jessica Foley, Chelsea Randall, Renee Forth, Jaimi Tabb, Dayna Cox, Marijana Rajcic, Anne Hatchard, Sarah Allan.

Key player: Erin Phillips. Phillips has been the standout player of the competition’s history to date, claiming two league best and fairest titles and looking a class above when fit due to her skill and outrageous athleticism. Dangerous both forward and in the midfield, she can turn a game in little time. But the veteran ruptured her ACL in last year’s grand final and faces a delayed start to the season. The Crows’ chances of going back-to-back may hinge on how much football they can get from their co-captain.

Erin Phillips is the competition's best player.

Erin Phillips is the competition’s best player.Credit:AAP

Last season: Premiers (8-1)
The Crows lost the opening game of their season by a point to the Western Bulldogs before wiping the floor with the rest of the competition, winning eight straight matches in what ultimately proved to be a premiership procession. No one got within five goals of them from round four onwards, with Adelaide’s coronation coming as they crushed Carlton by 45 points in front of more than 53,000 fans at Adelaide Oval.

Prediction: Adelaide again loom as the team to beat, given their already strong core – the Crows had five All-Australians last year – and the fact they’ve been largely immune to the expansion raiders, an advantage of being in a one-team town. The biggest threat to Adelaide’s campaign could be injuries. Phillips, Metcalfe and Scheer are all on the road back from ACL injuries, while midfielder Martin and brilliant co-captain Randall will both miss the season following knee reconstructions. Wing Varnhagen is also facing a delayed start to her campaign following a knee injury sustained in a practice match last weekend against Fremantle.

Brisbane Lions

Coach: Craig Starcevich
Captain: Emma Zielke
Squad: Emily Bates, Jordan Zanchetta, Breanna Koenen, Sharni Webb, Jade Ellenger, Lily Postlehwaite, Gabby Collingwood, Emma Zielke, Orla O’Dwyer, Natalie Grider, Rheanne Lugg, Sophie Conway, Kate Lutkins, Dakota Davidson, Greta Bodey, Lauren Arnell, Isabel Dawes, Ally Anderson, Selina Priest, Shannon Campbell, Arianna Clarke, Brianna McFarlane, Jess Wuetschner, Tahlia Hickie, Catherine Svarc, Lucy Bellinger, Jessy Keeffe, Maria Moloney, Hannah Hillman.

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Key player: Jess Wuetschner. There have been few more consistent forwards in the competition across the first few seasons than the tenacious and crafty Wuetschner, who was an All-Australian in 2018 and has kicked 26 goals from 23 AFLW matches, second only to the incomparable Phillips. Pocket rocket Wuetschner survived a major scare on the eve of the season after she was struck by lightning while working on the docks in Brisbane, however the Tasmanian remains on track to play in round one.

How they went last year: Fourth in conference B (2-5)
Losing grand finalists in both of the first two AFLW seasons, the Lions were unable to replicate that form in 2019. Their best was still strong – beating reigning premiers the Western Bulldogs on the road in round four – but overall they were mediocre. A finals spot still beckoned heading into the last round of the season but Brisbane’s loss to the previously winless Collingwood showed that the Lions ultimately weren’t up to the mark.

Prediction: The Bulldogs have also been pillaged over the journey, but perhaps no club has been harder hit by expansion than the Lions, who head into 2020 looking worryingly inexperienced. Tayla Harris, Jamie Stanton and Kaitlyn Ashmore left across the first couple of years of the competition before Sabrina Frederick, Nat Exon, Kate McCarthy, captain Leah Kaslar, Sam Virgo and Jacqui Yorston departed at the end of last season, not to mention assistant coach David Lake who has taken the reins at Gold Coast. Having gone goalless in their practice match against Greater Western Sydney last weekend, a tough year looms for the Lions.

Geelong

Coach: Paul Hood
Captain: Melissa Hickey
Squad: Rene Caris, Danielle Higgins, Amy McDonald, Cassie Blakeway, Jordan Ivey, Julia Crockett-Grills, Madisen Maguire, Kate Darby, Nina Morrison, Georgie Rankin, Meg McDonald, Renee Garing, Aasta O’Connor, Gemma Wright, Olivia Purcell, Georgia Clarke, Melissa Hickey, Millie Brown, Mia Skinner, Becky Webster, Nicole Garner, Phoebe McWilliams, Maddy McMahon, Madeleine Boyd, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Denby Taylor, Richelle Cranston, Anna Teague, Bec Goring, Maddy Keryk.

Key player: Meg McDonald. Discarded by the Bulldogs after the first season of AFLW, McDonald made the Dogs regret that decision with a brilliant debut campaign for the Cats last season. Shifted into defence, McDonald was reliable in the air, and was one of the big reasons Geelong made it to the finals in their first season. She was rewarded with All-Australian selection and claimed the Cats’ inaugural AFLW best and fairest gong even after playing the back end of the season with a stress fracture in her foot. But the Geelong vice-captain broke her finger at training on Thursday night and has been ruled out until at least the midway point of the season.

Cats skipper Melissa Hickey.

Cats skipper Melissa Hickey.Credit:Getty Images

Last season: Losing preliminary finalists (3-5).
It was a funny old first season for the Cats, who ended up making the finals despite having the worst percentage in the competition. Geelong benefitted from the fact they were placed in the ultimately much weaker Conference B, with narrow wins over Collingwood and Carlton proving telling. But Geelong had averaged just 22 points across the home and away season, and their lack of firepower was laid bare in a 66-point finals thrashing at the hands of the Crows.

Prediction: The Cats went with a young squad for their first season, hoping their group would grow together in the coming years. Last year’s finals berth will be difficult to back up though given the way they made it, although the return of 2018’s No.1 draft pick Nina Morrison – who tore her ACL at training days after the round one win over Collingwood last season – should be a big boost to the Cats’ midfield. The loss of McDonald will hurt.

Gold Coast

Coach: David Lake
Co-captains: Leah Kaslar and Sam Virgo
Squad: Paige Parker, Lauren Bella, Tori Groves-Little, Jordann Hickey, Jacqui Yorston, Charlotte Hammans, Lauren Ahrens, Sally Riley, Emma Pittman, Maddy Roberts, Leah Kaslar, Molly Ritson, Taylor Smith, Serene Watson, Tayla Thorn, Brittany Perry, Jamie Stanton, Kitara Whap-Farrar, Tiarna Ernst, Jasmyn Hewett, Ellie Hampson, Sam Virgo, Kalinda Howarth, Hannah Dunn, Dee Heslop, Kate Surman, Cheyenne Hammond, Lexi Hamilton, Jade Pregelj, Georgia Breward.

Key player: Leah Kaslar. One of several players to have defected from the Lions, there was perhaps no bigger signing for the expansion club than the defender, who captained Brisbane last year. The dependable veteran plays tall at 171 centimetres and was a member of the All-Australian squad in 2017.

Last season: NA

Prediction: Gold Coast tried to pick the eyes out of what was an already depleted Lions squad, while they’ve also landed a handful of players from reigning premiers Adelaide. But the bulk of their list is made up of inexperienced Queenslanders. The junior girls’ pathway in the Sunshine State has been a successful breeding ground, but depth will be tested. A practice match defeat to fellow expansion club St Kilda probably showed the Suns’ level.

Greater Western Sydney

Coach: Alan McConnell
Captain: Alicia Eva
Squad: Emily Goodsir, Alicia Eva, Alyce Parker, Maggie Gorham, Jodie Hicks, Rebecca Beeson, Jess Dal Pos, Nicola Barr, Tanya Hetherington, Ellie Brush, Aimee Schmidt, Louise Stephenson, Cora Staunton, Annalyse Lister, Lisa Whiteley, Taylah Davies, Georgia Garnett, Rebecca Privitelli, Lisa Steane, Pepa Randall, Elle Bennetts, Erin McKinnon, Haneen Zrelka, Ingrid Nielsen, Yvonne Bonner, Sarah Halvorsen, Tait Mackrill, Jacinda Barclay, Britt Tully, Jess Allan.

Giants leaders: Jessica Dal Pos, Cora Staunton, Alicia Eva, Pepa Randall and Britt Tully.

Giants leaders: Jessica Dal Pos, Cora Staunton, Alicia Eva, Pepa Randall and Britt Tully. Credit:Louise Kennerley

Key player: Cora Staunton. A legend of Gaelic football in Ireland, Staunton turned her hand to the Australian game a couple of years ago and has become one of the Giants’ best players, proving a handful up forward over the past couple of years. A broken leg suffered while playing in the AFL Sydney competition last May threatened to end her career, but at 38 she has inspirationally returned and has been elevated to the GWS leadership group.

Last season: Third in conference B (2-5).
Hopes for the Giants were high after a promising 2018 season in which they narrowly missed a grand final berth. But things just didn’t click for GWS last year, with several important players unable to replicate their form from 12 months earlier. Three straight losses to start the season left them with an uphill battle, although a comfortable final-round win over the Cats was a reminder of the group’s potential.

Prediction: Like the Crows, the Giants benefit from the fact they are in a one-team state. But they still lost crafty forward Christina Bernardi and midfielder Phoebe Monahan to Richmond, as well as experienced on-baller Emma Swanson to West Coast. Inaugural Giants captain Amanda Farrugia also announced her retirement last year, leaving GWS reasonably depleted. However there is still plenty of talent on this list, evidenced by the way they put the Lions to the sword last weekend.

North Melbourne

Coach: Scott Gowans
Captain: Emma Kearney
Squad: Sophie Abbatangelo, Daria Bannister, Taylor Mesiti, Elisha King, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Emma Humphries, Ashleigh Riddell, Aileen Gilroy, Emma Kearney, Kaitlyn Ashmore, Daisy Bateman, Nicole Bresnehan, Mairead Seoighe, Tahlia Randall, Sarah Wright, Brittany Gibson, Jasmine Grierson, Bethany Lynch, Jessica Trend, Ellie Gavalas, Mia King, Tahni Nestor, Jasmine Garner, Abbey Green, Jess Duffin, Libby Haines, Chloe Haines, Danielle Hardiman, Jenna Bruton, Vivien Saad, Emma King.

Key player: Jasmine Garner. The key forward will forever be etched in history having kicked the first goal in the history of AFLW when playing for Collingwood against Carlton in the opening round of 2017. She moved to Arden Street ahead of North’s inaugural AFLW campaign and again impressed, making the All-Australian side and forming part of a prolific Kangaroos outfit.

Last season: Third in Conference A (5-2).
North had ruffled feathers with an audacious recruiting spree leading into their first AFLW season so unsurprisingly expectations were high heading into the 2019 campaign. The Roos started with four straight wins including a thumping victory over reigning premiers the Bulldogs, but were brought down to earth by Adelaide in round five. The Roos headed to Western Australia, needing to beat Fremantle to make the finals but were trumped by the Dockers. North could consider themselves stiff to have missed the finals given their record would have been enough to top the other conference.

Prediction: North again look like one of the teams to beat. They weren’t that far off the mark last season and have looked to improve their forward pressure, resulting in the controversial decision to delist high-profile goalkicker Moana Hope after just one season at the club. The loss of All-Australian defender Jess Duffin – who will miss the season because of pregnancy – leaves a hole but this is a very talented group that should contend for a flag.

Jess Duffin will miss the upcoming season for North Melbourne.

Jess Duffin will miss the upcoming season for North Melbourne.Credit:Joe Armao

Richmond

Coach: Tom Hunter
Captain: Katie Brennan
Squad: Sophie Molan, Phoebe Monahan, Katie Brennan, Monique Conti, Madeline Brancatisano, Christina Bernardi, Lauren Tesoriero, Courtney Wakefield, Hannah Burchell, Kodi Jacques, Alice Edmonds, Laura Bailey, Alana Woodward, Sabrina Frederick, Rebecca Miller, Laura McClelland, Ella Wood, Sarah Sansonetti, Kate Dempsey, Holly Whitford, Iilish Ross, Nekaela Butler, Emma Horne, Tayla Stahl, Cleo Saxon-Jones, Ciara Fitzgerald, Emily Harley, Gabby Seymour, Akec Makur Chuot, Grace Campbell.

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Key player: Monique Conti. Brennan might be the captain and a bigger name for now but Conti – who only turned 20 in December – could be the Tigers’ best signing. Traded from the Western Bulldogs after a tense and acrimonious period in which the AFL ultimately handed Richmond pick one to trade for the midfielder, Conti has shown her quality already in two seasons since making her debut, named best afield in the Dogs’ 2018 grand final before claiming the club’s best and fairest and being named All-Australian last season. Conti has turned her back on the WNBL’s Melbourne Boomers, with the cross-code star set to channel all her energies for now on helping the Tigers into the finals.

Last season: NA

Prediction: The Tigers were much more successful than fellow expansion side St Kilda in landing big-name recruits for their entry into the competition. Richmond’s side looks pretty talented on paper, although like several sides their depth could be an issue. Keen to establish herself as one of the competition’s leading midfielders, Brennan is only expected to pinch-hit as a forward, but as shown in the practice match against West Coast, the likes of Bernardi, Stahl and Wakefield can be a handful, not to mention the imposing figure of Frederick.

Conference B

Carlton

Coach: Daniel Harford
Co-captains: Katie Loynes and Kerryn Harrington
Squad: Grace Egan, Katie Loynes, Darcy Vescio, Madison Prespakis, Abbie McKay, Gabriella Pound, Tayla Harris, Vaomua Laloifi, Kerryn Harrington, Sarah Hosking, Jess Hosking, Lauren Brazzale, Lucy McEvoy, Brooke Walker, Chloe Dalton, Breann Moody, Katie Harrison, Georgia Gee, Charlotte Wilson, Nicola Stevens, Courtney Jones, Sharnie Whiting, Jess Edwards, Joanne Doonan, Emerson Woods, Alison Downie, Brooke Vernon, Natalie Plane, Serena Gibbs, Jayde Van Dyk.

Key player: Madison Prespakis. Taken as the No.3 draft pick in 2018, Prespakis burst onto the scene last year. The nuggety midfielder showed her class from early in the season and produced a debut campaign to savour. She was a lay down misere for the Rising Star award, and earned All-Australian selection as a teenager. Prespakis has plenty of upside too, and if she can improve her tank could soon be in discussions for the league’s best player.

Maddy Prespakis won the Rising Star award last year.

Maddy Prespakis won the Rising Star award last year.Credit:Justin McManus

Last season: 5-4 (Runners-up)
From the ashes of a wooden-spoon finish the previous year, Harford turned things around at Ikon Park, with his vibrant and jovial personality translating into the way his side played the game. The Blues lost three of their first four but charged home and brushed Fremantle aside in the preliminary final although Carlton were ultimately no match for the mighty Crows on grand final day.

Prediction: The defection of captain Brianna Davey to arch rivals Collingwood pained the Blues but they look to have made the most of the loss, picking up young gun midfielder Lucy McEvoy with the No.2 pick they gained in the trade for Davey. There is an experienced core which has proven itself capable of making an impact, and with Prespakis and McEvoy on the rise the Blues should again be competitive. Harford has flagged a move forward for Stevens, who made a name for herself in defence.

Collingwood

Coach: Steve Symonds
Captain: Steph Chiocci
Squad: Sharni Layton, Chloe Molloy, Brianna Davey, Sarah D’Arcy, Emma Grant, Jordyn Allen, Sarah Rowe, Brittany Bonnici, Alana Porter, Ashleigh Brazill, Eliza Hynes, Stacey Livingstone, Jaimee Lambert, Aishling Sheridan, Erica Fowler, Katie Lynch, Stephanie Chiocci, Ruby Schleicher, Kaila Bentvelzen, Jordan Membrey, Sophie Casey, Lauren Butler, Sophie Alexander, Mikala Cann, Georgia Gourlay, Machaelia Roberts, Maddie Shevlin, Kristy Stratton, Sarah Dargan, Ebony O’Dea.

Key player: Chloe Molloy. The No.3 selection in the 2017 draft, Molloy quickly established herself as one of the league’s best defenders, playing her architect role to a tee in 2018. She was named the league’s Rising Star, finished second in the competition’s best and fairest, and was an All-Australian. However a serious foot injury ruled her out of the 2018 season, badly hurting the Pies. But she is back, and if she can recapture her best will make a substantial difference.

Last season: 1-6 (Last in conference A)
Pillaged by rival clubs – in particular North Melbourne – the Pies were always going to be up against it last year, especially given Molloy’s injury. Their young group was plucky but struggled to ice games, and only on the final day of the home and away season did Collingwood avoid becoming the first team to go through an AFLW season winless, beating the Lions at Victoria Park. Despite the gains made by some of their youth, coach Wayne Siekman was not retained after three barren seasons.

Ijury sidelined Collingwood's Chloe Molloy last season.

Ijury sidelined Collingwood’s Chloe Molloy last season.Credit:Getty

Prediction: The versatile Davey and classy Molloy should both provide a boost to the Pies, who are yet to make the AFLW finals. However South Australian Symonds still faces an uphill battle, particularly when it comes to finding regular avenues to goal.

Fremantle

Coach: Trent Cooper
Captain: Kara Antonio
Squad: Ashley Sharp, Kiara Bowers, Emma O’Driscoll, Mia-Rae Clifford, Tayla Bresland, Sabreena Duffy, Jasmin Stewart, Evie Gooch, Alex Williams, Aine Tighe, Lindal Rohde , Ebony Antonio, Katie-Jayne Grieve, Leah Mascall, Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan), Sarah Garstone, Roxanne Roux, Philipa Seth, Hayley Miller, Stephanie Cain, Mim Strom, Gabby O’Sullivan, Matilda Sergeant, Ange Stannett, Ann McMahon, Bianca Webb, Gemma Houghton, Janelle Cuthbertson ,Laura Pugh, Kate Flood.

Key player: Ebony Antonio: The versatile Antonio – who married teammate Kara Donnellan late last year – can play at either end of the ground. An All-Australian in 2018, she stands out as one of the Dockers’ guns.

Last season: 6-2 (losing preliminary finalists)
New coach Cooper took the Dockers into uncharted waters last year. Boosted by the return of Bowers from injury, Fremantle surged through the home and away season in the tougher Conference A, losing only once in the minor rounds to finish second behind Adelaide. However the Dockers couldn’t bring their best to Ikon Park when the stakes were high, sent packing by the Blues.

Ebony Antonio in action for the Dockers.

Ebony Antonio in action for the Dockers.Credit:AAP

Prediction: While perhaps not hit quite as hard as the Lions, Fremantle were always going to look weaker on paper this year given the addition of West Coast, who sought to pick the eyes out of the top West Australian talent on Freo’s list. Melissa Caulfield, Ashlee Atkins and in particular All-Australian Dana Hooker take some replacing. Still, the way the Dockers powered through 2019, it would be foolish to write them off. They also landed elite young WA talent Roxy Roux in last year’s draft.

Melbourne

Coach: Mick Stinear
Captain: Daisy Pearce
Squad: Tegan Cunningham, Meg Downie, Maddison Gay, Karen Paxman, Elisa O’Dea, Daisy Pearce, Bianca Jakobsson, Sarah Lampard, Libby Birch, Kate Hore, Chantel Emonson, Shelley Scott, Katherine Smith, Lily Mithen, Lauren Pearce. Aliesha Newman, Niamh McEvoy, Casey Sherriff, Jacqueline Perry, Brenna Tarrant, Harriet Cordner, Maddy Guerin, Sinead Goldrick, Shae Sloane, Tyla Hanks, Eden Zanker, Shelley Heath, Krstel Petrevski, Gabrielle Colvin, Ainslie Kemp.

Key player: Daisy Pearce. It’s hard to go past the iconic Pearce, who returns to the game after missing last season to give birth to twins. But the midfielder is back and looks in fine fettle, appearing a class above in last week’s practice match against Collingwood. Set to turn 32 in May, Pearce might be approaching the twilight of her career but her skills and footy smarts leave her in good stead to keep thriving after All-Australian gongs in 2017 and 2018.

Daisy Pearce is back in action for the Dees.

Daisy Pearce is back in action for the Dees.Credit:Getty Images

Last season: Fourth in Conference A (4-3).
It was a frustratingly familiar story for the Demons, who have been among the most consistent sides across the first three seasons of AFLW without making the finals. Having narrowly missed the decider in both 2017 and 2018, the Dees remained mathematically in the hunt heading into the final round of 2019 but were thumped by Adelaide to unceremoniously end Melbourne’s season.

Prediction: Compared in particular to the Bulldogs, the Dees were relatively spared during the expansion signing period, with their highest-profile departure being that of Cat Phillips to St Kilda. And given that Pearce is effectively a recruit, the Dees could optimistically expect to be a better side this year. That is however before injuries are taken into account, and the Demons haven’t fared well on that front. Defenders Shae Sloane and Katherine Smith have both undergone knee reconstructions while gun ruck Lauren Pearce will miss the start of the season following a knee injury of her own.

St Kilda

Coach: Peta Searle
Co-captains: Rhiannon Watt, Cat Phillips and Kate Shierlaw
Squad: Molly McDonald, Alison Brown, Emma Mackie, Claudia Whitfort, Darcy Guttridge, Samantha Johnson, Rhiannon Watt, Alison Drennan, Kate McCarthy, Jessica Sedunary, Isabella Shannon, Kate Shierlaw, Courteney Munn, Hannah Priest, Nat Exon, Poppy Kelly, Caitlin Greiser, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Melissa Kuys, Kelly O’Neill, Georgia Patrikios, Tamara Luke, Olivia Vesely, Clara Fitzpatrick, Rosie Dillon, Selena Karlson, Nicola Xenos, Nadia von Bertouch, Tarni White, Catherine Phillips

Key player: Kate McCarthy. The speedster signed alongside Exon from the Brisbane Lions. Capable of playing both in the midfield and up forward, McCarthy is a dangerous player and the Saints will be boosted if she can recapture her 2017 All-Australian form.

Dangerous player: Kate McCarthy lays a tackle on Melissa Caulfield.

Dangerous player: Kate McCarthy lays a tackle on Melissa Caulfield.Credit:AAP

Last season: NA

Prediction: Despite a diligent and organised effort, the Saints didn’t have much luck from an expansion signing perspective, left frustrated by their inability to land a big fish. Still, they have plenty of AFLW experience on their list and a strong VFLW campaign last year should leave them more likely to gel than some other sides. Early draftee Georgia Patrikios looks like a star of the future, while young midfielder Olivia Vesely shone in the practice match win against the Suns, a result that should provide heart to St Kilda.

West Coast

Coach: Luke Dwyer
Captain: Emma Swanson
Squad: Mikayla Bowen, Kellie Gibson, Brianna Green, Courtney Guard, McKenzie Dowrick, Emily Bonser, Beatrice Devlyn, Maddy Collier, Ashlee Atkins, Melissa Caulfield, Danika Pisconeri, Niamh Kelly, Emma Swanson, Belinda Smith, Grace Kelly, Ashton Hill, Dana Hooker, Imahra Cameron, Kate Bartlett, Mhicca Carter, Tarnee Tester, Hayley Bullas, Parris Laurie, Talia Radan, Chantella Perera, Emily McGuire, Katherine Orme, Cassie Davidson, Sophie McDonald, Alicia Janz.

Key player: Dana Hooker. One of several Eagles signings poached from Fremantle, Hooker is an ultra-reliable midfielder who won Freo’s inaugural women’s best and fairest in 2017 before being named All-Australian in both 2018 and 2019. There will be a lot of responsibility on her shoulders to lead this inexperienced West Coast outfit.

Last season: NA

Prediction: There’s an argument to say that the talent in WA was already stretched even before the Eagles came into the competition, which makes their task in season one unenviable. There are a handful of experienced AFLW players but for the most part this Eagles list is untested at the level. They will be up against it, although McGuire and Cameron both caught the eye, showing plenty in a practice match loss to the Tigers.

Western Bulldogs

Coach: Nathan Burke
Captain: Ellie Blackburn
Squad: Brooke Lochland, Ellie Blackburn, Isabella Grant, Isabel Huntington, Gabby Newton, Kirsten McLeod, Deanna Berry, Bonnie Toogood, Eleanor Brown, Nicole Callinan, Lauren Spark, Gemma Lagioia, Celine Moody, Ellyse Gamble, Aisling McCarthy, Naomi Ferres, Elisabeth Georgostathis, Britney Gutknecht, Ashleigh Guest, Hannah Munyard, Bailey Hunt, Hannah Scott, Aisling Utri, Kimberley Rennie, Nell Morris-Dalton, Danielle Marshall, Kirsty Lamb, Amelia Van Oosterwijck, Katy Herron, Angelica Gogos.

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Key player: Brooke Lochland. It remains perhaps the best individual performance in an AFLW game to date: Lochland’s seven-goal haul against Carlton in 2018. That showing led to Lochland winning the league’s goalkicking crown that season, as well as an All-Australian gong. But a leg injury on the eve of last season ruled Lochland out until late in the campaign, and she was unable to find her touch from the previous season. The Dogs will be keen for the forward to strike gold again.

Last season: 2-5 (Last in Conference A).
The reigning premiers won their first two matches of the season but were thumped by North in round three and never recovered. The Dogs ended with five losses on the trot to finish two games clear at the bottom of their pool.

Prediction: The mid-year departure of premiership coach Groves led to the appointment of St Kilda great Burke despite denials for weeks that he was interested in the top job at Whitten Oval. Having already lost Emma Kearney and Jenna Bruton to North the previous year, the Dogs again took a hit, with co-captain Brennan and best and fairest Conti among those to depart last year. The silver lining was the acquisition of the No. 1 pick, used on the versatile Newton, who should be a gun. The list already looks vastly different to the one that won the 2018 flag, but there is still a healthy nucleus there. Two years on from her last knee reconstruction, eyes will be stationed on tall forward Huntington, who has also spent time behind the ball in the pre-season.

Ladder predictions:

Conference A

  1. North Melbourne
  2. Adelaide
  3. Richmond
  4. GWS
  5. Geelong
  6. Brisbane
  7. Gold Coast

Conference B

  1. Carlton
  2. Melbourne
  3. Fremantle
  4. Western Bulldogs
  5. Collingwood
  6. St Kilda
  7. West Coast

Premiers: North Melbourne

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