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VFLW: Preview - Round 11

Melbourne Uni will take on top of the table Collingwood this Saturday afternoon.

3:50pm Jul 19, 2019

Kearney’s new direction

Emma Kearney says her role as the captain of the Kangaroos will make her a better educator.

3:40pm Jul 19, 2019

1. Sophie Abbatangelo

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A clever player with real x-factor, Abbatangelo will be a threat with her offensive and defensive pressure. 

“She is really strong overhead for someone of her size and is clean at ground level, which will give her multiple methods to impact inside 50,” North AFLW list manager Rhys Harwood said. 

Abbatangelo has shown great character in her personal development this season.

2. Daria Bannister

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A strong bodied midfielder, Bannister has long been considered as one of Tasmania’s best talents.

Selected with pick 19 in the 2017 draft, Bannister missed the entire 2018 season after rupturing her ACL.

Having successfully recovered from her injury, Bannister plans to make amends for the time spent on the sidelines.

“Daria has the capacity to play as both a strong bodied inside midfielder or high half-forward,” Harwood stated.

“We are looking forward to working with Daria through her rehab as she pushes towards a return, and what promises to be a long and exciting career.”

3. Taylor Mesiti

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Mesiti has the speed and strength to allow her to impact the game both in the air and at ground level.

“At 175cm we feel she’s shown really good form at both ends of the ground this season, with her movement and marking allowing her to play multiple roles,” North's AFLW List Manager Rhys Harwood said.

Mesiti’s versatility is a huge advantage.

“She will add to both our immediate and long term stocks at either end, which was certainly something we were mindful of in this pre-draft period.”

4. Elisha King

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A classy distributor, King joins North with the ability to play multiple positions.

An elite junior, King was an All-Australian representative at just 16. The smooth-moving utility is regarded for her capacity to play on a wing or at half-back.

The 18-year-old impressed in her trial with North with her mobility a key strength.

“We felt Elisha was unlucky to miss out on being drafted last year due to injury, and during her trial at the club, she showed some strong athletic qualities that can be hard to find,” Rhys Harwood said.

“Elisha spent some time at the Lions this year as a training squad member so she has some experience in an AFLW environment.  

"We anticipate Elisha developing into a player who can really aid our ball movement with her skills.”

5. Kate Gillespie-Jones

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Initially a forward, Gillespie-Jones’ athletic profile enables her to play in almost every role around the ground, bringing great flexibility to the team.

“Katherine is particularly diligent when playing as a defender and she’s genuinely competitive,” Harwood said.

“She has shown the ability to impact both aerially and on the ground in all roles she’s been tasked with.

“Katherine will be a huge asset off field as well, being renowned for her elite training habits and standards, as well as being an exceptional character.”

6. Emma Humphries

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Humphries has shown the capacity to play all areas and will add great flexibility. Her explosive speed and effective ball use will be invaluable, particularly on the defensive end.

Tasmanian-born Humphries, will bring two years of AFLW experience to the side and will play an important leadership role.

“She has established herself as one of the premier players in the Tasmanian State League Women’s (TSLW) so she will be an important player for us and will serve as an important role model to the young Tasmanian players and AFLW hopefuls,” List Manager Rhys Harwood said.

“It will be really special when Emma has the opportunity to return to Tassie and play in front of her home crowd next season.”

7. Ash Riddell

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Running machine Riddell, will look to boost the strength of North Melbourne’s midfield and forward stocks.

After establishing herself at Diamond Creek, Riddell earned selection in the VFLW team of the year.

Captain of MUWFC, the club has high-hopes for the 22-year-old.

“Ash is a ready-made midfielder, with the versatility to play inside, off a wing, or as a half-forward," recruiter Rhys Harwood told North Media.

"She has a great step, elite aerobic capacity, and is terrific user of the ball by both hand and foot. 

“Ash’s performance and commitment whilst training with Melbourne University this pre-season, as well as her outstanding character, made it impossible not to give her an opportunity and reflects in her being chosen to captain Melbourne University in 2018.”

9. Emma Kearney (captain) Kearney.jpg

Having been awarded the 2018 league best-and-fairest, club best-and-fairest and winning the Premiership, Kearney is by far, the best player in the competition.

Kearney has long ties to North from her early playing career with Melbourne University Women’s Football Club (MUWFC), where she won five best-and-fairest awards and served as captain.

Kearney's list of achievements is phenomenal, and the dual athlete (cricket & football) plays a vital role for the Roos.

The three-time All-Australian also has a role as sport and recreation co-ordinator with North's award winning not-for-profit education arm, The Huddle. 

“Emma has an elite ability to accumulate the football around the ground as well as being a dominant stoppage player. She plays with genuine intent and ferocity,” North AFLW list manager Rhys Harwood told North Media.

“She will add tremendous leadership and experience to the club both on and off the field.”

Kearney's first season at Arden Street was a success, finishing second in the inaugural best and fairest count, just 11 votes behind the outright winner, Jenna Bruton.

Despite being tagged in most games, Kearney set a record for clearances (43) and stoppage first possessions (52).

The club captain tallied a career-high 31 disposals in Round 5, and averaged 20.1 disposals per game, while also being crowned the inaugural AFLW Shinboner of the Year.

After impressing during the home-and-away season, Kearney was joined by Jess Duffin, Emma King and Jas Garner, earning selection in the 2019 AFL Women’s All-Australian team. 

10. Kaitlyn Ashmore

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With pace to burn, Kaitlyn Ashmore possesses the ability to split opposition midfields.

Ashmore transitioned out of a promising career in athletics to pursue her football dream. The decision has been validated with Ashmore playing in two consecutive AFLW Grand Finals.

Originally from Melbourne and no stranger to the MUWFC, Ashmore returns to her home state after committing to the Roos.

“Kaitlyn has real versatility in her game having been able to spend time on a wing, half-forward or as a genuine on-baller,” Harwood said.

“Kaitlyn will give us a different look through the midfield, and we think her ability to carry the footy will really break some games open.

“She’s an exciting player to watch and we think she’ll have a big impact in our side.”

11. Daisy Bateman

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Bateman was selected by the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos with pick 25.

Bateman played for the Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup and Collingwood in the VFLW, earning a spot in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year along with an AFLW Under-18 All-Australian berth.

Coming from a basketball background, the 18-year-old showed great promise in-front of goal, bagging 14 goals from just seven TAC Cup matches, which included a five-goal haul.

In the VFLW, Bateman kicked ten goals for the Magpies.

"Daisy was our first pick in the draft, we were a bit suprised that she was still available to us." explained Gowans.

"She's an Oakleigh Chargers girl, she played really well. She's one of those players that is a small forward type, but has the ability to kick around corners.

"She has the ability to kick two or three goals per game and her defensive pressure is pretty good for a small forward as well."

12. Nicole Bresnehan

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The Clarence vice-captain is a dynamic player that is able to contribute around the ground.

Bresnehan has long had ties to the Roos, spending time training with Melbourne University in the VFLW, and featured in the original announcement of the club’s AFLW license. 

"Nicole is one of those players that has a lot of upside," coach Scott Gowans said.

"I just like the way she attacks the contest, particularly after half-time in that game she played with us.

"She's got the talent to really become a really good midfielder and potentially go forward, but at half-back as well."

16. Tahlia Randall

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A versatile tall, Randall will offer a competitive edge to North in several key areas.

Selected with pick 15 in the 2016 draft, Randall has had a rapid ascension, looking at home in both the ruck and in defence.

The former Queensland volleyballer, who earned a Rising Star nomination in Round 6 of the 2018 season, is seen as a key position player due to her flexibility.

“We have followed Tahlia closely over the past few years and believe she is one of the most promising young key position players in the AFLW,” Harwood stated.

“She came across and played a game at MUWFC last year in the VFLW and we were very impressed with her game.

“We envisage Tahlia playing a key role in our defence for a long time. Tahlia reads the ball well in the air, allowing her to win the ball back and intercept mark, and has also shown the ability to play in a lock-down role when required.”

18. Brittany Gibson

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Renowned for her competitive spirit and physicality, Gibson has all the attributes to quickly become a fan favourite.

The 26-year-old, who took part in an AFLW Grand Final during her time with Brisbane, was drafted from the Burnie Dockers in Tasmania.

In her time in the Tasmanian Women’s League, the hard-working forward secured best and fairest honours.

“With her strength and size, Brittany has a genuine physical impact on every contest she is involved in,” Harwood said.

“Importantly, she has also shown the tactical skill to play multiple roles, so she will add some real versatility to our midfield mix.

“Off the field, her passion for the development of football in Tasmania is second to none, and we can’t wait for her to get the opportunity to play in her home state.”

19. Jasmine Grierson

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Grierson is one of the brightest young talents in the AFLW and was selected in the All-Australian Initial Squad at just 18.

A versatile player, Grierson will predominantly play in the midfield where she can use her genuine power to break through congestion.

Her ability to use both sides of her body, combined with her ability to read the game,  makes her an important addition to the team.

“We believe she will continue to develop and build on her terrific start to her AFLW career,” List Manager Rhys Harwood said.

“She will give us a different look with her flexibility, and ability inside the contest. Above all, Jas is an outstanding person who we couldn’t be more excited to bring to the club.”

20. Beth Lynch

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A limited tenure in football hasn’t halted the fast rise of Beth Lynch.

With an extensive background in netball, the versatile recruit, who can fulfil roles in both midfield and defence, developed at an impressive rate with Richmond in the VFLW.

Boasting an athletic frame with natural ball-handling skills, Lynch will add drive and energy to North’s defensive six.

“Beth played a number of roles across the season but really impressed across half-back and on the wing,” Rhys Harwood said.

“2018 was Beth’s first season of football, and her development and growth with Richmond VFLW over the course of the year was very impressive.

“At 173cm, she will add some real flexibility to our defensive mix. We’re excited to work with Beth and develop her game over the coming seasons.”

21. Jess Trend

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With a wealth of footy experience, Trend is sure to be a threat with her knowledge, form and speed.

“Trend has put together a really solid season for Essendon in the VFLW, with her form in the back half of the year really impressing us,” North's AFLW List Manager Rhys Harwood said. 

“She has performed in all areas on the ground at different stages of the season, and has been particularly impressive off a wing and across half-back given the way she moves across the ground.

“Combined with some real speed, Jess is strong overhead, generally quite robust for her size, and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand.

“We envisage Jess being able to compete at AFLW level quickly and think her attributes really suit the way we want to play.”

25. Jasmine Garner

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Garner will bolster North’s forward stocks after committing to the royal blue and white stripes.

The key forward started her football journey in Melbourne’s inner-western suburbs, earning All-Australian status at junior level while playing for Yarraville Football Club.

Known for kicking the first goal in the AFLW, Garner is lauded for her marking ability and is considered one of the strongest forwards in the competition.

“Jasmine is one of the brightest young talents in the AFLW and will play a key role in the front half for North Melbourne,” Harwood said.

“A strong key forward with elite hands, as well as significant ability below her knees for a player of her height, gives her multiple methods to impact as a forward.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the further growth in her game in the coming years.”

Garner was named at half-forward in the 2019 Virgin Australia AFL Women’s All-Australian team.

27. Jess Duffin

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An elite athlete, Duffin has been a staple of consistency. 

The dual-code athlete (cricket & football) earned recognition as an All-Australian squad member in successive seasons and is held in high regard due to her clean disposal by foot, while also proving to be just as effective in front of goal.

The accomplished ball-winner spent two seasons with the Magpies, averaging 13 touches per game in 2018, leading to selection in the All-Australian squad.

Duffin validated her reputation as a genuine ball-winner, with her form carrying over in the state competition, lifting the Lambert-Pearce Medal, as the league’s best and fairest player. Duffin was also named captain of the 2018 VFLW Team of the Year.

No stranger to the big stage, Duffin has also represented Australia in cricket on the international stage, as well as representing the Melbourne Renegades in the Women’s Big Bash League.  

Despite her dual sporting commitments, Duffin didn’t miss a beat upon her return ahead of the 2019 AFLW season, posting record numbers in several statistical categories.

Known for her outstanding skills by foot, the rebounding defender had the most effective kicks (72) of any player across three seasons of the AFLW, and the most effective short kicks (47).

She also set the record for marks (40) and intercept marks (22).

Duffin was joined by North skipper Emma Kearney, Emma King and Jas Garner, earning selection in the 2019 AFL Women’s All-Australian team. 

28. Libby Haines

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Tasmanian native and twin sister of Chloe, Libby Haines has been selected by the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos with pick 56 in the 2018 AFLW Draft.

Haines finished in the top five in two categories at the AFLW Draft Combine, listed among the best in the 20-metre sprint and 2km time trial.

Her elite speed and endurance lend to her strong defensive game, and she is known for her closing speed and tenacity on the ball carrier.

"It was the natonals where I noticed her in Queensland," said Gowans.

"Her ability to spoil, defend and beat an opponent basically. She came up to Melboure Uni and played very well with us. I couldn't be more impressed with Libby."

29. Chloe Haines

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Drafted with pick 53 in the 2018 AFLW Draft, midfielder Chloe Haines will undoubtedly add speed and class to North Melbourne’s midfield in the years to come.

A Tasmanian native, Haines represented Tasmania and the Eastern Allies during the season, showing her ability to play in multiple positions around the ground and make a significant impact.

A strong overhead mark, the 18-year-old has no issues hitting the scoreboard either and is efficient in front of goal.

"She's an exciting prospect," said Gowans.

"Chloe is very good with her hands and she's worked really hard at her game with her kicking and skills. We're very excited to have her."

31. Danielle Hardiman

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Key defender Hardiman holds a reputation as being amongst the best intercept players in the league.

Also effective on the ball, the 23-year-old rebounded from a serious ankle injury in 2017, which caused her to miss the entire VFLW season. The skilful defender triumphantly returned the following year, playing six matches.

Hardiman started playing footy in Melbourne's outer-south-east and was selected to play for Victoria's under-18 side, despite being just 16.

“Danielle has some real defensive versatility and is able to play both tall and small,” Harwood said.

“We think her skill-set is quite rare and we couldn’t be more excited to bring a player of her calibre to the club.

“Danielle will really stiffen our defence up, and we feel she is one of the more underrated players in the competition. She also possesses a great left foot and can impact offensively on the way out.”

35. Jenna Bruton

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Fleet of foot, Bruton strengthened North’s roving stocks with her clean usage around stoppages.

Selected with pick 11 in the 2017 AFLW draft, Bruton was picked on the back of a standout campaign in the VFLW, where she gained selection in the VFLW Team of the Year.

An ever-present threat with her abilities, Bruton has been a mainstay in North’s engine room.

“Jenna’s vision and execution in tight is very exciting and will add different look to our midfield group,” Harwood said.

“Jenna possesses a genuine step and importantly will be able to rotate through a number of roles. We’re excited to work with Jenna and were confident she will be a long-term midfielder for us.”

Bruton was rewarded for an excellent 2019 campaign, winning the first ever North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos best and fairest medal.

The midfielder finished first on 107 votes, with her average disposals increasing significantly from 11 last season to 18.

60. Emma King

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Towering authority King is seen by many as the competition's most elite rucks.

King accumulated an impressive 125 total hit-outs in 2018 , averaging 17.9 per game; the third highest in the competition.

With impressive footwork, and an ability to play as a legitimate forward underlines her importance to the team.

“Emma possesses a strong ruck-craft and brings both physicality and athleticism to the role,” Harwood said.

“Her tactical skill for a player of her size is of real quality, as is her ability to find the footy around the ground. Emma will play a big role for us structurally.”

Managing dual ruck and forward responsibilities, King finished the 2019 season with eight goals, averaging 3.4 score involvements. She finished sixth in the league for hit-outs.

A dominant campaign as a ruck/forward also saw King finish highest amongst North players at the AFLW Awards, and fourth overall.

The key tall rounded out an impressive year with selection in the 2019 AFL Women’s All-Australian team, alongside fellow Roos Emma Kearney, Jas Garner and Jess Duffin.