Written by Olivia Clayton
The 2018 Wrest Point TSL Women’s season was launched in style at Wrest Point Casino ahead of all the action getting underway this weekend.
AFL Tasmania CEO Trisha Squires and the AFL’s Head of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone were at the forefront of the launch alongside AFLW player Emma Humphries, who was drafted by the Melbourne Demons from the Burnie Dockers in 2016.
The growth of female football has been rapid in recent years, with Livingstone commenting that this growth is more than just the action on the field.
“Women’s football is more than just about women’s football, it’s actually a movement.
“With this new movement, we are bound to witness more and more stars emerging during the upcoming 18 rounds and three final rounds,” she said.
Launceston took out the inaugural Wrest Point TSLW premiership in 2017 after defeating Glenorchy in the grand final, with the Magpies, Tigers, Clarence and Burnie Dockers all looking to take the crown in 2018.
Representatives from all five teams were in attendance ahead of what promises to be an enthralling Wrest Point TSLW season.
Emma Humphries, who has returned to Tasmania after the 2018 AFL W season, is confident the competition is only going to go from strength to strength as more girls are drawn to participating in the sport.
“They can see a pathway, they can see their idols play on TV and they haven’t been able to do that before,” Humphries said.
We are set for an exciting start with the season getting underway this Sunday with a grand final rematch between Launceston and Glenorchy at Windsor Park.
The Wrest Point TSL Women’s season is almost upon us and AFL Tasmania’s Female Talent Manager Leigh Elder runs through each team and what we can expect.
Enjoy the TSLW Elder scrolls…
2017 Finish: Premiers
OUT – Daria Bannister (injury), Kate Child (South Launceston)
IN – Brooke Thurlow (cross-code), Aimee Hallaby, Camila Taylor (East Launceston)
Launceston are a young talented group looking to defend the premiership. The Blues may have surprised a few by winning a flag so early in their journey, given the young average age of the squad. Key position stocks are plentiful and will have a strong defence, the challenge will be to see if the young midfield can continue to lead the way without the class of Daria Bannister at their disposal. With many players listed in both the Senior state and Under 18 Academies it is without doubt one of the most talented lists in the state, which should see them participate in the big dance again in 2018.
Prediction: First or Second – the Blues look a force to be reckoned with again.
Players to Watch:
Naomi Celebre – has made major improvements in fitness, this noted goal sneak may now also have a major impact through the engine room as well as on the scoreboard.
Abbie Green – TSLW ruckman of the year last year and is taking her game to another level in her bid to fight for an AFLW spot. Green should again be the dominant ruckman in the competition.
2017 Finish: Third (Minor Premiers)
IN – Loveth Ochayi (Tigers), Lizzie Stokely (surfing)
The Roos are returning after a disappointing finals series in 2017 that took them from minor premiers to third position. The Clarence girls will be back, ready and determined to reclaim top spot. Their introductions of Ochayi and Stokely as well as improved fitness for Farrow, Smith and Bresnehan see them likely to be equal flag favourites. They have the balance right between athletic youth and experience contested footballers. Blues and Roos shapes up as a fantastic rivalry across 2018.
Prediction: First or Second – The Roos will be smarting from their fall at the finish last year and will be out for vengeance.
Players to Watch:
Maddie Smith – a healthy, fit Maddie Smith is easily in the top three players in the state. In 2018 we will see her return to her best.
Nicole Bresnehan – In her third season, flash could be the most dynamic player in the competition.
Jenna Farrow – From smart defender to talented inside midfielder, after working hard on her fitness during a strong pre-season.
2017 Finish: Runner Up
IN – Sarah Skinner (Burnie)
OUT – Mandy Fish (Lindisfarne)
After finishing third in the home and away season for 2017, an outstanding finals series saw them challenge for the flag. With some young talent coming through the underage system their list will continue to improve but whether they can match it against the top two teams remains a question unanswered. They are a hard at it football team with some wonderful experienced footballers capable of influencing games in the big moments.
Prediction: Third – an experienced unit that know how to win games but not quite the polish of Launceston and Clarence.
Players to Watch:
Alice Barwick – Lightning quick and hard as nails, she continues to develop her football knowledge and skills. Could use 2018 as a platform to burst into the elite bracket.
Sandy Eaton – After years of dominating Tasmanian Women’s footy in the midfield, has she found a new role in the forward line after last year’s magnificent grand final display? A tremendous leader of the black and white army.
2017 Finish: Fifth
IN – Blaise Miller-Hill (NSW)
OUT – Loveth Ochayi (Clarence)
Taking a step forward after their initial year with 12 months further development for a playing list that is well supported by the whole football club. Under the leadership of some experienced players we should start to see some rapid improvement from this young talented group.
Prediction: Fourth – a step forward in 2018 and a finals appearance for the first time as this young team grows in a much more even competition.
Players to Watch:
Marla Neal – a TSLW team of the year midfielder in 2017, Neal will continue her development in her push to be noticed by AFLW recruiters.
Hannah Squires – Squires doubles as senior player and Stength and Conditioning coach, knows what high performance is all about and is a leader on and off the field.
2017 Finish: Fourth
OUT – Sarah Skinner (Glenorchy), Jessica Brown (Circular Head), Jess Whelan (Wynyard), Zoe Knight (Devonport), Sav Overall (Devonport)
IN – Claire McVerity (NT)
Shown to be a highly talented young group at the TSLW U18 development series, these talented young players will need to cover the loss of senior talent that have left the club following 2017. The club has the two most likely players to be drafted in 2018 but as a young group they are likely to have inconsistencies with the travel schedule ahead of them.
Players to Watch:
Jacqui Mercer – As part of the senior state academy, Mercer has worked extremely hard on her fitness and is primed for a career best season.
Chloe Haines – Inside midfielder/key position forward, talented enough to make AFLW and excelling in the national academy program. She is going to be very important in 2018.
Libby Haines – A talented running half back flanker who is also a member of the national academy, her run and drive will be important for both her state team and her club across the 2018 campaign.