There’s no rest for the wicked, and as Brisbane is in the throes of premiership celebrations, clubs are already looking toward the player movement period.
With the trade and sign period to begin on Thursday, and the AFLW draft slated for December 18, each club will be on the hunt for the pieces that can take them to the next level next year.
So, with all 18 clubs on the hunt for some fresh faces, what kind of players should your team target?
Retirements and position switches mean that the Crows’ forward line needs some support for the likes of Eloise Jones.(Getty Images: Mark Brake)
A tall or mid-sized forward will no doubt be what the Crows are on the hunt for. Both Yvonne Bonner and depth option Lisa Whiteley have retired, and Danielle Ponter’s increasing midfield minutes leaves Caitlin Gould largely one-out in attack. Eloise Jones is still an important component of Adelaide’s front half, but an extra dangerous forward to stretch defences will be important for the club as it searches for a fourth premiership. Think: Mia Austin
Similar to the Crows, adding a marking forward target will be important for the Lions going into 2024. The concern was evident when there was a chance Dakota Davidson would not be available for the grand final, which would have largely left Taylor Smith to take charge up front.
Analea McKee is waiting in the wings, but doesn’t necessarily have the commanding presence required, and Ellie Hampson’s physicality is something the Lions would likely want to keep around the ball if possible, so adding to that forward mix would be handy. Think: Eloise Jones
A linking player between the midfield and forward line is the crucial next stage of development for Carlton, who exceeded expectations this year. Starting as a high half forward and able to push higher up the ground, win the footy and send it to dangerous spots inside the attacking 50, this type of player will complement the Blues’ midfield strength and developing forward line. Think: Jenna Bruton
A season-ending knee injury to Ruby Schleicher has made half-back a key area of need for Collingwood going into 2024.(Getty Images: Matt King)
Adding an aggressive rebounding defender to the mix will greatly assist Collingwood as it looks to bounce back into finals contention. The Pies were exposed this year when Ruby Schleicher became unavailable, and there is a clear want to get Jordyn Allen playing higher up the field, so adding another attacking-minded half-back would help to cover for contingencies and make the list more versatile. Think: Lucy McEvoy
A tall utility, who can be used in a variety of roles will help to cover the movements of Bonnie Toogood in-game. There is a lot of reliance on Toogood to switch into the position that needs the most support as games wear on, but it can at times rob the forward line of her presence. Having another physical player who can slide into those positions and become another weapon for coach Natalie Wood has the potential to further elevate this list. Think: Montana Ham
Aine Tighe was a focal point for Fremantle, but the Dockers need more options up forward if they are to improve their scoring.(Getty Images: AFL Photos/Daniel Carson)
Bringing in a crafty forward who can become the glue in attack will make the Dockers far more dangerous. This year the side was able to generate forward 50 entries, but struggled to then convert that into scoreboard pressure, and while Hayley Miller was strong out of the goal square and Aine Tighe was a focal point, bringing in a smart forward who can really unsettle defences will elevate the work of those senior players. Think: Alice O’Loughlin
After the best season in the club’s history, it will be more about developing its midfield depth through this player movement period. The now-retired Renee Garing was part of that this year, willing to bring that defensive pressure, and improvement from Darcy Moloney was one thing, but adding another player to that midfield/forward rotation will make Geelong more dangerous still. Think: Abbie Ballard
Adding in a mid-20s tall utility would serve Gold Coast well as it works to improve on its finals exit of this season. Jac Dupuy’s safe hands means she is often swung into defence late in quarters, while she’s also often needed as an aerial outlet exiting defence as well as her key forward role. Adding another player who can support that aerial game while teenager Darcie Davies develops, would help the club in both the short and long term. Think: Bonnie Toogood
Greater Western Sydney
Rising Star Zarlie Goldsworthy is a key possession-getter for GWS, but the Giants could use some help in the middle.(Getty Images: Jenny Evans)
Class through the middle is likely the Giants’ first priority over the coming weeks. Rising Star winner Zarlie Goldsworthy is clearly impressive, and Alyce Parker is already a star, but a clean ball user to add around the contest could really help them solidify control at stoppages, rather than rely heavily on quick kicks out of congestion. Think: Claudia Whitfort
The Hawks are another team who would do well to bring in a tall forward option. Bridie Hipwell has been touted as that focal point in attack, and started to show that potential in patches this year, but she cannot be left to fight multiple defenders each week. An added tall in Hawthorn’s attacking 50 would also allow the likes of Greta Bodey and Aine McDonagh to be more dangerous. Think: Jackie Parry
One of the areas where Melbourne was caught out, ultimately leading to its straight-sets finals exit, is a lack of size at the contest. Tyla Hanks is one of the best in the game, and Liv Purcell knows how to win the footy, but adding some more physical support especially when taking on some stronger midfield units, would really allow them to flourish. Think: Anne Hatchard
North Melbourne got close to a flag in 2023, and players that create better forward 50 entries could help them take the next step.(Getty Images: AFL Photos/Michael Willson)
Despite boasting some of the most skilful players in the competition, North Melbourne is still lacking an elite kick going inside 50. It feels like the missing piece in an otherwise complete puzzle, giving the Roos’ forwards the best opportunity to apply that scoreboard pressure that could take them that one step further and snag the first premiership by an expansion side. Think: Tyla Hanks
What really hindered Port Adelaide this year was a lack of composure in key moments. Therefore, recruiting someone capable of taking charge and guiding the team with purpose, rather than rushing, is essential. The team needs a player who can control the tempo of the game and lead the exciting youth that the Power’s roster boasts. Think: Natalie Grider
Eilish Sheerin was All-Australian again in 2023.(Getty Images: Dylan Burns)
An aggressive rebounding defender would serve Richmond well heading into next season, especially if dual All-Australian Eilish Sheerin is granted more midfield time after an impressive round 10 performance at the contest. Helping the Tigers not to just slow opposition forward forays, but to then turn that into genuine attack is what will give the side the best chance to return to finals next year. Think: Tarni Evans
The biggest gap for the Saints right now is a dominant ruck option. Simone Nalder has battled admirably, and Erin McKinnon simply hasn’t been able to recapture her early season success. Meanwhile Jesse Wardlaw cannot be lumped with the sole ruck role, so finding a reliable ruck who can ideally also play with a defensive, intercepting mindset, while Wardlaw moves between attack and ruck chop out, would be ideal. Think: Montana McKinnon
The Swans will no doubt be on the hunt for a key defender during the player movement period. Although the development of Brenna Tarrant and Alice Mitchell has been immense, adding another tough, tall defender would solidify the Swans behind play, and allow Lucy McEvoy some more freedom in her role. Think: Madeleine Scanlon
Kellie Gibson breaks away with the footy.(Getty Images: James Worsfold)
Scoring has always been a concern for the Eagles, and although Kellie Gibson kicked a career-high 12 goals this season, she had little support around her. Ella Roberts was used right across the field, and while she could be that player, she is often needed in other roles, so adding a stay-at-home forward option who can maintain forward structure for the Eagles will be important. Think: Roxanne Roux
The Bulldogs are in need of a backline general, someone who can dictate play, organise the line, and be trusted in one-on-one battles. It is likely the club will lose its two main key defenders in Katie Lynch and Gabby Newton throughout the trade period, so finding strong replacements for the duo is vital should the Bulldogs get back on an improvement trajectory next year. Think: Sarah Allan
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Source: AFL NEWS ABC