The Brisbane Lions have selected Eight Queenslanders today at the 2017 NAB AFL Women’s Draft, highlighting the depth of local talent in Queensland.
It’s time to meet 2017’s latest Lions.
Jordan Zanchetta (Pick 7):
Leading the list of selections after being taken at pick seven is Jordan Zanchetta, a hardworking, aggressive inside midfielder out of the Yeronga South Brisbane Football Club.
It’s been a long wait for the Jindalee Jags junior, who might have been an early selection at the inaugural NAB AFL Women’s Draft, if it wasn’t for an unfortunate ACL injury that resulted in her missing the season.
The 22-year-old has already played in exhibition games for the Western Bulldogs, where she used her clean disposal and ability to evade tacklers in traffic.
Zanchetta played under 18 football with the Western Thunder, as well as the Yeronga South Brisbane Devils. The promising talent also played senior state representative football for Queensland.
Arianna Clarke (Pick 15):
Clarke is just as comfortable in defense matching up against taller defenders, as she is playing as a medium sized on-baller.
The Sport and Recreation student is one with some potential leadership capabilities down the track too, after her performances as the captain of the Queensland state team at the national championships this year.
The Coolangatta Bluebirds product looks like a good addition to the Lions lineup with her penetrating kick, strong marking prowess and contested ball ability.
Clarke played her junior football with the Kambalda Football Club, as well as the Broadbeach Football Club and was named in the U18 All Australian Team this year.
Renee Cowan (Pick 23):
Mature age recruit Renee Cowan gets her chance now after missing out on an AFLW trial opportunity through an ankle injury last season.
A true competitor, the 28-year-old has shown the ability to spoil the football in the air and make things difficult for her opponent. Given her age, Cowan looks set to make an immediate impact when she suits up in her Lions jersey.
Her coaches at Yeronga believe she has the ability to play both in defense, as a running defender or through the midfield. She can also hold down a key post in defense if she needs to.
Cowan tested exceptionally well at the AFLW Draft Combine, placing third in the 20-meter sprint, fifth in the agility test and third in the vertical jump test.
She finished up just her second year of AFL football this year and has a soccer background.
Kalinda Howarth (Pick 31):
A crafty half forward with fantastic hands in the air, Howarth starred at the U18 National Championships and looks set to add some scoring power to the Lions’ forward half.
A 2017 All Australian, Howarth doesn’t mind taking on the first tackler and creating room to use her reliable kicking skills.
In 2016 Howarth showed ice cold composure when she went back and kicked a goal from 35 meters out to win the Coolangatta Bluebirds the QWAFL Grand Final.
Howarth played junior football at the Southport and Labrador Football Clubs.
Emma Pittman (Pick 37):
Pittman is another relative newcomer to AFL, but certainly has experience at the elite level, having played as a striker for the Brisbane Roar.
At AFLW level, the University of Queensland prospect shapes as a midfielder or a running defender.
In a big year for Pittman, she was named in the 2017 QWAFL Team of the Year and was also selected to play for Queensland in the Under 23 State Series against Western Australia.
The 24-year-old was introduced to the oval shaped ball at a training session at the Coorparoo Football Club, where she played her first season in 2015.
Ruby Blair (Pick 41):
At the inaugural NAB AFL Women’s Draft Combine in Melbourne, Blair took home a first place in the agility test, showing off her ability to run and change direction.
The 18-year-old Palm Beach Currumbin and Burleigh junior, at the elite level looks like becoming a midfielder who gets under the packs and wins her own ball, or a small defender.
Blair’s ability to change the direction of play during a game and use her speed to her advantage is a big asset, while at half back she reads the play well and can intercept.
One of the first members of the NAB AFL Women’s National Academy, Blair plays her senior football at the Coolangatta Tweed Football Club.
Sophie Conway (Pick 41):
Another multi-talented athlete, Conway vice-captained Queensland at the Under 18 National Hockey Championships in Hobart this year.
Luckily for the Lions, Conway made the difficult decision to choose AFL over hockey and looks set to turn into a medium-sized midfielder at AFLW level. Conway can also push forward, where she can use her speed and evasion skills.
The Crime and Justice student and 2017 U18 All Australian has only completed two seasons of AFL so far, so has plenty of upside and development left.
Conway is a Zillmere Eagles product and the brother of former Brisbane Lions rookie Isaac Conway.
Jessy Keeffe (Pick 41):
Jessy Keeffe is an athletic ruck prospect from Yeronga South Brisbane who played a significant role in the Devils taking home the 2017 QWAFL Premiership.
Keeffe kicked an incredible goal out of a pack from the boundary at a critical point in the game, showing her goal sense and ability in the forward 50.
One of Keeffe’s focuses for 2017 was to hit the gym and put on a little more muscle. The extra work paid off and she moved into a ruck role, where she displayed an increased aerobic capacity.
One to watch for the future, the sister of former Collingwood player Lachlan Keeffe has shown an incredible appetite to improve and learn.
Rookie Draft Still to Come
The NAB AFL Women’s Rookie Draft is set to take place this Friday the 20th of October.
By Sean Melrose