2022 QAFLW Preview – University of Queensland

The University of Queensland will begin its first defence of the Bond University QAFLW Premiership by not specifically thinking about it.

While some clubs find a grand final victory warps into believing that only a repeat is acceptable, the Red Lionesses are preferring to focus on the team’s culture and values that led to Grand Final joy last July.

Coach Ross Clayfield was delighted not only with the number of players who attended UQ’s pre-season camp, but more so by the nature of the players’ focus.

“To be honest, there’s been very little talk about premierships. It’s really about developing players, trying to make UQ that environment that everyone would want to be in and that the people who are here want to stick with.

“We had 65-70 people at that camp, which was awesome, and there’s an opportunity during the camp for the players to decide what they want their team to look like, and what our goals for the year are.”

There have been very few departures from St Lucia over the summer which have been more than offset by an influx of talent from far beyond southeast Queensland.

Defender and basketballer Ashanti Jackson arrives from Wynyard having represented the Tasmania Devils in the NAB League; while Australian Army representative Rhian Mears joins UQ from the Curra Swans in the AFL Townsville competition.

Other ways of recruiting talent include having Premiership captain Megan Hunt, AFLW Draft Combine invitee Steph O’Brien, and livewire defender Issy Hartog make weekly trips to play in the Northern Territory Football League.

“Megan and a few of our other girls played over at Waratah in Darwin during the break and Megan’s form was excellent over there. The big improver is probably Hartog. She’s come back a better footballer.”

While Waratah lost its Preliminary Final by two points, thus ending Hunt and Co.’s dreams of winning a “Qantas” double, there was room in their luggage to return with Silvana Goldbach-Eggert, a skilful midfielder who played in Northern Territory representative teams with defender Jaimie Bryant.

Another unofficial academy for the Red Lionesses is the sport of netball. Former Ipswich Jets Steph O’Brien and Lucy Benjamin, who played significant roles at UQ in 2021, are this year joined by a third Jet in Rosie Baker.

Then there’s former Australian Diamond and two-time ANZ Championship/Suncorp Super Netball winner, Jacqui Russell.

“Jacq just has so much experience in high level sport. The girls love her and she has that nice blend of bringing that positivity but also saying the stuff that needs to be said. She’s just a competitive beast and she’s learning every day.”

No-one at UQ denies that their run to the 2021 Premiership was significantly aided by its five AFLW stars (Greta Bodey, Dakota Davidson, Nat Grider, Bre Koenen and Maria Moloney) who helped the Red Lionesses to score a combined 453 points in their final five games. There is, however, minor bristling at any suggestion that this was the sole reason for their success.

“The non-AFLW players at our club felt really confident that, before AFLW involvement, they were a top two team all year. We’re not going to hide from the fact that we were lucky to have some amazing individuals who, fortunately for us, all decided to really commit and went above and beyond, but this season, we’re looking forward to the challenge of showing that we’re not just a flash-in-the-pan club. We are very keen to establish ourselves as a significant long-term player in Brisbane footy.”


QAFLW Premierships: 2021

2021: Premiers (12 wins, 4 losses, 138 goals scored, 64 goals conceded)

Coach: Ross Clayfield

Captains: Madi Crowley-Long, Megan Hunt and Marnie McGorm



Charlotte Andrews

Rosie Baker

Emily Braid (Broadbeach)

Katie Day (Wilston Grange)

Jasmine Dekker (Jindalee)

Laura Ernst (Bond University)

Kadie Fletcher (Aspley)

Silvana Goldbach-Eggert (Waratah, NTFL)

Ashanti Jackson (Wynyard, Tas / Tasmania Devils, NAB League)

Massa Kesselly (Kedron)

Rhian Mears (Curra Swans / Army)

Hannah Sas

Brooke Sheridan (Wilston Grange)

Kristen Tyquin (Wilston Grange)

Jacqui Russell



Grace Brennan

Mikayla Martin (Maroochydore)

Rachel Vetter (Aspley)

Jessica Wiggan (retired)




Megan Hunt

The conductor. The quarterback. The general. Hunt can do all of the grunt work that an inside midfielder is supposed to do, but it’s when she’s lurking just behind the contest that she rises to another level. Hunt will assess the options around her, correctly choose the best of them and then dispose of the ball accurately and at speed. At age 26, AFLW expansion clubs should be circling.

Clayfield says: “Megan’s in good shape. She did an amazing job with the captaincy last year.”


Mia Teubler

Her name may be pronounced TOY-bler but her game is anything but child’s play. Teubler was one of the shorter rucks in the 2021 Bond University QAFLW but her vertical leap was astonishing. Her performance against Yeronga in Round 3 was a masterclass in modern ruck play, tapping precisely to her three inside midfielders and then becoming a fourth. Shoulder surgery will delay her start to the season, but if UQ makes the finals…

Clayfield says: “I look at Mia as someone who’s really draftable. She’s an incredible athletic package.”


Jane Childes

The Red Lionesses had two brilliant wingers in 2021: Madi Crowley-Long was already a great of Queensland women’s football; Jane Childes showed she has the potential to become one. Childes had always been quick, but her ability to use that speed to create attacking options and shut down her opponents noticeably grew round by round. By the Grand Final, she was displaying her full suite of skills in elite company.

Clayfield says: “I think the penny has dropped. Jane realises that she’s got a lot of potential at this level.”



I could give several reasons for you to watch UQ play, but I’ll single out the team’s marking ability. Most Bond University QAFLW teams have three or four players who are good overhead marks; UQ has players who can’t always get into the team who are good overhead marks. No, they’re not taking speccies yet (emphasis on yet), but watching the Red Lionesses work their way from goal square to goal square by using precise passing and strong hands is its own kind of spectacular.


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