2024 Bond University QAFLW Season Preview – Wilston Grange

By Hannah Davies

If consistency is key, then the Wilston Grange Gorillas could be about to unlock their “comeback” season in the Bond University QAFLW.

While some rival teams are broadcasting new recruits and major coaching staff changes, the Gorillas’ biggest headline is that they’ve held onto “90 per cent” of their senior lineup.

“It’s really comforting coming back and having retained the majority of the group from last year,” first-year head coach Phil Tonkin said, stepping up into the role after a season as senior assistant coach.

“We’ve created a comeback environment. The staff is good, the club is good, we’ve got the buy-in from the group, and our strength and conditioning program is the best it’s been across the whole club.

“We’ve been pretty lucky to hang on to at least 90 per cent of our list. There’s been a couple move interstate and what not, but with our senior list we’ve held everyone.”

Their sole key out, however, will be hard to replace – if replaceable at all: captain Chloe Litherland.

Bond University QAFLW Team of the Year half back and dual-sport athlete Litherland is out for the season after rupturing her ACL in Netball Queensland’s state league grand final last year. Litherland is not only a strong leader on and off the field but raked in the club’s second highest disposal count in 2023, with 251 (second to Keyshia Matenga with 257). Returning as captain will be 2022 skipper Mackenzie Findlay, who Tonkin has tipped for an exciting year.

While it’s unlikely they will find a true replacement for Litherland, the Gorillas have recruited several key athletes to fill those shoes. Gun forward Kadie Fletcher has been lured across from the University of Queensland to re-join her junior club, Taneka Dhadlie has arrived from Mt Gravatt in the QFAW Div 2 to play a utility role, and former Gold Coast SUNS Academy athlete Summer Hamilton is on track to make a senior debut early this year.

In 2023, spectators saw glimpses of strength from the Gorillas, but they lacked consistency and the ability to hold on in pressure moments. Of this, Tonkin said the team had worked on creating a game-like environment at training and embracing the challenge.

“It’s just about understanding ‘moments’ and how to play in moments, and that all comes down to staying together, and training how you play,” he said.

Wilston Grange haven’t made finals since 2018, when they took home the premiership, but Tonkin is confident it’s again in their realm in 2024.

“It’s exciting, the sky is the limit if the group wants to take (the possibility of finals) on.

“There’s no reason for us to not be more consistent than last year. In terms of playing finals footy, it’s absolutely on our radar. It’s a goal of the group and the coaching group.”


Key recruits

Taneka Dhadlie – Utility player from Mt Gravatt in the QFAW Div 2. This will be her first year playing senior footy. Known to have the best hands in the club, good tackle pressure and a good overhead mark.

Kadie Fletcher – Wilston Grange junior who returns from playing with UQ in 2022-23.

Summer Hamilton – Exciting U17s player from Jimboomba. Has spent time with the SUNS Academy. Has electric speed and a good goal sense.


Key out

Chloe Litherland – injury (ACL)


Player to watch

Keyshia Matenga – Matenga is “fit as a fiddle”, doing plenty of extras to perfect her craft and her first hit outs of the preseason have shown she’s going to have an exciting year.



“There’s no reason for us to not be more consistent than last year. In terms of playing finals footy, it’s absolutely on our radar. It’s a goal of the group and the coaching group,” Tonkin said.



The Gorillas look to be one of the most consistent sides across the competition in terms of player retention, which is an early win. However, their one key out is one of the best in the competition – Chloe Litherland. This will heighten the pressure on the rest of the side, but in turn could create opportunities for on-ballers like Findlay and Grace O’Donnell, plus defenders like Gemma Donataccio and Jacinta Ens, to show their growth and readiness for responsibility.

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