By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
The Brisbane Lions have added a bevy of talented Queenslanders to their list at the 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Draft, headlined by Coorparoo defender Paige Parker, who was selected by Brisbane with the ninth overall pick.
Parker, who earned Team of the Season honours in the QAFLW this year, was a surprise choice for the Lions’ first pick in the draft given the abundance of talented Under 18 prospects, but her elevation to AFLW level comes following several years of strong form in Queensland’s premier female competition.
The 23-year-old has been a train-on player with the Lions’ AFLW side for two seasons now and has notched up 30 games at QAFLW level for both Zillmere and Coorparoo and was named the Gold Coast SUNS Emerging Player throughout the Winter Series in games against the Lions and two Greater Western Sydney teams.
Parkers’ selection at the top of Brisbane’s AFL Women’s draft board highlights the quality of the QAFLW competition and the dedication and perseverance Parker has applied to her football.
Wilston Grange premiership duo Jordan Membrey (Collingwood) and Demla Gisu (GWS Giants) also found homes during the draft.
See the full pick by pick breakdown of the AFLW Draft below:
Parker has had to wait two seasons to finally receive her Brisbane guernsey, but her dream has finally transpired after being taken with the Lions’ first pick in the draft. A rebounding defender, Parker excels as a hard runner and provides plenty of run and carry out of defence. A 2018 QAFLW Team of the Year inclusion, Parker has continued to perform and has played significant roles in Coorparoo’s back to back Grand Final appearances.
Queensland Under 18 representative captain Natalie Grider was the second name off the board for Brisbane, taken with the 22nd overall pick, after she too compiled a strong season across all levels of football. Grider was named in the QAFLW Team of the Season and claimed the Rising Star honours ahead of several other of her new AFLW teammates. Grider is an outside midfielder bout enjoyed a breakout in the Queensland side across half back where she earned Australian honours and was also named Queensland’s Most Valuable Player.
Highly touted talent McKenzie Dowrick was the next name off the board as the Brisbane Lions selected her 33rd overall. Despite hailing from West Australia, close ties forged with several within Brisbane’s playing group meant Dowrick nominated for the Queensland pool and sees her become Brisbane’s third pick of the draft. One of the more versatile of the top players in this year’s draft pool, Dowrick is equally comfortable in defence – where she earned All Australian honours – or through the middle of the ground.
In an open draft, Bella would be among the draft’s top prospects after emerging as the draft’s premier ruck prospect in what was a dominant 2018 season. After moving to Queensland’s south east at just 17, Bella has gone from strength to strength with Bond University and earned a spot in the team of the year despite playing just eight games. Bella was also named the All Australian ruck across the AFLW Under 18 National Championships and tested well at the draft combine a fortnight ago. She’s a strong tap ruckman who provides plenty more at ground level as a link-up player through the midfield.
Groves-Little joins Brisbane with their fifth pick in the draft after she emerged as a big game player at representative and QAFLW level. Groves-Little booted four goals in a preliminary final to send Coorparoo to their second straight Grand Final. A joint QAFLW Best and Fairest winner in 2018, Groves-Little excels in space and her run and has forged her game around her ability to run and carry, whether that be on a wing or inside 50.
Tawhiao-Wardlaw has improved significantly over the past 18 months and now sees herself drafted onto the Lions’ AFLW list with the 61st pick in the draft. After not making the Queensland representative side as a bottom age player in 2017, Tawhiao-Wardlaw became the vocal point of the attack and boasted a commanding presence inside 50. The former netball talent is capable of effectively alternating her leading patterns and is a strong overhead and contested mark.
A hard onballer, Yorston finds her way onto the Lions’ pick with their seventh of the draft, which came following the raft of departures from the club to expansion teams in the offseason. Yorston thrives around the contest, has no trouble finding her own ball through the midfield and has the poise to spot a teammate in disposal. In 2018, Yorston became an All Australian and played a significant role in Wilston Grange’s maiden senior women’s premiership.
Ellenger became the Lions’ final pick of the NAB AFLW Draft with the club’s second draft compensation. At just 18, Ellenger has already drawn comparisons to AFLW superstar Kate Lutkins given her ability to read the play and intercept the ball. In possession, Ellenger’s’ speed allows her to rebound effectively out of defence and she showcased that on plenty of occasions at both QAFLW and representative level this year. In the space of 12 months, Ellenger has gone from a last minute call up for the Queensland Under 18s side to a Brisbane Lions draftee.