The Western Australia Under 23 Mundella State team hit Queensland this weekend for big games of representative footy. With ten spots on both the Brisbane Lions and Fremantle lists up for grabs, there will be plenty of eyes on this game, including those of AFLW scouts.
Western Australia got over the line last year, beating Queensland 8.6 (54) to 7.7 (49). Sunday’s match will be a representative double header, with the women kicking things off at 11:30am followed by the men’s QAFL v WAAFL at 1:30pm.
The WA team, coached by Collingwood AFLW assistant Nikki Harwood, fly in to Brisbane on Friday before heading straight to Yeronga for the first match.
“That’s a challenge because sitting on a plane for four and a half hours isn’t great preparation,” Harwood said.
“At the same time that’s what we have to deal with so we just have to do it and do the best that we can so we’ll make no excuses.”
The Queensland team will be coached by ex-Brisbane Lions defender and AFLW assistant Daniel Merrett on Friday night and Brent Staker on Sunday.
“I’m expecting these girls to deliver a good standard of footy but to be pretty physically tough,” Staker said.
“You really want them to stand up and show what they’re capable of because all of them play pretty good club footy, that’s why they’re in this group.”
David Lake and Marcus McDonald-Camden will serve as Queensland assistant coaches.
Queensland has selected a strong squad for the representative clash, going with a mixture of youth and experience. The side will be captained by Coolangatta Bluebird Maddy Roberts, with Yeronga’s Renee Cowan and Coorparoo’s Kate Deegan selected as vice-captains. Deegan is joined by Jade Ransfield as the only two players from the Brisbane Lions’ 2017 AFLW list (delisted at end of season).
Queensland’s outside run will be their strong suit, with plenty of class and versatility available. They will get run and carry out of Hannah Sexton, possibly one of the fastest in the QWAFL on the wing, with Delma Gisu and Zoe Lattanzi able to provide the rebound off half-back. The Maroons are also packing firepower up forward, having the QWAFL’s two leading goalscorers, Jade Ransfield and Maddy Peeters, who are deadly accurate in front of goals.
Queensland also has some bigger bodies who are able to impose themselves on the contest to win the hard ball. Emma Pericic is a tall defender who reads the ball well and she’ll be supported by Cleo Davis down back. Renee Cowan is as tough as they come in the midfield and will be crucial in winning contested ball to distribute to Queensland’s speedy outside midfielders.
Queensland will have to keep a close eye on Evie Gooch in the centre for WA. Gooch is a proven strong midfielder with exceptional skills and great endurance. A cross-code convert from soccer, Gooch was named Women’s State Premier League Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015 for her WA club Melville. She has the ability to make a big impact on games if given the chance, so will need to be challenged by Queensland’s midfielders.
Western Australia’s key target up forward will be Asha Price. She’s been known to regularly kick bags of goals at representative level and is a product of WA’s Youth Girls system. Price played alongside Brisbane Lions marquee Sabrina Frederick-Traub for WA and both were named in the All-Australian Youth Girls team in 2014. It will be a good challenge for Queensland’s tall defenders to compete with Price in the air and shut her down.
If Queensland is to get the better of Western Australia this weekend, they’ll need to be able to contain their run and carry which has become a trademark of WA footy. Queensland aren’t as strong with their genuine inside midfielders so will need to be ferocious enough around the contest to cause enough turnovers. If the Queenslanders can bring enough pressure and physicality around the ball, they’ll be able to restrict WA, but will need the skills and run to hurt them on the scoreboard the other way.
By Josh Cheadle