Putting together this year’s AFLW All-Australian team was hard. Usually, there’s five to eight players who you would call unlucky to miss the team, but the improved standard of the competition has led to a number of players entering the elite bracket in 2019.
Expect the comments section to be filled with people angrily throwing up players who should be in the team and fair enough too.
The likes of Ellie Blackburn, Jenna Bruton, Ally Anderson, Richelle Cranston, Jaimee Lambert, Tayla Harris and Chelsea Randall in particular are incredibly unlucky to miss out.
The starting backline essentially picked itself. Kerryn Harrington, Meg McDonald and Ash Brazill provide perfect examples of the improvement across the board this season, with the trio taking very limited previous AFLW opportunity and blooming into elite defenders.
Coming off her ACL injury last year, Brianna Davey’s season has also been remarkable. She’s gotten better with each passing week. It’s not a coincidence that Carlton improved on pace with her.
Teammate Gabriella Pound also makes the team, with the 24-year-old having a breakout season as a lockdown defender who can also provide plenty of rebound.
Three players 21 or under make the team, and while Monique Conti and Ebony Marinoff are simply established stars at this point, it’s worth remembering they have long carers ahead of them.
Maddy Prespakis is the only player drafted this season to make the team, with the 18-year-old Carlton on-baller becoming vital to the team’s 2019 turnaround.
Karen Paxman had another fantastic season for the Dees, while Erin Phillips simply selects herself and goes without saying after a year almost as dominant as 2017.
The best story of this team is Fremantle’s Kiara Bowers. An original marquee selection for the Dockers, she sat on their list for two years, recovering from multiple ACL tears, before finally getting the chance to show why she was so highly rated coming into the inaugural season.
Bowers averaged 12 tackles per game, while also gathering 18 disposals and five clearances and deserves a lot of credit for Fremantle’s jump up the ladder.
Rounding out the midfield on the bench is reigning competition best and fairest winner Emma Kearney, Fremantle’s Dana Hooker and Adelaide’s Anne Hatchard.
The ruck slot was the toughest to fill, with Lauren Pearce edging out Carlton’s Alison Downie and Adelaide’s Jess Foley.
Pearce’s ability to win the ball around the ground and use it well, while remaining a quality tap ruck made her tough to overlook.
Competition leading goal kicker Steve-Lee Thompson locks herself into the forward line. It’s fair to say Adelaide’s decision to move her forward this season has been a resounding success.
Jess Wuetschner continued her form as one of the competition’s deadliest goal kickers, but added other strings to her bow, playing further up the ground later in the season.
Emma King earns herself the full forward slot based on her eight goals and two best on ground performances, where her deep-forward dominance took matches away from Carlton and Melbourne.
Tegan Cunningham just edges out Carlton’s Harris for the other key forward slot, with the 31-year-old adding an ability to dominate further up the ground as a marking target to her goal kicking prowess.
Gemma Houghton also earns a spot in the team as a forward, providing an x-factor and ability around the ground that few other players her size can offer. She has evolved since the first season from a promising athlete to a very dangerous footballer.
See the full team below