Season 2 of AFLW is set to resume on Friday night.
After the soaring success of the debut season in 2017, the girls are back and ready to rumble after training hard throughout the summer.
The same eight teams remain but there is fresh hope, renewed optimism and increased skill and fitness levels to further propel the standards of the competition.
Here is what we are looking forward to in season 2 of AFLW:
The overall increase in standard
The athleticism, fitness, power and skill level of AFLW players has improved dramatically this off-season.
Clubs have placed more emphasis on professional training standards and development which is sure to greatly benefit the players.
Adelaide forward Abbey Holmes told AFL Nation that things are continually improving on the training track which will resonate on the playing arena.
“We will absolutely see an increase in fitness and skill during season 2,” said Holmes.
“I think the majority of people didn’t know what to expect in season 1, so now there is more data and knowledge within the women’s game, particularly for our strength and conditioning coaches.
“Girls are fitter, faster, stronger and it will only continue to get better with the pathways that are now provided from a young age to the elite level.
“The requirements of the athletes will also continue to rise until hopefully this becomes a full-time career!”
Melbourne star Daisy Pearce also gave some insight into how the players have been preparing for the second coming.
”I've worked with a private coach trying to build a body that is better equipped for a game that is becoming faster and more physically demanding.
"I've studied the game and worked hard with our coaches to improve the technical aspects of my game, and I've invested time in my teammates so that we are closer and better connected than before.” – Melbourne captain Pearce in The Age.
Strong crowds expected again
Last season’s opener between Carlton and Collingwood attracted more than 24,000, prompting gates to be locked at a packed Ikon Park.
That could be the case again in Round 1 when the arch rivals kick off season 2.
And there has already been enormous interest in the inaugural AFLW game at Perth’s brand new Optus Stadium between Fremantle and Collingwood in Round 2.
“There is as much interest as there was last year.
“I’m so excited about the fact that so far we have 40,000 for the Dockers versus Collingwood (match),” - AFLW CEO Nicole Livingstone on Sportsday WA.
In 2017, attendance highlights included:
24,568 – Round 1, Carlton v Collingwood, Ikon Park
15,610 – Grand Final, Brisbane v Adelaide, Metricon Stadium
10,100 – Round 1, Western Bulldogs v Fremantle, Whitten Oval
10,000 – Round 2, Fremantle v Brisbane, Fremantle Oval
9,289 – Round 1, Adelaide v GWS, Thebarton Oval
Evidently, the interest was massive early in the season and it is expected this year that there will be prolonged enthusiasm throughout the latter half of February and into March.
Superstars of the competition and code hoppers
We cannot wait to see the superstars of the game in action again!
Adelaide champion Erin Phillips, Melbourne pioneer Daisy Pearce, Carlton ace Darcy Vescio, Collingwood duo Steph Chiocci and Mo Hope, Western Bulldogs pair Ellie Blackburn and Katie Brennan, GWS Giants gun Jess Dal Pos, Brisbane jet Kaitlyn Ashmore and Fremantle skipper Kara Donnellan are slowly becoming household names in Australia.
It will be a privilege to watch these athletes, among the other quality players throughout the league, strut their stuff once again.
“Congrats @erinphillips131 on winning everything ever.. ever! Seriously though what an incredible season. A true champ. #AFLWAwards,” – Geelong champ Patrick Dangerfield on Twitter.
And it will be intriguing to see how some of the more recent ‘code hoppers’ fare in 2018.
Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist with the Hockeyroos, Georgie Parker, netball trio Ash Brazill, Erin Hoare and Maddison Gay, volleyball duo Becchara Palmer and Eliza Hyne, basketballers Tegan Cunningham and Mon Conti and cricketer Jodie Hicks will all be trying their hand at a different code.
“I’ve never seen women’s sport covered this much in the media before.
“I’ve never seen a girls football match played in front of 30,000 people before so I can’t wait…” - Magpies ‘rookie’ Parker on The Players’ Voice
Increased radio and TV coverage
AFLW games will be covered on multiple platforms in 2018.
And of course, Women’s Footy airs on Channel 9 on Sunday mornings with Clint Stanaway and Lauren Wood in the co-hosting chairs alongside weekly special guests.
You can find the 2018 AFLW fixture here!