Just one of the 18 captains has tipped Fremantle to make the AFLW grand final this season despite the Dockers declaring finals their base benchmark in season seven.
On Wednesday, on-field leaders from all 18 clubs gathered at Marvel Stadium to launch the new AFLW season, with every AFL club set to field a women’s side for the first time.
Vice-captain Ange Stannett, who stepped in for Hayley Miller (other commitments), said the hurt of last season’s preliminary final loss to eventual premiers Adelaide had driven the Dockers to improve quickly.
Melbourne (eight votes), Brisbane (five votes) and Adelaide (four votes) were the skippers’ top picks to feature in this season’s decider but Stannett said Fremantle had lofty ambitions and couldn’t be underestimated.
“The competition improves year on year. It’s always going to be a step up, particularly with four new teams,” Stannett said.
“We’ve been working on different areas of our game to make sure we’re pushing for finals this season, which is something we won’t shy away from as a group.
“It’s why you play footy. We want to be contending and playing finals and holding up a cup at the end of the year.
“That’s where we think we are as a group.
“I’ve got full confidence that we’re going to be really competitive this year.”
One captain tipped Miller to build on her All-Australian campaign earlier this year and win the coveted league best and fairest award.
Tiger Monique Conti got four votes. Seven skippers believe No.1 draft pick Montana Ham (Sydney) will win the league’s Rising Star award with Eagle Ella Roberts the third-most popular selection with three votes.
Two opposition captains are eyeing off a pair of Dockers, Miller, pictured left, and ruck Mim Strom polling one vote each as the player they’d like to recruit most from another club.
While one tipped former Docker Gemma Houghton to kick the most goals this season after joining Port Adelaide.
West Coast captain Emma Swanson is confident the Eagles can improve their win-loss ratio and bounce back from a wooden spoon after instilling new standards of professionalism.
“We haven’t really spoken about KPIs,” she said.
“We know what it’s going to take to be a successful footy team. If that takes us two or three years with a young list, that’s what happens.
“We just set out to increase our professionalism. The win-loss ratio goes hand in hand with that as well.
“And continuity with the same coach will see natural improvement. We want to be a successful football team so we’ll do whatever we can to achieve that.”
Stannett also said injured stars Ebony (knee) and Kara (hamstring) Antonio would be hard to replace as the wives battle to return to action this year.
“They’re two big players who you can’t find a like-for-like replacement for,” she said.
“At the moment we’re wrapping our arms around the two of them and making sure they’re doing all right. We know they’re going to do everything to a tee because that’s how they are as athletes. But I’ve got full faith in the depth we have in our squad.”
Which team aside from your own is most likely to reach the NAB AFLW Grand Final? (Seven Captains correctly picked Melbourne in Season Six) 8 – Melbourne 5 – Brisbane Lions 4 – Adelaide Crows 1 – Fremantle
Who will win the competition Best and Fairest? (No Captains predicted Emily Bates, Brisbane Lions, to win the 2022 AFLW Best and Fairest) 4 – Monique Conti (Richmond) 3 – Anne Hatchard (Brisbane Lions) 2 – Emily Bates (Brisbane Lions) 2 – Kate Hore (Melbourne) 2 – Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 1 – Ebony Marnioff (Adelaide Crows) 1 – Chloe Molloy (Collingwood) 1 – Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs) 1 – Hayley Miller (Fremantle) 1 – Ruby Schleicher (Collingwood)
Who will kick the most goals in the competition? (No Captains predicted Ashleigh Woodland, Adelaide Crows, to kick the most goals in Season Six) 4 – Tayla Harris (Melbourne) 3 – Katie Brennan (Richmond) 2 – Kate Hore (Melbourne) 1 – Nicola Stevens (Carlton) 1 – Ash Woodland (Adelaide Crows) 1 – Jess Wardlaw (Brisbane Lions) 1 – Greta Bodey (Brisbane Lions) 1 – Bonnie Toogood (Essendon) 1 – Cora Staunton (GWS GIANTS) 1 – Stevie-Lee Thompson (Adelaide Crows) 1 – Gemma Houghton (Fremantle) 1 – Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne)
Who will win the NAB AFLW Rising Star? (No Captains predicted Mimi Hill, Carlton, to win the 2022 NAB AFL Women’s Rising Star Award) 7 – Montana Ham (Sydney Swans) 5 – Jasmine Fleming (Hawthorn) 3 – Ella Roberts (West Coast Eagles) 1 – Ellie McKenzie (Richmond) 1 – Paige Scott (Essendon) 1 – Hannah Ewings (Port Adelaide)
If you could recruit another player from any AFLW Club who would it be? 2 – Eloise Jones (Adelaide Crows) 1 – Hayley Miller (Fremantle) 1 – Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 1 – Brianna Davey (Collingwood) 1 – Sara Allen (Adelaide Crows) 1 – Alyssa Bannan (Melbourne) 1 – Kate Hore (Melbourne) 1 – Mim Strom (Fremantle) 1 – Ruby Schleicher (Collingwood) 1 – Orla O’Dwyer (Brisbane Lions) 1 – Mimi Hill (Carlton) 1 – Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs) 1 – Katie Shierlaw (St Kilda) 1 – Shelley Scott (Melbourne) 1 – Emily Bates (Brisbane Lions) 1 – Kirsty Lamb (Western Bulldogs) 1 – Chelsea Randall (Adelaide Crows)