Herald Sun Top 20 AFLW Players across all four seasons

Remove this Banner Ad

Caputo

Team Captain
Dec 5, 2011
351
133
AFL Club
Adelaide
Top 20 players in AFLW: Erin Phillips the league’s best

Erin Phillips has won every award possible in AFL Women’s but is she still the league’s best player? There are established and emerging stars hot on her tail.

Kate Salemme reveals her top 20 players over the competition’s four years.

Kate Salemme, Sunday Herald Sun April 12, 2020 12:03pm

Adelaide superstar Erin Phillips is the best player in AFLW but there’s a list of experienced and young stars ready to challenge her for the title.
After four AFL Women’s seasons Phillips is the most decorated player in the game, however, North Melbourne’s Jasmine Garner has genuine claims for the No.1 mantle after a dominant 2020 season.
An All-Australian forward in 2019, Garner moved into the midfield this year after she spent the off-season and her VFLW season last year working on improving her fitness for an expanded role. She reaped the rewards, winning the AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year award.
Teammate Emma Kearney has done it all, winning a premiership and league best and fairest, and of course you can’t forget Daisy Pearce.

Erin Phillips is the best player in AFLW. What about Chloe Molloy? The youngster from Collingwood with silky skills who nearly won the league best and fairest in her first season is a genuine star of the competition.

Then there are the emerging guns like Bulldog-turned-Tiger Monique Conti and Carlton’s Rising Star winner Madison Prespakis, who after just two years has already established herself as one of the game’s best midfielders.
Narrowing it down to a top 20 was extremely difficult. Players unlucky to miss out include Elise O’Dea, Ash Brazill, Emma King, Ebony Antonio, Meg McDonald, Jenna Bruton, Tayla Harris and Anne Hatchard.

NOTE: This top 20 list takes into account player performances across all four seasons of AFLW and is not solely based on 2020 form.


TOP 20 PLAYERS IN AFLW

1. ERIN PHILLIPS (Adelaide)

Phillips’ accolades speak for themselves — two-time league best and fairest, dual premiership player, two-time winner of the medal for best on ground in a grand final, two-time AFLPA MVP and last year she was named the coaches’ AFLW Champion Player of the Year. A powerful midfielder-forward, when fit there is no player more influential. She wins games off her own boot. She’s the complete package.

2. JASMINE GARNER (North Melb)

Garner’s 2020 season saw her rocket up the rankings as she transformed herself from All-Australian forward to dominant midfielder. Remarkably, she still averaged a goal per game — she finished with eight from seven matches — along with 20.1 disposals. She also ranked second in the competition for score involvements. Her ability to rack up disposals, clearances and still kick goals sets her apart from the rest. Won the 2020 Champion Player of the Year – the first of many awards headed her way. And still only 25.

3. EMMA KEARNEY (North Melb)
The Kangaroos skipper has been one the AFLW’s most consistent performers across the four seasons, averaging 21.4, 19.0, 20.1 and 20.6 disposals per game from 2017-20. A fierce competitor, Kearney has the ability to change the course of a game with her explosive speed from stoppages and elite endurance to work hard to support the defence and impact forward. A premiership player with the Bulldogs in 2018, she won the league best and fairest and was the joint winner of the Champion Player of the Year award the same year.

4. CHLOE MOLLOY (Collingwood)

Molloy has played only two AFLW seasons but that’s been enough to cement her place as one of the game’s best. She has the rare ability to make the game slow down when she has the ball – a valuable skill given the frenetic pace of AFLW. While she’s got silky skills and elite vision and evasive skills, it’s her versatility that makes her so good – she has excelled playing back, forward and midfield. Molloy won the Rising Star award in 2018, finished equal second in the league best and fairest and was named Collingwood’s best and fairest the same year. Chloe Molloy’s skill and versatility sets her apart.

5. CHELSEA RANDALL (Adelaide)
The courageous defender is a natural footballer and the best intercept player in the game. She’s got footy smarts and reads the play so well to stay a step ahead of her opponent. She’s rarely beaten one-on-one, is a strong mark and provides valuable drive off halfback, averaging 14.1, 16.3 and 15.5 disposals per game across three seasons. The Adelaide co-captain missed this season with a torn ACL. She was the joint winner of the AFLW Champion Player of the Year award in 2018.

6. DAISY PEARCE (Melbourne)

The doyen of women’s football, Pearce rarely plays a bad game – even after missing a year after giving birth to twins. A class midfielder, she reinvented herself as a halfback this season, ranking ninth in the league for intercept possessions, while she was able to use her skills to turn defence into attack. Can pretty much do it all.
Daisy Pearce is still one of the best players in the women’s game.

7. DANA HOOKER (West Coast)
Hooker has the uncanny ability to win a clearance or kick a goal when her team desperately needs it. She’s a big moments player. She’s tough and you’ll always find her at the bottom of the pack either laying a tackle or with the ball in her hands, ranking fifth for contested possessions and eighth for total tackles this year. Is yet to average 20 or more disposals in a season but she doesn’t need many disposals to impact a game. Has twice finished runner-up in the league best and fairest.

8. JESS DUFFIN (North Melbourne)

The All-Australian defender missed this season after announcing her pregnancy but she remains one of the league’s best players. Like Randall, Duffin reads the play well, which allows her to zone off her opponent and take intercept marks. She has good skills and the rare ability to control a game from defence. At her best, nothing gets past her. Can also be moved forward to take a mark and kick a goal. So dependable.

9. KAREN PAXMAN (Melbourne)

Paxman is a quiet achiever, she’s one of those players that just gets the job done every week. While she doesn’t get as much fanfare as Pearce, she’s just as influential. She’s averaged 21.7, 17.7, 20.9 and 21.3 disposals per game across the four seasons and led the competition for clearances (averaging 5.6 per game) this year, while she was ranked sixth for meters gained and seventh for contested possessions and inside 50s. Her elite endurance means she’s tough to tag because she can run all day. Has been named All-Australian every year so far. Karen Paxman is a quiet achiever.

10. ELLIE BLACKBURN (Western Bulldogs)
Blackburn has been a model of consistency. Her trademark sidestep is one of the great features of her game, allowing her to not only evade opponents but also open up the ground to give herself and her team more options. She also hits the scoreboard, kicking 13 goals from her 28 career games. She has also developed her leadership skills.

11. MONIQUE CONTI (Richmond)

Conti burst onto the scene in her first season, winning the medal for best on ground in the Bulldogs’ 2018 premiership and has become one of the most exciting players to watch. She’s quick and skilful but what I love most about her is her ability find space when there is none using her agility, quick feet and evasive skills. She took a little while to get going this season but her last three games for Richmond showed why she can be the game’s best player in the near future.

12. BRI DAVEY (Collingwood)

One of the most powerful midfielders, Davey is the ultimate competitor. She wins the hard ball and is clean with her skills whether it’s in tight or when she’s got time and space. While she can play basically any position on the ground, Davey’s biggest influence is through her leadership. She’s a ‘follow me’ player who leads by example and they’re worth their weight in gold.

13. KIARA BOWERS (Fremantle)

A tackling machine, ‘Turbo’ broke her own record this year for most tackles laid in a season with 99 (48 more than the next best) – an average of 14 per game. She was ranked top-five for inside 50s and eighth for meters gained, so if she can win more of the footy (has averaged 17.1 and 17.6 disposals in her two seasons) she could have more of an attacking impact and give Fremantle an even bigger weapon.

14. KATIE BRENNAN (Richmond)

Brennan has been restricted by injury but when fit she sits firmly among the AFLW’s elite. One of the competition’s best forwards, she’s adding the midfield string to her bow and will only get better in that role, using her skills — she’s one of the best ball users on either side of her body in the comp — and gut-running to have a more consistent impact across four quarters. ‘KB’ is one of the hardest workers in the game and despite the change in role this year was still tagged heavily, showing just how highly she’s rated. One of the great leaders. Has kicked 16 goals in just 17 career games. Katie Brennan moved from the Bulldogs to Richmond for 2020.

15. MADISON PRESPAKIS (Carlton)
Prespakis has come in and immediately established herself as one of the game’s top midfielders. The 2019 Rising Star winner racks up the disposals, ranking fifth for total disposals in the competition this year, third for contested ball and sixth for clearances. Having more of an impact forward of centre will see her elevate her game even further. Will rival Conti for best player in the game in the near future.

16. JAIMEE LAMBERT (Collingwood)

Some will argue I have underrated Lambert – I’ll be the first to say her season this year was outstanding – but this list is based across the four years. Lambert showed glimpses of her talent in 2018 and 2019 but became a more damaging and consistent midfielder this year, lifting her disposal average from 15.6 in 2019 to 22.3. Producing the same level or better next year will put her in the top 10. She steps up in the big moments and works really hard to be an option for her team all over the ground.

17. ASH RIDDELL (North Melbourne)

Riddell has had a huge impact at the Kangaroos in a short period. She was ranked third in the comp for disposals (21.3 average), third for meters gained (359m), fourth for clearances (4.3), score involvements (4.1) and inside 50s (3.9) and 10th for contested possessions. Hard to believe she’s played just nine AFLW games. Another exceptional season like that and she’ll be pushing top-three. Sky is the limit. Underrated star. Ash Riddell has a standout season in 2020.

18. EBONY MARINOFF (Adelaide)
The inaugural Rising Star winner, Marinoff has no trouble finding the footy and loves the tough stuff – holding the record for most tackles in a game with 21. Her game has gone from strength to strength, lifting her disposal average every season (aside from a 0.4 dip in 2018) to a career-best 23.2 this year along with 7.8 tackles. Her kicking can let her down, recording a disposal efficiency rating of 55 per cent this year – lifting that will make her an even more damaging player.

19. KATE LUTKINS (Brisbane Lions)

Lutkins is underrated. She’s rarely beaten and is an impenetrable force down back because she’s always in the right spots. It’s no fluke, she can read the play better than most, which allows her to get in the right positions to intercept mark. Was ranked fifth for marks and contested marks this year and is a key reason why Brisbane has been one of the best teams over the four seasons.

20. KAITLYN ASHMORE (North Melbourne)

An explosive and dynamic player, Ashmore brings excitement and skill and is by far one of the best players to watch. She can play half forward and wing, with her speed and endurance making her nearly impossible to catch when given time and space. She’s also got a range of tricks in her skill bag. Has been one of the most consistent forwards across the four seasons and finished fifth in the league best and fairest in 2017.
 

Caputo

Team Captain
Dec 5, 2011
351
133
AFL Club
Adelaide
My initial view is Ash Riddell #17 seems high and I feel Tayla Harris could be in 20. She has higher highs and some moments of controversy. More than a one trick pony. I note 6 of the initial list of 16 Marquee players make this list.
 

(Log in to remove this ad.)

DEVO

Brownlow Medallist
Sep 8, 2000
10,344
5,900
Canberra, ACT, Australia
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Parramatta Eels
Five Northerners but no Bruton. I feel like we were robbed. :D
I think every one named has merit, but there are probably another 5 or 10 that can feel a little unlucky.
 

Caputo

Team Captain
Dec 5, 2011
351
133
AFL Club
Adelaide
I want to make a case for Cora Staunton. The face of the Irish onslaught numbering 18. A legend before the last three years. A Champion Data AFLW 'Team of the Year' in 2019. Overcoming a horrific injury in the off season.
 

the Ziebull

Brownlow Medallist
Nov 14, 2010
18,749
14,704
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Five Northerners but no Bruton. I feel like we were robbed. :D
I think every one named has merit, but there are probably another 5 or 10 that can feel a little unlucky.
Yea Bruton is a jet
Best kick in the Comp imo

shows how dominant our midfield is with 4 stars Garner, Kearney, Riddell and Bruton with king tapping it down to them
 

Teen Wolf

Club Legend
Jul 5, 2011
2,866
4,229
Melbourne
AFL Club
North Melbourne
Other Teams
Rancho Carne Toros
Tough list to screw up so badly.

Quite clearly the top group is this:
Bates, Lutkins, Wuetschner
Eva, Garner
Ebony Antonio, Hooker
Paxman
Blackburn, Kearney, Lambert

The next group is this:
Phillips, Randall
Davey
Duffin
O'Dea, Pearce
Conti

Nobody else has been good enough for long enough to be in the discussion with those players.
 

Caputo

Team Captain
Dec 5, 2011
351
133
AFL Club
Adelaide
What about the underrated Lauren Pearce Melbourne with first three seasons in Champion Data AFLW 'Team of the Year. With a rating by Champion Data as Elite. 2nd in Melb's B&F. Injured this year with late start.
 

Caputo

Team Captain
Dec 5, 2011
351
133
AFL Club
Adelaide
As this is over the whole of AFLW I have tried to avoid currency bias and I have used Champion Data's AFLW 'Team of the Year' for the 3 completed seasons. There is a maximum of 64 positions due to 22 in 2017 and 21 from 2018 onwards. I will list the multiple entries as follows:

Jess Duffin 3 years;
Emma Kearney 3 years;
Lauren Pearce 3 years;
Erin Phillips 3 years;
Chelsea Randall 3 years;

Ebony Antonio 2 years;
Kara Antonio 2 years;
Ellie Blackburn 2 years;
Sabrina Frederick-Traub 2 years;
Jas Garner 2 years;
Dana Hooker 2 years;
Kate Hore 2 years;
Kate Lutkins 2 years;
Ebony Marinoff 2 years;
Daisy Pearce 2 years;
Hannah Scott 2 years;

So this pretty much makes Emma Kearney for consistency the No 1 as the other four had injury interruptions this year.
 

Top Bottom