South Western Times

TOP 10 WOMEN TO WATCH IN FOOTY

- JACKSON BARRETT`S

The women’s competitio­n in the South West continues to go from strength to strength and every year another pre-season of fitness and skills training is evident when the clubs hit round one.

Some of the names in my top 10 women’s players to watch this season have been around the mark for a while and others look ready to take the next step. The two teams who look set to dominate season 2021 have plenty of names on this list, but I hope some of the names from the clubs ready to push them this year are also able to drive their clubs towards the pointy end of the season.

10 Megan Bain (South Bunbury)

When the WAFLW finishes midway through the season, SWFL clubs will get an injection of top talent for the back half of the season.

Exactly who comes back down for the end of the season remains to be seen, but of the South West girls heading up to play, Bain could be the one that benefits most.

An impressive grand final in the engine room for Souths was a big tick for her career and she could be a dangerous propositio­n at stoppages.

9 Rennie Meadmore (Busselton)

How Busselton respond after a somewhat surprising grand final berth followed by a pretty comprehens­ive defeat will be an intriguing storyline this year, and players like Meadmore will be important in pushing for another finals appearance.

She will be an important factor as a leader, in a year where some might need a little extra push, and as part of the Pies’ on-ball troop.

8 Maddy Obal (South Bunbury)

This will be a different year for Obal, who after missing the 2019 flag and then becoming a premiershi­p captain in 2020, has stepped down from the leadership group.

This could go one of two ways, with many rising to the next level once moving on from leadership roles, but this will rely on the knee that kept her out of the first premiershi­p, and was heavily strapped throughout last year, staying good.

7 Carly Allen (Bunbury)

One of the toughest players in the competitio­n, Allen put her body on the line every single week last year, even sporting a pretty hefty knee brace.

The 2018 Marino Medallist was back to her best in 2020 and, after a lay-off in 2019, she could take her game further.

In every side there is a player you would love to see in a premiershi­p and it would be quite the story if she could do it again, after leading the club to their first triumph.

6 Kiarni Stevens (South Bunbury)

Stevens is the toughest defender in the league by the length of the Bunbury Turf Club straight and has been the underrated figure in South Bunbury’s pair of flags.

She knows when to peel off her opponent, has a booming leg and could be the best one-on-one defender to go with it. Granted, she’s well supported by a hard-working midfield.

5 Karinda Farrant (Carey Park)

One of the South West’s most naturally gifted dual-sport athletes, Farrant will only get better with another season of footy under her belt.

The South West Slammers star battled hard and was Carey Park’s best in a difficult season. She was duly rewarded with the club’s women’s best and fairest last year, and if they are to win a few more games this year, she will have to be a dominant force again. She is vitally important to her club’s fortunes.

4 Jonelle Blackford (Harvey Bulls)

The uncertaint­y around where and with whom you are playing football would without a doubt hold immense challenges, and Blackford and her would-be Collie Eagles teammates find themselves in that boat again this season.

One of the game’s best forwards, retaining Blackford, more out of luck than anything else, will be a huge asset to a Harvey Bulls side which will give the finals a real push this year after a strong season last year.

Looking forward to watching her on the big stage late in the season.

3 Kate Fielding (South Bunbury)

This season will be an interestin­g one for Fielding, who was again the dominant ruck in the competitio­n.

After finishing third in the Marino Medal count, she will this year service a midfield without Marino Medal winner Kloe Bassett, who has moved to Bunbury, and Megan Bain, who is playing WAFLW.

She may be even more important to her club’s fortunes with a slightly different midfield group than ever before.

2 Bethany Bond (South Bunbury)

Bond is the sort of agile forward clubs could search for years for and never find. She provides the South Bunbury side she will captain this year an irresistib­le hybrid between goal-kicking powerhouse and good-sized player up the ground.

She kicked 21 goals from nine games in the home-and-away season last year. A goal-kicking rate of more than two a game is rarely seen in women’s football at any level (no AFLW leading goal kicker has ever scored at that rate), especially in the regions.

Bond now takes over the South Bunbury captaincy from Maddy Obal and this season could see her add premiershi­p captain to her growing list of SWFL accolades. Could she be a Marino Medal chance, too?

1 Kloe Bassett (Bunbury)

I was hesitant to put the reigning Marino medallist at number one because we know full well what she is capable of already, but a shock change of clubs in the off-season sees Bassett back in the black and gold, and she’s ready to have a proper crack at her old side. The clearance machine, who drove the South Bunbury engine room to a second consecutiv­e premiershi­p last season, proved that she is fairly comfortabl­y the best player in the competitio­n.

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