The Roar
The Roar

Joel Shepherd

Roar Guru

Joined October 2017

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Professional SF writer. Amateur sport watcher.

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I think we were always going to get spanked this year, injuries or not, because our backline’s weak and we don’t have a forward line. But midfields are most important in the AFLW, and that’s starting to look seriously good. It simplifies things going forward — we need backs and especially forwards, and there’s some great ones coming.

How the Kangaroos, Cats and Eagles are faring in AFLW

Yep, huge improvement. But you won’t want to win too many games this year — get that first or second Victorian draft pick, gets you Georgie Prespakis or Charlie Rowbottom, then next year could even be a leap straight into the finals.

How the Kangaroos, Cats and Eagles are faring in AFLW

1. Disposals don’t mean everything. 2.The case may be a little overstated with Collingwood (but certainly not with Bulldogs, Carlton, Richmond, St Kilda, etc), but Bonnici, Molloy, Butler, Allen, Brown and Schleicher are all 23 or younger, and all going places. North have got players in that age group, but no one I rate as highly. Bannister and Mia King are good, Gavalas is 24, but that’s it. That’s just what I see.

Re; point 2, Nina Morrison is the equivalent to Bowers, Phillips and Randall? If you say so.

How the Kangaroos, Cats and Eagles are faring in AFLW

I’ve written heaps on this site about the awful coaching in the early days of the AFLW. It’s improving, but I agree it’s not gone yet.

How bigger AFLW players are changing the game

No, because the men’s comp maxed out its athletic potential long ago. The women have barely started. When most of the AFLW players aged 25 or over started playing, the female footy junior talent pool would have been a few thousand, nation wide. Now it’s hundreds of thousands, and most of those kids aren’t playing AFLW yet. When you skim the top talent for an elite competition, the performance averages go way up when the talent pool explodes. That’s what’s coming.

How bigger AFLW players are changing the game

You think 45 is the max any woman can kick? With the wind?

Second one’s a torp, but there’s no wind.

It may not prove much because these are elite examples and not averages. But it shows that your assessment of an elite female kick is way off, which means your assessment of a future average female kick is probably way off as well.

How bigger AFLW players are changing the game

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How bigger AFLW players are changing the game

The biggest obstacle to attractive football in the AFLW is congestion. Shortening the grounds will create more congestion, not less. Fremantle has shown how to punish teams who cluster too much by breaking into open ground and running the length of the field. They’ve evolved a fast, exciting game to do it, and shortening the ground would punish them, and disincentivize fast attacking football.
Also, just as young players are getting taller and faster, they’re also kicking the ball longer. At about 1:53:30 and 1:56:30 you can see Ella Roberts kicking two goals in a row, at 15 years old in a WAFLW Preliminary Final, that each go between 40 and 50 meters with the wind, off just a step or two.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C47Kktgg734
In a few years she’ll be kicking 50 without the wind pretty easily, as will Amy Franklin if she’s not already, and plenty of others. Not every woman is going to be Ella Roberts, but she’s indicative of a trend. In another five years, most of the women who can’t kick over 35 won’t be able to get a game, and the problem will solve itself.

How bigger AFLW players are changing the game

Couldn’t comment on individual players’ fitness, but as I see it, Hooker and Swanson are elite, Bowen and McDonald have great potential, the Kelly sisters too (Niamh in particular), Gibson is good but only plays well when surrounded by good players, Cameron, Perera, Davidson, Laurie and Smith are solid B-grade players, and the rest either have question marks or worse (Brianna Green still hasn’t played a game and there’s been no explanation why save that it seems to be medical, so she’s still unknown). That’s 12 players, but only 2 of them are really good NOW, 3 if you count Niamh’s better games. They can all put on big physical pressure (that’s how we beat the Bulldogs) but most can’t really use the ball. Unless the WAFLW junior pipeline really gets cracking, the only way the Eagles will be competitive anytime soon is with several years of priority picks granted by the AFLW.

AFLW Round 6 wrap

Fair enough.

AFLW Round 6 wrap

I should add — got the dates wrong for when Ham and Prespakis will be entering the competition, it’s one year earlier (good). Always mentally muddling because the draft and the season take place in different years.

AFLW Round 5 wrap

Thanks Matt! Now wondering if we’ll actually get to see the season finish.

AFLW Round 5 wrap

Niamh was awesome on the weekend too. She improves every game, she’s starting to learn where to run and how to beat tackles, and when she gets loose she’s seriously quick.

AFLW Round 4 wrap: If these trends continue....

Their skills are still behind the more established clubs (obviously, considering how inexperienced their playing list is) but their physical pressure is great, they’re tough and well coached. Give them a year or two to polish the skills, and get some new kids in (the Suns’ academy has four kids in the national academy who’ll be draft age next year, including Madison Levi who’s a scary combination of tall and fast) and they could start doing some real damage.

AFLW Round 4 wrap: If these trends continue....

Kalinda Howarth is a player. Amazing just how many good players the Suns have.

AFLW Round 4 wrap: If these trends continue....

Ooooh yeah. Very loud noises when Grace kicked her goal. Shows what getting an actual home game can do.

AFLW Round 4 wrap: If these trends continue....

Their midfield is struggling more without Hooker than I’d thought they would — Bowers’ disposal numbers are down, Cain did her ACL, Grieve and Stewart are good, but not that good. I think Antonio (Donnellan) is only getting good but not amazing numbers, so they don’t really have a dominant 20-possession per game midfielder right now.

The Lions advantage there could be big, and it’s where most games are won and lost.

AFLW Round 4 wrap: If these trends continue....

Thanks Jason! I actually think the Tiges will be okay in the long run, their backline in particular is young and will improve, and they’ve got a couple of forwards in Bernardi and Wakefield that means Fredrick’s lack of mobility doesn’t hurt too badly. It’s in the midfield where they’re getting smashed, Conti’s just getting no help, but if they stack up on midfield draft picks, particularly with pick 1 in the Vic draft next year (which they’ll probably get since St Kilda should finish higher) then they could be at least competitive next year, and good the year after.

The dead horse I’m always beating on The Roar is that focusing on young players usually pays more dividends than older ones. The Tigers and Eagles both recruited more mature-age players, the Saints and Suns went younger.

AFLW Round 3 wrap: So, who's the best?

So you’re tipping the Pies to only win 1 more game for the season? Big call! Especially when their last two games are Geelong and St Kilda.

I can only call it how I see it, but for me the Pies played the best footy of the season so far against Carlton. Also, beating Carlton at Ikon is a much bigger deal than flogging some expansion team, or, it seems, Geelong. And they did it without Davey. And no, I haven’t seen anyone else being as efficient around the contests yet — it’s the bane of my existence watching AFLW, I’m always shouting ‘handball!’ at the TV when players take possession in the stoppages, but they rarely do ,they’ll look for a kick (impossible in close) or get flattened leading to another stoppage. Collingwood are the first team I’ve seen who usually get the ball out and kept it moving.

AFLW Round 2 wrap: Coaching reaches the next level

Yeah, there’s a flood of talent coming downstream but the next year or two might be thin before it arrives. That’s bad news for the Eagles — they may even have a case for a priority pick next year. Next year’s top Freo draft picks will be struggling to get a game, the Eagles’ picks will be starting.

AFLW Round 2 wrap: Coaching reaches the next level

I thought Hooker and Swanny were good under the circumstances — it’s hard being on an outclassed team, all your teammates are getting smashed and your structures breaking down. The worry for me is that the next WA draft looks a little thin — lots of skilful 17 year olds but not many AFLW-type athletes. Hopefully some new ones will emerge over the next WAFLW season. If the Eagles can get three genuinely good new kids each year for the next three years, plus whatever new rookies and internationals they can develop, I reckon they could be competing for finals by 2023… but only if those new kids are good, everything rests on that.

Meanwhile your Dockers haven’t got Alex Williams back yet, and I’m hoping Emma O’Driscoll can get a game soon, I’m kinda pissed the Eagles didn’t draft her late, I think she’s good.

AFLW Round 2 wrap: Coaching reaches the next level

Direct quote from the article, ‘Katie Brennan struggled with just ten disposals, and the Tigers demonstrated once again why expansion teams recruiting big-name forwards instead of midfielders is a mistake.’

And in my Richmond Preview I said I was sceptical of Katie Brennan in the midfield, and I said in my Bulldogs Preview that I thought Gabby Newton would be a better player than Katie Brennan possibly as early as this season. In fact I’ve consistently said for as far back as I can remember that Katie Brennan hasn’t lived up to expectations so far… but then she’s been injured a lot, so thus far I’ve given her some slack. Your profile says you’ve been a member on The Roar since February, which is twelve days. I’ve been writing here since 2018.

Also, I don’t get off on slamming players who work two jobs and get paid peanuts. If AFLW players were making $400,000 a year like the men are, then fine. But most of them are making $19,000, or about $2500 per game, and working two jobs, and get to train two or three hours every evening after work in a short season. Katie probably makes closer to $40,000, but that’s still ten percent what the men make.

Most people reading these articles are well aware that the average female standard isn’t that good compared to the men. You’re not the first person to realise this. Needing to shout it out every five minutes is a bit like the child at the mall who sees a very overweight person and yells ‘look Mum, look how fat that person is!’ Yes, we can all see the person is fat. We just don’t need to shout it at the top of our lungs because we’re not children.

Everything I’ve written in The Roar is an attempt to figure out why the women’s standard is where it currently is, and how it might improve, and I’ve been very blunt about the current level. But again, you’ve been here twelve days.

Carlton and Dogs impress in wet and windy AFLW opening round

Again, who should I have criticised? Be specific, I’ll give you a specific answer.

Carlton and Dogs impress in wet and windy AFLW opening round

Who should I have criticised?

Carlton and Dogs impress in wet and windy AFLW opening round

VFL, SANFL and WAFL teams don’t struggle to kick it more than 35 meters. I didn’t say it was the only factor, just one factor.

Carlton and Dogs impress in wet and windy AFLW opening round