By ZAC MILBANK
The 2022 The Advertiser SANFLW Team of the Year boasts an even spread of selections with all eight clubs represented in this season’s elite line-up.
Top three teams North Adelaide (four), Sturt (three) and Glenelg (three) lead the way while Norwood also provided three players after narrowly missing a berth in the major round.
Glenelg skipper Ellie Kellock returns to be the talented team’s on-field leader after being named captain of The Advertiser SANFLW Team of the Year for the second year in succession.
Half-back flank Kellock, the Tigers’ premiership captain last year, is one of eight players to retain their place from SANFLW’s class of 2021.
First-year West Adelaide captain Madison Russell has been rewarded for her resilience with a place at full back and the vice-captaincy.
Rookie Sturt mentor Michael O’Connor, thrust into the role after Christmas this year, has been awarded Coach of the Year status after steering the youthful Double Blues into their first major round appearance since entering the competition in 2018.
Ball magnets and tough-tackling trio Jessica Bates (Glenelg), Jess Edwards (North) and Shelby Smith (Central) make up a formidable midfield unit, making use of the all-round game displayed by Bulldogs’ ruck Isabelle Starmer, who richly deserved selection after a breakout season.
Redleg Alana Lishmund is chosen at full forward after kicking 18 goals this year to lead the competition while North star Hannah Ewings presents as a dangerous option alongside her in the pocket.
South cult figure Jess Waterhouse earned her first selection at half-forward after making a stunning return to SANFLW this year while McKenzie Dowrick provides a strong target, and a booming left-foot kick, at centre half-forward.
On the wings, Eagle Shineah Goody continued her standout 2022 with selection after averaging in excess of 20 disposals, while experienced South leader Nicole Campbell is another fine addition with her constructive midfield play.
In defence, team leaders Kellock and Russell will be well-supported by U18 All-Australian pair Sarah Goodwin (Glenelg) and Amelie Borg (North), who were ultra-consistent at SANFLW level this season.
Based on performance across the minor round, the 2022 The Advertiser SANFLW Team of the Year was selected by SANFL General Manager Football Matt Duldig, SANFL Female Talent Manager Robbie Neill, SANFL Football Operations Coordinator Daniel Joyce, SANFL Head of Football Operations Sean Toohey, SANFL Female Talent Coordinator Bek McMahon, SANFL Media Producer Zac Milbank and Messenger Sports Reporter Daniel Renfrey.
FORWARD POCKET – Hannah Ewings (North)
An absolute star of the SANFLW, the AFLW-bound utility can create damage wherever she plays, in attack or through the middle. Averaging 20 disposals this season, she hit the scoreboard with 12 goals during the minor round.
FULL FORWARD – Alana Lishmund (Norwood)
SANFLW’s leading goal kicker is a natural fit at full forward after tallying an impressive 18 majors across the minor round. Interestingly, the clever Redleg had only kicked four goals in two seasons before springing to life in 2022.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – Jess Waterhouse (South)
Returned to SANFLW ranks in 2022 and made an instant impression. A classy mover up forward or further up the field, the niece of former Magpie and Docker Clive Waterhouse booted 15 goals for the season while also averaging an impressive 16.2 disposals.
CENTRE HALF-FORWARD – McKenzie Dowrick (Eagles)
A former AFLW forward with Brisbane and West Coast, the Crows-listed forward put her booming left-foot kick to good use in 2022 by registering 12 goals for the season. A strong mark, Dowrick is capable of brilliance when finishing in front of goal.
HALF-FORWARD FLANK – Georgia Bevan (Sturt)
Returning to Unley after a season in the AFLW with the Gold Coast Suns, the former Double Blues skipper spent more time closer to goal but still made her presence felt by averaging 16 disposals and six tackles.
WING – Shineah Goody (Eagles)
The 16 year-old continues to shine against her experienced opponents, having the ball on a string to average 20 disposals, five marks and four tackles. The U18 All-Australian was also the tournament MVP and SA’s MVP at the AFLW National Championships.
CENTRE – Jessica Bates (Glenelg)
The Tigers’ experienced ball magnet continued on her tradition of filling the stats sheet weekly. Not only was she impressive with the ball in averaging 24.5 disposals, she also displayed defensive prowess by laying more than 10 tackles a game in 2022.
WING – Nicole Campbell (South)
Reaching her 50-game milestone in 2022, the experienced Panther was her consistent self this season in averaging more than 20 disposals. The former Crow also played an important role in her team’s leadership group with captain Brianna Wedding sidelined for most of the season with injury.
HALF-BACK FLANK – Sarah Goodwin (Glenelg)
Goodwin set the tone for her season when she was nominated for the Powerade Breakthrough Player Award with an eye-catching display in Round 1. Finished with an average of 22 disposals including a season-high of 32 against minor premier North Adelaide in Round 7.
CENTRE HALF-BACK – Amelie Borg (North Adelaide)
The emerging defender retains her place in the SANFLW Team of the Year after another consistent campaign in defence for the Roosters. Also showed her talent with All-Australian selection at the AFLW National Championships.
HALF-BACK FLANK – Ellie Kellock (Glenelg)
Selected as captain of the SANFLW Team of the Year for the second year in succession, the Bays premiership skipper found more of the ball in 2022, averaging 19 disposals, four tackles and four clearances.
BACK POCKET – Kiera Mueller (Sturt)
One of the prime movers behind Sturt making its inaugural finals appearance this year, Mueller averaged an impactful 16 disposals at 87 per cent efficiency as well as more than three rebound 50s per game.
FULL BACK – Madison Russell (West Adelaide)
In her first season as Bloods captain, Russell is a fitting choice as vice-captain of the SANFLW Team of the Year. Fought valiantly for her side in defence amid challenging circumstances to average more than 13 disposals and four tackles.
RUCK – Isabelle Starmer (Central District)
Not only did the Bulldogs ruck lead the competition in hit outs, her work at ground level was equally impressive in 2022. Averages of 16 disposals, four marks, six tackles and three clearances illustrate Starmer’s dominance around all sections of the field in 2022.
RUCK ROVER – Jess Edwards (North Adelaide)
The 32-year-old is showing no signs of slowing after racking up an average of 24 disposals this season, including a monster performance in Round 8 which set a record for most disposals in a SANFLW match – 46.
ROVER – Shelby Smith (Central District)
The Bulldogs captain is equally adept at applying pressure as she is in finding the ball, averaging more than nine tackles while also chalking up an impressive disposal average of 24 and five clearances per game in 2022.
INTERCHANGE – Isobel Kuiper (Sturt)
Sturt’s club champion last year, Kuiper’s allround game is reflected in her 2022 numbers after posting averages of 16 disposals, three marks, six tackles and five clearances.
INTERCHANGE – Katelyn Pope (North Adelaide)
Returned to Prospect full-time in 2022 after spending last season with the West Coast Eagles. The speedy left-footer averaged 17.5 disposals and four tackles while helping the Roosters to the minor premiership.
INTERCHANGE – Jade Halpenny (Norwood)
Providing a versatile option off the bench, Halfpenny can create plenty of headaches for the opposition in attack or through the middle after averaging 17 disposals, three marks, three tackles and three clearances in 2022.
INTERCHANGE – Sachi Syme (Norwood)
The Port Lincoln product continued to develop nicely in senior ranks this season, recording a silky disposal efficiency rate of 86 per cent from her 18 disposals per game.
INTERCHANGE – Keeley Kustermann (West Adelaide)
The Bloods’ leadership group member provides a defensive presence off the pine while also being able to impact through the midfield. Logged encouraging averages of 19 disposals and six tackles this season.
COACH – Michael O’Connor (Sturt)
Thrust into the head coaching role late in the Double Blues’ preparations after Christmas, O’Connor impressed by guiding Sturt into second place at the end of the minor round with a 9-3 win-loss record. The first-year mentor not only harnessed and promoted Sturt’s young talent from within, he steered the girls from Unley into their first major round campaign since entering the competition in 2018.