With the 2017 AFLW Draft all done and dusted on Wednesday, the Western Bulldogs found themselves welcoming in six very talented ladies as they prepare for their assault back up on the ladder.
With these six picks, the Bulldogs addressed their needs of a key forward to partner up with current captain Katie Brennan, they found some midfield help for the dynamic duo of Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn and passed on their final draft selection to sign a promising defender from interstate.
With the Western Bulldogs having four draft picks in the top 20, the Football Club found themselves in a very good position to acquire very promising talent. Did they land the jackpot with picks one and four? Could they snare a bargain talent with a later pick?
Today on Bulldogs Centre, we have a look at all six selections in depth as we go through the Western Bulldogs 2017 AFLW Draft in review.
Free Agent Signing: Rachel Ashley (Perth Angels) - Defender
With the Western Bulldogs passing on their final pick in the draft, this enabled them to secure the services of Western Australian defender Rachel Ashley via Free Agency. Standing at 174 centimetres tall, Ashley has really good hands and a very good leap on her, coming fourth in the running vertical leap in the Draft combine. With her strong hands, strong leap and her competitive nature, she looms as a real intercept marking threat in defence and not that the defence is their number one concern, but they could certainly do with this addition.
Pick 27: Emma Mackie (Box Hill Hawks) - Midfielder
With the fifth and final pick of the Western Bulldogs' draft, they selected mature-aged hopeful Emma Mackie from Box Hill in the VFLW, and she brings with her an elite sports background. At 33 years of age, Mackie has competed all over the world as a professional cyclist for several years and only returned to the game just a few years ago. Mackie arrived at Box Hill for the 2017 VFLW season and was simply brilliant, taking home Box Hill's best and fairest award. Mackie's strength in the contest and elite endurance will be a welcome piece in the Bulldogs' 22 in 2018.
Pick 19: Daria Bannister (Launceston) - Midfielder/Forward
Many rated Daria Bannister as the best Tasmanian to come out of this year's draft class, and that proved to be the case as Bannister was the first and only Tasmanian picked up from this year's draft and the Doggies should be delighted here. Bannister is seen as a midfielder that can also push forward and kick goals when required. Playing for Launceston in Tasmania's state league this year, Bannister kicked 8 goals in 11 games and featured in Launceston's best five of those 11 times. As a midfielder, Bannister thrives on contested ball and is a good user of the ball by foot.
Pick 11: Jenna Bruton (St. Kilda Sharks) - Midfielder/Forward
I really like this pick up with Jenna Bruton at 11. Bruton took some time away from the game in the lead-up to last year's inaugural expansion draft, to be closer to family and friends, but she returned for the St. Kilda Sharks just before the commencement of the 2017 VFLW season and from there, she simply dominated. As the Sharks finished the season preliminary finalists, the 22-year old Bruton took home St. Kilda's best and fairest award and was a member of the VFLW's team of the year. She is a very skilled individual who will be a fine addition into the Bulldogs' midfield.
Pick 4: Monique Conti (Calder Cannons/Melbourne University) - Midfielder
Whether it was going to be Conti, Darcy Guttridge or even Eden Zanker, the Western Bulldogs couldn't go wrong with this pick, but in the end, decided on Monique Conti, who will find herself in familiar company with fellow midfielders from Melbourne Uni in Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn. With Conti, they are going to get someone who has incredible athleticism - her agility is a thing of beauty, her pace is thrilling, her ability to weave her way out of congestion at times this year has been outstanding, her ever-improving skill-set is already exciting to watch. She finished in the top 10 in the under-18's state competition best and fairest and was a member of the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year.
At 18 years of age, and already proven to be a very talented basketballer, playing with the Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL, this young lady has a very massive future ahead of her in terms of her football career. The Bulldogs have addressed their need for midfield help stupendously with the drafting of Conti, Bruton and Bannister.
Pick 1: Isabel Huntington (Sandringham Dragons/Melbourne University) - Forward
This is the one pick that I'm very indifferent about. With Isabel Huntington, there is a future AFLW star in the making - there is no question about this.
At 180 centimetres and 18 years of age, she has already got the skill set to be a star in years to come. She has shown that she has a great overhead mark and is a very accurate shot on goal and given that the Bulldogs struggled when Katie Brennan missed with injury this season, the Bulldogs needed to draft a key forward that knows where the goals are. Alongside her capabilities as a key forward, she has shown her versatility , playing up the ground as a midfielder in the past as well. She was very dominant in the Youth Girls' national championships - but that was last year, which leads to my massive concern - the knee injury. Huntington missed all of this year with a ruptured ACL and whilst it's been said that she has recovered well, all it takes is a innocuous twist and it happens all over again.
Despite all the talk about her knee, Huntington is raring to go and is willing to show the nation that the Western Bulldogs were right to take her at number one, and that's what I love the most about her game - her determination to get the best out of herself has always been there and once she hits the ground running in the pre-season, despite my concerns, it will be very a very exciting proposition if she can keep her knee at 100 percent - if this is the case, then the sky is unquestionably the limit for Isabel and very much the Western Bulldogs' women's team.