It’s been a long off-season, but the second NAB AFL Women’s season is almost here, with the opening game, Carlton v Collingwood, slated for Friday night at Ikon Park.
Adelaide’s premiership triumph happened last March, with teams having waited months for their opportunity to knock the Crows off their perch.
No.1 draft pick Isabel Huntington was joined by 45 other draftees in earning a spot on an AFLW list, while a number of other players were signed as free agents or rookies.
Unlike last season, rookies will not be able to play unless they are upgraded to the main list to cover an injury. A rookie can be upgraded for as little as a single round to cover an injured player.
Players qualify as a rookie if they are under 21 or are crossing from another sport.
Several rule changes will also have an impact this AFLW, the most significant of which is the “last touch” rule.
Introduced in the SANFL competition in 2016, the rule will see a free kick paid against the last player to touch the ball before it crosses the boundary line.
However, if an opposition player chooses to shepherd the ball over the line, rather than pick it up in the field of play, the ball will be thrown in.
There will also be a throw in if the umpires are in any doubt.
The rule was introduced with the aim of decreasing congestion and stoppages, while increasing scoring. Expect to see quick, rebounding teams such as Melbourne and Brisbane Lions take full advantage of this change.
There will no longer be a “22” picked, rather a team of 21 will be selected.
This change means there will be five players on the bench, rather than six. The number of players on the field (16) will remain the same.
Data collected from the first season showed the “sixth” player on the bench played, on average, as little as 35 per cent game time, hence the cut in team size.
Games will run slightly longer than last year, with time-on added during the last two minutes of each 15-minute quarter.
Live stream all the games throughout the season by downloading the brand new AFLW Official App.
Story – AFL.com.au