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AFLW: Your season preview

Tiarne Swerksy  January 31, 2017 11:00 AM

AFLW Redefined: Chiocci Steph Chiocci has loved football her entire life. She now gets the opportunity to not only play on a national stage, but lead the most famous club in the country.

The buzz surrounding the AFLW’s debut season couldn’t be bigger, and a fit and firing Collingwood squad will make history when they battle arch rivals Carlton in the league’s first ever match on Friday 3 February at Ikon park.  

After a gruelling pre-season and an Australia Day practice match against the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood’s AFLW team is raring to go.

On the eve of the new season, Collingwood Media gives you a look at what lies ahead for the Collingwood AFLW side.

The Team

The Collingwood Football Club has 27 new footballers at the Holden Centre this year. Throughout the squad is a diverse and exciting mixture of experience, youth and fresh talent.

The forward-50 will feature one the most electrifying and dangerous forward lines in the competition, where one of the faces of women’s football - Moana Hope – will team up with the likes of Sarah D’Arcy, Jasmine Garner and Helen Roden to light up the scoreboard.

Meanwhile, the midfield group will be spearheaded by marquee player and dominant ruckman Emma King, who will look to give us first use of the football.

The club's defensive stocks include one of the best young defenders in the game – Nicole Stevens – as well as the experienced crop of Meg Hutchins, Penny Cula-Reid and Stacey Livingstone.

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Photo: Robert Keeley.

The Captain

Attacking defender Steph Chiocci has been elected by her coaches and peers to lead the AFLW Magpies in 2017.

The 28-year-old was the 11th pick in the 2016 AFLW Draft, and the club was thrilled when they landed the highly skilled and experienced skipper from Diamond Creek and the Western Bulldogs.

Chiocci will captain a leadership group with deputy Alicia Eva from Melbourne University, and will be supported by ruckmen King and Lou Wotton.

The Coach

Wayne Siekman
was appointed Collingwood AFLW head coach back in July 2016, and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience, and a coaching career spanning over a decade.

With the help of his assistants Brendan Major, Harmit Singh and Nikki Harwood, the coaching panel will strive to create a well-balanced and successful Collingwood women’s squad.

AFLW Rule Changes

- Teams will field 16 players a side + six on the bench
- There will be four x 15-minute quarters + time on after goals and injuries
- AFLW will use a size 4 football; AFL use a size 5
- All other rules will coincide with AFL laws

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Photo: Robert Keeley.

The Fixture

The Collingwood women’s team will call the Holden Centre home during their debut season in the NAB AFL Women’s competition this year.

The AFLW campaign will feature seven home and away rounds for each club.

Collingwood’s season opener against Carlton on 3 February was moved from the Holden Centre to Carlton’s IKON Park in preparation for a 10,000 plus attendance for the historic clash.

As a result of the move, the Magpies will now play at the Holden Centre three times throughout the season (round two v Melbourne, round six v GWS and round seven v Adelaide).

The side will travel to Brisbane to face the Lions in round three, before driving to the Western suburbs of Melbourne to meet the Western Bulldogs at Whitton Oval in a mouth-watering Saturday night clash.

The final away trip of the season will be a special moment for the Collingwood Football Club, with both the women’s and men’s teams travelling as one to WA ahead of their double header fixture (AFLW round five and JLT Community Series Game Two) against Fremantle on 4 March.

Players to watch

Here are some AFLW Magpies you should be keeping a close eye on throughout the season:

No. 8: Brittany Bonnici
The 19-year-old midfielder from the St Kilda Sharks is easy to spot. Not only does she don the helmet during the game, but she runs all day long and doesn’t mind a goal. The 27th pick in the AFLW draft is one the best young players in the competition, and has already made an impact at the Holden Centre during pre-season.

No. 4: Sarah D'Arcy
The 25-year-old half-forward was the club’s third pick (22nd overall) in the draft, and will hope to form a dominant one-two forward punch with Hope in 2017. D’Arcy kicked 30 goals for the Eastern Devils last year and put her incredible work rate and strong marking on display against the Bulldogs last week.

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Photo: Robert Keeley.

No. 43: Jasmine Garner
At only 22-years-old, the St Kilda Shark forward has already been pitted as one the best marks in the game. Playing with the 100-goal kicker in Hope at the Sharks in 2016, Garner kicked 41 of her own, and could be one of the competitions best centre-half forwards by year’s end.

No. 21: Nicola Stevens
The damaging and versatile defender was the club’s first overall pick (no.6) in last year’s draft and at 23 years of age, will have a long future in the Black and White. Stevens can play multiple roles, but is an intercept marking specialist with an attacking mindset.

Did you know?

Small defender Cecila McIntosh (#20) has won a Silver Medal in Javelin for Australia at the Commonwealth Games, and has also competed in the Winter Olympics in the Bobsled.

Jess Cameron (#27) plays for two of the biggest sport franchises in Melbourne – representing Collingwood in the AFLW and the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League.

Collingwood’s AFLW squad has some AFL royalty connections. Small forward Helen Roden (#11) is the sister of former Richmond, Port Adelaide and Melbourne excitement machine David. While fellow small forward Kate Sheahan (#24) is the daughter of revered former AFL journalist, Mike Sheahan.

The Collingwood AFLW squad is one of the four teams donning the Black and White stripes in 2017. The AFLW team joins the AFL and VFL sides, as well as the new Collingwood Netball team, in representing the biggest club in Australian sport this year.

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Photo: Robert Keeley.