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WAFLW 2024 Season PreviewWednesday, February 28, 2024 - 10:46 AM - by Chris Pike

THE WAFLW season gets underway this weekend and with every team being able to make genuine claims to improving and with plenty of youth set to be unleashed, what we see in 2024 is going to be exciting.

With Claremont and East Fremantle looking to maintain their spots up top after splitting the past two premierships, and South Fremantle and Swan Districts out to build on their finals appearances from last season, the top four teams won't be looking to give up ground.

But then you have Subiaco trying to avoid a third straight season without a finals appearance, Peel Thunder looking to put themselves back in the mix and then West Perth sure to continue their upward trajectory and then East Perth set to grow in a second season in the WAFLW competition.


Last season: Lost Grand Final. 13-1-0 record, minor premiership

It was a heart breaking way for the 2023 WAFLW season to finish for Claremont after being so impressive all year, but that will only now serve as added motivation for the Tigers in 2024.

Going back to 2022 and Claremont won the WAFLW premiership by beating an East Fremantle team in the Grand Final who had gone through the entire season up to that point undefeated.

The tables were turned in remarkable fashion in 2023 when it was the Tigers who were the team going through the entire season without losing a game.

The closest Claremont came was a draw with East Fremantle but then come Grand Final day, and it was the Tigers' turn to have their hearts broken and the dream of a season without a loss ended with the Sharks claiming the premiership.

Claremont has now had the summer to stew over that but to also have the knowledge of how good they were for all of the 2023 season and it was just on the last day they came up slightly short against a powerful opponent.

Claremont has been perennial premiership contenders in the history of the WAFLW competition and there's every reason to expect them to be right around the mark again in 2024 having played in the past two Grand Finals.

The Tigers welcome back Emily Bonser for the season as well while having added Jess Ritchie and Anjelique Raison to bolster their playing stocks that are already of enough quality to make them a contender.


Last season: Won premiership. 8-1-5 record, third position

Redemption was the driving force behind East Fremantle's season in 2023 and the Sharks got what they were after by claiming the premiership in stunning fashion.

East Fremantle were the dominant WAFLW team in the 2022 season going through the season undefeated but then on Grand Final day, the Sharks had their hearts broken with a loss at the hands of Claremont.

From the moment that happened, the Sharks set their sights on making up for that in 2023 and while they did have to do things the hard way by finishing the home and away season in third place, they beat Swan Districts and South Fremantle to earn a Grand Final rematch with Claremont.

The tables were turned with Claremont the team coming into this decider as the undefeated team throughout the season, but East Fremantle this time were able to pull off the victory to secure the 2023 WAFLW premiership.

While the season ended on the ultimate high, everything hasn’t necessarily gone to plan at East Fremantle since including the departure of premiership winning coach Steph Walding.

There has been some player turnover as well but with the Sharks still led by the likes of Beth Beckett, Ashlee Atkins, Sharon Wong, Laura Catherine, Doma Fedele, Larissa Versaci, Leanne Gubbins, Emmelie Fiedler, Samara Pluschke and captain Ashleigh Gomes, and they are still in good hands.

Then with the emerging group that includes Zippy Fish, Mylee Leitch, Tiani Teakle, Taya Chambers, Chloe Reilly, Georgie Cleaver and Grace Freeman, and there's no reason to think the Sharks won't be around the mark again in 2024.


Last season: 0-14 record, last position

East Perth endured a tough first season in the WAFLW competition in 2023, but history tells us that's the case with new teams and there's plenty of reasons to expect them to trend upwards in 2024.

If you look at South Fremantle and West Perth when they both first joined the WAFLW competition and they had similarly tough first seasons, but then instantly improved in their second seasons.

East Perth will now be attempting to do the same in the 2024 WAFLW season coming off a winless campaign in 2023 where the Royals did find the going tough losing all 14 matches at an average margin of 55.1 points.

The Royals did only manage to kick 15 goals in those 14 games, but being the new team in a competition full of established teams is always going to be a challenge and it's a year they would have learned plenty from.

East Perth now has a new coach on board in 2024 with Jenna Allomes taking over the helm for an increasingly young group, but that's a good thing for the Royals with players graduating from their Rogers Cup squad to now become WAFLW players this coming season.

Fremantle Dockers AFLW player Dana East will be a significant boost for the Royals too with the 21-year-old coming back to the club she originally developed from after growing up in Manjimup.


Last season: 3-11 record, seventh position

Peel Thunder had a down year in 2023 largely on the back of simply just becoming such a youthful group and now will be looking to rise back up the WAFLW ladder in 2024.

After winning WAFLW premierships in 2020 and 2021, and again making the finals in 2022, a large contingent of the experienced players part of that successful run had moved on from Peel in 2023 and that was reflected in their final finishing position.

Peel did manage just three wins for the season but it still wasn’t without positives including with how impressive the back-line was led by captain Ebony Dowson and supported by Greta McKinley and young gun Evie Cowcher.

Cowcher did what she did as a 15-year-old where she averaged 19.9 touches a game to earn a place in the Team of the Year along with her captain.

It might be an even younger Peel team in 2024 but there are a couple of new recruits in Zoe Bailey and Keely Hare who they will be looking to make a significant contribution to their fortunes.

However, their fate might well rest with how well their young brigade can perform led by Cowcher but including fellow teenagers like Holly Britton, Gracie Fenton, Jorja Haines, Dakota Sexton and Zoe Bailey.



Last season: Lost preliminary final. 10-1-3 record, second position

South Fremantle has continued to improve every WAFLW season they have been part of and if that trajectory continues in 2024 then the Bulldogs will at least reach a Grand Final in 2024.

The Bulldogs were thrown in the deep end of the WAFLW competition in the COVID impacted 2020 season. They struggled to be competitive as a result and while still winless in 2021, they were vastly more combative.

Then by 2022 and South Fremantle was making a push to be in finals contention and then that came to fruition in 2023.

Not only did the Bulldogs make the finals, they finished the home and away season in second position. While they did end up losing their two finals to Claremont and East Fremantle, there was no shame in that given the standing of the Tigers and Sharks in the WAFLW competition.

Now that South Fremantle has had a taste of playing WAFLW finals, they will be setting higher goals for 2024 knowing what they are capable of and that creates a whole new feeling for the Bulldogs coming into a new season.

South Fremantle continued to be led admirably by Lauren Vecchio last year while Ariana Hetherington, Kahra Sprlyan, Noa McNaughton, Kloe Bassett and Beth Bond all made the Team of the Year.

Teenager Renee Morgan will now look to continue her emergence after a breakout 2023 season with Poppy James another young player to watch out for with Kate Newson, Madizen Wilkins Shannyn Pomersbach looking to come in and make a significant impact.


Last season: 7-1-6 record, fifth position

Subiaco narrowly missed making the finals in the WAFLW in 2023 and now it's been a summer of change with the Lions as they attempt to put themselves back in the hunt in 2024.

It was a second straight season that Subiaco missed out on making the finals in the WAFLW after being part of it the previous three years including a Grand Final appearance back in 2020.

There was a significant loss of experienced players that Subiaco suffered coming into that 2023 season and that has continued this off-season especially with the departure of inspirational captain and 150-plus game star Tarni Golisano who has joined West Perth.

However, nobody at Subiaco will be looking to make excuses and the Lions enter the new season with high hopes of being right back in the finals mix under first-year coach Baker Denneman.

Denneman has moved west to take over as Subiaco coach with an impressive coaching resume throughout the NSW/ACT talent pathways and working both at the Greater Western Sydney Giants and Sydney Swans.

He will now look to instil that experience into an increasingly youthful Subiaco WAFLW team and while it is young, he'll lean on his leaders Eva Popovsky, Tiah Toth, Lauren Bilaloski, Beatrice Devlyn, Krstel Petrevski, Joanne Cregg, Hanna Dethlefsen, Kelsey Patterson, Meg Brown and Tess Lyons to hold down the fort and show the way too.



Last season: Lost first semi-final. 8-6 record, fourth position

There's a new coach, a lot of new faces and a new energy at Swan Districts that they can put themselves back in the premiership hunt for the 2024 WAFLW season.

After being assistant to Adam Dancey for last year's WAFLW season, Ben Bowness takes over as coach for the 2024 campaign and while he's going to have an increasingly young group at his disposal, there's plenty to be excited about at Steel Blue Oval.

The losses at Swan Districts from 2023 which was a team that still made finals after a slow start are highlighted by the departure of Ruby Mahony, Tyla Fitzgerald, Sarah Wielstra and Cassie McWilliam.

However, there have been plenty of encouraging signings including the addition of West Coast Eagles AFLW wing Emma Humphries along with another player with AFLW experience at two clubs, Tayla Thorn.

Former Subiaco defender Hannah Plummer is also making her WAFLW return and doing it at Swan Districts while former stars in black-and-white, Bri Hyde and Emily McGuire, have come back to Bassendean for the 2024 season as well.

With those experienced players on board, they will provide a strong core for a young group along with co-captains Eliza Gelmi and Demi Liddle who have been appointed for 2024.

There's plenty of excitement with the young brigade including Carrys D'Addario, Indiana West, Tamzyn Beros, Sienna Gerardi and Millie Edgar, and there's plenty of reason to expect Swan Districts to be around the mark again this WAFLW season.


Last season: 5-9 record, sixth position

West Perth made a dramatic improvement in 2023 in their second season in the WAFLW competition, and now the Falcons will look to make that jump further toward finals contention in 2024.

West Perth entered the WAFLW competition back in 2022 and despite a winless season, there was the sense they could quickly rise particularly with the strength of their younger players coming through.

That continued in 2023 with the West Perth Rogers Cup team winning the premiership and their WAFLW team dramatically improved to win five matches and to remain in finals contention for the majority of the season.

There's every reason to expect West Perth to continue its rise up the WAFLW ladder in 2024 as well with coach Clint Degebrodt now on board permanently after taking over mid-season in 2023.

West Perth was already represented in the WAFLW Team of the Year by Emily Bennett, Grace Betti and Jess Roper showing the attention they were gathering along with Brooke Hongell only just missing out.

They showed the beginnings of building a quality list in 2023 with the recruits and the blooding of the next generation, and that's now set to continue in 2024.

The additions of decorated recruits has continued highlighted with the addition of Tarni Golisano. She has had a standout career at Subiaco as one of the premier players in the competition during a 150-game plus career and she was again in the Team of the Year in 2023.

Imahra Cameron is a player with enormous talent as well who arrives having previously played at Swan Districts while watching former West Coast Fever and English international netball star Stacey Francis-Bayman crossover sports is going to be fascinating to see unfold too.