On Tuesday night, a remarkable seven Dragons were selected in the AFLW draft — all within the first 36 picks.
It was a haul reminiscent of the 2016 men’s draft, which saw five Dragons selected in the top 11.
Cementing its position as the country’s top footy factory, Sandringham saw Alice Burke, Sarah Hartwig, Bella Eddey, Eliza McNamara, Daisy Walker, Abbi Moloney, and Winnie Laing become AFLW players.
Of course, it was a proud moment for head coach Tam Hyett, as early nerves preceded champagne popping.
“As it got closer to the coverage, I started getting quite nervous,” she said.
“But when one got picked there was a flutter of Dragons girls getting picked, so it was very exciting.
“To cap it off with Winnie, our captain, the final pick out of the seven, I’m not going to lie, there was a champagne bottle that popped.”
With each of the Sandy seven blessed with sporting ability, Hyett says a marriage of talent and hard work over a three-year period has come to fruition.
“All of the girls started at same time as the coaching group in November 2017, so we’ve all been on a journey together,” said Hyett.
“They all had the talent, but the next best thing is hard work, and they all put in the hard work.
“I’m really proud and just rapt that the work all of these girls have put in has paid off.”
Alice Burke, drafted to St Kilda as a father/daughter selection
Alice is just a wonderful teammate. A really strong inside player but also offers outside run. She’s got a wonderful energy for a team environment, she’s always encouraging. Really strong and really competitive. Probably a bit more polished than her Dad, but a bit of a clone, she doesn’t mind the tough stuff. Father/daughter was a bit of a fairy-tale.
Sarah Hartwig, drafted to the Western Bulldogs with pick 11
Sarah’s really good in the air, a good strong intercept marker, but when the ball hits the ground, she’s really reactive and quick off the mark. Takes opponents on, and fiercely lays tackles. Really good fit down at the Bulldogs, and can also take her marking ability further up the ground. We played her as a winger to really utilise her strong intercept marking
Bella Eddey, drafted to North Melbourne-Tasmania with pick 13
We call her Silk, she’s got clean wonderful skills on both sides of the body, hand and foot. She’s got a really high footy IQ, clam in traffic and a really well-balanced player.
Eliza McNamara, drafted to Melbourne with pick 15
Take away her elite running capabilities, she’s just a great footballer. She’s a really strong run and carry player, solid by foot and she’s really courageous in the air for her size. She’s strong over the ball, just as happy to be inside [the contest] as outside. She’s an elite athlete and she’s going to thrive in that sort of environment.
Daisy Walker, drafted to Carlton with pick 28
She was probably the most raw out of all of them when she first started. She’s got great endurance and agility. She’s really component by foot now, and that was her main area of improving. She’s really driven to improve in all areas. Probably the most coachable player that I’ve worked with, and really hard at the ball, rarely beaten one-on-one.
Abbi Moloney, drafted to Collingwood with pick 31
She’s a really strong aerial presence. She plays quite tall. She likes to crash the pack, and if she doesn’t mark it, she’ll bring it to ground. Offers lots of pressure, enjoys the physicality and plays really well on instinct. She’s probably the hardest player to defend one-on-one that we had. Really strong aerial presence but also likes to lay tackles, so her forward half pressure is something Collingwood will love.
Captain Winnie Laing, drafted to Carlton with pick 36
The growth in Winnie from year one to now, she’s just the ultimate leader. She’s really good with contested ball, but also has speed and power to be able to exit from stoppages. She’s a good mark for her size, solid by foot, and gets herself into really good positions. She’s strong through the hips, hard to bring down. A great leader, she sets elite standards. I think they got a bargain, Carlton. She’ll thrive in that environment.
Hyett also praised the work of the coaching and support staff, with assistant coaches Fraser Cameron, Danny Byrne, and Jemma Owen, strength and conditioning coaches Sonya and Billy, volunteers Nicole, Justin, Alex, and Adam, as well as team managers Tom Nolan and Jess Lewis all playing integral roles in Dragons success.