Who are the players you just love watching? You know, not necessarily favourites from the team you support, but the players from across the league who stop you in your tracks and make you tune in anytime, anywhere?
Welcome to ESPN's annual Top 20 Must-Watch Players list.
This isn't just a countdown of the competition's biggest names, but a ranking of the players we simply can't wait to watch in action in season seven of the AFLW. It's a mix of the game's superstars, big names who have switched clubs, young guns who look ready to explode, top draftees or basically anyone we will be watching with interest in the upcoming season.
We revealed the players ranked 20-11 yesterday. Here, we unveil the players ranked 10-1.
10. Katie Brennan
Katie Brennan's name recognition is as huge as her talent. The Richmond forward has been a picture of consistency and is currently on a 15-game streak of scoring at least one goal. Her 14 majors last season and 36 goal involvements made her the focal point of the Tigers' forward line. A two-time All-Australian, Richmond will be hoping captain consistent can bring the goods once again, maybe this time with a little more support from her teammates.
9. Kirsty Lamb
Kirsty Lamb had a breakout campaign in the first season of 2022 despite it being her sixth in red, white, and blue. While the midfielder has always been a reliable operator, season six saw her take her game to a whole new level. She averaged 18.7 disposals, 8.9 contested possessions and 3.9 clearances on her way to a first All-Australian squad and was joint Bulldogs best and fairest alongside Ellie Blackburn. Another player who was plagued by a foot injury but produced an unbelievable season, Lamb will once again be crucial to the Dogs' fortunes in season seven.
8. Erin Phillips
The prolific ball winner has broken the Adelaide Crows' hearts and moved to Port Adelaide to captain the inaugural side, following in her father Greg's footsteps. Greg won eight premierships from 343 games, but Phillips herself has had an equally glittering career, after three premierships with crosstown rivals Adelaide, a three-time All-Australian, not to mention her basketball career which involved two WNBA titles, a FIBA Women's World basketball gold medal and playing at two Olympic Games, winning a silver medal. All eyes will be on Phillips at Port, particularly when they line up against the Crows in the first ever South Australian derby in Round 6.
7. Tayla Harris
Following a controversial move from Carlton to Melbourne, Harris had a career-best campaign in season six with18 goals from 12 matches. Harris' overhead marking, forward pressure and defensive strength has made her a two-time All-Australian. One of the most recognisable faces of the league, she has been marred by media scrutiny in the past and will be hoping for a smooth season seven.
6. Daisy Pearce
After continued speculation around her potential retirement last season, she will go around again as skipper no less - a mantle she has held every year since the team's inception (bar 2019 due to pregnancy.) The inaugural marquee player claimed the club's best and fairest last season, achieved All-Australian honours and was named the AFLPA's best captain, and is among one of the most well respected players in the competition. She is also honing her coaching skills at Geelong as part of the AFL's woman's coach acceleration program, so, at risk of peppering her season with speculation once again, this could be the last time we have the pleasure of watching her.
5. Monique Conti
'MonCon-mentum', along with some remarkable consistency from Katie Brennan, proved to be the high points of an otherwise disappointing season for the Tiges. Much was made of Conti's decision to put her basketball commitments on hold for 2022 and the results spoke for themselves. The talented athlete has once again chosen to focus on footy and she has captured the attention of the league's captains with many tipping her for the AFLW's highest honour. Averaging 23.9 disposals, 5.9 tackles, and 5.3 clearances last season, it's easy to see where they are coming from. Whether or not Richmond win enough games to push their superstar to individual glory is another story.
4. Ash Riddell
The league's resident ball magnet was irrepressible last season. She broke records left, right, and centre equalling the disposals record (35) in Round 1 before smashing it (42) in Round 10. She also set the league record for disposals in a season with 322, averaging 29.3 a game. The Kangas best and fairest as well as All-Australian selection rounded out what was a phenomenal season for the midfielder. Like many of the other players on this list, the interest in Riddell lies in whether or not she can not only repeat her efforts from last season but potentially even go further.
3. Madison Prespakis
Arguably Carlton's best player, Prespakis has been lured to her childhood club Essendon which will see the Blues scrambling to adjust. She is an all-star midfielder and is strong in the forward line, and she's got a trophy cabinet to prove it. Named the AFLPA 2019 AFLW best first year player, 2019 NAB AFLW Rising Star and All-Australian, Prespakis has been a vital string to Carlton's bow since being picked at number three in the 2018 NAB AFLW Draft. She also took home the 2020 AFLW best and fairest award and three consecutive club counts. Seeing her play for the expansion side makes her one of the main must-watch players for this season.
2. Anne Hatchard
It was second in the best and fairest and it is second in our countdown for Anne Hatchard, but the Crows midfielder's CV is among the best in the comp. And that CV only got more illustrious last season. Her third All-Australian honour was joined by a second club best and fairest, a third Premiership with Adelaide and, for the first time, a best on ground nod thanks to her 26 disposals, nine marks and six tackles. Her season became all the more remarkable when you remember Hatchard spent Round 3 onwards dealing with a foot injury which required injections to keep her going. If this is what she was producing not at 100%, what new level could Hatchard hit with a clean bill of health?
1. Emily Bates
The winner of the league best and fairest last year, the AFL Coaches Association Champion Player, the AFL Players' Association MVP and her third Lions best and fairest, it's safe to say Emily Bates is playing the best footy of her career. She was reportedly offered big money from the likes of expansion club Hawthorn, to move on from the Lions, but has remained faithful to the den. A Lion since the inception of AFLW, Bates averaged 21 disposals, 11 of them contested, five clearances and seven tackles last season and her work isn't done with Brisbane, after they were knocked out of last season's preliminary final. Bates is all class, and she's rightly our number one player to watch this season.