GWS Giants AFL Women's draftees include Sydney Sixers star Jodie Hicks and Irish legend Cora Staunton

Talented: GWS Giants draftee Jodie Hicks also re-signed with the Sydney Sixers in the WBBL. Picture: GWS Giants
Talented: GWS Giants draftee Jodie Hicks also re-signed with the Sydney Sixers in the WBBL. Picture: GWS Giants

The GWS Giants squad for the second season of the AFL Women’s competition has taken shape after a week that included the draft.

The side made six picks in the AFL Women’s draft, a further two in the rookie draft and picked up free agent Melissa Freckleton and former netballer Elle Bennett.

In the main draft, the Giants picked Jodie Hicks, Tanya Hetherington, Courtney Gum, Phoebe Monahan, Philippa Smyth and Cora Staunton, while earlier today, they added rookies Haneen Zreika and 18-year-old South Australian forward Tait Mackrill.

Hicks, 20, has proven herself a strong athlete, re-signing with the Sydney Sixers for the Women’s Big Bash League cricket as well for this season.

“I always played footy when I was a young kid, I probably started playing AFL before I learned about cricket,” she said.

“Coming from a country town, I could only play until I was 14 so I started looking for other sports in Hay.

“I played netball, cricket, just played whatever I could. I still played rep footy every now and then and I’ve always liked it, every time at cricket I’ve had a footy in my hands so I’ve always wanted to pursue it.”

Hicks will play both sports with the AFLW season set to start one week after the conclusion of the WBBL, so she will be available all season.

The other big name was Gaelic football legend Cora Staunton, who is considered to be one of the best women’s players the game has seen in Ireland and she becomes the first international player in the AFLW.

Haneen Zreika was also the first pick in the AFLW rookie draft earlier today.

Auburn Giants player Zreika comes from a rugby league background and played in the under-18s women’s Tarsha Gale Cup with the Canterbury Bulldogs earlier this year. 

She grew up a mad fan of rugby league and didn’t play AFL until she was at school.

McConnell said he hopes Zreika will stick around at the club for some years.

“Haneen has obviously excelled in the talent pathway the whole way through and has been in the national academy over the past 12 months,” he said.

“She’s a really hard worker and justifiably deserves her opportunity on our rookie list as a young player with great upside.”

The squad start pre-season training on November 20.

Legend: Cora Staunton is an Irish football legend and the first International player in the AFLW. Picture: GWS Giants

Legend: Cora Staunton is an Irish football legend and the first International player in the AFLW. Picture: GWS Giants

Draft picks (from Giants Media)

– Jodie Hicks

Position: Midfielder/Forward

Jodie Hicks hails from Hay in the Riverina. She has twice been named in the under-18s All-Australian team. She also plays cricket for the ACT and Sydney Sixers in the WBBL. Hicks, 20, has accurate kicking and runs hard at the ball and will be seen in the midfield or in the forward line in 2018.

– Tanya Hetherington 

Position: Defender

Tanya Hetherington is a defender from the Diamond Creek team in the Victorian Women’s competition. The 32-year-old bounced back from a season out of the game to captain her side to a VFLW grand final before being named in the team of the season.

– Courtney Gum

Position: Midfielder

Courtney Gum is a South Australian and a former Mostyn Medal winner for best player in the AFL Sydney competition. The 35-year-old was recently crowned the inaugural SANFL women’s competition’s best and fairest player. 

– Phoebe Monahan

Position: Midfielder

Phoebe Monahan is a tough midfielder from the UNSW-ES Stingrays in the AFL Sydney competition – this season’s premiers. A sapper in the Australian Defence Force, Monahan placed third in the 2017 Mostyn Medal for the best and fairest of the AFL Sydney competition, behind Giant captain Amanda Farrugia and last year’s number one draft pick Nicola Barr.  

– Philippa Smyth

Position: Forward

Philippa Smyth comes from Nelson Bay on the north coast of NSW. She moved to AFL from netball three years ago and impressed at the Giants’ AFL Women’s testing day and was called up for the AFLW Draft Combine.

– Cora Staunton 

Position: Forward

Cora Staunton is an Irish women's footballer, best known as a Ladies Gaelic footballer, winning four All-Ireland Finals and three Ladies' National Football League titles with Mayo, she has also been an All Star on ten occasions. In addition to playing Gaelic football, Staunton has also played three other football codes at a senior level. 

In 2006, as an association footballer, she won an FAI Women's Cup winner's medal with the Mayo Ladies League representative team. In 2013, she began playing rugby union for Castlebar Ladies in the Connacht Women's League. She has also played for the Ireland women's international rules football team. 

2018 GWS Giants AFL Women’s squad

  • Jacinda Barclay
  • Nicola Barr
  • Elle Bennetts - athlete from another sport rookie
  • Maddie Boyd - traded from Melbourne
  • Ellie Brush
  • Rebecca Beeson
  • Maddy Collier
  • Jessica Dal Pos
  • Alicia Eva - traded from Collingwood
  • Amanda Farrugia
  • Melissa Freckleton - free agent from NSW
  • Renee Forth
  • Courtney Gum - #25 pick in the NAB AFLW Draft from SA
  • Jodie Hicks - #5 pick in the NAB AFLW Draft from NSW
  • Tanya Hetherington - #17 pick in the NAB AFLW Draft from VIC
  • Tait Mackrill - #9 in the NAB AFLW Rookie Draft from NSW
  • Erin McKinnon
  • Phoebe McWilliams 
  • Phoebe Monahan - #39 pick in the NAB AFLW Draft from NSW
  • Rebecca Privitelli - free agent from VIC
  • Pepa Randall - traded from Melbourne
  • Alex Saundry
  • Aimee Schmidt
  • Philippa Smyth - #43 pick in the NAB AFLW Draft from NSW
  • Cora Staunton - #47 pick in the NAB AFLW Draft from Ireland
  • Louise Stephenson 
  • Emma Swanson
  • Renee Tomkins
  • Britt Tully
  • Haneen Zreika - #1 in the NAB AFLW Rookie Draft from NSW