Western Bulldogs have landed the best prospect in the nation and the best prospect from their own backyard in an AFL Women’s Draft double swoop.
The Bulldogs used their top selection in the draft to secure star utility Isabel Huntington, who is known for racking up the possessions in the midfield and her work in the air and at ground leval as a forward.
Huntington rose to prominence at the 2016 AFL Youth Girls National Championships, where she caught the eye with a stunning 30-possession, five goal performance in one game.
Selection of the 18-year-old Huntington does not come without its risks, considering she was forced to miss a full season of football after tearing her ACL.
She is so highly rated at the Bulldogs, they decided to surrender their golden ticket to get the Melbourne University player on their list.
“We’re really excited to have Isabel on board for next year,” Bulldogs AFLW coach Paul Groves said.
“She’s an incredibly versatile player, so we’re looking forward to seeing what she can bring to our forward line, while assisting our already strong group of midfielders.”
With the fourth overall selection, Western Bulldogs chose multi-sport star Monique Conti, a product of the Maribyrnong Sports Academy.
Despite standing at 175 centimetres, Conti is rated highly for her marking ability and competitiveness.
Conti is a speed machine and has quick hands out of a pack.
The 17-year-old from Maidstone played a vital role for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup this season. She has successfully combined elite football with basketball, where she plays for the Melbourne Boomers in the WNBL.
Bulldogs list manager Michael Sandry described Conti as a “really exciting player”.
“Her speed in traffic and competitiveness around the ball are skills that we value really highly,” Sandry said.
The Bulldogs had five selections in the draft, securing midfielder and St Kilda Sharks best-and-fairest winner Jenna Bruton with pick 11, AFLW U18 All Australian midfielder-forward Daria Bannister from Tasmania with pick 19 and Box Hill midfielder and best-and-fairest Emma Mackie with pick 27.
The Bulldogs made two selections in the AFLW rookie draft, claiming Wyndhamvale and VU Western Spurs product Naomi Ferres with pick three and Mornington’s Bonnie Toogood with pick 11.
Meanwhile, the Western Bulldogs had a busy AFL trade and free agency period.
Key defender Jackson Trengove, from Port Adelaide, and half-back flanker Hayden Crozier, from Fremantle, arrived early in proceedings with relatively little fanfare. But a frantic final day of trading saw the Bulldogs trade out forward Jake Stringer to Essendon for two second round picks, which were on-traded to Carlton for pick 16 and a future second rounder.
The trade significantly bolstered the Bulldogs ability at this year’s draft as they now boast two picks inside the top 16.
That was not the end of the Bulldogs involvement in trade week, as they made a late play for young Brisbane Lions full forward Josh Schache and got their man.
Schache was the second overall pick in the 2015 AFL draft, but was reportedly homesick and requested a fresh start in Victoria.
The Bulldogs sent picks 25 and 40 to the Lions and got a key forward back who is brimming with potential.
Meanwhile, Western Bulldogs have appointed Ameet Bains to the role of chief executive officer.