Northern Knights have taken their NAB League Girls game to the next level.

Knights coach Marcus Abney-Hastings said the players had returned just as motivated and hungry this season, following their grand final appearance last year.

“It has been fantastic … the girls have really developed and improved,” he said.

“They have been very self-driven the first part of the season. On training night, training doesn’t officially start until 5pm, but they are all there working on skills well before 5pm.

“They can see that there is an AFLW pathway there.”

Abney-Hastings said every player that had returned to the squad this year had improved in between the old TAC Cup season and the new NAB League Girls.

“It was about the fundamental stuff last year and there’s still a fair bit of that, but [we’re] adding layers into that now,” he said.

‘The challenge is to extend their games. There’s some real drive from that.

“One hundred per cent of the group would have an aerobic and skill base that has improved between seasons.”

Evidence of that that work has shown in the first two games.

In round one, the Knights beat the Murray Bushrangers.

On Sunday, they drew with Oakleigh Chargers.

The Knights led early, before the two teams went goal for goal in the last two and half quarters, with both finishing 6.3 (39).

Speaking after the first game, Abney-Hastings said he had been happy with some of the signs he had seen so far, with the scoreboard not the key indicator.

He said the defensive side of things had improved, while the team element in round one had been the best he had seen in his time at the club.

Like last year, the Knights have nine top-age players in their squad, which numbers 34.

Abney- Hastings said there were about 13 to 14 players in middle and bottom ages.

He said that middle-age group would be strong again and he was buoyed what some of the top-age girls could achieve.

“We’re pretty strong with the top age,” he said.

“I think that all the top-age players are draft possibilities.

“Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht – I think they will get drafted high.

“Stephanie Fell and Jamie Nelson are new to the program and have been really good.”

The Knights this week face the the win less Western Jets.

The Knights’ boys team starts their season on Sunday, also against the Jets.