K rock Football

Star Lion named AFLW’s best

Brisbane Lion Emily Bates has won the AFLW best-and-fairest award. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

Brisbane star Emily Bates has claimed the AFLW’s highest honour, beating Adelaide’s Anne Hatchard to the league’s best and fairest by one vote.

The star Lion had already claimed the AFL Coaches’ Association player-of-the- year award and became the first Brisbane player to clinch the best and fairest.

Hatchard and Bates were tied on 18 leading into the final round but while the Crow added two more votes, the star Lion claimed three.

Bates (21 votes) won from Adelaide duo Hatchard (20) and Ebony Marinoff (18), and North Melbourne’s Ashleigh Riddell (17).

“I know my name was being thrown around a little bit but that was a shock to me and this is obviously the greatest honour you could ever achieve,” Bates said.

“I was looking for improvement and last year, as much as it was amazing winning a premiership, I was hungry to become a better player.

“Instead of just being a consistent player, I wanted to see what my true potential was.

“I made a lot of changes in the off-season and I’m just happy that I could reap the rewards today.”

Bates, 26, paid a poignant tribute to her father, who got her into footy at Yeronga but died when she was 15 and didn’t see her AFLW career.

The speech then took a lighthearted turn when Bates joked coach Craig Starcevich had agreed to do a “shoey” if she’d won – and he took the opportunity to actually do that, casually drinking out of his shoe.

Bates, Brisbane’s first-ever AFLW draftee, is now also a three-time All- Australian after averaging 21.7 disposals and 6.9 tackles.

Earlier, North Melbourne star Emma Kearney became the first and only player to be named All-Australian in all six AFLW seasons and was also named the team’s captain.

Carlton’s Mimi Hill capped off a remarkable return from an ACL injury by claiming the Rising Star award with 43 votes, one ahead of Gold Coast’s No.1 pick Charlie Rowbottom.

Hill averaged 21.5 disposals, 2.3 tackles, three clearances and 2.5 inside 50s in her comeback season.

The 21-player All-Australian team was dominated by grand finalists Adelaide and Melbourne, who had four players apiece, while there were five debutants.

Adelaide revelation Ashleigh Woodland was leading goalkicker, North Melbourne’s Tahlia Randall won mark of the year while Ebony Antonio claimed goal of the year.

AFLW BEST AND FAIREST

1. Emily Bates (Brisbane) – 21

2. Anne Hatchard (Adelaide) – 20

3. Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) – 18

4. Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) – 17

5. Hayley Miller (Fremantle) – 15

AFLW ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM

Backs: Ruby Schleicher, Libby Birch

Half-backs: Natalie Grider, Sarah Allan, Emma Kearney (C)

Centres: Orla O’Dwyer, Emily Bates, Anne Hatchard

Half-forwards: Hayley Miller (VC), Katie Brennan, Daisy Pearce

Forwards: Ashleigh Woodland, Tayla Harris

Followers: Lauren Pearce, Ebony Marinoff, Ashleigh Riddell

Interchange: Jasmine Garner, Jaimee Lambert, Monique Conti, Kirsty Lamb, Kerryn Harrington

AFLW RISING STAR

1. Mimi Hill (Carlton) – 43

2. Charlie Rowbottom (Gold Coast) – 42

3. Mia King (North Melbourne) – 33

4. Georgie Prespakis (Geelong) – 20

5. Alyssa Bannan (Melbourne) – 5