Published on April 30, 2019 12:00 pm

Tara Bohanna (R)


Southern Saints senior coach Peta Searle gives her thoughts on the club’s upcoming Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s season.

2018 FINISH: 8th (5-9 record)

2018 BEST AND FAIREST: =1. Alison Drennan and Rhiannon Watt / 3. Samantha Johnson

2018 TEAM OF THE YEAR SELECTIONS: Alison Drennan, Rhiannon Watt

2018 AFL WOMEN’S DRAFTEES: Alison Drennan (North Melbourne – pre-list), Eleanor Brown (Western Bulldogs), Charlotte Wilson (Carlton), Selena Karlson (Western Bulldogs), Courteney Munn (North Melbourne), Rhiannon Watt (Carlton), Shelley Heath (Melbourne)


2019 SEASON START: vs Collingwood @ RSEA Park, Sunday May 5 (CLICK HERE for full fixture)


* CLICK HERE for information on purchasing a 2019 membership for Southern Saints and other VFL Women’s clubs.


KEY RECRUITS (non-AFLW-listed)

Olivia Vesely (20yo in 2019, from Carlton VFLW): “Olivia was a Sandringham Dragons (under-18) player and I tried to get her to the Saints last year, but she played (seven VFLW games) at Carlton. She has some talent as an inside midfielder. She’s very clean below the knees and has a good sidestep that helps her find a way out of traffic.”

Poppy Kelly (21yo in 2019, from Beaumaris): “Poppy hasn’t played much footy at all and needs to do a little bit of work, but her ruck work is phenomenal. She’s quite athletic and can just jump over the top of people, but she has really good palm control as well. Hopefully with six months in our program she’ll be having an influence at VFLW level.”

Louella McCarthy (29yo in 2019, from South Adelaide/Carlton VFLW): “Louella is a Mildura girl who went to South Australia and has come back across to Victoria. She’s an elite ball-user.”

Deanna Jolliffe (26yo in 2019, from Mornington): “Deanna is quite raw having been a SEABL basketballer, but I reckon she has a lot of (ex-Western Bulldogs/now Richmond AFLW star) Monique Conti about her.”

Caitlin Greiser (20yo in 2019, from Western Jets/Melbourne Uni): “Caitlin is a strong girl and plays as an imposing forward. Her nickname is the ‘G-Train’ because she has great acceleration. She also has good hands and can easily kick the ball 50 metres.”



Tara Bohanna (24yo in 2019, 20 VFLW games): “Tara has come back much fitter this year. For a tall forward, her running trials have been outstanding. She just knows the right running patterns to make on the field – she gets on the end of plays and her body work is improving. She was our leading goalkicker last year (15 majors) and I’d expect her to be up there again.”

Samantha Johnson (27yo in 2019, 14 VFLW games): “Sammy has had a few hiccups this pre-season with some unfortunate niggles, but we’d expect her to take another step up this year. She was the runner-up in our best-and-fairest award last year.”



“We have to get six St Kilda AFLW players from our group this year, so we need those players I’ve mentioned to give it a good shot in the VFLW.

“There are another 10 or so players who are around the mark too, like Georgia Ricardo (20yo in 2019, 11 VFLW games) – who’s a very good ball-user and getting better as a defender – and Kate Shierlaw (30yo in 2019, 20 VFLW games), who’s a good inclusion for us this season. She’s an athletic key forward who was on Carlton’s AFLW list for two years before being delisted and playing with the Darebin Falcons last year.”



Leadership group members:

  • Leah Olsen (30yo in 2019, 38 VFLW games)
  • Tara Bohanna (see above)
  • Kate Shierlaw (see above)
  • Elizabeth Keaney (28yo in 2019, 19 VFLW games)
  • Samantha Johnson (see above)



“We’ve had Alison Drennan and Rhiannon Watt come back to us (signing with St Kilda AFLW after playing with North Melbourne and Carlton in the 2019 season), as well Courteney Munn (from North Melbourne) and Selena Karlson (Western Bulldogs). We’ve also signed Alison Brown from our VFLW side to the AFLW team, so clearly our group built a good culture last year and those girls want to be here.

“A lot of the AFLW players we’ve recruited (to St Kilda) are quite fast, and our VFLW side was probably lacking a bit of leg speed last year. They’re also playing with a bit more composure already this year; we ranked pretty high in contested ball in 2018 but we couldn’t quite use it well enough, so we’ve worked really hard on our ball use.”



  • Nathan Burke (retained from 2018)
  • Tony Purcella (from Sandringham Dragons)
  • Dale Robertson (retained from 2018)
  • Georgia Walker (former Southern Saints player)



“We always talk about looking to get better and improve, so I think ‘Saints earning the right to be successful’ is a good line.”


CLICK HERE for 2019 season previews on other Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s clubs.


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