West Coast has finalised its 2021 AFLW playing list by recruiting dynamic South Australian duo Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci.
After enlisting Western Australian talents Bella Lewis, Shanae Davison, Julie-Anne Norrish and Andrea Gilmore during Tuesday’s 2020 NAB AFL Women’s Draft, the Eagles elected to pass on its final two selections in order to snap up the two interstate talents.
Ward and Gauci arrive at the Eagles after helping North Adelaide claim the 2020 SANFLW premiership in history-making fashion.
Working in tandem alongside retired Eagle Talia Radan, the talented defenders played an integral role in ensuring the Roosters went through the home and away season undefeated before toppling arch rivals South Adelaide by just seven points in a hard-fought Grand Final.
Ward only started playing competitive footy three years ago following an 11-year soccer stint.
She took to game incredibly quickly and represented South Australia and Central Allies at the NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The 19-year-old has flourished into a skilled lock down defender who demonstrates good game sense and possesses a powerful right boot.
Gauci’s rise through SA’s football ranks has been equally impressive.
The 23-year-old graduated to the SANFLW following one year in the amateur ranks with Broadview Football Club and quickly established herself as a dangerous half-back with a knack for reeling in intercept marks.
West Coast Eagles head of female football Adam Selwood said he was ecstatic to land the South Australian pair.
“We looked into the SANFLW quite deeply in 2019 and noted Amber as a talented player and one we wanted to track this year,” Selwood said.
“She’s a really reliable key defender that does the small things well. She’s a booming kick and also possesses the ability to hit a short target under pressure.
“We rate her really highly and have got to know her throughout the course of the year. We are excited that she has made the decision to come to Western Australia.
“Lauren plays in the same back line as Amber and she was a player that continually kept popping up in our vision reviews.
“She regularly impacted games and made the right decisions in important moments. She started playing footy in the amateur ranks last year, quickly rose to SANFLW level and by the end of this year played in South Australia’s All Stars game and really handled herself well.
“She’s a feisty half-back who throws herself around and reads the ball in the air really well. Her kick has come along really well in a short amount of time too.
“We think Amber and Lauren will enjoy the Perth lifestyle and integrate into our football program nicely.”