Western Bulldogs, Carlton to show off new AFLW players in Ballarat

BIG GUN: Western Bulldogs number draft pick Izzy Huntington is set to hit the ground running at Mars Stadium. Picture: AFL Images
BIG GUN: Western Bulldogs number draft pick Izzy Huntington is set to hit the ground running at Mars Stadium. Picture: AFL Images

All eyes will be on new face Izzy Huntington when she lines up for the Western Bulldogs against Carlton in an AFLW practice match in Ballarat on Saturday night.

Being the focus of attention goes with the territory when you are a top draft selection.

The Bulldogs used the number one pick in last year’s AFLW national draft to get Huntington on their list.

The opening full-scale practice match of the season will give Bulldogs’ supporters their first look at Huntington and other recruits at Mars Stadium.

Huntington has not played competitively for 16 months, when she ruptured the ACL in her left knee in an under-18 curtain-raiser to a women's exhibition match at Whitten Oval. 

Bulldogs coach Paul Groves said they were excited about seeing players in action against quality opposition.

“We’ve worked really hard this pre-season as a group and I know each player will be desperate to earn a spot in the side come round one against the Dockers (on Sunday, February 4),” he told westernbulldogs.com.au.

Groves says up to 12 new players will be blooded in Ballarat, including Daria Bannister, Emma Mackie, Naomi Ferres and Bonnie Toogood as well as Huntington.

However, Monique Conti will be missing owing to commitments with WNBL team Melbourne Boomers.

She will take the court against Townville Fire in Townsville on Sunday in the WNBL grand final decider.

Six Western Bulldogs’ VFLW players will also be part of the squad at Mars Stadium.

Carlton will feature a substantial number of newcomers, with up to 11 recruits to make their first appearances for the Blues.

Carlton has announced that star signings Tayla Harris and Nicola Stevens will line up under the leadership of newly appointed captain Bri Davey

Kerryn Harrington and Maddison Gay, who have impressed at Carlton since crossing over from basketball and netball respectively, will also play along with draftees Georgia Gee, Sophie Li, Reni Hicks and Bridie Kennedy.

Rookies Tiahna Cochrane, Katie-Jayne Grieve and Courtney Webb will also be blooded.

Carlton meets Collingwood on Friday, February 2, in its season opener.

The Western Bulldogs had an AFLW pre-season training camp in Ballarat last year, but this will be the first AFLW game in the city.

Entry is free and gates open at six for a 7pm start. 

AFLW ROUND 1 FIXTURE

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2

Carlton v Collingwood

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3

Melbourne v GWS Giants

Adelaide Crows v Brisbane Lions

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4

Western Bulldogs v Fremantle