Shark players Emma Swanson and Jess Wuetschner might be gearing up for the upcoming WAWFL season, but on Saturday they will play as rivals in a curtain raiser for the Western Derby.
Swanson and Wuetschner are just two of eight Sharks players named for the WA All Stars match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers, with Swanson, Brianna Green, Caitlyn Edwards and Alex Williams selected for the Eagles side and Wuetschner, Cassie Davidson, Melissa Caulfield and Erin Fox representing the Dockers. Zoe Palandri has also been named as an emergency for the Eagles side.
While Saturday’s exhibition match will be a first for the Eagles and Dockers, Swanson and Wuetschner have already experienced representing AFL clubs. Swanson played in all four matches between Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs over the past two years while Wuetschner earned two caps for the Bulldogs.
“It’s always been a dream for a lot of the girls playing to pull on an AFL jumper,” said Swanson.
“To do that in your home state it’s even bigger — I’m really looking forward to it.”
“It’s the best 44 in Western Australia split between Freo and West Coast, there will be a lot of teammates [from the WAWFL] versing each other so it’ll be interesting.”
While Saturday’s game is considered an exhibition ahead of the launch of a national women’s league in 2017, this week’s match will be fiercely contested with state selections on the line.
“I think WA has a really good selection of talent at the moment,” said Weutschner.
“The teams are really evenly split so I think it’s going to be a really hard job for the selectors to get the squad named after this match because of the high standard of the girls.”
The match will also be to be a tough pre-season hit-out with the Sharks’ season commencing the following Sunday against Claremont at ATOM Stadium.
After consecutive defeats in the Semi-Finals to the Peel Thunderbirds, Wuetschner is confident the team has developed and recruited well ahead of their 2016 campaign.
“In my two seasons with the Sharks we’ve been unlucky to lose in the semi-finals both times,” said Wuetschner.
“But I think this year is a good opportunity to move beyond that – especially with some fantastic new recruits such as Miss Swanson here!”
“We truly believe this year’s team is a chance to go all the way.”
The East Fremantle Women’s Youth Girls and Reserves sides will be in action this week, playing their season openers against South Fremantle at 10:30am and 12pm Sunday at ATOM Stadium.