MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 04: Meg Hutchins of the Magpies and Aasta O'Connor of the Bulldogs compete for the ball during the round five AFLW match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at Ted Summerton Reserve on March 4, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Tuesday’s AFLW draft is hoped to significantly strengthen the standard of the league, with many of the expected draftees graduates of the AFL’s first two-year women’s development program, according to The Age.

AFLW talent manager Aasta O’Connor said the group would be better prepared to enter the elite environment of professional football after drastic improvement in both physical and mental ability during the 24-month program.

“For us it’s like graduation day and for all the staff it’s like having 40 younger sisters,” O’Connor said.

“You invest in their outcome and spend a lot of time with them.

“What AFLW clubs look for is not dissimilar to the men’s game – you need to be clean at ground level. Players who fumble, they really do cost their sides, so if you’re clean your name shoots up the draft order and also the ability to mark the footy in a contested situation, that really sets our game apart.”

Expansion club Geelong have been awarded the first two selections in the draft and are expected to reap the rewards of talent in their local region.

“Given its location down the highway they have focused strongly as a club on building talent regionally, and there is an abundance of talent there … I think Geelong have a really strong environment and are well known for developing their people,” O’Connor, who will also play for Geelong in 2019, said.

North Melbourne, the other expansion team, have chosen to find the majority of their recruits from outside of the draft and as such their first selection will be at pick 25.

Top draft picks have proven their value in recent years, with Collingwood’s Chloe Molloy (pick No.3 in 2017) the most notable example. Molloy came second in the league’s best and fairest this year and was awarded the Rising Star award.

AFLW draft order (first round)
1 Geelong
2 Geelong
3 Carlton
4 Fremantle
5 Collingwood
6 Melbourne
7 Geelong
8 Adelaide
9 Brisbane
10 Western Bulldogs
11 Collingwood
12 GWS