AFLW set for 'massive' improvement, says Carlton captain Brianna Davey
Australian rules football fans can expect to see a "massive" improvement in the standard of play when the second AFLW season gets underway, Carlton skipper Brianna Davey says.
The Blues will kick off the season when they face Collingwood on Friday nightin a repeat of last year's AFLW sellout at Princes Park.
The inaugural season attracted bumper crowds, strong television ratings and plenty of goodwill from supporters eager to see female footballers finally given the chance to compete at an elite level.
The likes of Daisy Pearce, Emma Kearney and best-and-fairest winner Erin Phillips provided plenty of highlights, but there was a clear gulf between the marquee stars and other less-seasoned players. The low scoring in many games was also a talking point, with six games in which the losing team kicked just one goal although four of them were in the opening round.
None of this should come as a major surprise given the reduced length of AFLW matches, the inexperience of many players and the fact most were forced to juggle training with other work commitments.
But former Australia national women's soccer team goalkeeper Davey predicts the standard this year will be much higher given players no have another preseason under their belts.
"You'll see a massive difference, I'd say," she said on RSN radio.
"Already, our list has improved from last year quite a lot. The talent of the girls has also improved, and the improvement has been massive in what I've seen.
"Knowing a couple of the girls from other teams, I'm hearing pretty positive things about their girls, too.
"Considering how many girls have now jumped on AFL and are playing it, and how many girls are loving it, I think we're going to continue to see an increase in the talent of the league and an improvement in the standard."
AFLW players secured an improved pay deal to better reflect their time spent training.
The AFL Players Association intends to pursue a new agreement in 2019 when North Melbourne and Geelong field teams for the first time in an expanded AFL Women's competition.
Admission to games will remain free this season, but that is likely to be revisited next year.