With the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft exactly one week away, we thought we’d look back on some of the Saints snapped up from the drafts past.
Best & Fairest accolades, All-Australian recognition, NAB Rising Star nominations and even co-captaincy honours have featured in the contingent’s growing resumé; all of which have been achieved in the space of two seasons.
And it’s a timely reminder that with the Saints holding picks No. 4 and No. 12 heading into this year’s draft, there could be another gem or two to join the club’s promising young talent.
Selection: Pick No. 5, 2019 National Draft
Recruited from: Calder Cannons/Vic Metro
Few players can say they’ve matched the accomplishments of Georgia Patrikios, let alone after just two seasons at the elite level.
The Calder Cannons captain was St Kilda’s first AFLW draftee (pick No. 5) at the 2019 Women’s Draft and has since gone on to be the focal point of the club’s engine room and one of the premier young talents of the competition.
A NAB Rising Star nomination in her maiden outing was the first of several accolades to swing her way, before joint Best & Fairest honours closed out her abridged debut season.
Patrikios elevated her game to another level in 2021 to take out her second Best & Fairest and earn selection in the All-Australian and AFL Players’ Association 22Under22 sides.
Selection: Pick No. 24, 2019 National Draft
Recruited from: Hawthorn (VFLW)
It took a little bit longer for Rosie Dillon to be noticed by prospective recruiters, but once she – in her own words – “pulled her finger out” heading into the 2019 VFLW Season, that soon changed.
A breakout campaign complete with Hawthorn VFLW’s Best & Fairest award catapulted the vice-captain into draft contention, with the Saints securing her services with pick No. 24 – along with those of Hawks skipper Tamara Luke (pick No. 33) – at the 2019 Women’s Draft.
While the likes of Georgia Patrikios and Olivia Vesely garnered majority of attention in St Kilda’s debut year, Dillon’s hard-hitting work inside was just as integral to the developing brigade.
The No. 25 was a joint recipient of the club’s inaugural Best & Fairest alongside Patrikios, Vesely and Caitlin Greiser, and in 2021 finished in the top-10 of the coveted count.
An ankle operation during the off-season is likely to delay Dillon’s start to the upcoming pre-season.
Selection: Pick No. 27, 2019 National Draft
Recruited from: Oakleigh Chargers/Kew Comets/Collingwood VFLW
A month on from taking out 2019 VFLW Premiership honours for Collingwood, Nicola Xenos added some red to her colour scheme after being picked up by the Saints with pick No. 27.
The small forward proved in her debut season that she didn’t need to have much of the ball to pack an impact. Lightning-quick underfoot and unafraid to lay a crunching bump on her opponents, the small forward’s physicality and pressure was a highlight all throughout the year.
Xenos was primed for a terrific 2021 campaign before an ACL rupture two days out from the season opener cut the dream short.
The 20-year-old is making promising progress from her season-ending injury and is expected to play in the red, white and black in the coming months.
Selection: Pick No. 30, 2019 National Draft
Recruited from: Coorparoo (QAFL)
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Saint more courageous or uncompromising than Tarni White.
The young defender joined St Kilda’s crop of draftees at pick No. 30 at the 2019 Women’s Draft, nominating for the Victorian pool as opposed to her native Queensland.
White was a galvanising force in the club’s defence through her tenacity and intercept plays before her run was unfortunately cut short after just four games with her second ACL rupture in as many years.
Her commitment to returning to the ranks never wavered despite her lengthy setback, with the Coorparoo recruit persevering through multiple lockdowns due to COVID-19, the challenge of living interstate and an onerous recovery to eventually earn selection for the Saints' 2021 season opener.
A nomination for the NAB Rising Star was the cherry on top of a sensational Round 1 return, which came complete with 20 touches, nine intercepts and seven marks. White went on to finish in the top-10 of the 2020 Best & Fairest count.
Selection: Pick No. 41, 2019 National Draft
Games: Norwood (SANFL)
From draftee to co-captain after just one season, Hannah Priest’s influence on the Saints’ playing group has been undeniably profound.
The former state-level netballer had only played two years of football before being drafted by the Saints with pick No. 41 in the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft, but you wouldn’t have known judging by her on-field exploits.
Gritty in the clinches but also beautifully balanced out by her precise use and composure, the SANFL recruit cemented herself as one of the Saints’ most reliable players in both 2020 and 2021.
Priest ended her first year at the helm with the player-voted AFLW Crest Award, selection in the AFLW Team of the Year as well as a top-10 finish at this year’s Best & Fairest.
Selection: Pick No. 6, 2020 National Draft
Recruited from: Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country
St Kilda’s first-round selection from the 2020 Women’s Draft certainly did not disappoint.
Tyanna Smith imposed herself on the contest right from the get-go, with her dazzling pace, unmatched ferocity and ball-winning skills immediately elevating her to one of the Saints’ most exciting players.
The Dandenong Stingrays product received a nomination for the NAB Rising Star after a masterful display against Geelong (16 disposals, 13 tackles, eight score involvements) before finishing runner-up at that year’s Best & Fairest behind fellow top-10 pick Georgia Patrikios.
Smith spent the last few weeks of the VFLW Season playing along the wing; a role which she executed to damaging effect and could carry straight into the imminent AFLW Season.
Selection: Pick No. 24, 2020 National Draft (father-daughter)
Recruited from: Sandringham Dragons
Daughter of St Kilda legend Nathan Burke, Alice Burke was recruited as the club’s first father/daughter selection late last year to forge a new chapter of the revered family bloodline.
The diligent defender made her debut against the Western Bulldogs – the side her dad coaches – before adding a further three games to her tally in the second half of the year.
Burke joined Tyanna Smith and Jess Matin in the Southern Saints’ VFLW finals campaign, with her assured use off half-back propelling her side into the semi-finals.
The No. 3 was one of a number of Saints to ink two-year contract extensions with the red, white and black during this year’s Sign & Trade Period.
Selection: Pick No. 34, 2020 National Draft
Recruited from: Greater Western Victoria Rebels/Vic Country
Renee Saulitis only lined up for three matches in her debut season, but nevertheless showed plenty of promising signs from her limited appearances.
The Warrnambool local was selected with pick No. 34 at the 2020 Women’s Draft, with her craft around goal and versatility the main sticking points behind her recruitment.
Within just a short time at RSEA Park, Saulitis had drawn praise from co-captains Rhi Watt and Kate Shierlaw for her maturity and approach during the pre-season.
Saulitis was one of six debutants to make their mark in the club’s season opener against the Western Bulldogs, going on to feature in fixtures against North Melbourne (Round 2) and Adelaide (Round 5).
Selection: Pick No. 40, 2020 National Draft
Recruited from: Southern Saints (VFLW)
Jacqui Vogt was prepared to put in the hard yards to make it to the AFLW, and there’s no denying that her hard work has paid off.
Farmed straight from St Kilda’s backyard, the Southern Saints forward earned her shot in the big leagues after being secured with pick No. 40 at last year’s draft.
Vogt served as the perfect ammunition to aid forwards Kate Shierlaw and Caitlin Greiser, taking heat off the key targets while jagging a few majors of her own throughout the year.
The 27-year-old signed a two-year contract extension during this year’s Sign & Trade period alongside fellow draftees Alice Burke, Tyanna Smith and Hannah Priest.