Trent Cooper has laid down his expectations for some of Fremantle’s emerging AFLW stars, as the August start date for Season 7 quickly approaches.
The AFLW Senior Coach credited the work ethic and retained fitness of his playing group, as teams prepare to tackle the shortest pre-season phase in the competition’s history.
While the ever-impressive Kiara Bowers found her usual spot at the front of the pack in the time trial standings, it was the number recorded by lead ruck Mim Strom that left Cooper most impressed.
Strom will enter her fourth year of AFLW football in Season 7, and it appears her best form and fitness is looming.
“We got the girls to do their 2km time trial offsite the last couple of weeks and Kiara Bowers led the way with a time of 7:11,” Cooper told SEN WA.
“The one I’m really excited about this year so far is Mim Strom, she went under eight minutes which is elite for a ruck and I don’t think there would be too many in the comp doing that.
“She has kept her fitness up really high, and I thought she had a really good season overall, but she had a breakout game in that preliminary final against Adelaide.
“This is her fourth year now, and I’m really looking forward to her giving us some first use and around the ground dominance.”
Other standouts in pre-season testing included fellow tall Aine Tighe, who is expected to play increased time up forward in Season 7, as well as experienced leader Kara Antonio who recorded a ‘ridiculous’ personal best in her time trial run.
“I’m expecting Aine Tighe in her second year to have a really big impact, she was good for us last year and then when we lost Janelle Cuthbertson for so long, she went back,” Cooper said.
“She has looked really dangerous as a forward and now that she has had her first year of actually playing the game, we expect her to be really good.
“Kara Antonio actually ran a PB in her 2km trial, which is ridiculous. She did a time of 7:29 the other day, she is really fit and strong.
Pre-season is officially underway, but AFLW lists around the country are yet to be finalised, with this year’s NAB AFLW Draft taking place on Wednesday 29 June.
While West Coast hold eight of the top 10 picks in the WA Draft, Cooper indicated Fremantle would be looking to attack the later stages of the draft to once again find some hidden gems.
“We have found some gems late in the draft over the past with the likes of Jess Low and Janelle Cuthbertson, so we will be hoping to do that,” Cooper said.
“We have pick four in the WA Draft and I think we will have the last four or five picks, so it won’t be easy in that sense, but we think we can bring in some great girls.
“We will pick players who will be really good for our culture and it’s amazing what can happen when you give opportunities.
“I can’t wait for June 29, that’s another really exciting day, to be able to give opportunities to people and see who will take it with both hands.”