By ZAC MILBANK
West Adelaide star Lauren Young has been signed by Port Adelaide ahead of the next AFLW Draft in December.
One of the Hostplus SANFLW League’s most decorated players, Young – a member of Port’s Academy – was snapped up under the AFLW’s Expansion U18 Talent Pathway Period.
Under this rule, the four most recently introduced AFLW teams – Port, Essendon, Hawthorn and Sydney – have the opportunity to sign up to three players from their Academy before the next AFLW Draft.
It is an inevitable rise for the talented 18-year-old, who claimed the SANFLW best-and-fairest award at the age of just 15 in 2021.
This capped a memorable season in which the versatile utility also won the Powerade Breakthrough Player Award while landing an All-Australian guernsey and SA MVP honours at the AFLW National Championships.
After suffering a season-ending knee injury during pre-season training, Young – who measures in at 178cm – missed the entire 2022 campaign before making a successful return to SANFLW ranks in 2023.
Named at centre half-forward in this year’s The Advertiser SANFLW Team of the Year, the Bloods’ No.30 averaged 18.9 disposals, 4.5 marks while also hitting the scoreboard with nine goals.
Relishing her move inside attacking 50m this year, Young was also a key focal point for the SA U18 girls team en route to earning another All-Australian selection as the Croweaters claimed the National crown.
“Lauren is the ultimate utility, very versatile, she can really play in any position on the field,” Port Adelaide AFLW List Manager Naomi Maidment told the club’s website.
”(She was) dominant as a forward in this year’s under 18 national championships, helping SA win back-to-back titles. She spent a number of years in our academy program and has really embraced Port Adelaide. (She is) a great teammate with a vibrant personality and will fit in well with our group culturally.”
Norwood’s Molly Brooksby has also been snapped up by the Power, under the AFLW’s Expansion U18 Talent Pathway Period.
A member of the AFLW Academy in 2023, the versatile utility was a key member of South Australia’s unbeaten run at the AFLW U18 National Championships.
Measuring in at 172cm, Brooksby is highly-skilled with an ability to hit targets with both left and right foot playing through the midfield or defence.
“Molly is a highly talented and naturally skilled footballer, who has high football IQ,” Maidment said.
”She is a really reliable teammate and often makes good decisions with ball in hand. She will add value to our group on and off the field.”
This year’s AFLW Draft will be held on Monday December 18, with the Expansion U18 Talent Pathway Period remaining open until Friday November 17.