Sandringham Dragons utility Emily Gough was one of the more impressive developers in the 2023 Talent League Girls season, adding 10 games to her two from last year. In that time, she played across all three lines between the Dragons and Vic Metro, becoming a ‘unicorn’ of sorts given her height and athleticism.
- Penetrating kick
- Aerial ability
- Contested marking
- Footy IQ
In many ways, Gough is a key position player’s height with a midfielder’s running ability which makes her a prospect to keep in mind for this year’s AFLW Draft. On her foundational base alone, clubs will be keen to add them to their list, because not too many 179cm players can move like Gough can, while also being incredibly reliable in the air.
Gough possesses a thumping kick and is one of the longest exponents of the Sherrin in the AFLW Draft crop, clearing the danger zone when in the defensive 50, or thumping it to the danger zone when going forward. She is not the most consistent kick, and that, along with developing a greater understanding of the game will only help her grow and improve even quicker.
Those elements will not hold back many clubs, because any player who can kick as far as Gough can - which is routinely over 50m - is a rare talent in anyone’s books. Add her kicking penetration to her contested marking, and Gough is consistently a threat around the ground and capable of clunking some huge marks.
Her contested marking and general aerial ability given her size makes her difficult to spoil, but the shoe has also been on the other foot and she has spent time in defence for the Dragons. She has enough athleticism to match up well on opposition forwards, and can play a negating role as well as an offensive one.
Gough did just that against South Australia, where she played off half-back and provided plenty of run and carry. Returning from the national carnival, she went onto a wing for the Dragons and still had an influence, kicking three goals across Round 16-17 and proving she can be a threat in transition.
That versatility to play on all three lines, along with her impressive endurance for a tall provides a point of difference among the key position players. She did not have a game below 13 disposals for Sandringham, and remained consistent across all her games this year.
There is much to learn for Gough going forward, and coming from an athletics background, she is still learning about the game consistently. But what she has learnt in a short space of time has held her in a good place to step up to the next level.
Emily Gough has that nice balance of athleticism with contested marking and powerful kicking that will no doubt have clubs keen to develop her. The fact she can run as a tall winger as well as fill out a key position spot makes her a highly sought after talent. It is hard to judge where she may fall, with anywhere from the second round or later, with Gough a good choice for a mid-draft selection.