A MIX OF MELBOURNE’S youth and experience has been recognised in the 2021 AFL Women’s All-Australian Squad, with four Demons selected in the extended line-up.
Karen Paxman, Lauren Pearce, Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks are among the 40 players to be shortlisted for the esteemed side, which showcases the best individual performances in each position of the competition.
The final team of 21 players, including a captain and vice-captain, will be revealed at the W Awards on Tuesday 20 April.
All four Demons have had impressive campaigns to date, each being a strong and consistent contributor in 2021.
Reigning All-Australian captain Paxman has once again made her mark in the middle, averaging 22 disposals – one more than last year – and managing four goals.
The 32-year-old, who has played every game for Melbourne since the beginning of the competition, remained composed when it mattered and was ultra-reliable in her fifth season.
If she is selected in the final side, Paxman will become the first player in the club’s history to receive the honour on five occasions.
Two demons, on the other hand, will be looking to earn their second nods.
After struggling with injury last year, Pearce has returned to her dominant best – and to the form that earned her All-Australian selection in 2019.
The ruck has averaged 15 disposals across the nine-game season and has been regarded by some as an additional midfielder, with her speed and pressure around the ground.
Pearce has also racked up 125 hit-outs and taken 25 marks.
Equally as impressive in her showing this season has been Hore, who will also be looking for a second-time selection.
The 25-year-old has kicked 11 majors for the Dees, with her highest being a three-goal haul against the Crows in Round 7. She has collected an average of 15 disposals and taken 30 marks of her own.
While Hore was named for the first time in 2020, Hanks will be the one in-line for an inaugural selection this year.
Taking her game to another level, Hanks has played more midfield minutes this season and has genuinely become one of the best in the competition.
With an average of 19 disposals, the 21-year-old has been a standout with her class and natural ability – her efforts officially earned her a Rising Star Nomination in Round 2.
The 40-player squad was selected by a panel comprising of Nicole Livingstone (Chair, AFL), Steve Hocking (AFL), Josh Vanderloo (AFL), Kelli Underwood (Fox Footy), Sarah Black (AFL.com.au), Tim Harrington (AFLPA), Shelley Ware (media commentator), Sharelle McMahon (media commentator), Courtney Cramey (former Adelaide Crows AFLW player) and Melissa Hickey (former Geelong FC and Melbourne AFLW player).