Emma Kearney makes AFLW All-Australian history, as Mimi Hill named Rising Star

North Melbourne's Emma Kearney is the first AFLW player to be named an All-Australian in all six seasons.

North Melbourne's Emma Kearney is the first AFLW player to be named an All-Australian in all six seasons. Photo: AAP

North Melbourne star Emma Kearney has become the first and only player to be named All-Australian in all six AFLW seasons while Carlton’s Mimi Hill has capped off a remarkable return from injury by claiming the Rising Star award.

Kearney, who was the league’s best and fairest in 2018, was also named the team’s captain, playing as a defender after several dominant years through the midfield.

“It’s a huge honour,” she said.

“Obviously really privileged to lead such a skilful and great group of women.”

Hill didn’t make the final team after being a part of the 40-player extended squad but claimed the Rising Star award by one vote, ahead of Gold Coast’s No.1 draft pick Charlie Rowbottom.

The Carlton young gun won with 43 votes, ahead of Rowbottom (42), North Melbourne’s Mia King (33), Geelong’s Georgie Prespakis (20) and Melbourne’s Alyssa Bannan (five).

Hill, who tore her ACL last year, was nominated for the award after an incredible comeback performance against Adelaide, where she racked up a career-high 26 possessions, five marks and four tackles.

By season’s end, she averaged 21.5 disposals, 2.3 tackles, three clearances and 2.5 inside 50s.

“If you told me 12 months ago when I was sitting on the couch, or hobbling around on crutches that I was going to be here, I wouldn’t believe you,” Hill said.

“My heart’s racing so quick, this is crazy. This is a dream and the fact that I’m here is crazy.

“Anyone who’s gone through a serious knee injury or any long rehab knows how much you miss it when you’re not on the field.

“That was the fire that got me back out there and I’m so happy to be back.”

The 21-player team was dominated by grand finalists Adelaide and Melbourne, who had four players apiece.

There were five debutants.

Brisbane’s Orla O’Dwyer became the first AFLW player from Ireland to earn an All-Australian guernsey, while Fremantle skipper Hayley Miller was named vice-captain on her debut.

Kirsty Lamb, Natalie Grider and Ashleigh Woodland also earned their first guernseys.

Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff received a fourth blazer, while Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce received her third, but her first since 2018.

Kearney, Marinoff, Sarah Allan, Ruby Schleicher, Jasmine Garner, Katie Brennan (Richmond) and Monique Conti retained their spots from 2021.

AFLW All-Australian team

Full-backs: Ruby Schleicher, Libby Birch; Half-backs: Natalie Grider, Sarah Allan, Emma Kearney (C); Centres: Orla O’Dwyer, Emily Bates, Anne Hatchard; Half-forwards: Hayley Miller, Katie Brennan, Daisy Pearce; Full-forwards: Ashleigh Woodland, Tayla Harris; Followers: Lauren Pearce, Ebony Marinoff, Ashleigh Riddell; Interchange: Jasmine Garner, Jaimee Lambert, Monique Conti, Kirsty Lamb, Kerryn Harrington.


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