2022\23 AFLW season guide: rising stars, stadiums and AFLW-specific rules

An AFLW player giving a high five to a young girl post-match

Tom Hounslow

Posted August 24, 2022

With the arrival of Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney, the seventh AFLW season will host a full 18-side competition. Here is everything you need to know about the 2022\23 season.

In 2017, the AFLW kicked off with a welcomed, yet ultimately underwhelming eight-team AFL competition - compared to the existing AFL competition. Five years later, the AFLW has exploded into a full 18-side sporting spectacle featuring emerging and traditional rivalries, high-profile superstars, and thousands of adorning fans in some of Australia’s largest stadiums. 

The 2022 season, which ended in April, saw Adelaide claim their third premiership by defeating Melbourne by a narrow 13-point margin.

By any sporting code’s metric, three premierships out of six seasons is a dynasty. Will Adelaide be able to keep the crown, or is it time for a changing of the guard? 

Here is everything you need to know about the 2022\23 AFLW season, the rising stars, where to see the games, and the games you can’t miss no matter who you support.

Don't miss the opening bounce; before you head to the game, plan your journey with arevo

In this article:

AFLW-specific rules

While the AFLW follows almost the same set of rules as the traditional men’s game, a few variations have been made to encourage faster movement and excitement:

Team size: Up to 16 players are allowed on the field for each team at any given moment – not 18 as is the case in the AFL. When a centre-bounce is occurring, players must line up in a 5-6-5 formation (instead of 6-6-6 in the AFL). Five players are allowed on the interchange bench.

Quarter length: each quarter is 15 minutes long with time-on only called in the final two minutes.

Throw-in: If the ball is taken out of the boundary of play (anywhere on the ground), throw-ins will happen 10 meters in from the boundary line.

Ball size: A size four football is used instead of a size five – about 2cm less wide and 3.5cm less long.  

Last-touch: When the ball has clearly come off a single player, a free kick is given instead of a throw-in, which is signalled by the boundary umpire with a lasso motion. This is only in effect between the forward and defensive arcs.


AFLW player Georgia Gee singing her team song after a game

Former Carlton teammates Georgia Gee and Madison (Maddy) Prespakis are both off to Essendon. Image: Getty

AFLW players to look out for

Typically when a new team is introduced to a competition, they are given a helping hand in the pre-season draft to create a competitive team on the big stage. Hawthorn were the major beneficiaries of the pre-season draft, managing to pick up four of the top 10 draft prospects, including number-two select, midfielder Jasmine Fleming from the Oakleigh Chargers. 

Newcomers to the competition, Sydney, managed to claim number-one draft pick in Montana Ham – a 179cm midfielder known for applying forward pressure and making an impact on the scoreboard. Keep an eye out for this young gun. 

Daughter of Port Adelaide legend Greg Philips, Erin has become a champion in her own right. Moving from Adelaide to captain the new Port Adelaide side, Erin will be wearing number 22 – the same as her father.  

Madison (Maddy) Prespakis has been a gun for Carlton in previous seasons, and was awarded the 2019 AFLW Rising Star Award. Along with teammate Georgia Gee, the young gun has parted ways with the Blues to wear the red and black at Essendon. 


AFLW player Montana Ham handballing a footy

Number-one draft pick, Montana Ham, has been snapped up by new AFLW team Sydney. Image: Getty

Must-see AFLW games

While every game of the AFLW has its own merit and excitement, there are a handful of games worth noting that are expected to put on something special: 

Season opener 

Round 1: Carlton v Collingwood 

There are no rivalries more intense, nor more bitter, than that of Carlton and Collingwood. After the men’s team were knocked out of finals contention by one point in the last game of the season, the Blues will be looking for payback for their club. 

Grand Final rematch 

Round 1: Adelaide v Melbourne

It was the dream for the Melbourne football club to hold the flags for both the AFL and AFLW simultaneously. Unfortunately, Adelaide had other ideas in April of 2022, defeating the Dees by 13 points. Perhaps the Dees can have another crack at holding both flags come end of the 2022 seasons.   

Sydney derby

Round 3: Sydney v GWS 

There’s no denying that New South Wales is predominantly a rugby state – but don’t hold that against them. AFL is exploding up north, with the Sydney Swans now fielding a AFLW team to go head-to-head against their cross-town rivals, GWS. 

AFLW Dreamtime match 

Round 4: Essendon v Richmond

Footy fans already know that the ‘Dreamtime at the G’ is one of the great celebrations in Australian sport. With the arrival of the Essendon Football Club to the AFLW,  the red, black, and yellow can once again unite to celebrate indigenous round.  

South Australian derby

Round 6: Port Adelaide v Adelaide 

Ask any Victorian what it’s like to cheer for your team in Adelaide, and they’ll tell you it’s a very lonely experience. Adelaide and Port Adelaide supporters are mad for their clubs and aren’t afraid to tell you about it. When the newly-founded Port Adelaide take on the Premiership-winners Adelaide, expect as much shouting off the ground as there is on. 


An AFLW match being played at Ikon Park

Ikon Park (aka Princess Park) in Carlton North will continue to host AFLW matches in 2022. Image: Getty

Around the (Victorian) grounds 

One of the beautiful things about the AFLW is the diversity of stadiums and venues to visit. If the hassle of getting to the MCG and paying $25 for a drink and chips doesn’t sound like a good time, check out the footy at any of these grounds – whether your team is paying or not. 

Don’t forget to plan your journey with arevo before heading to the ground. 

Ikon Park 

Capacity: 22,000 

Located: Royal Parade, Carlton North 

Commonly known as Princes Park, this hallowed turf has been the spiritual home of Carlton for decades and was home to a record 62,000 fans at the 1945 VFL Grand Final (this is before the AFL existed).   

Casey Field 

Capacity: 12,000 

Located: 160 Berwick-Cranbourne Road, Cranbourne East 

Hearts beat true for the red and the blue at Casey Field as the home of the Casey Demons VFL team, the Melbourne Demons AFL training ground, and most recently, the Melbourne Demons AFLW team. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s sporting precinct, the Demons’ AFLW team will be looking for redemption after losing the last Grand Final. 

GMHBA Stadium 

Capacity: 36,000  

Located: LaTrobe Terrace, Geelong 

Known to locals a ‘the cattery’, GMHBA is a daunting venue for any opposition to travel to. While playing away from home is tough enough, navigating the strong winds produced by the Geelong bay and adapting game styles to the narrow ground is a tough challenge for any touring team.  

Swinburne Centre 

Capacity: 2,000 

Located: Yarra Park, Punt Rd, Richmond 

While the ground commonly known as Punt Road Oval has a current official capacity of 2,000, this is temporary due to the redevelopment of the Jack Dyer Grandstand that will soon allow 6,000 additional supporters. It would be ill-advised to head to Tigerland wearing anything other than black or yellow – these tigers are fierce.     

ETU Stadium 

Capacity: 10,000 

Located: 541 Williamstown Road Port Melbourne 

Whether you call it North Port Oval or the Port Melbourne Cricket Ground, ETU Stadium is a staple of VFL football, staging many home and away season games and finals series. One of the major attractions of this field is the close proximity to the South Melbourne market for after-game dim sims.  

Victoria Park 

Capacity: 10,000 

Located: Lulie Street, Abbotsford 

The former home of the Collingwood Football Club is one of the most well-hidden football grounds in Victoria. Tucked away behind Johnston and Hoddle Streets in Collingwood, it is also one of the most accessible, with ample parking and a train station at its doorstep.  

Box Hill City Oval 

Capacity: 10,000 

Located: Middleborough Rd, Box Hill 

Steeped in heritage, the Box Hill City Oval is home to the City Oval Grandstand which was opened during November of 1937, and the Federation Gates which were installed in 2001, but date back more than 100 years. The happy team at Hawthorn now call this historic venue home.  

RSEA Park 

Capacity: 8,000 

Located: 32-60 Linton St, Moorabbin 

Another historic ground hosting VFL and AFL matches from 1965 until 1992, commonly known as Moorabbin Oval, the ground has been a spiritual home for the St Kilda Football Club who returned to the ground for training purposes in 2019.   

AIA Centre 

Capacity: 7,200 

Located: Swan Street and Batman Avenue, Richmond 

Formerly known as the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Centre, the AIA Centre has been most recently home to the Collingwood Football Club. The ground was originally constructed to facilitate swimming events at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. 

Skybus Stadium 

Capacity: 6,000 

Located: Plowman Place, Frankston 

After the original grandstand was destroyed by a fire in 2008, the new grandstand was built in 2008 to allow up to 1,000 attendees to sit undercover. The home of the Frankston Football Club is also one of the few local stadiums featuring 1000-lux lighting - allowing for broadcast of night matches. 

Mars Stadium 

Capacity: 11,000 

Located: 725 Creswick Rd, Wendouree 

Formerly known as Eureka Stadium, the Mars Stadium resides within Ballarat’s Showgrounds at Wendouree. With limited parking and taxi services, shuttle bus services generally run during gameday from the Ballarat Railway Station Bus Terminal.

Heading to the footy?
Plan your trip with arevo→