IN A year where the slate was wiped clean and there were adjustments in all areas of the ground, it was Carlton’s backline that needed to adapt to the most change.

With Captain Kerryn Peterson absent for the majority of the season, the defensive unit had a new dynamic to adjust to, whilst individual players stood up and showed their growth as defenders.

Senior assistant and backline coach Glenn Strachan was able to lean on first-year Blue Harriet Cordner, who used her experience to be able to fill the gap and bolster the height and aggression in Carlton’s defence.

Coming to Carlton after recovering from an ACL tear, Strachan applauded Cordner’s ability to get right to work in the pre-season and her determination to help raise the Blue’s defence to a high standard.

“She dove straight into the team, people forget she missed a few seasons with her knee injury so for her to come back in the shape that she did and the conditioning she did and how she put together a big pre-season was awesome,” Strachan said.


Strachan’s experienced defensive stocks didn’t stop with Cordner and Peterson, with Gab Pound continuing to show why she’s been an important piece in the Blue’s backline since the inaugural AFLW season.

With 28 rebound 50s and 40 intercepts in 2023, Pound continued to use her speed and experience to cut off the opposition’s advances forward and push the ball back up the ground.

Strachan was confident in the fact that even though there was a new system put in place, the maturity and commitment to Carlton that Pound has was going to be able to help put the new game plan into fruition.

“Gab was massive for us with the year she had. She’s so strong as a leader and the values she brings to our team and our defensive unit, which is awesome,” he said.

It's a new system for everyone, but of course, Gab’s got the experience of having played a lot of footy and a lot of footy [at Carlton] which can't be understated either”

From experience to emerging talent, the Blues’ backline was full of versatility, something that Strachan used to his advantage all season.


With Amelia Velardo spending the majority of her second season in Navy Blue down back, her ability to get up time after time and her split-second decision-making made it easy for Strachan to rely on her in tough situations.

Fitting into the backline was something that debutants Madeline Hendrie and Dana Finn impressed their line coach with.

Hendrie (who played six games) and Finn (five games) showed promise as defenders, honing their craft and learning the game plan with ease, something that Strachan knows will only get better in 2024.

“[Amelia] has got some serious attributes that we love exploring down back, and hopefully we will see more and more of it as we go into the future. She’s a player we really look to have a big pre-season and that should set her in good stead for next year,” Strachan said

“[Hendrie and Finn] were both awesome coming in as debutants this year. Maddie coming down from Sydney and Dana from Ireland, the way they’ve both picked up the way we want to play and talk the way we want to talk was great.

“I think they both had some really good improvements through the year and we’re looking to them to have huge pre-seasons and back it up next year.”