SOMETIMES it does indeed pay to be late to the party. In the AFLW, this certainly seems the case.

Port Adelaide will be among the last four inductees to the national women's competition, joining Essendon, Hawthorn and Sydney for Season 7 of the AFLW that will start in late August.

For all the in-hindsight debate on whether Port Adelaide in 2015 should have focused on the first AFLW licence settled in South Australia or the financial security offered by building off-field partnerships in China, there is no doubt there is a win in having prime calls at the AFLW draft in 2022.

This point was reinforced at the SANFLW grand final between North Adelaide and Sturt at Norwood Oval on Sunday before Port Adelaide played Essendon in the AFL clash at Adelaide Oval.

There is now - unlike in 2017 when the AFLW was launched - a group of teenagers who have had an uninterrupted development in their football skills. The pathway from juniors to seniors to elite football is no longer broken by that archaic theme that stopped girls from playing Australian football after the under-15s (a concept well remembered by Port Adelaide's first AFLW signing, Erin Phillips).

This has created an exciting pool of draft talent - young women who have grown up always with a Sherrin in hand and, critically, learning and knowing how to master the basic skills, in particular handball. AFLW games will rise in its standards - and open up with critical space in which to run - with these young players who naturally use their handball skills to create plays.

In seven years of AFLW, the national women's league has fast-tracked its game style in a way that took more than seven decades for the men's game.

North Adelaide premiership coach Krissie Steen says she will look at South Australian national under-18 All-Australian champion, midfielder Hannah Ewings, kick at training and in her club's games and: "It is like poetry ... absolute poetry. Sometimes, I just stand there and stare.

"In play, Hannah can be like Gary Ablett in congestion - the clocks stops while they make their decision. She can execute beautifully under immense pressure and that is just one indication of what is coming through. She is one of those kids who has been playing since she was six."

Hannah Ewings of South Australia in action during the 2022 AFLW U18 Girls Championships match between South Australia and Vic Country. Image: AFL Photos.

Port Adelaide's entry to the AFL in 1997 was much later than the club had expected, even after failing during that tempestuous winter of 1990 to claim the first national league licence based in South Australia.

Still, the inaugural squad was not short of superb local draftees - 1997 Rising Star winner Michael Wilson, Hall of Famer Warren Tredrea, the Kangaroo Island sensation Brendon Lade, Peter Burgoyne ...

And that initial thought from AFL House in 2015 that there was not enough local talent in South Australia to allow for a successful AFLW team in 2017 has not held up.

Port Adelaide is looking at draft prospects from a South Australian under-18 team that became unbeaten national champions this year. It is indeed a good time to be calling early in an AFLW draft.

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Steen is sure Port Adelaide will have outstanding young talent to put alongside the mature recruits already signed and ready to start pre-season training after the June long weekend holiday for the Queen's birthday.

"When I moved here from Sydney, I was flabbergasted that South Australia's State women's teams had not done better," Steen said. "The girls in the local league were phenomenal.

"I told (Brisbane AFLW coach) Craig Starcevich to start looking for talent in South Australia because they are the sleeping giant. What has happened is the local talent has become better with the SANFLW competition.

"These girls are coming up against huge bodies and learning to contest, to make decisions under extreme pressure - and that is the key. These kids are playing in a serious league from the age of 15.

"I would be astounded if we (at North Adelaide) did not lose a fair amount of players - and extremely disappointed if they were not taken by AFLW clubs. I would be astounded if Port Adelaide is not looking very closely at a number of our players, especially given they are South Australian products, they already play in a very decent league.

"They are amazing players from the best State league at the moment. The standard is massive; it is such a fast game and the league has greater depth with reserves teams this year. There is a very strong base in South Australia with some amazing young kids."

It is a very different landscape to 2015. So here is the unusual benefit of being a late entry to the AFLW.

Port Adelaide's 10 signings so far for the AFLW are: Erin Phillips, Adelaide premiership duo Ange Foley and Justine Mules, former Gold Coast captain Hannah Dunn, Brisbane midfielder Maria Moloney and team-mate Indy Tahau, Fremantle pair Gemma Houghton and Maggie MacLachlan and twins Laquoiya and Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap.