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Dogs' top pick 'lighting up the track'

Groves Previews AFLW Practice Match BulldogsTV spoke to AFLW Senior Coach Paul Groves ahead of the AFLW practice match this Saturday against Carlton in Ballarat
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 20: Isabel Huntington of the Bulldogs poses for a portrait during the Western Bulldogs 2018 Women's team photo day at Whitten Oval on December 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

DUAL-sport star Emma Kearney has hailed new Western Bulldogs teammate and No.1 draft pick Isabel Huntington's sudden impact at the Kennel. 

Huntington last played competitively 16 months ago, when she ruptured the ACL in her left knee in the under-18 curtain-raiser to a women's exhibition match at Whitten Oval. 

She broke her right leg a year before that, but there have been no such problems in her first AFL Women's pre-season with the Bulldogs. 

"Izzy's just a terrific player," Kearney told AFL.com.au

"She's very versatile and you can play her in any position – probably more so forward or back – but she's a super leader as well, so we're really looking forward to seeing what she can bring. 

"She's been absolutely lighting up the track. She's still developing her strength and all that sort of stuff, but in terms of her footy knowledge and ability, it's unbelievable." 

Kearney's Bulldogs were highly touted entering the inaugural AFLW season last year, but they won just two of seven games in finishing sixth of the eight teams. 

There were excuses, primarily marquee player Katie Brennan's injury absence after round two, but a fit Brennan – plus first-round selections Huntington and Monique Conti – should help them rebound.

Brennan will spend time up forward and in the midfield.

"I think you'll see quite an even competition this year," said Kearney, who spent the summer playing in the Women's Big Bash League for Melbourne Stars. 

"It's a little bit unknown, but we're going in more as an underdog – we were sort of the favourites last year – so the pressure is off us and we can just play our natural game."