Western Bulldogs midfielder Jess Fitzgerald says having a year of AFLW under her belt will help her take her footy to another level next season.
The 19-year-old has not missed a match since debuting in the opening round of 2021, and is already holding herself to high standards this preseason.
“I think for me I just want to get my confidence up a bit – last year, not that I would use this as an excuse, but being my first year I could make mistakes and what not,” Fitzgerald told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“Now with a year under my belt and having been fortunate to play every game, I don’t really have any excuses for why I can’t perform at that level.
“I’m bloody loving it - (last year) was sort of a little taste test, as I had to find my way and get the feel for how things worked, but now it’s second nature.
“I feel like I can just focus so much more on my footy and not have other things to worry about.”
Fitzgerald averaged 10.1 disposals and slotted five goals in her maiden AFLW campaign, while also receiving a NAB Rising Star nomination in round two and sharing the Best First Year player award at the Bulldogs’ best and fairest formalities.
She said absorbing everything “like a sponge” is the advice she’d give first-year players coming into the AFLW system.
“I’d probably say be a sponge – which is what I feel I did quite well last year,” Fitzgerald said.
“There was so much for me to learn last year, and I basically got a little test of everything with interstate games, fly-in fly-out games, away games, home games.
“I learnt something from every experience.”
The Bulldogs finished last season with four wins and five losses – a significant improvement from a win-loss perspective the year prior – but Fitzgerald said the group is eager for more.
“We’re hungry - I know we got plenty more wins on the board compared to the year before, but we want more,” the former number two draft pick said.
“We are not shying away from 2x25 (two premierships by season 2025), and we’ve all got that in the back of our minds.
“Every time we step onto the track, it’s go time. We’re looking pretty good – we’re coming in red-hot I reckon.”