This Saturday night will mark Elle Bennetts’ 50th AFLW match.
It’s been a whirlwind journey for the 33-year-old dual athlete, signing as a rookie with GWS in 2017 having never played footy before.
In fact, a netball was her item of choice prior to the Sherrin.
A four-time premiership midcourter with Victoria Fury in the Australian Netball League, before a short stint with NSW Swifts in the Super Netball League.
While there aren’t too many crossovers between the rules of footy and netball – the teacher-by-day sure has transferred the right skills across.
Bennetts immediately impressed with her running capacity, footwork and determination in her debut AFLW season.
She claimed the Giants’ Rising Star award at the end of that year, and played 30 games in total for the Western Sydney side.
As her love for the game continued to grow, Bennetts was then traded to the Bulldogs in the 2021 Trade Period, returning to her home state.
It’s hard to believe she only made her red, white and blue last year.
But to be fair, it was in season six all the way back in January – so we’ve come a long way since.
Her teammates describe her as the ultimate professional who is willing to do whatever it takes for her peers.
“Elle is probably one of the most cool and composed footballers I’ve ever played with,” said Katie Lynch.
“She’s very selfless and give it her all,” said Rylie Wilcox, while Lizzy Georgostathis said “she’s just the sweetest person – you can talk to her about anything.”
Aurora Smith values her guidance, and De Berry praises her reliability.
“What I love about Naughty is that she’s just such a smart person,” Smith said.
“Whenever I’m on the footy field and feeling lost, she’s always there to support and give the best advice. I really value whatever she tells me.”
“She’ll run on the outside all day, but will never give up a 1v1,” said Berry.
“She’s caring, has a kind nature and will always put her body on the line for her teammates, as well as looking after each other off the field.”
Settling at home in defence – having played a number of positions across her 49-game career to date – we hope there’s no obstruction between Bennetts and a win on Saturday night.
Go well, Elle. Let’s start the 2023 season on a high.