The Western Bulldogs have selected talented ball-winning midfielder Jess Fitzgerald with pick two in the 2020 NAB AFL Women’s Draft.
The 18-year-old from the Northern Knights is a star in the making, proving her credentials with a best-afield performance in the Northern Knights’ NAB League premiership triumph in 2019 as a bottom age player.
Fitzgerald will reunite with her former Knights team-mates from that premiership side – Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton and Britney Gutknecht – who were all drafted to the Bulldogs last year.
“Jess has been a player we’ve watched closely for the last few years and her development has been exceptional,” said Bulldogs’ AFLW Head of List Management & Recruiting, Mick Sandry.
“She is composed with the football and is elite by foot. She is known for her ability to break open packs and exit stoppages.
The 2020 NAB League competition only lasted for three games due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Fitzgerald still gave recruiters a glimpse of her enormous talent when she amassed 28 disposals and kicked two goals against the Dandenong Stingrays in Round 3.
The NAB AFLW Academy member has kept close tabs with Newton, who was last year’s number one draft pick and played all six games in her debut season for the Bulldogs.
“Gabby is one of my best mates, so I chat to her almost every day,” Fitzgerald told the Herald Sun.
“I don’t talk to her much about the whole process, but I’ve observed what she’s done over the last year and found my own tips through watching her.”
AFL Talent Ambassador Kevin Sheehan describes Fitzgerald as a “midfielder who is both agile and quick, which she uses to great effect away from stoppages.”
“Really impressed last year for Victoria Metro as a bottom ager with her good decision making and smart ball use.
“(She) was in top form early in the season averaging 18.7 disposals, 5 clearances and 3.7 tackles before the NAB League was suspended.”