Western Bulldogs draftee Jess Fitzgerald says being recognised as a NAB AFLW Rising Star for round two caught her by surprise.

The nomination came after only her second game at AFLW level, where she recorded 15 disposals, four marks and six inside 50s in an upset win over Carlton.

Teammate and close friend Gabby Newton had the honours of breaking the news to Fitzgerald over a FaceTime call.

“It was a lovely surprise – I’m very thrilled about it because of the talent that is in that age category,” Fitzgerald told westernbulldogs.com.au.

“Gabby is someone who I’ve had the pleasure of playing with (at Northern Knights), and I’ve looked up to her in the way she goes about her footy and the way she carries herself off the field.”


To add to the jubilee of winning her first AFLW match, 18-year-old also kicked her first career goal, setting up the play with an intercept mark in the middle of the ground before bursting forward to finish it off.

Fitzgerald revealed she had doubts in the back of her mind leading up to that moment.

“Dee (Berry) laid that awesome tackle, and I was thinking ‘Oh God, I better make it now that she’s done that’,” she said.

“At training I’d actually missed five in a row straight in front, so I was thinking ‘if I miss this, I’m going to cop some crap’.”


Fitzgerald, a self-proclaimed ‘Milo addict’, celebrated draft night with a large glass of her favourite drink.

But it was a different choice of beverage this time around.

“I’d already had a Milo earlier that morning, and I thought (having) two might have been a little bit extreme so I went the cup of tea,” she laughed.

The AFLW Bulldogs will meet Geelong in round three of the 2021 NAB AFLW season at GMHBA Stadium this Friday night.