ALTHOUGH only relatively young at 21-years-old, Port Melbourne’s newest recruit Bridie Winbanks has had quite the journey. However, she is still determined to make it to the next level.
Winbanks started off her career as a 16-year-old, playing locally in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. She then moved on to the NAB League Girls competition, initially playing for the Sandringham Dragons. She also spent time in the Oakleigh Chargers program before being scouted to Essendon in the VFLW.
Winbanks has spent the last three years at Casey before moving across to Port Melbourne ahead of the 2022 season. In addition to this, she has also been an AFLW train-on player with both Melbourne and the Kangaroos.
Initially she made the moves she did to get noticed to be drafted. Nowadays, although she still hopes to get drafted and is striving to do so, her priorities have changed.
“At the start yes it was,” she said of her draft goal. “Obviously Essendon, living in Oakleigh was a bit of a hike during year 12 and through VCE, and then Casey was through Melbourne.
“I was looked at by Melbourne for drafting, and then have now decided to move to Port Melbourne just as a change. “Closer to home as well and through working late hours and now just a whole great group of girls to be with.’
She said herself that her biggest strength is to her versatility. Not just skilled in her ruck work but the ability to get a ground ball or be an option further down the line.
This will hold her in good stead as AFLW clubs look for more versatility in their ruck stocks. Players who are solely rucks don’t normally get much of an opportunity these days, so the more versatile you are the better.
Despite this, there are still some areas she is looking to work on in her game. She is looking to improve on her ruck work and positioning around the game. She also wants to work on being a better option down in the forward line. This will improve her versatility and be an even more exciting prospect for any potential AFLW recruiters.
With many older AFLW rucks coming to the twilights of their careers, there is a need for younger, more readymade rucks to come through the AFLW pathway. Winbanks could be one able to realise her dream.