2022 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: Kate Bartlett

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2022 AFL Women’s Season 7, Rookie Me Central will look at 10 players to watch this year who have played under 10 games. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around for at least two seasons – or in previous years – but have only managed to play nine games or less. Next up in the series is West Coast pre-listing Kate Bartlett.

Not too many players get a second chance at AFL Women’s, let alone a third, but that is exactly what consistent goalkicker Kate Bartlett has done. Not only has she earned a third shot at the big time – with a two-season hiatus in-between, but the forward has earned a second contract with the club she grew up supporting in West Coast. Having now won back-to-back leading goalkicker trophies in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition for Peel Thunder, and collected two premiership trophies, few could argue her stats stack up against the best. Her sheer consistency had her among the best goalkickers outside the AFLW.

Rewinding back to her junior days, Bartlett was always an impressive goalkicker. A member of the inaugural AFLW Academy in 2017, her natural footballing ability was evident, and she was seemingly one of the brightest future stars at the elite level, winning All-Australian Under 18s honours at the national carnival. Despite that, Bartlett was still overlooked in the AFLW Draft, so came back and did it all again, earning a second All-Australian jumper and then was convinced to nominate Victoria where she was picked up as an overager by the Western Bulldogs. Though she had finally got her chance, Bartlett only managed the one game for the Bulldogs, in the final match of the 2019 season.

With West Coast entering the AFL Women’s, Bartlett took the opportunity to head home and the Bulldogs traded her for Pick 90 in the 2019 AFLW Draft. Lasting just one season without a game, the forward was delisted. Though her offensive ability was incredible, it was about balancing that with off-ball and defensive traits, something that started becoming more evident in 2022. Two seasons after being delisted by the Eagles, Bartlett stacked her trophy cabinet and convinced the club she was worth another shot.

Her record speaks for itself. After managing just the nine goals in 10 games during Peel Thunder’s first premiership season – and straight after being delisted by the Eagles – Bartlett had to work harder. Over the next two seasons and 29 games, the Thunder forward slotted 77 goals – 2.66 per game – to be too hard to turn down. Her other areas lifted too, with her three tackles per game being one particular increase. Now 23-years-old, Bartlett has that extra experience and wisdom to know what it takes at the next level. If she can harness that and West Coast can get enough forward entries, then Bartlett could be a really damaging player for the Eagles.

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