WAFLW 23 Under 23 in 2023: #17 Kaitlyn Roper

AS PART of a new series leading into the 2023 Western Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s season, we count down 23 prospects to watch who are under 23. We are only looking at those players who were born January 1, 2000 or later, have played a WAFL Women’s senior match and have never been on an AFL Women’s list. Today we continue our countdown at number #17 which is West Perth defender, Kaitlyn Roper.

#17 Kaitlyn Roper (West Perth)

DOB: 24/04/2006
Height: 165cm
Position: Medium Defender
Local club: Joondalup Kinross

Entering the WAFL Women’s countdown as the first West Perth player on the list, bottom-age defender Kaitlyn Roper is a name to remember over the next couple of seasons. In what was a tough year on-field for West Perth in its inaugural season, Roper was among a host of teenagers showcasing their talent, and will feature in this list. The 16-year-old averaged 14.1 disposals, 2.7 marks and 5.1 tackles in an often under siege defence, and grew in confidence as the year went on.

Roper is a player with a high work rate with midfield potential, holding her spot in the League team all of last year and finishing fourth in the West Perth Best and Fairest. Though not yet included into the West Australian Academy, being a bottom-ager that accolade could come with some consistent early season form, and particularly with a focus to her top-age campaign next year.

In terms of her strengths, Roper is incredibly competitive and is a very strong overhead mark. She knows how to compete one-on-one and can bring the ball to ground, not afraid to match it with more experienced opponents. Generally efficient with her ball use, Roper may play further afield in 2023 to help add another string to her bow, having effectively been pidgeonholed into that defensive role for last season.

Playing along older sister Jess, Kaitlyn is a player who has the traits to be an impressive defender/midfielder and just needs to build her explosive athletic profile. That area of her game, along with getting a touch cleaner at ground level are ways the teenager could improve, but often does the more difficult things – such as taking clean grabs and competing aerially – well.

Given her work rate across the ground, Roper is a player to keep in mind for the coming years, and has been able to play on both talls and smalls despite being slightly undersized against key position players. With greater support in the Falcons side this season through added experience, it will allow players like Roper to flourish and showcase their offensive abilities going forward.

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