CLAREMONT’S Mackenzie Webb is no stranger to taking on key roles in the back 50, and the talented over-age Tiger was thrown her biggest one yet on the weekend at the AFLW Under 18 Championships.
With top AFLW draft prospect Lauren Young on fire early kicking 2.2 in the first 10 minutes of the match between Western Australia and South Australia, Webb was given the job on the contested marking forward. She kept her to just the one more goal – an unlucky high free kick against – and none in the second half.
While Young still managed the 20 disposals and was one of South Australia’s best, it was Webb’s one-on-one ability knack for avoiding easy marks close to goal that stood out. Impossible to completely quell a player of Young’s talent, Webb certainly held her own, showing off her closing speed and smarts. In the lead-up to the match, Rookie Me Central spoke to the Sandgropers’ defender who listed those areas as her strengths.
“I can be pretty quick and can shut down oppo,” Webb said. “I’ve got a decent jump to test the footy. I’m pretty good as a lockdown defender just whether it’s tagging somebody or just minimising their game impact as well.”
Webb was a train-on player at Fremantle last year and is highly touted by Claremont as a lockdown defender who can nullify her opposition. One of only a few over-age players in the West Australian AFLW Under 18s, Webb has enjoyed her experience.
“It’s been good,” she said. “There’s been an expectation to raise the standards and just be a person to look to for wisdom and that kind of more experience and footy IQ on-field. It’s good to have the younger girls looking up to us in a way.”
Coming through a more typical pathway of Auskick, then Rogers Cup and League – with a couple of years off before taking up a spot in the Tigers’ junior program, Webb described herself as being “lucky” to be presented with those opportunities and play for her state in multiple years.
Looking to improve her endurance to be able to run out the game stronger from contest to contest and not drop off in her one-on-ones late in games, Webb has looked up to Tigers teammate Kate Orme.
“She’s a great teammate to have, she’s a really smart footballer,” Webb said. “Knows how to move players around her and she’s just a really composed player and it’s great to learn any tips and tricks from here.”
Orme is far from the only one to turn to with a question, as the undefeated Tigers continue their incredible form since taking out the premiership last year, defeating the previously undefeated East Fremantle in the decider. Webb said having such a wealth of knowledge at training and on gameday was a huge benefit in her development.
“It’s been really good coming through with girls that have had so much success and experience themselves,” Webb said. “It’s just a great group to learn from and keep developing. Having a really experienced team just means that you can turn to any teammate just for a bit of wisdom or advice for something particular on-field.”
Naturally Webb has a particular goal in mind for her overage season, but she is hoping to just put together consistent football for Claremont and then Western Australia when the national carnival resumes for Western Australia in August.
“My individual goals have just been on minimising my oppo impact as much as I can and then putting my name up for the draft and then that’s something that I’m hoping to achieve, but just chipping towards that,” Webb said.
It would have been hard not to be impressed with Webb’s work on the weekend, and no doubt a tick in the right direction for the defender.