Rogers Cup Player Focus: Kaitlyn Roper (West Perth)

PRODUCING a four-quarter performance in West Perth’s Rogers Cup Grand Final win over South Fremantle, Falcons’ midfielder Kaitlyn Roper was among the standouts on the day. Teaming up with grand final MVP Mia Russo, Roper stepped up while Russo was being tagged in the first half, and took it upon herself to ensure the Bulldogs did not get too far away on the scoreboard.

Her performance, which included 26 disposals, seven marks and five tackles was a result of hard running, numerous sidesteps and great power in close. The effort was detailed below in our Rogers Cup Grand Final Player Focus.

2023 Rogers Cup Grand Final
West Perth 3.4 (22) def. South Fremantle 2.7 (19)

STATS: 26 disposals (15 kicks, 11 handballs | 61.5% efficiency), 7 marks, 5 tackles, 2 frees for, 2 frees against, 1 behind


Kaitlyn Roper won a quick handball early in the match, and it was quickly evident she was primed for a big game. In what would turn out to be the Falcons’ only score of the first term, and for most of the first half, Roper got off a quick handball to a teammate, ran onto it again, sidestepped an opponent going inside 50 and had a flying shot that went past the waiting defender but unluckily was to the left of the goal post.

Forcing a turnover in midfield not long after due to her pressure, Roper kept tracking the ball around the ground en route to an eight-disposal first term. She could not quite pick the ball up off the deck at one point, but when she did, showed that power to sidestep another opponent and kick inside 50. While the kick itself was turned over, she gained plenty of meterage from it.

Holding her ground well in the middle, the West Perth bottom-ager took a strong one-on-one mark in the middle and delivered a low kick out in front of a teammate inside 50. Then, when dropping back into defence, Roper took an intercept mark and was able to deliver cleanly to half-back. Unfortunately she was outmarked by the more athletic Alira Fotu in the pocket late, but no score came of it.


Roper’s first appearance in the second term with the ball came in defence, where she dropped back to help out, and mopped up kicking long down the ground. She worked her way up to the wing shortly after where she was able to take a two-grab mark and get it away cleanly.

A lot of Roper’s touches came in the back half of the ground, winning it again at half-back and running away, then holding a good line in the middle when the Falcons were forward, getting a handball away under pressure. Her ability to stand up in a tackle and still dispose of the ball cleanly was feature.

The midfielder laid a tackle of her own at half-forward 10 minutes into the term to lock it up, then won another couple of touches later in the term in the defensive 50, with one turning over but another finding the target. By the half-time siren, Roper had 13 disposals to her name.


Yet again, Roper’s first sighting with ball-in-hand early int he third was via a mark in defence and she executed a neat, effective short kick. Midway through the term, she implemented a switch in play, and then followed up to win it again and handball to space in front of her while under pressure.

Late in the term, Roper cracked in hard at half-back showed great strength to handball while being tackled. From there she kept following the ball and broke through with the last play of the third quarter.

Winning it again at half-forward this time, Roper sidestepped an opponent and shrugged off a would-be tackler to lay a well-weighted pass to Chloe Shearing. In what would be the last kick of the term, Shearing delivered and the Falcons cut the deficit to just two points at the final break.


This time Roper won her first touch in the middle, grabbing it at ground level and shovelling out a handball with strength, before backing up with a big tackle of her own. In the third minute of the quarter, she was a little fumbly at half-back, but when she won it, she produced another sidestep on her opponent to kick down the ground along the wing. It unfortunately bounced out for the last touch rule against, but gained the Falcons distance.

At half-back, Roper got into the right position to win it but it just slipped out of her hands at the last second and she was tackled. In the seventh minute, the bottom-ager intercepted the ball in the middle reading it well., charged forward using a fend-off on the way and kicked long inside 50 to a contest.

Capping off an impressive all-round performance, Roper won the ball at a contest in the final few minutes, powered away and got a handball clear in the middle. She utilised her strength as she had all game, and held a good line for the remainder of the frantic last few minutes as the Falcons hit the front with three minutes to go, and ultimately held on.


Kaitlyn Roper is a bottom-age prospect who gained great experience in the West Perth League side as a defender in 2022, finishing fourth in the best and fairest. She took her game to another level in 2023, going back to Rogers Cup for the season, but becoming a formidable midfielder alongside Russo and an array of other Falcons talents such as Samara Sallie.

Though not in the State Academy squad at present, she is among the possibilities to make it in for her top-age season, following a top five finish in the Rogers Cup Best and Fairest. Possessing great power and strength, as well as clean hands and a high-level of defensive pressure, the next step for Roper is to become more consistently clean at ground level, and build up her speed further.

One of many bottom-age West Australians with potential, she has another year to go until she is draft-eligible, but has shown enough potential to suggest that with further development and improvement, could be a player that clubs may consider.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments