The Western Bulldogs have had claim to many great footballers over the years, from legends like Ted Whitten to modern day greats such as Marcus Bontempelli.
But after her round one performance, it seems only a matter of time that people will start adding current Bulldogs AFLW captain Katie Brennan to that list of club greats.
After an amazing game in round one, in which she kicked three goals and took six marks in the Dogs’ 26-point win over Fremantle, fans of the league are looking to the near future to see to what extent Brennan’s greatness will be.
It’s only one performance, but on the back of her stellar past 10 months of footy – and even in a league dominated by star midfielders – Katie Brennan could be viewed as the competition’s best player by the end of the season.
It’s not uncommon to see Katie Brennan in the media, but much of the discussion neglects to mention her on-field impact, particularly as she was unable to show her best in season one following an ankle injury picked up in the pre-season that kept her out after round two, and torn quadriceps sustained in her effort to make a return.
Brennan isn’t just an inspiring story of grit and perseverance – she is a skilled and determined footballer whose ability shines in the league.
No matter where she ends up playing on the field – whether it be up forward damaging the opposition on the scoreboard, around the clinches or even dropping back to help the rebound efforts – she makes the difference that only elite players can, and her absence was startlingly obvious last season as the Western Bulldogs slumped to a sixth-place finish.
With the role of being the Dogs’ captain, Brennan proves to be the beating heart of the side.
In the first-round match against Fremantle, it was Brennan who kicked the opening goal, and afterwards her teammates swamped her.
Fox Footy caller Kelli Underwood’s comments as the Bulldogs celebrated summed it up best: “They admire her, they look up to her, she is their leader.” It’s clear to the eye that the team plays under her.
Playing for the famed Darebin Falcons in the VFLW and being the standout player is surely hard enough with quality teammates such as Daisy Pearce, Darcy Vescio, Karen Paxman and Melissa Hickey.
Yet even having missed the first four rounds of the season, Brennan kicked 35 goals to finish equal first in the league goal kicking, and bagged both the league and club best and fairest.
Returning to footy after injury and having an impact in the manner Brennan did is no easy feat; not even torn quadriceps could stop her from coming back stronger and fitter than ever, as she has managed to do every year of her senior career.
It’s undeniable that the AFLW showcases some of the best female athletes Australia (and the world) has to offer, but Katie Brennan might just be the best of the lot.
With nothing to hold her back this season, this could be the year “KB” takes the mantle as the best footballer in the AFLW.