Rugby League

From the schoolyard to the bright lights: The AFLW’s newest No.1 pick

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Next year is shaping up to be a busy one for the AFLW’s newest No.1 draft pick Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner, who will compete at the highest level of footy while finishing her final year of school in 2024.

The Western Jets key forward was met with cheers, whoops and whistles at Marvel Stadium’s Victory Room when she was selected as the top pick for this year’s draft by the Western Bulldogs on Monday evening.

Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner with Western Bulldogs star and new teammate Ellie Blackburn.Credit: AFL Photos

Despite being sidelined for three months this season after suffering a wrist fracture, Weston-Turner impressed with her ability to run and create.

Ahead of the draft, she told “I have my heart set on doing social work, outside of AFLW. I’ve decided if I go interstate, I’ll go straight into a course of social work, and if I stay in Melbourne, I’ll complete year 12 and do social work the year after.”

Wrapped into a frenzy of hugs, GWV Rebels skipper Jessica Rentsch cupped her hands over her face in excitement as she was named the No.2 pick for the West Coast Eagles.

Her dad, Alistair, spoke through tears as he said: “It’s been a big build-up, [I’m] very proud of her. It’s a dream come true.”

At pick No.3, GWS selected midfielder Kaitlyn Srhoj, who was so overcome with excitment she didn’t realise AFL boss Andrew Dillon had not pronounced her last name correctly.

The West Australian chose footy over basketball and netball, and is ready to move across the state for what she described as “a dream come true”.

“I’ll forever miss basketball, but I’m so glad that I chose footy,” she said.

The Bulldogs, who had four of the first 11 of Monday night’s picks, also selected Central District’s Elaine Grigg at pick number six. Grigg said footy helped her build community and connection in Australia after moving from Kenya when she was eight years old.

“I’m just so grateful to be here,” she said. Originally a basketballer, the cross-code talent moved to footy after being told she was “too rough”.

During the draft, the room fell silent when AFLW icon and newly announced West Coast coach Daisy Pearce spoke.

“People’s lives will be changed tonight,” Pearce said. “The networks you create when you become a part of the footy family, the awesome role models you have when you suddenly get yourself 29 new sisters.”

Dillon addressed the draft prospects filling the room in his welcome speech: “You will be joining the biggest domestic women’s competition in the country. It’s a competition fresh of its best season yet.

“We have over 600,000 women and girls playing our game nationally; there’s only 550 spots to play at the highest level.”

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