K rock Football

Purcell named Cats’ best

Olivia Purcell has won the Geelong AFLW best-and-fairest. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

A THIRST to learn as much as she can about the game has paid off for Olivia Purcell with the star midfielder winning the Geelong AFL Women’s best-and-fairest.

The 19-year-old, who finished runner-up to Meg McMcDonald last year, polled 134 votes to win by six from defender Maddy McMahon on 128.

Purcell’s win was announced in a Zoom meeting between players and staff on Friday night.

“It’s super exciting – I feel really honoured,” Purcell said.

“It’s really nice to get that internal recognition from my coaches.

“I’m proud that I’ve put in a lot of effort and did what I had to do.”

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In her return from a knee reconstruction, Nina Morrison polled 119 votes, one clear of Phoebe McWilliams (118), with veteran ruck Aasta O’Connor fifth on 116.

Purcell, who had off-season shoulder surgery, averaged a team-high 20.1 possessions per game and kicked four goals,

She was also named in the 40-woman squad for the All-Australian team which will be announced on Monday.

“My Dad’s been really helpful – he’s got a lot of knowledge on the game,” Purcell said.

“And I’ve got a lot of coaches and mentors at the club, and I try and pick their brains a lot.

“I just try and absorb as much information as I can and then take it into my game and share it with the other girls.”

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Taken with pick No.14 in the 2018 National Draft from the Geelong Falcons, Purcell was always bound for GMHBA Stadium after picking the Cats as her preferred destination.

And she hasn’t let anybody down in that time.

“Olivia played with a high level of competitiveness, and she always looked to involve herself in the contest and take the game on,” coach Paul Hood said.

“She was a leading disposal winner for our AFLW team and regularly won a high percentage of her disposals as contested possessions and clearances.

“At 19 years of age, Olivia is still working hard on her game and developing her skills, awareness and athleticism whilst already playing at a very high level.

“Her enthusiasm for the game and fierce desire to impact the contest enabled her to have a very consistent season, and we look forward to watching her continue to grow her game in the future.”

In other awards announced, lockdown defender Maddy Keryk received The ‘Hoops’ Award, while Renee Garing was named the club’s Community Champion.

Twitter: @tom_king79

Voting system

AFLW head coach rates each player out of 15 points and assistant coaches provide a combined rating for each player worth 15 points, making 30 points the most possible in any round.