After progressing along the football pathway through her junior career, Murray Bushrangers and Melbourne Uni defender Rebecca Webster focused on pushing her boundaries in 2018.
The 17-year-old (turning 18 on October 22) has played football from Auskick, more recently representing Vic Country across the last four years and being named in consecutive TAC Cup Girls Teams of the Year.
While many have come to the game in recent years from other sporting backgrounds, Webster has been seen as a 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Draft prospect for some time.
She set out to challenge herself in her final under-age season, taking on the captaincy of Murray for the club’s TAC Cup Girls campaign and stepping out in three Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s games for the Mugars.
“I tried to get out of my comfort zone with playing in new positions and meeting new people this year,” Webster said at the recent AFLW Draft Combine, where she topped the running vertical jump (right foot) test and finished in the top five in the running (left foot) and standing jump tests.
“I think I’m a pretty good teammate, but throughout the Bushrangers and Vic Country programs I’ve had my main kind of group and I just wanted to expand and get to know the girls a lot more. That helps with footy – knowing what sort of players they are and what sort of personality they bring.
“(I also focused on) getting used to the bigger bodies as I’ve gotten a bit older, especially in the VFLW playing against some of the tougher forwards as a half back and playing in some other positions that I don’t usually play, like in the midfield.”
Webster said she was lucky that female pathways were opening up when she had to finish playing junior football with boys as a 14-year-old.
One particular match at this year’s AFLW U18 Championships in July provided her a chance to reflect on the progress that has been made since that time, with the introduction of the AFLW competition fast-tracking the development of the female game.
“I think when we (Vic Country) played on the Gold Coast against Queensland, the whole game was just memorable,” Webster said. “We played so well (in a 56-point win) and I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where the standard of girls’ footy has been that amazing and that enjoyable to play.
“I think we all kind of stepped back and thought: ‘This has really taken off and it’s amazing how far we’ve come.’”
THE AFLW DRAFT WATCH ‘FAST FIVE’ with Rebecca Webster
Why should an AFLW club draft you?
“I think I’ll bring good character to a club and will bring good contest.”
What is the funniest or weirdest question you’ve been asked by an AFLW club?
“What is the best joke I carry. Mine was: What do you call a cow that can’t stop jerking? Beef jerky.”
Who is your football idol?
“AFLW would be Daisy Pearce (Melbourne): I was close with her niece and we go back a fair while. AFL would be Jason Akermanis (ex-Brisbane and Western Bulldogs): I just loved him when I was younger.”
Who will be selected with pick no.1 in the 2018 AFLW Draft?
“Nina Morrison (Geelong Falcons and Geelong Cats). She is just a gun!”
Which of your 2018 teammates should also be in draft consideration?
“Julia Harvey, Grace Egan and Sophie Damon (all Murray Bushrangers). They are just strong.”