Ellie McKenzie has been named the AFLW Players’ Best First-Year Player. Her Richmond teammate and captain Katie Brennan has penned an insightful piece for aflplayers.com.au on what sets the young star apart.

I often say that I am Ellie McKenzie’s number 1 fan.

I was lucky enough to meet Ellie a few years ago when I was working with Fitzroy Football Club. From that point on, I watched with interest as she progressed through the talent pathway. She grew and developed as a player and watching her. You knew she was going to be one of the ‘new generation’ coming through to play in the AFLW.

When she arrived at the club, she was like a ‘bull at a gate’ in her first pre-season. With most of the young players, you almost try to ease them into pre-season and protect them a little bit.

Ellie had so much passion and drive, impressing everyone with her work ethic from the get-go. She came in and instantly became such a valuable member of our group. She’s a young leader and inspires our girls to work hard, compete and push their physical limits.

For me, the breakout game for Ellie came against Geelong, which was also our first win.

We had a front-row seat that night to the Ellie McKenzie show as she waltzed up the wing, sold some candy, which was impressive enough. She then took on Meg McDonald, an All-Australian and one of the best defenders in the game, and just did her thing.

01:55 Mins
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AFLW season wrap: Ellie McKenzie

Richmond midfielder, Ellie McKenzie reflects on the 2021 season.

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Although we were already big fans of Ellie with her work rate and character, I think she would have definitely gained a few more fans after that display of confidence and poise.

She’s going to be an absolute star of the competition over the next 10 years; I don’t think I’ve seen a more complete footballer.

Ellie is incredible at ground level, strong over the footy, and her ability to burst out of the blocks, breaking lines and changing directions, is elite. She can also take overhead marks and kick goals.

We love all of this about Ellie, but most of all, we love the way she competes.

To see her flourish and grow this year within our group and within our team was such a pleasure.

00:20 Mins
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AFLW R9: McKenzie flies high

Ellie McKenzie takes off with a massive intercept mark.

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At Richmond, we are all about character and connection.

She’s an outstanding young woman. We love what she brings to the football club, both on and off-field. She is a big part of our future going forward.

She’s only in her first year, but I think she could be one of the most exciting footballers we’ve seen in the women’s game.

The sky’s the limit with Ellie. There’s still so much development and growth within her game, and I have no doubt she’ll continue to take it to new levels.