How Brisbane Lion Jesse Wardlaw became the whiz kid of AFLW’s shot on target: ‘I got pushed around’

Brisbane’s top scorer, Jesse Wardlaw, sought the best technical and conditioning coaching available to develop into one of the AFLW’s best forwards.

The 22-year-old will play for the Lions against Melbourne in the AFLW grand final in Springfield on Sunday after a stellar season which saw him selected by an all-Australian team.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Highlights from AFLW leading scorer Jesse Wardlaw.

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Wardlaw was the AFLW’s top scorer that year with 19 goals, beating the record previously set by Adelaide’s Ash Woodland.

The 2021 premiership winner has shown maturity beyond her years to recognize where she needed to improve.

Jesse Wardlaw from Brisbane. Recognition: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

“When I got into AFLW, I knew I wasn’t great to begin with,” she said.

“I was a pretty small body and didn’t have a lot of footy smarts, so I worked on those things and saw specialized trainers for my kicking, strength and conditioning.”

Wardlaw credits Lions coach Craig Starcevich with bringing out the best in her, adding that Lions academy coach Ben Stanley was a big influence.

“I’ve seen Ben at Enhance Football on the Sunshine Coast and he does a lot of kick analysis. We mainly looked at my push-off technique and why I didn’t get the distance or wasn’t that accurate,” she said.

“We disassembled it and saw some things that we needed to tweak.

“He even said to me at the beginning of the season, ‘You’re going to be the top scorer.’

“Thanks to Ben. Since a lot of the youngsters are here, he puts a lot of work into their early years.”

Jesse Wardlaw from The Lions. Recognition: Chris Hyde/AFL Photos/Getty Images

Wardlaw’s increased technical ability was matched by increased physicality.

“I met my trainer Dylan (Fowler) at The Evolved Gym in the West End and worked out with him in the gym four days a week just to put on some size because I was being pushed around too much,” she grinned.

She can’t be pushed around anymore. Her all-Australian selection was proof of that.

“That was massive. For me, All-Australian is something I’ve always wanted to aspire to as a player,” she said.

“As soon as I got drafted, I looked at awards night and thought I wanted to be on that stage.

“I definitely didn’t see that coming so early in my career. Hopefully I can stay on the AA team for many years to come.”

Wardlaw thrived as a youngster idolizing former Lions star Tayla Harris, now with Melbourne.

“It’s kind of ironic that I’m going to play her this weekend, but she was a player I looked up to from a young age and always had a lot of respect for,” she said.

Wardlaw expects a fierce fight on Sunday.

“I think it’s going to be a four-quarter fight from start to finish,” she said.

The AFL Women’s Grand Final will be broadcast live and free on Channel 7, 7mate and 7plus (see guides).

For the delicious competition we will have expert insight and analysis from Seven’s esteemed group of AFLW callers and hosts including 2022 AFLW Premiership Cup Ambassador Abbey Holmes, Former Geelong Captain Melissa Hickey, Jason Bennett, Jo Wotton, Sam Lane and Nat Edwards.

Melbourne Demons Chase AFLW Premiership Glory

Melbourne Demons Chase AFLW Premiership Glory How Brisbane Lion Jesse Wardlaw became the whiz kid of AFLW’s shot on target: ‘I got pushed around’

James Brien

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