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AFLW: Strength the key for Gibson

Marc McGowan - afl.com.au   December 12, 2017 2:25 PM

Our AFLW team were tested to the limit at pre-season camp.

New Freo Docker Kellie Gibson was already one of the NAB AFL Women's competition’s most explosive athletes and now she plans on being among the strongest.

The 21-year-old former Adelaide Crow dedicated herself to a stringent gym program in the off-season and added significant muscle to her 170cm frame.

Gibson went as far as calling herself "underweight" after playing alongside physically imposing co-captain Erin Phillips in the inaugural season.

"I wasn't big enough, but I guess if I come up against Erin this coming season I might be able to give her a good shove," she told AFL.com.au with a laugh.

"My diet has been a massive part. I eat carbs all the time and I'm always hungry. I eat, then 20 minutes later I'm hungry again.

"I've put on probably 3kg of muscle since last season, so that's pretty impressive, but we need to make sure we shred down (for the season)."

Gibson's AFLW season was a "blur" – an "incredible" one – with the excitement of the new competition and of being a marquee player, kicking Adelaide's first-ever goal and winning the premiership.

After all that, the homesick utility chose to return to Western Australia in June and play for Fremantle in 2018.

"It was probably harder to leave Adelaide than to leave Perth to go to Adelaide. It was definitely a big decision to make," Gibson said.

"But, at the end of the day, I want to be around my family and friends.

"The support I have here is massive – not that I didn't have any support over in Adelaide; it was amazing, don't get me wrong. But you can't surpass the friends and family part of things."

Gibson was, like most players, overshadowed by Crows stars Phillips, Chelsea Randall and Sarah Perkins this year.

She is looking forward to developing further under Michelle Cowan, who previously coached her in the West Australian under-18 side.

No longer being burdened by marquee status won't be a factor, Gibson said, because she never let the "outside noise" impact her performances.

"I'm a young player. I was 20 (last season) and playing in a premiership side, so I learned a lot and still have plenty to learn now," she said.

"Hopefully I can do that now with Freo and be a better player. Hopefully I kick some more goals, get more possessions and try new positions.

"Everyone has their own pressures and it probably just makes you want to be better or grow as a player."

Gibson also has no regrets about switching her focus from rugby sevens, where she won Youth Olympic gold in 2014.

That achievement remains one of her proudest, but her priority now is on trying to claim another AFLW flag with Fremantle.

"The girls are very disappointed about how their season turned out last year," Gibson said of the Freo Dockers’ year, which was injury-hit.

"They had to dig deep into the [player stocks] here in Western Australia, players who weren't even on the list.

"It's a learning curve for everyone – whether you win or lose."

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