Fremantle draftee Airlie Runnalls is yet to line up in purple and make her AFLW debut, but the midfielder has already earnt praise for a stellar 2021 season in the VFLW.
Runnalls was selected on the wing in the rebel VFLW Team of the Year announced on Friday morning, after an impressive year with North Melbourne.
The 23-year-old enjoyed a strong finish to the season, where she averaged 23 disposals, six marks and four tackles per game for the last five rounds and was named in the best players on four occasions.
The strong year led to Runnalls being selected by Fremantle with pick no.44 in the recent NAB AFLW Draft, after being scouted by the Club via vision from the VFLW competition.
At the time of the Draft, senior coach Trent Cooper commented on her running ability and high skill level that set her apart.
“Airlie has good kicking skills that has been honed growing up with her older siblings and is also an elite runner,” Cooper said.
“She also holds the structure well as an outside mid.
“We think Airlie can add a lot to our side and make an immediate impact.”
Runnalls, who only started playing football a few years ago at university, is impressing so far in the early stages of the AFLW pre-season phase.
Recently, she finished seventh in Fremantle’s 2km time trial, with reigning AFLW Fairest and Best winner Kiara Bowers taking notice of her performance alongside fellow draftee Jess Low.
“(Airlie and Jess) are quick and fast on the field, I’ve done a few trainings with them already and to see them run tonight, they were incredible,” Bowers said.
“We have a fit team here, and for those two to come in and inject that speed is exactly what we need - I’m really happy to have them onboard.”