Airlie Runnalls is shaping up for a big Season 7 of the AFLW competition, as she looks to take her game to a new level in just her second year at the top level.
Runnalls featured in all 12 of Fremantle’s games last season, highlighted by two strong performances against Adelaide in round eight (21 disposals, four tackles, one goal) and the preliminary final (14 disposals and a goal).
The 23-year-old is hoping to establish a greater role on the wing in the absence of Steph Cain, who departed Freo for expansion club Essendon over the off-season.
In her second pre-season at Fremantle, Runnalls said training alongside the likes of Kiara Bowers and Hayley Miller is helping instil a strong work ethic on the track.
“I hope so, she (Cain) was obviously a huge help for me on the wing and is huge loss (to the team),” Runnalls said.
“Hopefully, I can step up into her role…and keep working to try and fill that spot.
“(Having a strong) work rate is huge, and training with the likes of ‘Turbo’ and Hayley Miller and seeing how hard they train (is something I am) trying to bring into my game.”
Runnalls highlighted the return of Philipa Seth to the training track, after missing the entirety of Season 6 with an ankle injury.
Injured in a pre-season practice match against West Coast, Seth’s attacking run was touted as one to watch with a switch from defence to the midfield.
“She is so quick out there and when you see her high-speed running data it is huge,” Runnalls said.
“Phil is looking really good out there and is still as skilful as ever, so it’s exciting to see her out on the track.”
Runnalls said the aim for Season 7 is simple, with a desire to progress further than the disappointing preliminary finals loss to Adelaide that kept Fremantle out of their maiden AFLW Grand Final appearance.
“We want to keep building on that fitness, losing that prelim last year we have got something to prove,” Runnalls said.
“Hopefully, we go one step further this season.”