Born in Broken Hill, Tarnee Tester made her childhood dream a reality when she was drafted to the West Coast Eagles in 2019.
Tester starred in the Broken Hill AFL Women’s competition before making the move to Western Australia in 2016 to follow her football dreams.
When the WAFL women’s competition began in 2019 she made the decision to play for the Subiaco Lions and in the inaugural season was the winner of the WAFLW Joanne Huggins Leading Goal Kicker Award with 26 goals.
She nominated for the 2019 AFLW Draft had spoken with and undergone medical screens with both the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers.
She was taken at pick number 56 in the draft by the West Coast Eagles.
“I had a little goal within myself, since being the first girl who played with all the boys, I really dreamt of being the first female local from Broken Hill to make it onto an AFLW list,” she said.
Tester made her debut for the Eagles in round one, as one of 10 debutants in the side against Collingwood.
Her aim for the season was to improve and adapt to the ever-changing game that is Aussie Rules.
Despite an exciting inaugural season with the Eagles, Tester was delisted at seasons end.
But her dream wasn’t over yet, Tester’s connection pre-draft with Fremantle proved beneficial when it signed her as a free agent for the 2021 season.
“I obviously did the Freo academy with them last year before the draft and they were really wanting me in the draft but the Eagles scooped me up one pick before them,” she said.
“So they missed out and from then after the draft they sent me a message and said they were devastated to miss me, but it was just the way it worked out.
“My managers were working tirelessly because we as a team, the main goal for me was to have me a contract so they certainly worked their butts off and were in discussions with Freo and Eagles and obviously secured me one with Freo.”
Tester said she’s excited to be part of a club that’s already built their foundation.
“Obviously they’ve gone through this year undefeated and were probably the main contender for the premiership this year, so to be asked to sign with the top team is just amazing.”
Her style of football is hard and fast, so Tarnee is certain she can do her part for the team and fit in well with how the Dockers play their game.
“The club believe that I’m a perfect fit to be on their list, their team play really fast footy and that’s certainly how I play, catching people off guard and just running so I think I’ll fit into their team quite well,” she said.
“I think I’ll have girls who will wrap their arms around me and teach me and support me in the transition of coming from Eagles to Freo.
“When you’ve got the likes of Kiara Bowers and Kara Antonio to look up to, you sort of know and already feel that challenge, not that the club expect me to be up with them but it’s certainly going to push me as an individual to get on the right conditioning pathway to be able to play with the top team.”
Despite the Western Derby being a rivalry like no other, Tester has a soft spot in her heart for both sides.
“Obviously going into the first one this year with the Eagles, you can definitely feel the rivalry and it’s just as tough in the females as it is in the guys I reckon,” she said.
“I think there will always be the Derby rivalry but in terms of it being targeted towards me I don’t think so.
“My old teammates at the Eagles are fantastic and I’ve certainly heard from a vast majority of them and we’ll always be good friends.
“There’s no bitterness between anyone, I left the club on good terms and just absolutely grateful to them for giving me the opportunity but also equally excited to put on the purple.
Tester was delighted to get a second crack at the elite level.
“When I was delisted, I felt like I wasn’t ready to hang up the boots just yet and that I had a lot more to offer so to go into a club that suits my style of playing and how welcoming they’ve already been,” she said.
“I suppose for me with them, they obviously recognised my talent quite early on and invited me down to their academy and have now signed me as a free agent rather than going back to the draft.
“They’ve obviously always had that belief in me so I’m certainly excited to give back to them and very appreciative of them for giving me a second chance.”
“I think for me I’m going to miss the club and to be a part of the inaugural West Coast AFLW team, I’ll always hold that close to my heart and the people I met there and supported me at the club, I’ll be forever grateful.
“But to have the amazing opportunity at Freo to go into a team that’s already found their foundation and are really successful in this competition, obviously comes with higher expectations as a player so I’m really looking forward to knuckling down and getting stuck into preseason with them.”