15/04/2024

Katie Lynch during training. (Photo: Western Bulldogs/ Design: Will Cuckson)

Since arriving at the Bulldogs, Katie Lynch has shown how much of a leader she can be in the side’s backline. This season, Lynch will help lead the Bulldogs after being selected to join the leadership group.

The Bulldogs are a young and exciting team with many players starting to make their mark on the competition. The chance to lead that group is something that Lynch is really excited about.

Having the honour of being voted in by her teammates, Lynch will join experienced leaders in Bailey Hunt, Kirsty Lamb and Captain Ellie Blackburn in the club’s leadership group.

The Inner Sanctum spoke exclusively to Lynch about how she sees herself as a leader and how the Bulldogs are preparing for Season Seven.

“The overwhelming feeling is just how much of an honour and privilege it is, just given that we’ve got an awesome group of girls who are making their way at the moment,” Lynch said.

Since coming into the AFLW system back in 2018, Lynch has always had people to look up to in terms of leadership, including former Hockeyroo Georgie Parker.

“I think I’m up to my fifth season now and having come across from Collingwood, I’ve always had those sort of the leadership figures no matter where I’ve been,” Lynch explained.

“In the early days at Collingwood, one of my role models was Georgie Parker. I just learned a lot about standards and how to train hard and what that looks like and feels like and then just in terms of a more leadership sense, just standing up for fairness and what’s worth standing up for.

“More so at the Bulldogs, the beauty at the Bulldogs there’s just so many leaders and obviously, Ellie (Blackburn), Lamby (Kirsty Lamb) and Bailey (Hunt) have always been there for me as key pillars to the lead club.

“I’ve learned so much from them just about how to connect a group and get them all on board with values to embody and just working together as one united team.”

What makes Lynch such a great leader is her ability to get around her teammates and make them better, she explains how she does this around the club on a daily basis.

“I think a big one for me is just making sure that everyone’s enjoying what they’re doing. So, I like to get around people and you know if it’s just putting a smile on their face, that fills my cup up a bit,” she said.

 “So, I think connecting people is a strength of mine, as well as just having the ability to listen to what people say and actioning from there.”

There have been a few changes over the off-season at the Kennel with the likes of Bonnie Toogood, Brooke Lochland and Isabel Huntington all leaving for other clubs. While it may have caused some uncertainty at the beginning it’s allowed for some of the younger players to step up, which will see the Bulldogs benefit in the future.

“I think initially when a lot of the change happened that the first sort of thought is, how we’re going to start filling these holes?” Lynch said.

“I think it’s a credit to the group that we’ve got, I think we’ve been able to do it quite well, thus far.

“It’s meant that people have stepped up into their own and I think we always knew that there was, emerging leaders within the group off-field and it just gave them an opportunity to step up and that translates to an on-field sense as well.

“So, you’ll see girls that probably who were up and coming and you haven’t seen the best of them yet, so giving them that opportunity. It’ll look different but I think we’ll be fine in that sense.”

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Two of those players that fans should be excited for in Season Seven are Isabelle Pritchard and Gabby Newton.

“I think Izzy Pritchard is going to have a breakout season for me. She’s been training the house down the whole time, and she’s gotten stronger,” Lynch said.

“You can tell by the way she’s breaking tackles, running lines and she can tell she’s gaining confidence from the way she’s training, she’ll step up heaps.

“I think just as well as having people like Gab Newton back is going to be huge for us, especially with the absence of who we lost but that forward group will work well together and Gab will be a huge part of that.”

Gabby Newton during the Bulldogs practice match against the Giants. (Photo: @BulldogsW/Twitter)

The young Bulldogs backline has been one of the highlights of the Bulldogs squad in the last few seasons. With Lynch herself as well as Eleanor Brown, Sarah Hartwig and Issy Grant maturing during the off-season, fans can expect some great footy from the backline this season.

“There’s been a little bit of change over  the last two years, but to be honest, it’s been mostly solid,” she said.

“I think the girls at the moment are feeling good about the consistency in terms of personnel and that sort of means that we’re able to connect more and able to understand how one another plays and we just become more predictable to one another, which I think is quite powerful.

“So we’re just going to continue on with that because we feel like it’s a really good stage where we can start playing some damaging football from the backline.”

The Bulldogs will face the Giants at Ikon Park on Sunday and Lynch is hoping that the Bulldog Army will come out in force.

“I hope we can get just as much as a crowd there as we do in at Whitten Oval because the girls will say that the best games are the ones when we get the biggest Bulldog army out there.

“I’m hoping that that’s what’s going to happen, and the girls are looking forward to that.”

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