Fremantle recruit Megan Kauffman (Picture: AFL, Design by Will Cuckson)

Coming from Wembley in the Western Australian amateur football league, new recruit Megan Kauffman is still finding her feet at the Dockers. Playing through the midfield and down forward, she’s proving to be one of best players of this season’s draft class.

Currently averaging 10 disposals (half of those contested), 1.6 marks, 170.43 metres gained and 5.28 tackles, she has been a revelation to the league in her first season at the level. This rise has not occurred without a lot of hard work from her and guidance from her coaches and her teammates.

She spoke exclusively with The Inner Sanctum about her debut season and the teammates that have helped her grow at the club. She says that the whole team has been supportive which has created the welcoming environment that has allowed her to thrive.

“[I’m] definitely surrounded by some great people and great leaders [at Fremantle],” Kauffman explained.

“Kiara Bowers is definitely [one of them], [she leads by] leading by example and [she’s] one that I look up to and probably one that I tried to model parts of my game off of as well so it’s cool having her there.

“From our whole leadership group, Gabby O’Sullivan and Hayley Miller were super welcoming and having players like that and how professional they are at training and all of that makes you kind of lift your level and try and reciprocate it which makes it a great competitive environment.”

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She also notes the impact of her captain at the Dockers, Hayley Miller. One of the most respected leaders across the AFLW, Miller exemplifies the type of leader that is needed with the youth of Fremantle’s list.

Having played 57 games for the Dockers, Miller is the perfect role model for Kauffman at the level with her being in the midfield alongside her.

“She’s a great leader in terms of just how she goes about her business,” she said.

“She’s also super personable that is something that is important as a leader is just that she is herself and she’s authentic, which I think is great.

“She takes her role as a leader very seriously but she’s also friends as well so I think that’s having kind of that relationship as well makes for a really good leader who is just authentic and just themselves.”

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A leader on the field, Ebony Antonio will notch up her 50th game milestone when she takes the field upon return from injury. She will still await this milestone after not being named to face Collingwood in Round Eight.

When asking Kauffman about her impact at the club considering she’s been injured, the effect is still the same.

“She’s been great in terms of when I’ve been in the midfield, so her input in the midfield group has been great just with her experience coming [up] to 50 games.

“She’s had such experience in the game so she’s got some great input and has been helping in terms of just feedback and all of that from the game.

“She’s working really hard on her rehab, she’s been doing great and she’s always a positive person at the club. It will definitely be exciting when she gets to play her 50th game, it’s credit to her and a great career she’s having.”

When putting their season into context, it makes for tough reading for Fremantle players and supporters alike. With injuries being a large factor, the Dockers went winless for the first four games losing to Brisbane, Geelong and the Western Bulldogs before a drawn game against Carlton. The first win for the year came against the arch-rivals, the West Coast Eagles before two more losses to Melbourne and Adelaide.

Ahead of Round Eight the Dockers sit just above the winless Sydney Swans who have struggled to get the job done against some of the other expansion teams to get their maiden win. When speaking about the next few weeks considering finals is well out of the frame, Kauffman says the job is still winning and being the better team on the day.

“It’s certainly been a tough season, I think going into the last few games our focus has kind of been the same throughout the whole season,” Kauffman explained.

“Every game [we’ve played] we approach with a really competitive mindset, we’ve been really building and hitting some form over the last few games. [We need to] just keep on building on that and working to be the best team out there regardless of where we sit on the ladder that’s kind of where our focus lies at the moment.”

When asking Kauffman what makes the AFLW a great league to play in, she immediately pointed to the Pride Round that will take place this weekend. Taking place over Rounds Seven and Eight, all 18 teams will get to celebrate in front of their home fans this season.

“I think it’s a great league and I think it’s an inclusive league, an example of that is the Pride Round coming up this weekend, that’s super exciting,” she said.

“It’s a very exciting league to be a part of because of it’s growth because the sport with young women is continuing to grow, it’s super exciting and I’m kind of excited to see where the league goes and this year having all 18 clubs is a great milestone and I just hope it continues to grow.”

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