23/04/2024

Western Bulldogs winger Rylie Wilcox has earned a round three Rising Star nomination after a 11 disposal and one goal performance against Fremantle at Ikon Park.

In her short AFLW career, Rylie Wilcox has excited many and has played an important role in the Bulldogs 3-0 start. A product of the Northern Knights pathway, Wilcox is known for her speed and ability to burst away from her player.

The 17-year-old took up Aussie Rules football later on, picking up the sport in 2018 after spending time playing both soccer and hockey. Wilcox made her way to the kennel through the 2022 AFLW draft, being picked with the Bulldogs’ first pick in pick 21.

The rising star nomination wasn’t something Wilcox was expecting but she is grateful for the achievement.

“I’m pretty stoked about it,” Wilcox said.

“I didn’t expect it to be honest, just played footy. Then Monday came around and I was like why am I the last one? But I’m so grateful for it.”

With the season being pushed forward, the thought of playing AFLW seemed a while off with Wilcox not turning 18 until December.

“The first thing that came to mind was I thought you had to be 18 like before August and I was like that’s not me like I’m December so i was like I’m going to be next year,” Wilcox explained.

“When it came out [that] you can be turning 18 I was pretty stoked about it. Then I was like, oh crap [what about] school and everything. [I am so] stoked about being at Western Bulldogs and starting my AFLW career.”

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Juggling being an AFLW player and year 12 is no easy task but having the support of her teachers and her school have made things easier to manage.

“Some weeks are tougher than others but the school has been so supportive with it all,” she said.

“The teachers too, they’ve been great with it.”

In the game against the Dockers, Wilcox got her first goal at AFLW level. In the moment she was calculating just about every outcome when the ball was coming her way.

“So much was going through my head, I was calculating every bit of it. I was like oh, my hand needs to be here in case it pops up but I think I was like just kick it through the big sticks and that should do.”

There have been a few Northern Knights products make their way to Whitten Oval, including former number one draft pick Gabby Newton, who has since returned to the Knights as an assistant coach.

“I didn’t actually know them beforehand because I played Northern Knights last year and that was my first season but having Gabby here coming from being my assistant coach [it] really helps me out and she’s really put me under her wing.”

Newton has been a mentor for Wilcox since her days at the Northern Knights, but Wilcox has had plenty of people to look up to alongside the Bulldogs forward.

“Probably like my parents and definitely like Gabby and anyone that’s older than me basically just looking up to them.

“Also looking at the shorter girls in the competition like Georgia Gee, just looking at how they manoeuvre and stuff like that and what I can implement into my game.”

The Western Bulldogs will face expansion side Hawthorn on Sunday afternoon at Box Hill City Oval as Bulldogs look to go 4-0.

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