Alice Edmonds has had a breakout season seven. (Photo: Western Bulldogs; Design: Will Cuckson)

One of the most improved players in the AFLW has been Bulldogs ruck Alice Edmonds, who has taken her game to a new level in season seven.

Edmonds has played all eight matches this season, averaging 27 hit-outs and eight disposals per game. She’s entering the conversation as one of the premier rucks in the competition.

Her presence in the contest has been a key to the Bulldogs game this season, allowing the likes of Ellie Blackburn, Jess Fitzgerald, and Kirsty Lamb first use of the footy.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, Edmonds said that having uninterrupted preparation for the first time in a few years has allowed her to reach new heights in season seven.

“It was the first proper pre-season I’ve had in like two years because the year before I was a train-on at the Dogs, so pretty interrupted preseason, and then the one before that when I was at the Tigers, I was injured so I hadn’t really had a pre-season for a while,” Edmonds explained.

“I think the consistent pre-season really helped. Obviously working with James [Kennedy, ruck coach] and with Moods [Celine Moody] on that ruck craft really helped.

“I think overall, we all kind of came back a lot fitter. Obviously, we weren’t really expecting to be able to be playing this season, [it] kind of got sprung on us a fair bit, but just being able to get that fitness up and have a consistent pre-season I think really helped.”

There were a few conversations at the start of pre-season about having more time as the number one ruck, with Moody set to move up forward as a marking target.

“Working with Moods spending a bit of time forward, obviously she’s done a bit more this year which opens up a bit more time in the ruck which was something that I wanted to do,” Edmonds said.

“[I would] obviously spend a bit more time on the ground and be able to develop that role a bit more than I was doing last year.

“Going into the season knowing that was quite nice, and being able to grab that and roll with that was good.”

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With a number of off-season movements happening at the Kennel, the Bulldogs needed to find themselves a tall target up forward.

Moody was identified as that option, which allowed Edmonds more time in the ruck

“I think it was probably like a combination of things, We need a tall target down there and Moods is so good at that role and provides that target really well,” Edmonds said.

“I think that probably helped just with the movement of the team, but I think things change every year… you’re never really going to be the same team you were last year.

“Probably a combination of that and then just like the work that we’ve done in the pre-season and off-season together, [it was] probably just a combination of things.”

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This is Edmonds’ second season at the Bulldogs after joining the squad as a replacement player for season six.

Now with a whole season under her belt at the club, her connection with Moody and the rest of the midfield has grown.

“I think just being able to learn off each other and know each other’s game a lot more obviously helps, we’re able to read each other a lot better this year,” Edmonds said.

“I’d say we just feel a bit more connected and able to work together like a more united unit, which is hopefully being able to be proven during games.

“I think Moods and I have a really healthy relationship, as we work off each other really well. We are able to share that role.

“That being there provides that consistency for the second year, which I hope that everyone else has been able to see… we feel like it’s been really good for us.”

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Edmonds had a breakout game earlier this season in Round 3 when the Bulldogs came up against the Dockers at Ikon Park. She finished the game with 36 hit outs and 11 disposals.

Edmonds said the confidence in her role allowed her to have such a strong performance.

“I think just kind of feeling comfortable in that role. I’ve just found my feet a bit more this year, I’ve loved the club and I just feel really comfortable there,” she said.

“So I think that I should be able to build that momentum from the first couple of rounds. I think it was just feeling really comfortable in that role and it was probably more of a mindset thing than anything else which has really helped this year.”

Away from the footy field, Edmonds is a police officer with Victoria Police and while it’s challenging, Edmonds said having two understanding workplaces makes it that bit easier.

“It’s pretty hectic, obviously there’s a few of us that struggle to balance both full-time work and footy but I’m lucky that work is really accommodating,” she said.

“At this point, I’m able to juggle both. I’ll probably have to look into changing things up next season and beyond.

“It’s definitely tiring and it’s challenging but the club is obviously supportive of us girls who have to work as well.

“I think I’m lucky that both my workplaces are understanding of each other. So I can’t complain, it’s pretty busy but it is what it is I suppose.”

The Western Bulldogs will head to Perth to take on the West Coast Eagles on Saturday at 5:10 pm at Mineral Resources Park.

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