Jess Doyle in action. (Photo: womens.afl/ Design: Will Cuckson)

Giants young gun Jess Doyle took the league by storm early this year after a stunning debut season that saw her place equal second in the club’s goal kicking tally.

Doyle was drafted from the Sydney Swans Academy with pick 49 in the 2021 Draft. Since making her debut in round three against North Melbourne, Doyle went on to feature in six games, kicking five goals across her debut season.

Doyle spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her first season at AFLW level and what she’s looking forward to in Season Seven.

“All the girls were amazing, everyone was very supportive,” Doyle said.

“I had my mentor which was Bec Privitelli so she was in the forward line, obviously she’s gone to the Swans now. I also had Nicola Barr and some of the young girls like Tarni Evans and they’re all really great and supported me along the way.”

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Her debut game against the Kangaroos at Arden Street Oval was a great first experience for Doyle as her hard work over the off-season was starting to pay off.

“It was amazing, just having the girls beside me that I’d like obviously trained with up until then,” she said.

“Then getting my jumper presented and obviously going out and like having a dream come true, it was pretty surreal, so [I was] very happy.”

At the end of the last season, Doyle signed a contract extension to stay at the Giants for another two seasons. The connections that she’s made during her first season were in fact a big factor in her decision to stay at the Giants.

“I’m really grateful that they offered me that [the two-year deal]. The reason I stuck around was that I enjoyed the year so much, all the girls I think were amazing and I had really good connections with the coaching staff,” Doyle explained.

“Jon Vlatko my forwards coach, he was a big part of me staying and I really enjoy what he does at the Giants and Lloyd Perris the assistant coach, and then obviously Cam Bernasconi coming in as the new head coach.

“I was excited for what was to come, I think that was probably the main reasons why I chose to stay.”

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Despite a setback earlier in the pre-season with an ankle injury, Doyle has enjoyed her second pre-season with the Giants.

“I’m loving it, it’s been so much fun,” she said.

“I have had a little setback, I injured my ankle [and as a result] I was in the gym for most of it because I couldn’t do my running outside on the track.

 “I spent most of my pre-season with Nicola Barr, she’s been helpful and just like the new things that have been happening with Cam as a new coach.

“It’s been so much fun I love going to training, I look forward to it in the morning and I’m just loving every bit of it.”

Going into this season Doyle is looking to take her game to the next level by enhancing some of her strengths.

“What I’m looking to take forward to the next level is probably like my marking, I want to really improve my marking, like my leading patterns,” she explains.

“Cam is really strengths-based and I think one of my strengths is probably my marking. I want to jump for every ball that comes into the forwardline, then try and kick a few more goals and connect with the forward line team really well, that’s what I’m focusing on at the moment.”

With Privitelli departing to the Swans, it has left a void up forward for the Giants. According to Doyle, there are a few names to watch out for in the forwardline for the Giants in Season Seven.

“We’ve got Meghan Gaffney come into the forwardline and then obviously Georgia Garnett has come from the backline, I think she’s been a really good asset up forward. As you’ve probably seen in the trial game she really knows where to run obviously coming from the backline,” Doyle explained.

“Then like Brodee (Mowbray) and Georgie Fowler, they’re the girls that got drafted in my year and they’re doing really well this pre-season. We’ve got a good look up forward with obviously Cora Staunton as well, hopefully we’ll go well in the forward line.”

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The exciting prospect that awaits AFLW fans in New South Wales is the first ever ‘Battle of the Bridge’, against the Sydney Swans in Round Three.

“It’s really great to have two teams down in Sydney for girls to look up to but just having that rivalry game Round Three, we’re all really looking forward to it,” she said.

“Obviously, most of us are friends off the field but I think once we’ll cross that white line, it’s going to be a bit of a rivalry, so [I’m] looking forward to that game.”

The Giants will kick off their Season Seven campaign against the Western Bulldogs at Ikon Park on Sunday.

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