Round 1 WAFLW Preview v Subiaco

Sunday, February 21, 2021 - 12:05 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle is much more ready for its second season in the WAFLW competition in 2021 and new vice-captain Tahlia Holtze is expecting big things starting Sunday.

South Fremantle opens up the 2021 WAFLW season on Sunday against Subiaco at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with plenty of excitement surrounding the Bulldogs.

Competing against the five elite inaugural clubs last season was a challenge on short notice, but by the end of the season South Fremantle was a vastly improved side and will now look to build on that in 2021.

There is plenty of excitement around the natural improvement the Bulldogs will be able to make but also with the players getting an opportunity who were part of the Youth Girls Rogers Cup premiership last season.

Holtze was a new arrival with South Fremantle last season and made an immediate impact on the back of winning a premiership in Darwin with Southern Districts.

POPULAR COUPLE THRIVING ON LIFE WITH BULLDOGS

She is now vice-captain for 2021 behind captain Lauren Vecchio and is looking forward to the season-opener at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday against Subiaco.

"It's crazy that it has crept up so quickly, I feel like we just finished the last season. But we are ready and we had a really good hit out on Sunday in our scratch match against East Freo," Holtze said.

"We've got so many new players that have come through and it just looks so good already. I'm so excited to just get out there and play with all these girls. I think we are going to do really well this year."

The WAFLW season begins earlier in 2021 to line up closer to the running of the AFLW competition. Holtze is happier with that but it does need some juggling to be able to handle playing in the heat of a Perth summer.

"It is good in a way but the weather is really hot right now. Playing in Darwin we were used to playing in humidity and heat, but this heat is so different," she said. 

"It's just so dry but the positives are there to be in line with AFLW. Hopefully a lot more girls can get interested in wanting to play as a result of that.

"I think when it's hot our rotations are going to be massive. If you are out there for too long, you just get so tired so quickly. The heat really gets to you and on the weekend it was just crazy how humid it was. 

"We already had a couple of girls down to injury but if you're out there for any longer than six minutes, it's just way too hot and your body gets a bit of a shock because of that."

It was a significant challenge last season for South Fremantle to enter the WAFLW competition on short notice with the season starting after the COVID-19 lockdown as they tried to be competitive with the five inaugural teams.

However, the improvement from the start of the season to a strong showing to close the campaign against minor premiers Subiaco was obvious to see, and now Holtze is looking forward to the Bulldogs building further on that.

"That last game was such a good confidence booster for us. We just wanted the season to keep going because we were improving each week, but now that the girls know what we are in for, we are all just working hard to be better and fitter, and get ourselves up to that standard," Holtze said.

"I think we all learned a lot from last year. It was definitely a step up but the girls are up for a challenge and the standard is so high. But even at training now, our levels have improved and things are more structured. 

"It's been a step up from everyone, including the coaches, and we are all developing and learning, and working hard to get ourselves up to that standard of football. It is a massive challenge and the girls are so ready for it I reckon."

There is plenty of excitement surrounding South Fremantle coming into the 2021 WAFLW season now and a lot of that is on the back of the amount of talented youth coming through, many of whom starring in last year's Rogers Cup premiership.

Holtze is looking forward to embracing some of those players now in the league team as they look to continue to develop and grow overall as a group.

"There's already a few of those girls who have stepped up from last year which is really good to see," Holtze said.

"There is so much talent coming through and these girls have had the opportunity to play at a young age which they can now bring into the league competition. That's really exciting to see from a development side of things.

"Winning is No. 1 for any team but we are just looking to learn and develop in every game we play. We are now much better prepared for this season and everyone is gelling so well. 

"We have 19 new players this year and that's massive, and each one of those girls has brought so much with different strengths. It's a good different to last year because we are growing as a group."

Holtze has enjoyed embracing not only the football in Perth since making the move south from Darwin along with her partner Ben Rioli last year.

Perth wasn’t totally foreign to her as part of where she lived in a childhood that involved plenty of different environments while away from football, she's also settled into a job she enjoys at Curtin University.

"The footy down here is a lot more structured. It's all pretty much the same except in Darwin it's a bit faster. Here it's a lot more structured but they are pretty much the same in a lot of ways," Holtze said.

"I actually moved around a lot. My mum was with a police officer when I was young and he got transferred throughout NT a lot. 

"So we lived in Maningrida for four years from when I was about eight, then we moved to Adelaide River for a year and then to Alice Springs for about 13 years. And then it was back up to Darwin where I've been for the last four years and now we've made the move here.

"I'm working at Curtin University and I've got two roles here at the moment which is pretty cool. I'm working at the medical school in admin support and at the People and Culture doing HR and payroll work. 

"It's different but it's good and it's a great team we are part of where everyone has made me feel so comfortable. I really enjoy it."

ROUND 1 – WAFLW OPTUS PREMIERSHIP SEASON
SOUTH FREMANTLE v SUBIACO – FREMANTLE COMMUNITY BANK OVAL, SUNDAY FEBRUARY 21

WAFLW LEAGUE – 1.00pm
WAFLW RESERVES – 11.05am
ROGERS CUP YOUTH GIRLS – 9.20am