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AFLW: Draft's superboot set to be a Lion

McKenzie Dowrick has nominated Queensland as her draft destination - AFLW
McKenzie Dowrick has nominated Queensland as her draft destination

SHE'S got a booming left foot and an unorthodox ball drop she can't quite shake.

McKenzie Dowrick is certainly one of the more versatile of the top players in this year's NAB AFL Women's Draft.

The 18-year-old is equally comfortable patrolling the backline as she is in the middle of the ground.

The 172cm Dowrick can play on taller opponents and her sure hands have been a feature of the past four under-18 championships.

Although she is from Western Australia, close ties to a couple of Brisbane players saw her nominate for Queensland, meaning the Lions will have access to her in the draft.

Dowrick grew up in the tiny country town of Kambalda, nearly seven hours by car east of Perth and three hours north of Esperance.

"I was about seven or eight when I started playing footy. I'd been playing soccer," Dowrick said. 

"I had to wait a few years before I was old enough to play under-10s footy with boys. So, before that, I was just running water until I was finally allowed to play.

"I played at Kambalda until the end of under-12s. But they didn't have an under-14 team, so I moved to a Kalgoorlie team, which was about half an hour away." 

Dowrick and her family, including older brother Brandon and younger sister Abbey, moved to Perth at the start of 2016, in part to assist with the trio's footy plans, given Dowrick had already played in a national championship. 

Brandon's career has been stymied somewhat by successive knee reconstructions, while Abbey made Western Australia's under-18 side this year at the age of 15. 

Dowrick said the three all have big kicks, but partially attributed her own to her unique ball drop, which stems from her years playing local-level rugby league. 

"I hold the ball up the top like a rugby player, rather than along the sides. I don't have my index finger along the line of the ball – it's really weird.

"People have tried to change the way I held it, but I didn't really listen. I wanted to do it my own way. My right foot's OK when I need it, but my left is best." 

Growing up a West Coast supporter, Dowrick was in the early years of primary school when the Eagles were at their dominant best in the mid-2000s. 

"I loved watching the midfielders play, especially Ben Cousins, ‘Juddy’ (Chris Judd), Matt Priddis," she said.

"On the women's side, [Fremantle’s] Kiara Bowers, who hasn't been able to play for a while (as she recovers from a knee reconstruction) has been one of my favourites. Hayley Miller [another Docker] has wicked courage too."

West Australian under-18 coach Trent Cooper said Dowrick has more to her game than her big kick. 

"The first strength that everyone sees is that left leg – it's fantastic how far she can kick and penetrate, but her short kick is great as well," Cooper said.

"Often, she has the option of blazing long, but instead chooses to pass lace-out.

"Her kicking is her obvious strength, but she's improved in so many other areas. Her endurance has come from very poor to being quite good now. She’s also strong and stands up in the contest."

Having graduated at the end of last year, Dowrick is also very grounded away from footy. She is currently in the middle of a gap year, which Cooper believes will help her as her career progresses. 

"She's very steady, both on and off-field. It's amazing how steady she is," he said.

"You worry about high expectations from outside and how that could affect players, but that's not an issue at all with McKenzie.

"She's very cruisy, very consistent with her performances, and that's how she is as a person. 

"She can come across as shy, but once she's comfortable in a group, she's quite confident. She's got the perfect temperament to coach."