SPEEDY former Bendigo Thunder midfielder Jess Kennedy will join Richmond’s VFLW team in 2018.
The 27-year-old, who represented Carlton during the inaugural AFL Women’s league season in 2017, will add necessary experience and leadership to a Tigers team playing its first season in the state league competition.
Kennedy was the Thunder’s best and fairest in 2016 and last season played with Diamond Creek in the VFL Women’s competition.
The Creekers, whose ranks included other former Thunder players in Emma Grant, Reni Hicks and 2017 premiership midfielder Kerryn Harrington, finished the season as runners-up, after they were narrowly beaten by Darebin in the premiership decider.
Richmond AFLW football operations manager Kate Sheahan said the club was excited to have a player with Kennedy’s credentials as one of its earliest signings.
“She’s an incredibly quick and skilful midfielder and that’s the game style we’ll be trying to play,” she said.
“When Jess committed to us were incredibly thrilled and we think she will be a really valuable asset to the team with her leadership and experience at AFLW level.
“Being a Bendigo girl, she will train up in Bendigo once a week,
“She’s an experienced physiotherapist in her own right and brings so many skills and attributes to our club that we are really thrilled with.”
Kennedy said she was thrilled when she learned the Tigers had gained a VFLW licence.
“Hearing of the connection that (the Tigers) had with Bendigo Thunder, and the pathway for women in that region to come and play, I was in contact with Kate Sheahan and it rolled on from there,” she told Richmond’s website.
She also spoke of the excitement surrounding the inaugural AFLW match, of which she was a part against Collingwood.
“I don’t think I’ve had an experience in the rest of my life like that very first AFLW game,” she said.
“The hair still stands up on the back of my neck when I think about it.
“It was an unreal atmosphere and to think that it was initially going to be at Olympic Park where a couple of people might have walked up to the fence, to a (Princess Park) lockout and get the win was incredible.”
Kennedy initially Carlton as a free agent, one day after the inaugural AFLW National Draft in October last year.
Her arrival at Punt Road swells to two the number of former Thunder players to sign with Richmond.
The Thunder’s 2017 vice-captain Jac Louttit has also made her way to Tigerland following a stellar season in the Northern Football League Women’s with the premiers.
With its AFLW licence secure, Richmond will field a side in the national competition for the first time in 2020.