BENDIGO football export Kodi Jacques says the resurgence in form that has led to her signing with new AFLW club Richmond has been fuelled by falling back in love with football.
The 18-year-old was one of seven VFLW Tigers players elevated to the AFLW list on Friday, fulfilling a long-held ambition for the former Bendigo Pioneers and Bendigo Thunder star and Heathcote netballer.
Jacques, who is in her first season in the VFLW, has been one of the resounding success stories for the Tigers, who are in third position on the ladder behind Collingwood and Southern Saints.
The silky midfielder clever forward has quickly found her feet at state level, averaging 10 disposals and five tackles across 11 games, regularly appearing among the Tigers' goalkickers and best players.
It caps a remarkable rise to prominence for Jacques, who is the first to concede her 2018 season was not her best.
She credits a newfound maturity for the turnaround in form.
"I've grown a lot as a person and as a footballer as well," jacques said.
"It's been a pretty big year for me, last year perhaps wasn't my best and I probably wasn't as mature as what I am now and that was my biggest factor.
"Having to commit (to football), I've really just got back to loving the game again and I think one of the big factors behind me playing decent football again.
"I've been a bit nervous throughout the year and a bit anxious leading up to (Friday's) announcements about getting into that seven.
"But I'm very grateful and I will take the opportunity with both hands."
Jacques has performed with distinction in the #29 jersey, one of the most revered numbers in the history of the club, after it was worn in 403 games by club immortal Kevin Bartlett.
It's significance is not lost on the rising Tigers star.
"It's pretty historical - I was pretty grateful to be given that," she said.
"Dad gave me the rundown on what that number means, so it's pretty special."
A former netballer- she played nine seasons with HDFNL club Heathcote - Jacques proudly admits to taking the 'back route' into football.
Her introduction came at a talent ID day in Shepparton, which led to Victoria Country trials and TAC Cup selection, before settling into 'a local club' in Bendigo Thunder.
She joins a growing band of players with ties to Bendigo on the big stage.
"The likes of (former Thunder captain) Emma Grant are still around; I think players like her have created an amazing pathway for girls through Bendigo and country footy in general," she said.
"Kerry Harrington at Carlton is an amazing footballer and these girls continue to shine the spotlight on Bendigo, which is awesome."
Now she is joining them on the big stage.
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