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Melbourne Football Club

Smith awarded round six rising star

TWO FORMER Vic Metro captains are the round six nominees for the NAB AFLW Rising Star award.

Collingwood midfielder Brittany Bonnici (2015 captain) and Melbourne defender Katherine Smith (2016) are the latest players to be nominated. 

Bonnici, noticeable on-field with her helmet, had a match-high 18 disposals in the Magpies' six-goal win over the Giants. She also laid five tackles.

The 20-year-old has played footy since primary school, lining up for the Wallan Junior Football Club in Melbourne's outer north and the St Albans Spurs in the city's west at youth girls' level.

She then took a break from football after a string of concussions, and had played only two senior matches for St Kilda in the VFL Women's competition before being drafted in 2016 by Collingwood with pick 27.

Bonnici has played every game this season, and felt her effort against the Giants was her best performance.

"It goes to show the amount of effort the coaches have put into us," Bonnici said.

"They had a lot of faith in me and they've given me the opportunity to play that (style of) game. I'd like to think I did them proud.

"Running is one of the strengths of my game, as well as my tackling. I like to be known as a ferocious player, and because I am little (163cm), I know I need to make my presence felt, otherwise I'll be pushed around."

Like Bonnici, Smith was also named best-on-ground in an AFL youth girls' national championships grand final, with both captaining Vic Metro to a premiership in successive years.

Smith has been steadily making a name for herself for her assured style of play, sometimes taking on women 10 years her senior and comfortably holding her own.

The no-nonsense defender finished with 10 disposals, including eight kicks, in Melbourne's upset two-point win over Adelaide.

The Demons' third nominee for the NAB AFLW Rising Star award, Smith played her junior footy at Blackburn in Melbourne's eastern suburbs before representing the Eastern Devils last year in VFL Women's. 

At just 18 she is also a highly regarded coach, and was awarded the Peta Searle female coach of the year award for her work with Blackburn juniors at the AFL Victoria community football awards in 2015.

Katherine Smith has been outstanding for Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos