As voted by her peers, Chloe Molloy has won the inaugural AFLW Players’ Best First-Year Player Award, proudly presented by The Line.
When Chloe Molloy took to the field for the first time in Collingwood colours, the competition was on notice.
Facing the Blues in the 2018 season opener, the strong-bodied teenager was tasked with one of the most difficult challenges in the AFLW competition — shutting down Carlton sensation, Darcy Vescio, who kicked four goals and ran wild in the corresponding fixture a year earlier.
The result? The 19-year-old Molloy, selected with pick three by the Magpies in last year’s draft, was the leading possession-getter on the ground and held last year’s leading goal-kicker to seven touches with no impact on the scoreboard.
What made that performance even more intriguing was that Molloy had lined up as a dominant forward for Diamond Creek in the VFLW competition, leading the league’s goal-kicking with Darebin’s Katie Brennan, but made a dramatic shift to defence just weeks earlier and didn’t miss a beat.
“With a few injuries on our list, we had a void to fill defensively and she put her hand up,” Collingwood captain, Steph Chiocci, told AFLPlayers.com.au.
“So we popped her down back for some match simulation and she took to it like a duck to water. I remember speaking to some of our assistant coaches in Chloe McMillan and Lynden Dunn, who look after the backline, and they were reluctant to give her back.
“If anything, she looked better down back than up forward in the pre-season.”
But it wasn’t that first game of the 2018 AFLW season where Chiocci gained an appreciation for Molloy’s maturation despite her tender age.
It was the first time the two trained together.
“Right from the start, I said that she’s one of the best young footballers I’d seen come through the ranks,” Chiocci added. “And it was quite funny, because my teammates were saying that she was going to be better than me.
“I’m not sure how you’re meant to act when you’re 19, but she certainly doesn’t act like she’s that young. Her knowledge of the game is developing, and in terms of her maturity, being able to play every game and match it with older women is a credit to her.”
To cap off her remarkable season, not only did Chloe Molloy capture the Best First-Year Player Award, presented by The Line, she was also one of three Collingwood players short-listed for the AFLW Players’ MVP Award.
If the teenager’s first outing as a Magpie provided the underscore, Molloy’s consistent season was the exclamation mark.
Rarely beaten in the contest, and finishing her seven games with an average of 14.4 disposals per game, the next test for the former basketball product is to build on a memorable first AFLW season.
But will that be as a defender, a forward, or even as a midfielder? The Collingwood skipper has her own views as to which position suits the teenage sensation.
“She’s that versatile, she can play anywhere, but I like her down back,” Chiocci explained.
“However, we’ve also seen in the last couple of weeks that she looks calm and composed in the midfield. The way she reads the ball lends itself to being a defender and that probably comes from her basketball background.”