JUST like her West Coast Eagles side, the 2021 AFLW season proved to be Maddy Collier's most successful on the field.
In her second season with the Perth-based franchise, the Nowra product made seven appearances for the club, which helped them win a record two games (against Gold Coast and Geelong) in their second season.
"As a club, we've come on leaps and bounds from last year," Collier, whose Eagles' season wrapped up on March 28 against St Kilda, said.
"In my opinion, our game plan, which sees us make the most of our runners with an east-west style of play compared to the normal north-south AFLW set-up, is one of the best in the competition.
"At the moment we couldn't execute it all the time. It was just in patches here and there, but when we did, we looked great.
"As our list gets stronger and more experience and continuity under its belt, I know we're only going to keep improving and I'm already keen for next season."
During those seven games, which takes her AFLW total to 27 (15 with GWS and 12 with West Coast), the Nowra High School alumna averaged 13.4 disposals, 8.4 kicks, five handballs and four tackles per contest in 2021.
"This was easily my best season on the footy field," Collier, who missed the Eagles' last game due to a burst blood vessel in her cheekbone, said.
"Having looked a little back on my career to date, I'm really happy with where I'm at.
"My first year with the Giants went okay, but the next two seasons were pretty much a write-off.
"Then last year, seeing as though it was my first with the Eagles mixed in with COVID-19, was quite tough at times.
"The main reason behind my success I believe is the influence of our coach Daniel Pratt.
"Having been with the men's program previously, Pratty's knowledge of the game is exceptional.
"The way he reads the game and explains it to us has been exceptional, as we've all learnt plenty from him.
"His style of play complements the way I like to approach my footy too and I believe I'll continue to get better while he's the coach."
Out of contract Collier, who is confident she and the club can come to terms on a new deal in the near future, and her teammates will now enjoy some time off before restarting training with the Eagles Academy.
"After some well-earned rest, which I believe put me a strong frame of mind going into this season, all the players' main goal before starting academy training is to get out fitness up to scratch," Collier, who spent time on the wing, half-back and on-ball in 2021, said.
"The club wants to use the academy training to get better as footballers, not fitter - meaning the onus is on us.
"I also want to build my strength and put on a bit more size over the off-season, while trying to get more bang for my buck from possessions.
"I believe I've got solid skills but on occasion, my handball receives let me down when I was under pressure, meaning I was not thinking as well as I should have been."
If this all goes according to plan, Collier believes there's no reason her Eagles can't make their maiden final appearance next season.
"Going into a second season under Pratty, the squad is excited to continue to build and add layers to our game," she said.
"Finals are definitely within reach next season - because although we only won two games this year, we were right in numerous games but fell away largely due to our injury toll.
"If we can avoid those injuries again, next year could be really special for the Eagles."
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