On the eve of the second AFLW season, Penrith local and GWS Giants star Renee Tomkins has opened up on a range of topics – from winning just one game in 2017 to trading away a career in the W-League for one in the AFL.
There’s perhaps no one more honest or quintessentially Aussie than 31-year-old “Tonka Truck” Tomkins.
Picked at number 96 in the inaugural AFL Women’s Draft, Tomkins was a standout in what was a pretty rough year for her Greater Western Sydney squad.
With so much hype surrounding the inaugural AFLW season, the Giants collected just one win in season 2017 and certainly weren’t up to the standard of their interstate rivals.
“Last year, I don’t think anyone knew what they were in for and we were all still getting to know each other,” Tomkins told the Weekender.
“That first year was a big learning curve for us. To win one game was a big achievement in itself because we were the underdogs of the competition.
“We weren’t too disappointed with our overall record but you never want to lose that many games in a row.”
Despite her team’s constant beatings, Tomkins was strong week in, week out. At the conclusion of the AFLW season, she was nominated by her teammates for the AFL Players’
Most Valuable Player Award, and was listed in the All-Australian squad – a huge achievement for someone who was playing with the Western Sydney Wanderers just three years earlier.
“I used to play soccer for 20 years, I started playing U9’s,” Tomkins said.
“I played soccer for so long that I was just going through the motions. I needed to take up something new to liven things up.
“My friend recommended I try Aussie Rules and I fell in love with it straight away.”
Tomkins’ call to switch to a red Sherrin proved the right one as she enters her second season as a GWS Giant this weekend.
Following a 50-point thrashing of Brisbane in a practice match late last month, Tomkins said her side is confident heading into Saturday’s opening round clash against the Melbourne Demons.
“We are pretty pumped, the vibe is heaps better than last year’s vibe,” she said.
“We trained so hard in the pre-season to try and accomplish a better formation, and to beat last year’s finalists by 50 was pretty awesome.
“We can’t wait to get out there and give it a big crack this year.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.