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Drennan drives Southern Saints

Emerging gun Ali Drennan’s football is fuelled by an unusual fitness regime. - St Kilda Saints,AFLW
Emerging gun Ali Drennan’s football is fuelled by an unusual fitness regime.
Kettlebell is for people who really enjoy pain.
Ali Drennan

Ali Drennan has emerged as one to watch in the Southern Saints’ inaugural VFLW season.

The midfielder was the catalyst for her side’s historic first win against Williamstown last Sunday, amassing 35 touches and kicking the sealer in a performance that has the competition on watch.

Drennan’s game out of the middle was so dominant that the next highest possession-winner had 15 less than the exciting Saint.

But what’s the secret to Drennan’s early success?

Southern Saints' historic first win

Outside of footy, Drennan works as a personal trainer, and boasts the unusual title of Australian record-holder for the Kettlebell half marathon.

“Kettlebell’s for people who really enjoy pain,” she said matter-of-factly.

The Kettlebell half marathon is a 30-minute long slog, where competitors swing the bell up, catch it at chest height, then press it above their head, and repeat that sequence as many times as possible.

“I did the 30-minute half marathon, and that was brutal,” Drennan told

“Now a footy game seems really easy, because I remember getting halfway through that and just getting really sad, thinking ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna die’.”

Kettlebell competitions are a test of extreme muscular endurance, and a strength of Drennan’s game is her ability to smash through packs and win clearances, as well as apply huge pressure on her opponent.

VFLW: Round 2 highlights

The hard-nosed midfielder is a fierce competitor and laid seven tackles in Sunday’s win, but she was still surprised when she saw her own statistics after the game.

“I couldn’t believe it. We just watched the tape yesterday, and I was just like ‘Wow, I really got the ball a lot!’” she said.

“It’s really good having a good ruck – Rhiannon Watt – she’s amazing and I’m always looking at her saying, ‘Alright, yep, give it to me’ because I’m a bit hungry.”

Ali Drennan (R) consults with star ruck Rhiannon Watt (L).

Drennan said the elite nature of the Southern Saints’ training programme is unprecedented for Australian women’s sport, with a raft of resources at the team’s disposal.

“We’ve got such a good team around us now,” the 27-year-old said.

“We’ve got great weights coaches, running coaches, midfield coaches, kicking coaches … you’d never have that in any other sport. You’ve got pretty much one coach and that’s it.”

Become a member of the Southern Saints

Kettlebell relies on a potent mixture of strength, endurance, mental toughness and desire, all of which Ali Drennan has in spades.

If her early season form is anything to go by, the fiery midfielder looks to take the VFLW world by storm in 2018.