That Ella Roberts would one day ascend to the highest level of women’s football was never in doubt. It was as certain as death and taxes.

The matter of determination was simply which club would access her talent.

By finishing at the foot of the AFLW premiership table last season – curiously in what will be the first of two AFLW seasons in 2022 – the West Coast Eagles tonight became that club.

While the AFLW draft differs to that of the AFL as it is a State-based ballot rather than a national playing pool, the reverse order saw the Eagles have priority access to the best young talent from WA. And Roberts had top billing in the west.

The MVP in the WA under-19s team in the last two years and a WAFLW premiership player with Peel as a 15-year-old in 2020, her credentials have been obvious for some time. And the Eagles franked that opinion when the Margaret River prodigy’s name was the first local called at tonight’s draft in Melbourne.

Roberts, 17, a classy forward who can also be damaging in the midfield, is looking forward to starting the next exciting chapter of her football journey.                

“It’s awesome,” a beaming Roberts said. “It’s a dream I have had forever and to end up at West Coast alongside some of my good friends, I’m really, really excited about it.

“It’s so awesome that it has finally happened. The hard work starts now, the pressure starts now in a way.

“I have had a bit of good history with footy (with success at representative level and at Peel). At the end of the day the goal, was to make AFLW and finally having done that is so awesome.”

Ella Roberts of the WA AFLW 18's kicks the ball during the AFL Under 18 Girls Championship match between Western Australia and the WAFLW All Stars at Claremont

With the draft formality completed, Roberts is now looking forward to starting her AFLW pre-season alongside new teammates, including good friend Charlie Thomas, who was the Eagles’ first selection in last year’s draft.

“I have learnt a lot from Charlie Thomas, having played State with her last year, seeing her go through the draft process and playing AFLW games,” Roberts said. “Telling me her experiences in the team, she has really loved it so I’m really excited to see how I go.

“I’m so excited to start training and everybody being much better than me. I just want to get fit, get strong and develop my skills as much as I can.

“It’s so cool having some of my best mates here and some of the girls I have seen on TV. It’s really special and exciting that I’m going to be teammates with them.

“It’s exciting being a part of the draft and being there with the best in the country and being called out.

“I hope to earn everybody’s respect at the start and then hopefully get a game at some point would be really cool.”