WESTERN Bulldogs midfielder Gabby Newton fell victim to her own high expectations early in the season.
The No.1 pick from the 2019 NAB AFL Women's Draft "wasn't in the greatest headspace" before round one, as her racing thoughts got the better of her.
"I think the week before we started, it wasn't pressure from the club, but I was putting pressure on myself," Newton told womens.afl.
While coach Nathan Burke was ready to hand captain Ellie Blackburn a challenge to become the best midfielder in the League, the Dogs didn't want to put any more expectations on Newton's shoulders.
The feeling of putting on the Bulldogs guernsey still feels surreal, but the 18-year-old has started to let herself relax after realising she was drafted because the club wanted her for exactly who she is, not for who they hope she might become.
"I'm not used to it now, but I'm more comfortable. I don't feel so under pressure now," Newton said.
That pressure valve being released has started to take an effect on-field too, as Newton was named one of the round four NAB AFL Women's Rising Star nominees with 16 disposals and 10 tackles against West Coast.
After starting as a forward for the first three weeks, Burke gave Newton the first crack in the centre square.
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"The past few weeks I've been struggling to get myself into the game, but being able to start as a midfielder and get into it straight away helped me have a better game," Newton said.
The Bulldogs sit with one win from their four games, but Newton remains confident they can knock off the top teams if they play consistent football.
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"We're not doubting ourselves one bit when it comes to getting over the line," Newton said.
"Our ball movement and structure, if we can get that right then nobody can really stop us.
"It's happened the past few weeks as well, we have short instances where we play to our potential."
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The Bulldogs will aim to get back on the winners list this weekend as they take on the rampaging Magpies on Sunday in Morwell.