Category: Feature Articles

Rogers looks towards Gulden source of inspiration

THE Sydney Swans Academy has been a raging success for the New South Wales-based club, producing the likes of Isaac Heeney, Callum Mills, and most recently Errol Gulden and Braeden Campbell. It means the next generation of Swans stars never have to look far for inspiration, with the visual of their elders’ journeys serving as a clear pathway to the top.

For current Academy member Felix Rogers, that pathway has taken on a varied route but still holds some influence from closer to home. The small midfielder-forward is crafty with ball in hand and has little trouble finding it, much like one of the Swans’ most recent Academy graduates.

“I’d say someone who I’ve really moulded my game on pretty recently is Errol Gulden,” Rogers said. “He was only a year ahead of me in the academy. I played and trained with him and was always underneath him in that role as the link forward or midfielder. “My biggest strengths would be my kicking and that kicking leading to goals… this year I played on-ball and drifted forward again, I think another strength which showed was my ability to find the footy pretty well.

“(Tackling) is a part of my game I can improve. “Definitely because I’m shorter than the average AFL player, that’s always looked upon as a bit of a weakness but I guess it’s not the size of the dog in the fight.”

Born in London, Rogers moved to Australia with his family at age four, only picking up the native football code when he was about 10. After missing the cut in his first crack at entering the Swans Academy, the 18-year-old has been there ever since and yielded some terrific honours en route to Allies squad selection this season.

“I only really started playing AFL when I was about 10 and really, really got into it,” Rogers said. “I was playing (European) football up until then, obviously coming from England. “Outside of the Swans Academy, I’ve gone through my local club which is Willoughby Wildcats, then into (AFL Sydney) Premier League with the North Shore Bombers.

“(NSW-ACT) Rams was great fun for Under 16s. We were up on the Gold Coast and had a pretty good team. I played pretty decent in that carnival but ended up doing my shoulder at the end of it, in the last game against Tasmania. Ever since then I’ve had to get that right and I was lucky enough to have it ready and okay this year. “That lead me into a couple of good NAB League games for the Swans and lead into Allies selection which was my goal all year round. I was super ecstatic to make the squad. It’s just unfortunate that’s looking more and more unlikely to go ahead.”

While currently in lockdown and pondering the “what ifs” of season 2021, Rogers still managed to produce some blistering form when allowed on the park. He got a taste for senior football with four games in Sydney’s Premier Division and turned out in a VFL scratch match, while also averaging 28.3 disposals, 6.7 inside 50s and booting four goals across three NAB League outings.

“I think I’ve probably had one of my better years to date,” he said. “For me, this year’s kind of been a bit of a ‘wonder if?’. “Had the Swans had five more games where I kept up the numbers I had, could I be in a lot better position to try and get myself drafted? “Had the Swans not finished up so early and COVID not interrupted, would I have gotten games for the Allies?

“This was my first year of senior footy. It was good fun, it’s a good group and it’s really interesting to play with bigger bodies. “It’s not as fleet-footed as NAB League games and what-not but it’s an interesting dynamic.”

Having been immersed in the Sydney pathway program for many years now, Rogers is an avid Swans supporter and says landing at his home club would be his “first choice”, but is happy to land just about anywhere at the end of this “crazy” year.

The budding draft prospect is also completing his Year 12 studies online with sights studying business and law alongside football next year. As for his escapes from “repetitive” lockdown living, Rogers has gotten into golf. A stint on the Gold Coast also helped him focus on football and get out of the current bubble.

“I’m big time into my golf, that’s my hobby outside of AFL,” he said. “It’s a bit hard with all the time it takes up but I find that a good release from footy and from school. “Day to day is very repetitive. I’ve still got online classes so I try and do a bit of exercise in and around them – go to the little home gym we have here and go for a kick or go for a run. It’s hard to try and keep that routine but it’s definitely valuable, especially with the small chance of Allies games still going ahead.

“I was in the Gold Coast about a month ago. “I lived up there and was training with the Suns Academy for a bit and played a VFL game. “That was a good experience and that was a bit of an escape from COVID lockdown which was lovely and meant I could focus on my footy a bit more as well.”

With such a series of experiences comes some important mentors too, from those who have nurtured Rogers through the Swans Academy, to others who have come in and guided him more recently.

Jared Crouch, Chris Smith, and Nick Davis at the Academy have been phenomenal,” he said. “They help us in every facet of the game. I think another key mentor for me only really came this year and that was Lloyd Perris. He used to be in the academy system and played with Isaac Heeney. He’s now our North Shore Bombers coach, he knows all about the system and has been very good with me and trying to help forge a path.”

While overlooked for the initial National Combine intake, Rogers caught the eye this year and if there is anything his journey through the Swans’ pathway has shown, it’s that he can overcome early obstacles to produce great things.

Driscoll’s unique traits stand out for a “big fella”

JACK Driscoll is one of many AFL Draft hopefuls who had their 2020 season derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and look to have had the last couple of months of 2021 also under a cloud of uncertainty. The 200cm ruck/forward has some unique traits that even he admits are different for a “big fella”, and hopes that perhaps they will stand out to club recruiters be it now or into the future.

Coming into the 2021 season, the top-age talent who turned 19 in April, weighed in at 82kg to go with his two-metre frame, something he hoped to work on throughout the year. If there was one positive to come out of the current situation, it would be the fact that Driscoll, like many other aspiring draftees, has the ability to continue to work on those areas in his own time. Speaking to Draft Central at the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) preseason testing day, Driscoll said that he was hoping for a big year.

“Fitness would be number one (improvement) and building up my body,” he said. “I could probably get a bit fitter and stronger around the ground.”

Whilst he might need to build up his endurance and strength – which was not helped by a minor ankle injury prior to Christmas delaying his preseason – Driscoll said his athleticism and skills were self-proclaimed strengths in his game, and hopefully would catch the eye of recruiters.

“I think for a big bloke I’m pretty athletic,” he said. “Not the fittest person, but marking would be one of my strengths and skills for a big fella.”

Driscoll hails from a little town not far from Wagga Wagga, and has gone through the pathways including the GIANTS Academy and Allies, though is still yet to run out for the Allies after the 2020 carnival – and looking more and more likely the 2021 carnival – is all but done and dusted.

“I’m from a little town called Yerong Creek which is about half an hour from Wagga,” Driscoll said. “I grew up and played for The Rock-Yerong Creek, joined the GIANTS Academy in Under 16s, made Rams that year and then 17s, 18s with GIANTS obviously, was in Allies squad for last year and now I’m here.”

Driscoll would have likely been the starting ruck for the Allies this year, but will have to rely on performances earlier in the year where he was able to present as a key forward as well as roll through the ruck. His goal at the start of 2021 was clear.

“Obviously get drafted,” Driscoll said. “But just play the Academy games get a few wins, and Allies hopefully later in the year.”

He was able to play the Academy games and be named in the Allies squad, and though it is more and more likely the opportunities at the national carnival will be limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic in NSW and Victoria, Driscoll still put together some solid performances for the GIANTS Academy, slotting two goals from his four games, and averaged 8.3 disposals, 2.0 marks and 6.8 hitouts in that time, as well as an inside 50 per game.

Anderson rides the wave of a long footballing journey

THERE are few junior footballers who have experienced a journey quite like that of Angus Anderson. The Sydney Swans Academy captain hails from Sawtell, a coastal town in northern New South Wales, but has ticked off a plethora of other destinations en route to earning a National Draft Combine invite this month.

The six-hour drive to Sydney initially made it difficult for the 18-year-old to regularly participate with the Swans Academy, but he put his name in lights this year after spending a preseason with the Southport Sharks VFL side, and earning a spot on their supplementary list.

“I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to be the skipper for the Swans Academy,” Anderson said. “It’s a great honour really, especially since I’m not down there every weekend, so it just shows that the coaching staff and the team have had faith in me.”

Anderson travelled three hours up to the Gold Coast to train with Southport, ticking off a third state on his list of destinations. The second was Victoria, where he lived with his aunty and uncle while linking with the Eastern Ranges’ Under 16 NAB League program. In Melbourne, he also spent a term at Box Hill Secondary College and is currently completing his Year 12 studies back home in lockdown.

With a diverse range of experiences, Anderson has also been able to lean on a bunch of highly renowned coaches and staff. Among them are former AFL players, along with current and former NAB League coaches; including Jared Crouch and Chris Smith (Swans Academy), Leigh Clarke (Box Hill Secondary), Sean Toohey (Eastern Ranges), and Jarrod Field (Southport).

Also on that list of mentors is Anderson’s Victorian father, who coached him locally “all the way through” to senior level at the Sawtell-Toormina Saints, making him “a big influence” over his footballing career.

From enjoying the surf in the “laid back” town of Sawtell to “maturing as a person” while living with his aunty and uncle in Melbourne, Anderson has learned plenty over the last few years and gained a ravenous work-ethic. That trait translates to his football, where the big-bodied midfielder showcases a great appetite for contested ball.

“I feel like my contested ball is my strength,” Anderson said. “I’m a big-bodied mid who can win the ball and I’m slowly developing my outside game. “I can run out games well for a big-bodied mid, I like the physical aspect of AFL so I can tackle, and my hands around the ball and my ability to use both sides (are strengths).”

While leading the Swans Academy in a three-game NAB League stint this year, Anderson averaged 24 disposals, 3.5 tackles and a goal per game, as one of his side’s standout performers. Having already gotten a taste of senior football, he went on to represent the Swans at VFL level, and earned selection in the Under 19 Allies squad. Still, there is plenty the youngster is working on.

“I have heaps of areas I’m focusing on,” he said. “I feel like since I’m a bigger-bodied mid, I’ll be paired up with a couple of smaller mids occasionally. I’ve been working on my pack marking and I get to drift down forward I’ve been working on my goalkicking as well.”

Swans star Luke Parker is a player Anderson looks to mould his game on, while also noting the likes of Christian Petracca, Dustin Martin, Patrick Cripps, and Marcus Bontempelli as some of his favourite players. As one of just five NSW-ACT natives to earn a combine invite thus far, he is one step closer to joining them in the big leagues.

“Especially if I look back at myself at the beginning of the year, these achievements have been so big and I’ve been so proud of myself that I’ve made it this far,” he said. “It’s a huge honour to be a part of the initial 90 for the combine. “From a little kid coming from northern New South Wales, a little coastal town. “Barely anyone has been this far so it’s a huge honour.”

For now, Anderson is enjoying some of the extra down time he gets to relax in between school, going out for a surf every day and itching to get back on the park should the opportunity await.

He sought to thank all of his mentors and coaches along the way, Southport and the Sydney Swans for the opportunities they presented, and AFL North Coast for their support over the years.

Green striving for “attainable” goal with greater chance at high-level football

AFTER a 2020 season that “wasn’t as planned”, top-age GWS GIANTS Academy talent Josh Green was determined to have a greater crack at the AFL Draft after more chances to play high-level football. Selected in the Allies’ squad for the upcoming AFL Under 19 Championships, 2021, Green has not quite got his wish with the Canberra-based talent having to endure more uncertainty and delays this year. However, it is just as important to have got out to play alongside friends in the Academy.

“Got plenty of mates here in the GIANTS Academy, especially from Canberra, the boys love getting together so it’s great to play with all them. Sam Frost, Fraser Kelly, some of the boys here, Pat Voss what a jet, Sam Stening, Jack Driscoll, you love playing with those sort of boys,” Green said.

Unlike many other peers, Green has experience of going through he AFL Draft system, with another GIANT Academy talent in Tom having been picked up and starring in his second season, one of the leading contenders for the Rising Star Award.

“It was great for the whole family I guess, just seeing him live out his dream,” Green said. “Going so high in the draft, everyone was so proud of him but obviously there’s the thing that’s what I’m striving to do. “It shows it’s an attainable goal, but I’m obviously really proud of him as well.”

Much like Tom, the younger Green moved to Canberra as a child and took up the game where he immediately began grabbing every chance that came his way. Green said he hoped 2021 might provide him with more opportunities to showcase his ability.

“Moved to Canberra when I was about 10,” he said. “Started playing footy in Canberra, played for my school Marist College and just through there the GIANTS Academy pathways, really helped develop my footy. “So coming up through that program, there were heaps of opportunities and then obviously playing under 16s nationals and then some NEAFL and things and unfortunately last year the Under 18s year wasn’t as planned, so this year hopefully have another go at it.”

Whilst drawing some similarities, Green is essentially very different to his brother, with Josh able to play as a leading forward, or push up the ground and play inside or outside. He has no trouble finding the ball and is strong overhead, but was focusing on various athletic traits such as his speed and endurance.

“Ball-winning is the main strength. which helps in the middle,” he said. ‘But then also I feel like i can go forward and take marks as well so versatility helps as well. “My pace is probably the main one (improvement), in my (preseason) 20m sprint I didn’t go too well. “Then just being able to keep the fitness level up throughout the year to run out games.”

In 2021, Green might not have been able to run out for the Allies just yet – with doubt hovering over the availability of NSW-ACT talents in particular given government restrictions – but he put together a consistent NAB League Boys mini-season of 23 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.3 tackles and 1.3 goals in three games.

“Competitive” Voss looks for consistency

WATCH Patrick Voss once, and you will know exactly what he is about. The hard-at-it Oakleigh Chargers utility brings a physical, no nonsense kind of style to the field, sighting “competitiveness” as one of his strengths. With powerful fend-offs, bruising tackles and strong overhead marking, the 18-year-old has certainly lived up to that call in 2021.

The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants Academy member, who hails from Wagga Wagga, said during preseason that he was looking forward to getting a run in midfield this year. Having started up forward for Oakleigh before transitioning down back and enjoying spurts in the engine room, Voss has seen a bit of everything.

“I’ve improved on my fitness and that side of things,” Voss said. “I’m more a key forward but also through Giants and maybe Oakleigh I’m looking to play a bit in the midfield. I’ve been working on that side of the game so I’m looking forward to it.”

Along with the shift in roles, the versatile 192cm talent has been able to string together a good run of games at NAB League level despite the many disruptions. Voss turned out six times for the Chargers and once for the Giants Academy, linking with a few old mates in May. Some of the “consistency” he found lead to selection in the Under 19 Allies squad.

“A bit like the other boys, I want to play some consistent footy,” he said. “That’s with the Giants and I’m in Melbourne so hopefully I can play some consistent footy up there and get a few games with the Allies.

“I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Lachie Rankin, Alex Lukic, all the boys. Then with the Giants, probably my best mate Josh Fahey, I haven’t played with him for a while so it should be good.”

Patrick Voss representing the U16 NSW/ACT Rams in 2019

Developing a sense of consistency can be difficult at the best of times – especially in the current climate of uncertainty, or when you’re representing multiple teams. Voss has been tied to his local side, the Giants Academy, Oakleigh Chargers, Wesley College, and the NSW/ACT Rams and Allies at representative level over the years.

Still, he has managed to develop his game at the high level those sides compete at, with some more improvements to come.

“I’m pretty competitive and big-bodied so that works to my advantage a bit,” Voss said. “There’s lots of things I can improve on. Probably using both sides of my body and using clean hands, stuff like that.”

The season is quickly wrapping up and while hope of completing an improvised NAB League finals series or National Championships remains in the balance, Voss impressed enough to earn a National Combine invite. He is one of five talents out of the NSW/ACT pool to receive such honours, along with 85 other players around the nation.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Academy skipper Frost runs hot in 2021

PART of the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS Academy since he was 12, Sam Frost‘s journey to top-age status hasn’t always been smooth. They 18-year-old, who is also a talented cricketer, has battled injury along the way and worked hard to go from being a “fringe” player to eventually skippering the academy in 2021.

“I was always one who was on the fringe,” Frost said. “I wasn’t getting picked for a few teams and whatnot, but I was a cricketer as well so in Under 16s I chose footy over cricket and put all my effort into that. Obviously when you put your focus into one thing it makes it a lot better than when you’re separating your attention. I think it helped me break into the side for sure.

“I’ve had a fair few setbacks too. In 2015 I had two stress fractures in each foot, so I had to wear two moon boots for 13 weeks which wasn’t great. I had a stress fracture in my back, a broken finger, shin splints and a few other growing sort of things. I’ve been a bit unlucky with a few injuries but had a good preseason this year so I’m hoping to have a big season.”

Frost delivered on that hope in an outstanding NAB League stint with the GIANTS, leading them to four wins in as many games. The defender was remarkably consistent, averaging 28.8 disposals, 6.3 marks and 9.0 rebound 50s per outing, before going on to join the GIANTS’ VFL program for a handful of state league appearances.

As the centrepiece of his side’s back six, Frost showcased his weapons at the Under 19 level. Blessed with a booming kick and eye-catching intercept marking prowess, the budding prospect says he likes to play an “attacking” game across half-back, but still has some room to improve.

“I can probably work on my fitness aspects,” he said. “Also defensively, competing every time and not getting beaten. I just want to be really competitive.”

During preseason, Frost talked up GWS’ academy talent and said he was looking forward to “playing some good footy and getting a few wins” en route to his end goal of being drafted. While his earmarked clash against the Oakleigh Chargers did not eventuate, Frost still managed to tick off those goals.

“I’m looking forward to playing with all the boys,” he said. “I’ve got a few close mates in the group like Josh Fahey and Brad Rauter, but they’re all good players with a lot of talent. It’ll be good to play alongside them and I’m looking forward to it.”

Fahey dashes towards footballing dream

ARGUABLY this year’s leading Northern Academy prospect has turned out for two of them across his footballing journey, but returned home in 2021 as he looks to materialise his AFL dream. That prospect is Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy standout Josh Fahey, and Canberra is home to him.

His academy eligibility was up in the air last year as he moved with family up to Queensland, linking up with the Gold Coast Suns’ program and looking likely to enter the open draft this year. But schooling and the allure of a home within the Giants family brought Fahey back to his roots, also confirming his status as a GWS-eligible talent.

The dashing defender put his name in lights in April, turning out for the AFL Academy in a 130-point thrashing at the hands of Geelong VFL. While the result was not ideal, Fahey took out the MCC President’s Medal as best afield for the Under 19 team, collecting 23 disposals as part of a besieged back six.

During preseason, Fahey highlighted the showcase game as a landmark he was most looking forward to reaching this season. With the opportunity to better his own game by playing alongside the best footballers this country has to offer, Fahey shone.

“Being part of the AFL Academy, playing with the best players in the country I think I can learn a lot off them,” Fahey said. “I’m looking forward to playing with most of the Melbourne boys really. Obviously they’ve got that stereotype down there of how good they actually are… just playing with them I think is going to take my game to another level.”

While injury slightly disrupted his campaign early on, Fahey has also turned out for GWS at state league level this season. Across three games, his best outing came against reigning VFL premier Richmond in Round 5, where he notched 24 disposals. He continued his taste of senior football with local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra competition, making for quite a diverse schedule.

Hailing from the Canberra region and with family ties in other sporting codes, it has not always been footy for Fahey. The 17-year-old marks his Under 15 SSA All Australian selection as a turning point in his chosen career path, which lead him to state Under 16 selection and the aforementioned AFL Academy honours.

“I’ve only played (Australian football) for five years now,” Fahey said. “I grew up with League and Union my whole life because dad coached Rugby Union at a pretty high level… so I’ve been here for five years and don’t regret a thing coming over.”

“Under 15s was the main thing when I made the All Australian team and was only playing at club level every now and then. That’s probably the main thing that got me over the line really.”

Fahey says tackling is the main facet of either rugby code he has managed to transfer to football. Though it is a strength, the 186cm prospect’s speed and penetrative kick are arguably his most eye-catching traits.

“I wouldn’t say (tackling) is my greatest strength but it’s maybe above average compared to others,” he said. “At the end of the day my game comes down to my kicking and I judge how impactful I was on the field that day through my kicking and targets.”

“The main thing I’m working on is taking my aerial game to another level. Being 186cm I think I can really use that to my advantage this year.”

While current and future opportunities are slightly blurred as most of the nation endures lockdown protocols, Fahey’s end goal is clear – get drafted. The run-and-gun defender has shown top 25 potential at his peak, though the Giants will likely hope to keep that under wraps.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Versatile Eldridge continues to “find her feet”

WITH only a couple of years of Australian football experience under her belt, North Adelaide utiltiy Jorja Eldridge has had plenty of learning to do in a short space of time. The 19-year-old Whyalla native hails from an ever-fabled basketball background, but committed to football last year and eventually cracked a very strong Roosters side in 2020, as a train-on player.

Eldridge played two SANFL Women’s games last year and added the same amount in 2021, while also earning a spot in South Australia’s Under 19 National Championships squad. Having moved down to Adelaide and taken up a part-time receptionist job at the club, she says she is now starting to “find [her] feet”.

“This season I’ve moved to Adelaide and I trained way more with North Adelaide in pre-season and in-season, so that’s helped me a lot,” Eldridge said.

“At the moment I’m studying exercise and sports science at university and I’m currently working as a casual receptionist at North Adelaide Football Club as well, so that’s taking up most of my time on top of football training.”

Having spent plenty of time around the club, Eldridge has also been able to lean on some key mentors and develop her own craft as a player who can impact across multiple positions. The 173cm prospect said she hadn’t “done too badly” once selected for North in Round 4, and in her three Under 19 carnival outings.

Krissie Steen (North Adelaide coach) told me I just need to keep running, so my sprint efforts are most important to improve on,” she said. “I’ve actually had a new position this season which was being a back-up ruck for North Adelaide, rotating forward and on-ball. With that I feel that I’ve had to develop my skills a lot more, going through the midfield and getting it into the forwardline as well.

“My mentor at North Adelaide has definitely (Steen)… she’s basically been my only coach for football so she has definitely helped me along my journey. Kristi Harvey has definitely taken me under her wing and showed me the ropes. Then obviously at a higher level, the likes of Anne Hatchard (are) really good with younger girls and other players, they’re really inspiring.”

A supporter of the Crows’ AFLW team, Eldridge looks towards Hatchard and Melbourne forward Tayla Harris for inspiration on her own game. While there are still areas for improvement, the talented multi-sport athlete has also been able to transfer some handy traits over from other codes.

“A strength of mine is that I’m able to really use my body well,” Eldridge said. “From a basketball and netball perspective, I’ve had to grow up with the one-on-one body contact and finding the player. I do struggle sometimes with finding my player in defence because I like to zone off and intercept the ball, but then coming to football it’s a bit harder to do that.

“Around the ground stoppages and in the ruck are definitely my strengths (too), and I’ve got pretty good distance on my kick.”

With the AFLW currently holding expansion talks, more and more South Australian prospects like Eldridge are well poised to get the chance to showcase their development at the highest level in years to come.

Cats culture the key to VFLW success

GEELONG’S all-in, one-club culture is a key reason for the club reaching the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final according to deputy vice-captain Breanna Beckley. The Cats had a disappointing AFL Women’s season, collecting just the one win in the final round against fellow winless side Gold Coast Suns, but have turned it around in the VFLW season to face the undefeated Collingwood.

“I think just our culture and our team is just the biggest thing,” Beckley said. “I think from staffing group to players I think it has been unreal on and off the field, what we can do together and I think it really shows how we play together on the field. “We’re not there individually, we’re there to work together and put a good game together.”

Geelong last reached the VFLW Grand Final in 2019, when it went down to Hawthorn, but took out the minor premier Magpies on their way to the last match of the season. The Cats knocked off Collingwood at the very stadium they will run out on Sunday – ETU Stadium – which will give them confidence. When asked about being able to turn the tables on the Magpies having lost to them three times this season, Beckley said there was not much the Cats needed to do as they had been tight contests previously.

“Yeah I think they have been very close. I don’t think there’s too much tweaking we have to do to get things right. But I think a couple of things internally, change of play and that sort of thing,” she said. “Hopefully we can do that and hopefully get the win.”

The Magpies have had to wait 29 days between matches since defeating Essendon in the semi-finals. Geelong got back out for a competitive match last Saturday where they booked their grand final spot following an impressive second half against the Bombers. Whether or not it is an advantage is yet to be seen, but Beckley and her teammates are pleased they got a competitive match in.

I guess it could be (an advantage),” Beckley said. “I think Essendon are strong competition, the physicality is a big thing and hopefully an advantage that could work for us on the weekend.”

As for the underdog tag, Beckley said her teammates had “nothing to lose” and it was a “huge” opportunity. Whilst no one had managed to defeat the Magpies in 2021, both sides start equal at the first bounce, and the Cats were up for the challenge. The leader said she was looking forward to seeing what acting skipper Claudia Gunjaca – one of three Cats to be drafted into the AFLW in the most recent AFLW Draft – could produce, and was her key player to watch.

It’s always a tough one. There will always be people who are finals players,” Beckley said. “But I think Claud’s (Gunjaca) our stand-in captain had a ripper last week and hopefully she can do it again. “I think she can take some good marks and will be one to watch.”

Beckley said the impact of the AFLW players coming back to the VFLW program had been sensational, with their attitude and support first rate. She said the trio of players set to step up to the elite level next season had throughly deserved it and she was looking forward to what they would produce there.

“The girls are absolutely amazing and I think a credit to them that they can just come in and still be themselves,” she said. “We’re still trying to achieve the same thing. “Especially for our girls who got drafted, they’re such superstars on and off the field, just a credit to them and their AFL should shine in the next few years.”

Looking at the opposition, Beckley said AFLW spearhead Chloe Molloy would be a definite target to keep a close eye on with the “superstar” capable of taking over a match. She said whoever was awarded the job to nullify her would have the confidence of their teammates.

I don’t think they’d shy away from the challenge,” Beckley said. “I do think whoever does go on her will do a great job and we back them in every time so yeah it will be a good contest.”

Geelong was due to face Collingwood at ETU Stadium on Sunday with the match starting from 1:15pm, but Victoria’s latest snap lockdown has put a spanner in the works.

Unique community aspects attracts Morriss to Aussie rules

HAVING switched back and forth between the oblong and round ball games of football, Glenelg’s Tamsyn Morriss eventually picked the Australian version after falling in love with the community on and off the field. Unlike many female junior footballers coming through the pathway, Morriss picked up a Sherrin when she was quite young, and while there were times where she did not play, returned to the sport and has not looked back.

“I started when I was five,” Morriss said. “My dad back in the day used to play footy so I obviously got it from him and he obviously enforced it into me and I’ve loved it ever since.”

“I started at Auskick when I was five, so did that when I was five and six. “Moved over to soccer, did a little bit of soccer. “Came back, played with the boys for about three years. “Then obviously went back and forth between soccer but then found girls footy and haven’t moved back to soccer ever since.”

Morriss said she just “loved the community” and that it was different to all other sports in the way teammates and those within the club supported each other. That feeling was maximised during the SANFL Women’s season, with Morriss playing in a premiership alongside her Glenelg teammates. When speaking to Draft Central at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Morriss said she has moved into a higher backline role which released her to provide more offensive drive, and that in term improved her game exponentially.

“Yeah I feel like I’ve definitely grown since my last season,” Morriss said. “Obviously because of COVID we couldn’t have a full season, we played four games at SANFL and then had a break and played another six. “So I feel like it’s definitely better having a structured season.”

“I’ve been playing more of a higher backline role. “So being moved from a back pocket and midfield to just a straight run through the half-back flank and I’ve been loving it, loving the run”

Whilst the South Australian said she was hoping to add more offensive elements to her defensively-minded game, Morriss said it was improving and regarded her disposal and run as some of her strengths.

“Definitely my run and carry and being able to hit targets downfield (are strengths),” Morriss said. “Obviously if you get further down back, you’re kind of stuck in between halfway mark and the goals. “But half-back flank you can run up and down the field, get a bit more run through your legs and what not.”

Balancing her football with working as a lifeguard at a local swimming centre, the Brisbane supporter said she looked up to Lauren Arnell for her leadership around the field, as well as the Adelaide Crows players who filter through the SANFL Women’s. Closer to home, it was no surprise to hear of her main inspirations along the journey.

“I definitely have to say my mum and dad,” Morriss said. “Mostly my dad because he used to play football back in the day and he obviously gives me little tips and tricks to do on the field and encourages me all the way.”

But has Morriss overtaken her father in terms of ability?

I don’t know, maybe not yet, but hoping to one day,” she said.