A MIDFIELD transition has made Norwood’s Jade Halfpenny get “fitter” and work “faster” in 2021. The versatile prospect had previously cut her teeth as a forward, but at 175cm, staked her claim as a tall on-baller in the Redlegs’ most recent SANFL Women’s campaign.
“It’s definitely a lot faster,” Halfpenny said. “I’ve had to get a lot fitter, that’s what preseason was for obviously. “But it’s been really good because I feel like I’ve been able to show a different side of myself and work a bit harder in games.
“I do like forward because I like kicking goals – who doesn’t like kicking goals? “But I like midfield as well because you do get to be involved a bit more.”
As a top-ager who was overlooked at last year’s draft, the move has allowed Halfpenny to showcase improvement and added strings to her bow. While her strengths have come to the fore in the new role, Halfpenny also outlined some fundamental areas for improvement.
“Being a bigger player, definitely my speed [is a strength],” she said. “A lot of taller players aren’t able to move as quickly. My strength as well, being a bigger body has definitely helped out a lot.
“[I’m working on] the basics like kicking, one-percenters, handballing. Just fine-tuning.”
Halfpenny was a mainstay in Norwood’s minor premiership-winning SANFLW season this year, averaging 10.6 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.1 tackles across 11 games. The Redlegs fell short of the flag, but Halfpenny said it was “really good to be winning” and “seeing some results for all the hard work” the team had put in.
Her outstanding individual form was also enough to see her represent her state at the AFLW Under 19 National Championships. Having played in the senior grade for multiple seasons now, the 19-year-old was pleased to play and train alongside a new bunch of teammates.
“It’s been really good because obviously it’s been a couple of years since I’ve solely been with a group of people who are similar in age,” she said. “It’s good to be exposed to that and also train alongside people that I generally play against, and get to know them personally.”
Halfpenny lauded the influence of of coaches along the journey, from those who “saw a lot of potential” in her as a junior, to the Norwood and state program staff who have helped accelerate her development. She has come a long way since starting out at local club, Golden Grove.
“I started playing local footy when I was 15 at Golden Grove,” she said. “From there I did the Under 17 development squads with Norwood for three years, and at the end of my last year they invited me to come out and train with the senior side and it just went (on) from there.
“My coaches from junior level saw a lot of potential in me from younger ages and helped me get to where I am now. The coaches at Norwood and even here in the state program have all been really helpful.”