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Q&A: Ally Morphett & India Lehman (Murray Bushrangers)

THE 2021 NAB League Girls season bounces down on Saturday, and Draft Central‘s coverage of the elite talent pathway is heating up. We chatted to a raft of prospects at the recent NAB League Girls preseason testing day, hosted by Rookie Me, with a running theme between the players their eagerness to get back to competitive action after an 11-month layoff.

Murray Bushrangers products Ally Morphett and India Lehman were among them, two top-agers keen to show their worth in 2021 as draft-eligible talents. Morphett is a ruck/key forward who was named in this year’s AFLW Academy, while Lehman is a roving small who runs through the midfield and forwardline.

Check out what they had to say on the season ahead in a Q&A special, with video content from their Bushies teammates set to hit our YouTube channel in the coming days.

>> 2021 Season Preview: Murray Bushrangers 

Q&A

Q: What has your footballing journey been like so far?

Morphett (AM): “It started in 2018, I got asked by one of my school teachers to come and play school footy. “I’ve been around footy my whole life, my family and parents have always been into it so why not? (I) just jumped into it, had a go. “I suppose my parents and coaches saw potential in me and I got invited to Riverina trials and it just kept going further and further from then, on.”

Lehman (IL): “I started back when I was a young one, my local town had a little Auskick program happening. “There wasn’t very many of us, there were only a couple of little girls running around. “I remember only one of my close mates was with me then, running around the Auskick field. “There was a bit of primary school footy after and mainly school footy got me into where I am now.”

Q: What kind of role or position are you looking to play this season?

AM: “Most people see me more as a ruck but I would like to be a bit more of a versatile player and be more a key forward as well. “(Playing forward) is fun but I do enjoy both roles very much.”

IL: “I’ll look to hopefully play in the midfield, keep in my position there. “I look to be a better player each game, improving my game, learning more skills and applying them.”

Q: What are your best on-field strengths?

AM: “My strengths would probably be strength in the air and in the ruck… and probably just a big kick as well.”

IL: “My strengths I’d see as speed, I’ve definitely got that on me. “I’m good to just pick up the ball, get on the burners and take on the grass, taking on the game.”

Q: What are you still looking to improve on?

AM: “Obviously my marking, there’s always room for improvement in every area but probably my marking most. “I’d like to be a lot more strong.”

IL: “I’m looking to build on just overall endurance to keep running as long as possible, as much as I can. “And I guess you can never have clean enough hands.”

Q: Who have been your biggest inspirations?

AM: “Definitely my parents – my parents work just as hard as me, if not more. “They commit a lot to me playing football, they have to miss out on work all the time and I don’t know how they manage to get time to take me to games and training and everything, so I appreciate their help.”

IL: Definitely Tayla Harris, making an image in the AFLW world for all the young girls. “And in recent events, Tarni Evans, coming from the club that I’m playing for and making it into the big leagues is pretty inspiring.”

Q: What are some of your goals for 2021?

AM: “Just to keep pushing through and trying to get better and better every time because there’s always room for improvement. “And probably just to be a more versatile player.”

IL: “The goal is to just have an injury-free season, get through the season and hopefully get noticed really.”

Q: What has the travel factor been like for you over your journey?

AM: During preseason we did two and a half hours down to Wangaratta just for training, around twice a week. “Then obviously during season we had to travel about five hours up to Melbourne for games and sometimes two and a half for local games at Wangaratta. “Canberra’s around the same.”

Q: How good was it being able to play football during 2020?

AM: “Lucky we live where we do because we travel down to Victoria and since coronavirus happened, luckily enough Canberra kept pushing through with their football so we were lucky enough to put our time into their league and travel down there every week.”

Murray Bushrangers Talent Operations Lead Mick Wilson on…

Morphett: “Ally’s a very talented sportsperson. “She competes really well, is really skilled. “She competes well above her head and has played football for a while now so has the footy nous.”

Lehman: “India Lehman is a smaller player. “She’s a rover/defensive pressure forward. “All these girls are really talented players, we didn’t get to see much of them last year, but we’ve got a really good opportunity to see them this year which is great.”

Matser gaining confidence ahead of season 2021

THE 2021 NAB League Girls season is set to bounce down on Saturday, with players looking forward to their first taste of competitive action for nearly 12 months. Gippsland Power is one of the sides in action on opening day, poised against the Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve.

Power tall, Grace Matser is one prospect looking to impress in her draft year, with the 186cm ruck readying for her first outing in Gippsland colours since April 2019. The high-level basketballer managed six games as a bottom-ager that year but did not feature in the shortened 2020 season, making her layoff even longer than some.

Having committed to football, the developing key position player is adapting to the code and has made some serious strides in preseason. Gippsland coach Rhett McLennan identified her as a “standout” on the track thus far.

“I think (there have been) two real standouts,” McLennan said. “Grace Matser, she’s our ruck from Korumburra, she’s done a power of work over that lockdown period and showed great self-motivation. “To get herself in fantastic condition and still develop has been sensational.”

Matser attended the NAB League Girls preseason testing event hosted by Rookie Me, and told Draft Central of some of the attributes she is looking to bring to the fore across season 2021. Given she ticks the ‘basketball background’ box, Matser says some of those skills have transferred into her football.

“I feel like I can read the ball really well,” she said. “From basketball you’ve got to know how to read the play so I can tell where everything’s going. Also just general craft around the ruck and all that kind of stuff.”

“I (want to) just to be a real presence around the club, be a real voice out there and obviously have that confidence as well. Also hopefully getting drafted to an (AFLW) team would be amazing

On the other hand, Matser is still developing parts of her game which, as a tall player, will inevitably help her make a bigger and more consistent impact on games. In these aspects, the 18-year-old says confidence is key.

“Definitely my confidence around the ball (is an area of improvement),” she said. Especially in packs, being able to be that tall target around the ground.”

Having only begun her footballing journey in 2017, Matser’s rate of development has been steep. The raw and athletic prospect represented Vic Country’s Under 16 side in 2019 and says among her favourite aspects of the game is its “team environment.”

“I started in 2017, just with the local youth girls team down at Korumburra and went to try out for the Gippsland Power that same year,” she said. “I was a bit young to play but I’ve been with them for four years and I’m absolutely loving it.

“I just love the team environment, just how the girls get around each other and how they’re so supportive. Also the physicality of it as well.”

Expect to see Matser feature prominently in the Power’s NAB League Girls campaign this year, with some exciting talent coming out of the Country region once again.

The Draft Central crew also chatted to a number of Matser’s teammates and young guns from around the competition on preseason testing day, all of which can be viewed on our YouTube channel across the coming days in the brand new ‘At the Combine’ series. Don’t forget to subscribe for more!

WATCH: The Draft Central YouTube trailer

IN an exciting development, Draft Central has created a brand new YouTube channel and is set to provide keen draft enthusiasts with some exciting content in the days leading up to Wednesday’s 2020 AFL Draft.

Launched just this week, the channel’s first video is up. Catch a glimpse of the Draft Central team led by Chief Editor Peter Williams, as he gives a teaser to what content is to come this week. In the build up to draft day on December 9, a former NAB League coach will join us, we’ll have our phantom draft published, a bidding system explainer video uploaded, and a Q&A special featured all within a couple of days.

With club-by-club reviews to look forward to post-draft, there will be something for everybody as the team looks to expand its AFL Draft coverage heading into 2021. Looking beyond the AFL Draft, there will also be content for the Under 18s competitions next year for both boys and girls, as well as mixed sports content.

For now, the team is looking to build its YouTube subscriber base, so be sure to hit that subscribe button to not miss out on any content in the lead-up or post-draft next week.

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