New SUNS recruit Claudia Whitfort is quickly adapting to life on the Gold Coast.
Gone are the cold and dreary Melbourne mornings, replaced by warm and sunny Queensland days.
The 22-year-old has settled into suburb Palm Beach with her partner who has also relocated from Victoria, while having family close by on the Sunshine Coast as well.
After undergoing 14 days of hotel quarantine, Whitfort has been able to join her teammates at the SUNS in recent weeks and was excited to officially get underway for day one of pre-season on Wednesday night.
She’s one of just a handful of players throughout the league to have been on three AFLW lists, but with that comes valuable experience she is hoping to impart on the playing group.
“I think with all my experience there’s a heap of opportunity at this club,” Whitfort said.
“That was one of the key reasons I came was because there was heaps of opportunity for me as a player in the midfield to get a lot more game time and influence the game a lot more here.
“I’m still one of the younger members of the team being only 22 but with the five years of experience I’ve had I think I can bring a lot of leadership qualities to the team and a lot of experience behind me as well.”
Whitfort has a strong football resume behind her already.
She played her first two seasons with Melbourne before joining St Kilda, playing 10 games in two years with the Saints.
Last season saw her play regular AFLW football, averaging 11 disposals from seven games which culminated in her selection in the AFLPA 22Under22 squad.
Joining the SUNS in the off-season, Whitfort hopes to bring her strengths to the group wherever possible.
“I think my speed and my power is definitely one of my key attributes and I’m really looking forward to be able to use them in the midfield this year both inside and out,” Whitfort said.
“I’ve got a netball background so I’ve got a bit of agility behind me as well which is really important in the midfield and that younger leadership as well.”
The midfielder has quickly formed strong bonds with her teammates, which was helped by having played with a number of them in Victoria previously.
Despite not being at the club for last year’s campaign, she says she has felt the desire from her teammates to improve and climb up the ladder in 2022.
“They’re really wanting to step it up from last year,” Whitfort said.
“I know already from just the feedback the girls have had that the positive vibes are so much better this year than they were last year so I’m really excited for the growth of the club this year.”