Top SUNS recruit ready to let her performance do the talking
The SUNS first draft pick in 2020 Annise Bradfield has used the expectation of being a talented junior to land her a gig in the SUNS first clash of the AFLW season.
With six years of experience under her belt, Bradfield used her talent which got her noticed by scouts at the draft to be noticed by those at the selection table.
“(Being the club’s top draft pick in 2020) played on my mind a little bit but I tried just to block it out and focus on my performance,” she said.
“All the other girls that got drafted and then are playing again in round one, we just really deserved it and have all worked really hard.”
But despite her talent and the label of being 2020’s number 7 draft pick, Bradfield didn’t get ahead of herself, making for a few emotionally charged days leading into the game.
“I found out on Wednesday night and just kept it within the family, everyone’s really excited,” she said.
“I don’t think anything could wipe the smile off my face when I found out.”
Bess makes the best of a bad situation
AFLW debutant Bess Keaney will live out a dream once thought to be shot in Round 1, walking out for the SUNS after a tough journey onto their list.
After breaking her leg in the VFLW in 2019, before a disrupted 2020 season, many would have pulled the curtains – but not Bess.
“I broke my leg in July 2019 just in a training accident, a bit of bad luck so I missed out on the second half of that season,” she said.
“I was rehabbing well and was ready to come back for round 1 of 2020 but as we know it didn’t get underway in Melbourne.
“When I broke my leg there was a good chance that was it for competitive footy for me, but things went my way, surgeries went well and a stroke of good luck and here I am.”
But with nothing holding her back, Keaney’s grit and determination has seen her make an AFLW list – complete with a fully healed leg – to make her long awaited debut aged 29 on Saturday.
“I’m just so thrilled the SUNS have given me the opportunity to be on the list and then to get named to play in round one at Metricon (Stadium) is a real privilege,” she said.
“My whole footy career it’s all been about giving it a crack and seeing how far I can get with it so there was never any expectation, even when I was having a chat with the SUNS - it was very much ‘let’s just take a look and see’.”
“I’ve had longer on the sidelines than I normally would have for the injury but the opportunity came knocking from Gold Coast, so it’s awesome my next game will be on Metricon for the SUNS.”
Knockbacks lever Levi into a round 1 debut
Maddi Levi shed tears of joy upon learning she’d be playing in Round 1 with the SUNS AFLW team, her debut for the club.
While learning of her debut was a surprise, Levi went one better with her family
“If you asked me two years ago I didn’t think I’d be on a list, let alone playing the first game but I’ve put in the work and tried really hard to try and get myself noticed for this round 1. My instant emotion, I did shed a few tears, just of surrealism,” Levi said.
“At first I told (my family) I didn’t get in the team just to see their reaction, then they were super stoked when I said I had made the team, they were running and jumping around.”
But it hasn’t all been fun and games for the former dancer and rugby sevens turned-footballer, who had her fair share of bad news at the selection table.
“I’ve always been the shadow and kind of in the bleachers, I’d always go to trials but would just get knocked back or get picked as a shadow,” Levi said.
“I was always told ‘you’re so close, just keep going’ and always at the back of my mind used that for a drive.”
It’s made her debut all the more sweet, and her determination to maintain her position much stronger.
“I wouldn’t be the athlete I am today if it wasn’t for those setbacks and the challenges to get such a strong driven mindset,” Levi said.
“If you have a dream and get knocked back, don’t just stop there. If you want it you can work for it and you can make it happen.”
Single’s sporting background propels her into SUNS debut
With a background of a high level of rugby sevens, SUNS AFLW debutant Lucy Single is one to watch breaking the lines and bursting with energy.
While different sports, there are similarities Single can translate from Sevens to Aussie Rules to make her game stand out.
“I’d like to think it’ll help me with my agility, breaking through a pack and those aspects of a game,” she said.
“There’s a lot of the same thing, catching and kicking the ball, running, big bursts of energy, hopefully rugby sevens will help me out there.”
One of four 18-year-olds debuting, Single said her captains have made great role models and mentors around the club – both on and off the field.
“I feel like most of the girls have become big sisters to me,” she said.
“The two captains Hannah Dunn and Sam Virgo, both have taken to not only the captain role but also the big sister role and have definitely looked after me in my first year.”
But just as they will look after her on Saturday, she will do her bit to look after the team.
“There’s an element of nervousness and excitement at the same time so I’m pretty excited to see how we go as a team,” she said.
Daisy to bloom on Metricon
The smallest of the SUNS five AFLW debutants on Saturday, Daisy D’Arcy will pack a punch as she makes a foray into what could be her favourite sport yet.
Having also played rugby sevens, soccer and cricket, D’Arcy is relatively new to the sport but is keen to get her hands on the ball.
“I’ve only played footy for three years now, going on four,” she said.
“I’ve played every sport you could imagine … at the moment footy is definitely one of the favourite ones.”
D’Arcy has been thankful for the support everyone around the club has given her and hopes her natural nerves settle ahead of the game.
“The whole team has helped, they’ve been very supportive in the push for making me better and I’m definitely learning new things,” she said.
“I’m super excited and keen to play some footy, obviously I’m very nervous but it should be good once we’re out there.”