K rock Football

At Selection – AFLW Round 1

YOUNG gun Nina Morrison will play her first match in just over 12 months and three debutants – including the club’s first father-daughter – will make their debut when Geelong meets Fremantle to open the AFLW season at Fremantle Oval on Sunday.

Millie Brown, daughter of former Cats forward Paul, and fellow October draftees Amy McDonald and Madi Maguire will pull on the Hoops at the highest level for the first time, having previously represented the club in VFLW action.

“It’s always a fantastic occasion when someone makes their debut,” coach Paul Hood said.

“The three of those players have actually spent time in our program; Amy for two years, Madi for three, and Millie first came here when she was part of the AFL Academy, which was almost two years ago.

“So, for all of us to have seen the work those three have done – different journeys, but great stories each of them – it’s going to be really exciting for the group.”

Morrison, 19, appeared set to live up to the hype around being the first pick in the 2018 National Draft after an impressive performance in Geelong’s opening round win over Collingwood last year.

However, less than a week later her season was over when she ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament at training ahead of Round 2.

“She’s a pretty competitive person, Nina. I think she will be super excited,” Hood said.

“Off the back of an ACL, you’ve got to wait a while to play again. She’s been working so hard, and she’s going to have a really great game, I’m sure.

“We don’t need her to go out there and be a superstar. We just need her to go out there with a smile on her face and really enjoy the day, and that will be a great result for her and our team.”

As well as Morrison, veteran ruck Aasta O’Connor and 2019 All-Australian squad member Maddy McMahon will be playing their first competitive matches since last season.

Regular 2019 faces, Cassie Blakeway, Maddi Boyd and Kate Darby, who all played seven of Geelong’s eight matches last year, including the preliminary final loss to Adelaide, have been squeezed out of the squad of 23.

“It is a sign of our depth that we’ve got some players who have played plenty of footy with us that are missing out this week,” Hood said.

“That puts selection pressure on everyone, and that actually means you’ve got a healthy squad, and it’s good competition within the team for spots that can help drive us forward throughout the season.”

Twitter: @tom_king79