K rock Football

Denby ready for debut

Geelong AFLW young gun Denby Taylor. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

DENBY Taylor is confident an emphasis on fitness following a bout of glandular fever and maintaining focus has her ready to make an immediate impact at AFLW level.

The talented teenager, who the Cats used pick No.20 in last year’s National Draft on, missed out playing alongside Geelong Falcons’ 2018 TAC Cup premiership teammates and fellow draftees Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell in the VFLW grand final after being diagnosed mid-season.

“I definitely felt a little bit behind at that point,” Taylor said.

“But I knew speaking to the Cats earlier that they were going to support me through it all and help me out.

“I wasn’t too worried about it.”

Despite playing her first competitive match since May, Taylor drew praise for her performance in the practice match win over Carlton on January 19 in what was her first match in open-age competition.

She regularly repelled forward thrusts from the Blues in a role not too dissimilar to the one that made her a key component of the Falcons’ flag.

“It was the first game against bigger bodies and I definitely felt it; they’re a lot stronger than the 18-year-old girls,” Taylor said.

“Playing that style of footy is just awesome. It’s so enjoyable.”

Assistant coach and All-Australian defender Tom Stewart has been a key player in Taylor’s development since pre-season started.

“Before I came here my favourite player was Tom Stewart,” she said.

“Then I rocked up and I was like, “oh my goodness, he’s my backline coach”.

“It’s exciting to learn off my favourite player.”

Taylor’s football journey hasn’t been dissimilar to the path followed by her male counterparts.

She starred at Youth Girls level with Newtown & Chilwell, was part of the Falcons junior representative squads before spending two years in the TAC Cup, and represented Vic Country.

However, when that journey started there was no AFLW competition for young girls to aspire to.

“It’s definitely not something I thought about when I was younger; it wasn’t a possibility,” Taylor said.

“Now that it is, it’s crazy – it’s happened so quick.”

The youngest of four sisters in the Taylor household, the Sacred Heart College graduate says parents Pete and Pauline have been massive supporters since their daughter decided a football oval was more enticing than a netball court.

“Mum and Dad have been a huge part of my footy over the past few years,” Taylor said.

“Dad didn’t get a son, so I think this pretty surreal for him watching his daughter go out.

“Mum’s been huge as well. She’s always come along to the games, and team managed.

“She can’t kicked the footy as well as Dad can, but she tries her best.

“I did hook one of my sisters up with a pair of footy boots one season and made her play a season.

“She enjoyed it, but no more seasons after that.”

Twitter: @tom_king79