K rock Football

Layton up for baptism of fire

Collingwood’s Sharni Layton (right) and Geelong’s Anna Teague ahead of Saturday’s clash at GMHBA Stadium. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

COLLINGWOOD code-jumper Sharni Layton has taken great strides during a three- month AFLW crash course, but the former netball star knows she’s in for a baptism of fire when she makes her debut against Geelong.

Layton will go head-to-head with experienced Cats ruck Aasta O’Connor in the AFLW season-opener at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.

Her duel with the former Western Bulldogs premiership star will be one of the key battles in the historic clash in front of around 20,000 fans.

It’s a scenario she couldn’t have envisioned after a torrid introduction to her new Collingwood teammates in November.

“My first training session I just got pushed over … I thought I was tough but it turns out I wasn’t,” Layton told reporters with a wry smile.

“That first training session was hard and I know that this first game will be just as hard but I’m going to give the team absolutely everything I’ve got and everything I’ve learnt over the last few months.

“Aasta is amazing opposition so the opportunity to start in my first game against one of the best is great … it’s really going to show me where I’m at and where I need to improve.

“I’ve come a very long way in three months but I have a very long way to go.”

Layton, a two-time world championship winner with the Australian Diamonds, initially gave herself no chance of playing this weekend.

But coach Wayne Siekman was impressed with her determination to come to grips with the physical and mental demands of her adopted sport.

“I haven’t seen someone who could drop a chest mark so easily,” he said, smiling broadly.

“But she will jump and mark the ball at its highest point in her hands and that’s harder to do. Her hands are unbelievable.

“She’s come a long way in three months but whatever she does this year she’s going to be better next year and the year after.”

© AAP 2019