Lions’ women “up for the contest”

CRAIG Starcevich hasn’t locked in his ideal team, but he knows he wants the Brisbane Lions to play an attractive brand of football in the new AFLW competition.

The Lions coach said the first few months in charge had been a tremendous learning exercise for him, as much as it was for his players.

But with less than two weeks following the Christmas break to prepare for a practice match against Greater Western Sydney, followed by the competition-opener away to Melbourne on February 5, Starcevich said he was starting to get a good handle on business.

In marquee players Tayla Harris and Sabrina Frederick-Traub, the Lions are well equipped with tall forwards.

In Kaitlyn Ashmore, Emily Bates and Kate McCarthy, they are blessed with speed, while the likes of captain Emma Zielke and Jessica Wuetschner will ensure the Lions have good ball-users and decision-makers.

Starcevich said it was a “bit hard to know” exactly how his team would play.

“There are some things we’d like to happen,” he said.

“We’ve got a couple of decent tall forwards, we’ve got good speed and run and we’ve got good defenders.

“We’ve got some nice balance. I know we’re pretty young compared to some other teams, which is a good thing.

“Hopefully, it’s an attractive brand of football.”

Aside from rookie Delissa Kimmince, who captains the Brisbane Heat Women’s Big Bash League cricket team, and young forward Shannon Campbell, who has just completed a soccer scholarship in the United States, the Lions have had the entire list on board through pre-season.

Starcevich said a number of players had exceeded his expectations during early stages of preparation for the NAB AFL Women’s competition.

“There’s a lot we’ve thrown at them,” he said.

“We’ve moved quickly into game simulation and our game plan.

“A handful of our really skilled girls could get by without much preparation.

“They’re the ones who have improved really quickly in an elite environment.”

Starcevich was full of praise for Tasmanian duo Wuetschner (a midfielder who can also play as a small forward) and Brittany Gibson (speedy midfielder or half-back), who had been particularly impressive.

Although wary of setting goals for the competition’s inaugural season, he said opposition clubs could expect the Lions to be “up for the contest and competing. That’s a nice starting point.”

By Michael Whiting for www.afl.com.au

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