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Hardiman: Defenders have stepped up in Davey’s absence

Womens Footy | Bri Davey Bri Davey joined the panel on Womens Footy last night, footage courtesy of Fox Footy.

Between work, training, games and an online personal training course, Blues defender Danielle Hardiman doesn’t have time for much else. 

Despite that, on Friday she found some time on her lunch break to dash out to her car and take an over-the-phone interview.   

Having had close to a week to consider the loss against Adelaide the Saturday before, Hardiman was clear on what went wrong, and what went right for the Game Changers.   

“I thought we were a lot harder at the ball, I think we played a lot more of our game following that Bulldogs game,” Hardiman said.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t convert when we got it into our forward 50. 

“We were all in the right spirits for the game. We weren’t down or anything, so it just unfortunate it didn’t go the way we wanted,” she said.  

On the night Hardiman contributed six uncontested possessions, eight disposals and four rebound 50s for the Blues – an effort she described as “not too bad.”

Danielle Hardiman in full flight. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“I played on Perkins for a bit, so my role was to make sure she wasn’t scoring too much, being down the back end making sure I’m communicating with all the girls,” Hardiman said. 

“They are all amazing to work with, so it makes my job nice and easy. We did pretty well, I think, to keep getting the ball out of the backline, but unfortunately it just kept coming back in,” she said. 

Since captain Bri Davey’s absence from the Blues’ backline with an ACL injury, the Game Changers haven’t managed to amass a win. What started as a promising season seemed to take a nosedive with a 73 point-loss to the Bulldogs in Round 4.    

Hardiman says the players have done well in stepping up in the reigning Best and Fairest’s winners absence across the backline. 

“All the girls have done well,” she said.

“We’ve still got Bri there at half-time and before the game. She’s always making sure we’re still getting talked to and she gives us a lot of feedback as well.

“Obviously having that main person out, and the one that really held us together has been hard, but I think we’ve all really grown together, and it’s made me really step up in my communication and feedback.  

“I think that’s the same with all the other girls. We’ve got Kez (Kerryn Harrington) as well down there and she’s really stepped up in the backline. 

"She’s able to give us that feedback that Bri Davey was giving, and that’s really good for her season as well.

“So it will be great to have Bri back next year, but this year I think we’ve done quite well.  

Damien Keeping returned from illness – which sidelined him in Round 2 and 3 – to his coaching role in Rounds 4 and 5. 

While he wasn’t pleased with last week’s loss, he saw improvement from the previous week, according to Hardiman. 

“He said our impact and going in hard had improved a lot since that Bulldogs game, but we just couldn’t convert those goals,” she said.

“His message was that there’s things we need to work on and we’re hoping to improve a lot against Melbourne this week.

Carlton defender Danielle Hardiman. (Photo: AFL Photos)

“He was happy with all the tackling and how hard all the players were going in.  

“Loynesy (Katie Loynes) and others had heaps of tackles, so [his message was] to just keep going in hard and we’ll get the rewards when we get there,” Hardiman said. 

The Game Changers will return to their home ground today to take on Melbourne, who sit fifth on the table. Carlton currently sits eight with two wins and three losses. 

Both teams will be hungry for the win as finals approach. 

“Our focus will be to play as hard as we can. We’ve got nothing to lose so we just need to keep doing all the thing we’ve been working on and we should see a result,” Hardiman said.

Hardiman, who missed the 2017 VFLW season with an ankle injury, says working on her fitness is her main focus for the remainder of the season. 

“The last two years I’ve had injuries and have only played about five games in the VFL,” she said.

“I’m really looking to improve my fitness and just my all-round game. It makes it hard only playing a couple of games a year like I have. 

“I’ve definitely got lots of things to work on, but fitness is definitely one of those main ones, and loud communication as well,” she said. 

The opportunity to play in Carlton’s VFLW side will help with the Game Changers’ unity, Hardiman thinks.  

“It’s hard as we have only played a handful of game with each other last year and then we all went back to our normal teams, so I think to have an actual full season with all the girls, with 16 rounds, will make it a lot easier to get to know how everyone plays,” she said.

Danielle Hardiman missed the 2017 VFLW season after injuring her ankle against the Dockers in March. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Tonight’s match will mark the inaugural AFLW Carlton Respects match. Spectators are encouraged to wear orange to the game and join in on activations at the match. Orange wristbands will also be available for sale outside the Carlton Shop, with all funds going to the Blues Foundation.  

The Game Changers’ involvement in the cause is something Hardiman values.

“It’s an amazing club. To be able to have that in our game now as well as the men’s, and to get awareness as well, is really good,” she said.

“The club does a great thing of going around to schools and educating students on violence.

It’s a great thing to be a part of and to spread the word about that so kids are aware of how they should be treated and how they should treat others,” she said.  

Today’s match will kick off at Ikon Park tonight at 4.30pm EDT, with gates opening at 3.00pm. 

With everything from the previous few rounds taken into account, Hardiman’s hunger for a win is clear. When she’s not working on her Personal Training course or working in sales and purchasing at a Plywood Factory, she’s playing football. And when she’s playing football, you can be sure she’s playing hard.