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Loynes shaping the future

Hosking's team photo antics Sarah Hosking takes you behind-the-scenes to reveal some of the fun antics that occur during AFLW team photo day.

KATIE Loynes can reel off her Carlton idols as though she's reading them from a page.

"'Kouta', 'Braddles', 'SOS', 'Diesel'," she says effortlessly, citing the nicknames of club greats Anthony Koutoufides, Craig Bradley, Stephen Silvagni and Greg Williams.

"I remember going to Princes (now Ikon) Park as a kid and watching them play. To now feel so part of the club, with the way it's merged the two teams together, has been great."

Loynes went into the inaugural NAB AFLW Draft in late 2016 with an inkling she'd end up at the Blues. Given her record with injuries, she deserved some luck.

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Before being drafted, she had dealt with a broken fibula, an ankle reconstruction and two ACL injuries playing in the VFLW competition for Diamond Creek in Melbourne's north-east. The injury battles made her seriously consider whether footy was worth it.

Then came a turning point.

"If there was no AFLW competition, I probably would've said, 'Okay, I've achieved what I thought I wanted to'," Loynes told AFL.com.au.

"But when the AFL announced the competition, it was too good an opportunity. I'd have ended up kicking myself if I at least didn't give it a shot. It's worked out really well."

From an individual perspective, saying it has 'worked out well' would be an understatement.

Loynes has finally got her body right, capping a terrific 2018 campaign with her first best and fairest award after averaging 9.8 disposals per game and leading the Blues for tackles.

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She quickly became one of Carlton's most important players, driving a developing midfield group. In 2019, the 32-year-old Loynes will be leading an onball group that includes talented draftees Madison Prespakis and Abbie McKay, considered among the brightest prospects in the country.

Although comfortable with her role as a leader, Loynes said she was also keen to further develop and add new tricks to her repertoire.

"If anything, I just look forward to the challenge of learning from those girls," she said.

"A lot of them have been through development programs, so the experience they're bringing – although they're young – will be really good for me.

"Obviously I can pass on my knowledge as well. But I like looking after the younger girls … making them feel part of the group and trying to get the best out of them is really important.”

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New coach Daniel Harford has provided another means of rejuvenating Loynes and the rest of the Blues.

He has been widely praised for the energy he's brought to Ikon Park since crossing from Collingwood, where he was an assistant to the Pies' AFLW coach Wayne Siekman.

That spark is something the Blues hope will fast-track their rise up the ladder in 2019.

"He's got the perfect mix," Loynes said.

"I love to have a joke, so it's going to be really good before a game. It'll calm me a little bit, having a bit of a joke, but I also like when I can go up to him and have a serious conversation as well.

"On and off the field, he has that mix, which is great."