FOUR new Blues will take to the big stage in the season opener this Friday night.
Lucy McEvoy, Grace Egan, Vaomua Laloifi and Joanne Doonan have been named to make their Navy Blue debuts when Carlton takes on Richmond tomorrow night.
In front of what is expected to be a packed house at Ikon Park, it will be the first time that Carlton fans will be able to see top draft pick McEvoy in action.
Senior Coach Daniel Harford expected the versatile Blue to play a big role in her debut season.
“She’s a jet: she’s a really class player,” Harford said following Carlton’s practice match against North Melbourne.
“We’ll give her a chance to show her flexibility and ability to impact games in different positions.”
The game also presents a massive opportunity for midfielder Grace Egan, who will come up against a number of her old teammates on Friday night.
It was Egan’s toughness and class for Richmond’s VFLW side in 2019 which saw Carlton draft the midfielder with pick No.13 in last year’s draft.
It will also be a special occasion for defender Vaomua Laloifi when she runs out as a Bluebagger for the first time.
Laloifi has made the remarkable transition from playing representative basketball for Samoa to then recovering from a ruptured ACL in 2018 while playing for Collingwood’s VFLW side. A move to the Western Bulldogs saw her become a vital cog in the side which went onto make a VFLW Grand Final.
Friday will cap off an another impressive milestone for the 26-year-old, who is already regarded as huge asset to Carlton’s backline.
“’Mua’ has brought unparalleled energy, that's what she's brought to our group," Harford said.
"She's a fantastic young woman with great energy and great personality. We're still going to teach her the game a little bit, but she's got a lot to give in terms of a footy perspective from a defensive element.
"She is great energy, she's high-octane, she's exciting to watch, she's great to coach and she's a great teammate. They're pretty positive traits for the start of her career."
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The landmark story, however, is that of Irish import Joanne Doonan who will become the first ever Irish-born AFLW player to run out in the Navy Blue.
The 25-year-old has already enjoyed a decorated Gaelic football career, which has featured two Gaelic Life Club All Star nominations, an All-Ireland Junior Championship, and an O’Connor Cup Shield victory.
It’s this natural athleticism and competitiveness which has seen Doonan quickly find her feet after crossing codes and set the platform for her Round 1 debut.
She will be the fifth Carlton Irish player at senior level, following in the footsteps of Setanta O’hAilpin, Zach Tuohy, Ciaran Sheehan and Ciaran Byrne.
Darcy Vescio, Tayla Harris, Madison Prespakis and 2020 co-captains Katie Loynes and Kerryn Harrington are just a few of the familiar faces that Carlton fans can look forward to seeing on Friday night.
In what is expected to be a blockbuster game and crowd, fans are encouraged to get to the ground early and ensure that a sea of Navy Blue is present at the traditional home of the Blues.
|Carlton's Round 1 team|
|Backs:||32. Natalie Plane||20. Charlotte Wilson|
|Half-backs:||9. Kerryn Harrington||8. Vaomua Laloifi||36. Jayde Van Dyk|
|Centreline:||10. Sarah Hosking||3. Darcy Vescio||15. Chloe Dalton|
|Half-forwards:||21. Nicola Stevens||7. Tayla Harris||26. Joanne Doonan|
|Forwards:||30. Alison Downie||14. Brooke Walker|
|Followers:||16. Breann Moody||2. Katie Loynes||4. Madison Prespakis|
|Interchange:||12. Lauren Brazzale||6. Gab Pound||1. Grace Egan|
|13. Lucy McEvoy||19. Georgia Gee|
|Emergencies:||25. Jess Edwards||5. Abbie McKay|