IT WAS a somewhat nervous Grace Egan who first walked through the doors of Ikon Park for the first time late in 2019.
Having just spent a year playing with the Richmond VFLW side, the 19-year-old was unsure what to expect when it came to meeting her new teammates and what it might be like playing with a completely new group for the first time in over 18 months.
However, speaking to the WA Blues, Egan shared how any nerves quickly shifted to excitement as she was warmly welcomed by the coaches and players, with co-captain Katie Loynes leading the charge.
“As soon as I got drafted to the Blues, I was stoked,” Egan said.
“Then to get to know the girls and for Katie Loynes to take me under her wing for the season was just awesome.
“I was upset at the time that Richmond didn’t match the bid, but I’d also had a meeting with Carlton and I was happy to go there either way.
“It was a good crew that showed me around Carlton and Daniel Harford was just an absolute legend, so I was kind of more so leaning towards Carlton anyway.”
From there, ‘Greg’ - as she’s more commonly referred to at Ikon Park - was able to let her natural game shine.
In a debut season she will undoubtedly look back fondly on, the young midfielder cemented her spot in the side, averaging 14 disposals, eight contested possessions and three clearances for the year.
The accolades came from everywhere, with Egan collecting a NAB AFLW Rising Star nomination for her dominant 18-disposal game in Round 4, Carlton’s Best First Year Player award and finishing runner-up to St.Kilda’s Georgia Patrikios in the AFL Players’ Association Best First-Year Player Award.
A humble Egan was quick to credit her on-field success to her teammates, believing that the bond between all the players was what allowed the entire team to perform at such a high level.
“It’s just awesome being around girls who are not all for themselves. They’re all for each other and they’ll include everyone in that team,” she said.
“It’s all of us together.
“It was probably the best team I’ve been in ever, where everyone just gets along.
“You can tell the way that us girls bonded out on the footy field and the way that we could finish off games together even if we started off slow. Every game we’d finish off strong.”
In a team filled with Game Changers, Egan spoke particularly highly of teammate Tayla Harris.
Harris, who earned her third All-Australian selection in 2020, provided her teammate with a source of inspiration, advice and friendship throughout her first year with Egan keen to soak up everything that Harris had to offer.
“She is absolutely amazing,” she said.
“I don’t really have words for her because she’s so unique. You don’t really find girls like that too often.
“She’s just someone who you can look up to, someone you can go to, someone you can go to talk to. She always has amazing advice for you.
“For women’s sport in general, she’s someone that little girls can look up to because she is just such a great role model.”