A Port Stephens woman may be on her way to cracking the AFL Women’s after taking part in the inaugural draft combine this week.
Pippa Smyth from Salamander Bay was one of just four AFL players sent to the first women’s league combine in Melbourne this week by the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants.
“I’m so happy I had that experience,” Smyth told Fairfax Media as she was travelling home on Thursday.
“It was a real taste of what it could be like.
“We were treated like real athletes. The girls are definitely athletes, they’re all really fit.
“It was fantastic to be part of.”
Smyth, a ruck and sometimes forward for the Nelson Bay Marlins, made the switch from netball to AFL when Black Diamond AFL established a women’s league in 2015.
She has played for the Marlins for the past three seasons, winning two premierships with the team.
Smyth also trains as a part of the Hunter Coast AFL Academy.
The 22 year old was invited to the Giants’ testing day in Sydney on September 3.
GWS coaches took notice of Smyth, one of 50 players who tested for the Sydney-based AFL club.
When Ellie Dalgarno-Fixter had to pull out of attending the combine, leaving a vacant GWS spot to fill, Smyth received the call up.
“I got a call from the coach saying he was impressed and happy with what he saw at the test day,” Smyth said.
“He invited me, for GWS, to the draft combine.”
Smyth joined GWS picks Chloe Arndt (East Coast Eagles), Nicky Steel (Mosman Swans) and Haneen Zreika (Auburn Giants) in Melbourne this week.
The combine, attended by 46 players and representatives from all AFLW clubs, was held at Etihad Stadium on October 3 and 4.
With four AFLW teams, Victoria had the most representatives in the combine with 21 players.
Comparatively, Queensland, with just the one AFLW side, had the second-highest total – seven players.
Across the two days, the women that took part in the combine went through medicals, interviews and fitness testing.
Smyth, who works as a personal trainer in Cooks Hill, said she enjoyed the fitness testing.
The players were put through their paces on Wednesday.
Each took part in the agility and sprint tests.
The women also did the Yo-Yo endurance test, which is a variation of the beep test.
Of the six endurance and agility tests conducted during the combine, Smyth ranked in the top 10 of five events.
Smyth said she was “pretty happy” with her testing scores and even claimed a trophy for having the fastest 20 metre sprint time – 3.24 seconds.
The AFLW Draft will be held on October 18.
Smyth, who has nominated to play for the Giants, will know if she has secured one of the limited spots available in the 2018 AFLW season on that day.
“This is 100 per cent what I want to do,” she said.
“I’m hoping I claim one of the open spots but if not this year, I’ll be back trying for the next season.”
The 2018 AFLW season is expected to begin on May 1.
The league announced on September 27 that it would grow to include six more teams by 2020.
North Melbourne and Geelong will join the expanded AFLW competition in 2019, increasing the number of teams to 10.
Four other clubs – Gold Coast, West Coast, Richmond and St Kilda – will join the competition in 2020.
Hawthorn and Essendon were unsuccessful in their applications, but they will be able to apply to enter the AFLW from 2021.