Gold Coast Suns midfielder Lucy Single {Picture: AFL, Design by Will Cuckson)

After an unconventional journey to the AFLW, Tara Bohanna continues to go from strength to strength after taking on the captaincy of the Gold Coast Suns in season seven. Finishing just out of the race for finals, the group is confident that their skipper will lead them to finals in years to come.

After being recruited to the Suns in the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft, Bohanna burst onto the scene kicking 13 goals from 10 games in her debut season. Coming from the Southern Saints in the VFLW where she won their Best and Fairest in 2021, she kicked 19 goals from 16 matches which showed her natural goal sense and readiness to play at the top level.

She looked like she would be elevated when St Kilda were introduced in 2020, however that never eventuated and this added to the six times that she was overlooked at the AFLW draft.

The 27-year-old’s story of being drafted out of the VFLW is now becoming more common with older players being utilised to fill in leadership positions while also getting ready-made bodies into expansion teams or teams with a lot of younger talent.

At the beginning of season seven she took on the mantle of the captain of the side boasting natural leadership, personable nature and a tireless work ethic.

Young Gold Coast Suns midfielder Lucy Single spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about what Bohanna brings to the Suns and why she is the perfect captain moving forward.

“She’s adapted really well [and] she’s my locker buddy so we were already friends before her being the captain,” Single told The Inner Sanctum.

“We all love her, she’s got such a kind heart so I think she was born to be a leader but [she’s] also a big sister figure as well. She has a good connection with all the girls which is why she is probably one of the best people to be our captain.”

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Single then details her first impressions of Bohanna when she arrived at the Gold Coast and how she knew that she would be able to step up to the level in season six.

“It was pretty big when she came to us, I didn’t know much about her obviously because she hadn’t come through the AFLW system yet but I did know she tried multiple times to try and get drafted and she kept persisting,” she said.

“I think I really admired that about her that she kept trying to get into the AFLW and she kept working hard. I think the way she worked so hard last [season] and she trained bloody well so I think in the practice games I already knew she’d really shine in that season.”

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Another reasonably fresh face in the Suns set-up is Cameron Joyce who has just finished his second season in the top job. Single spoke highly about her head coach and what he is like around the playing group.

“I think he’s a brilliant coach and our team success this season has been because of what he has brought to the club,” Single explained.

“I have a good relationship with him, he’s very good at teaching us different aspects of football like he really gives me a different perspective on the game, in ways that I wouldn’t really look at it. He’s always available for extra drills and stuff like that so he’s someone we can always call on 24/7 to have a chat with us.”

Losing a lot of established talent, Gold Coast have gone through a small consolidating year this year which will hopefully set them up for some sustained success soon. Expansion hit the side with Cheyanne Hammond, Sarah Perkins, Brittany Perry, Kate Surman, Jacqui Yorston and Hannah Dunn all departing for newly formed sides while Jade Pregelj was out due to injury.

The Suns gained Courtney Jones from Carlton and Alana Gee who played key roles in the side this season which helped to off-set the losses, with Single identifying the differences the additions made.

“There was a real push for team culture and better connections, it’s obviously hard to lose quite a few key older players but luckily we gained a couple and I think through losing those girls we created a closer bond and I think in the end it worked out pretty well for us.”

Season seven could have been a grim year for the side considering the youth in the team, yet Single speaks with pride when asked about how they look back on the year that was.

“I am very, very proud of our girls, I think our group and individual growth has been massive in the club so even just how hard our girls work in the pre-season and then continuing to work during the season,” Single said.

“I think the key to our success has been the way we’ve been able to connect with each other, we’ve just gelled really well together and the team has also gelled really well with our staff and coaches so I think our ability [to build that chemistry] is why we’ve been more successful.”

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