Making the switch from the NSW Swifts to the Collingwood Magpies in the offseason, Sophie Garbin has become a key cog in their attacking end. Coming from success with two premierships with the Swifts, Garbin is forging her own path in the black and white dress.
The Magpies’ goal-attack spoke exclusively with The Inner Sanctum about her relationship with coach Nicole Richardson, the chemistry she is building with the team and her thoughts on their 2022 season despite being knocked out of the minor semi-final.
Moving to the Magpies meant that Garbin was leaving behind Swifts’ coach Briony Akle. Her relationship with Akle was very important, and she speaks about how her influence has been imperative to her development.
“[I’m] obviously still close with Briony (Akle), I haven’t spoken to her in a while, might give her a message,” Garbin said.
“It was tough to leave but she understood my reasons for leaving and she’s been really supportive of the move.”
Garbin’s assessment of new head coach Nicole Richardson is a glowing one, she speaks highly of her connectivity with the team and her coaching as a whole.
“Richo’s been great and I say to people what you see is what you get, she shows her emotions and rides the highs and lows with us,” Garbin explains.
“She’s great to have, I think she has a great connection with the team which is always good to have in a coach so you are able to approach them and have a good relationship with them.”
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In season 2022, the Collingwood Magpies have been led by veterans Geva Mentor and Ash Brazill. Mentor was appointed captain for the fourth time for the Magpies while Brazill joined her for the first time.
Since joining Collingwood in 2019, Mentor has been a pillar of excellence, consistency, and leadership. Having reached the 150 cap milestone for the England Roses, she joined AFLW star Brazill to combine for a dynamic duo at the helm.
Garbin admits that having Brazill out of the final regular game against the Melbourne Vixens was tough due to what she brings to the group from week to week.
“I’ve loved having them and especially the fact that Geva (Mentor) is near me, I can’t talk about her being old,” Garbin said.
“Having both Braz (Ash Brazill) and Geva, they are so experienced in life as well so it’s just so good having them around, the two mums of the team.
“I’ve missed Braz a lot this week, she’s been great throughout the season and I love when she brings her family in especially me being away from home and being away from my family, having that family aspect in her really helps.”
One of the most improved for the Magpies in the last few seasons has been Jamaican shooter Shimona Nelson. Coming from the Adelaide Thunderbirds, Nelson has now played four seasons for the Magpies which has seen her grow in leaps and bounds.
Playing as a mobile holding shooter, Nelson works well in tandem with both super shot specialist Gabby Sinclair and Garbin. Garbin speaks about her development this season and how she works with Nelson in attack.
“I think Shimmy’s been great, she’s probably had one of her most consistent seasons, which has been really good,” Garbin said.
“I think she’s just getting stronger and stronger each week. I think when she’s scoring so many goals, it’s not a shock to people anymore, I think she has blinders every week and it’s just becoming a normal thing for her to absolutely dominate.
“I think she’s the second-highest goal scorer (in the regular season), second to Jhaniele (Fowler) which just shows the strength that she is under that post.
“It makes our job out the front when we can just turn and she’s got the stronghold and we can just get the ball into her, I actually like it a lot because it’s less running for us, which is nice.”
Joining the Magpies in 2020, Molly Jovic has taken another step at SSN level this season. Playing in the centre, her pace and explosive running have worn down opposition players all season.
Having a significant impact without Ash Brazill in 2020, she took it to another level by earning a 2021 contract in part due to having the second most feeds of any Collingwood player after Kelsey Browne.
Playing 13 games this season she has averaged 10 feeds per game as well as taking nine intercepts, and 15 deflections during the season.
“I think Molly (Jovic) has had an amazing season, not only the work she does in attack but she also gets so much ball in defence as well,” Garbin said.
“[She is so] fast and skilful, so it’s nice for me when [she is] zipping around the front of the court, I can slowly plod along and play my role.”
Coming to the Magpies after two premierships with the Sunshine Coast Lightning, Kelsey Browne is the ultimate player and workhorse for the Magpies. Working with Jovic and Brazill in the midcourt, she brings calmness, pace and knowledge to the game.
Garbin has connected with Browne in particular, becoming good friends off the court, which has helped build the wing attack and goal-attack connection on the court.
“I think Kelsey (Browne) and I have a pretty good relationship both on and off the court,” she said.
“She has definitely helped and she’s great, she’s a bit of a level-headed person to have out on the court so she’s often telling me what to do, which I really like. It’s been good to work with her.
“She’s so experienced and skilful, and knowledgeable about the game and I think she’s had a massive journey playing for so many different teams. It’s been good to get advice from her not only about on the court but advice about things off the court.”
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