05/03/2024

Emma Kearney will run out in her 50th AFLW match on Saturday. (Photo: North Melbourne/Website)

When North Melbourne Captain Emma Kearney runs out in the Kangaroos’ Round One clash against the Gold Coast Suns at Blundstone Arena, she’ll be running out in her 50th AFLW match.

When reflecting on her career to date, Kearney looked back on how far she’s come in her AFLW career.

“It’s gone so fast,” Kearney told The Inner Sanctum.

“I suppose for me I’ve grown so much as a person as well. I was this quiet, maybe not so quiet on-field but certainly off-field, I was really quiet and unsure of myself.

“It’s been quite a journey and something that I’ll be really proud of once I finish the game.”

Kearney made the move into a new half-back role in season six, which saw her dominate and really provide that bit of spark in defence for the Kangaroos. It’s a role that Kearney will stay in for the upcoming season.

“I’ll play predominately off the half-back line and maybe go through the midfield occasionally,” she said.

“I really enjoyed the challenge of playing a new position, I’ve mostly played as a midfielder my whole career. [I’ve felt free] to learn a new role and sort of adapt, [I’m] feeling much more comfortable in it now and I’m looking forward to continuing on with my form.”

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While Kearney may get more attention this season from other clubs potentially pursuing the option of a defensive forward to match up on the All-Australian captain, Kearney said that it’s something she’s discussed with coach Darren Crocker.

“I’ve spoken to our coach about tactics and how to break that defensive forward role and just trying to adapt to that but I think we’ve got such a well-balanced team that if someone tries to nullify me, then we’ve got others that will step up into that more attacking role,” Kearney explained.

“I’m just happy to sort of play my role where I can.”

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There are some new additions at Arden Street this season with Irish duo Erika O’Shea and Vikki Wall exciting many watchers early.

Wall in particularly is fresh off claiming the All-Ireland Championship with Meath, only arriving in Melbourne a week out from the Kangaroos’ practice match against the Crows.

“She played in the practice match against Adelaide and she was unbelievable. Her power and strength around the ground is going to be really dynamic for us in the forward line. Then Erika down back, she’s lightning,” Kearney explained.

“Having their speed and power in the team is awesome but the energy and enthusiasm that our young girls have brought have really freshened up our group and I feel like we’re in a really good spot coming into the season.”

Draftee Taylah Gatt is another addition to the group that will inject that bit of speed, especially on the wings, which could potentially fill the void lost by Kaitlyn Ashmore.

“I think we’re trying to play a bit quicker. We see that the better teams in the competition are the ones who are trying to move the ball quicker and are really good in the contest,” she explained.

“So we try to do that as best as possible and we’ve been able to do all of that, we have people like Taylah Gatt, [who is] a 17-year-old still to come in.

“She comes into training in her school uniform, which is a bit odd, but she brings a lot of speed on the wings for us to replace someone like (Kaitlyn) Ashmore. Then the likes of the Irish girls (O’Shea and Wall) they’re going to be super for us. “

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