28/02/2024

Erin Phillips in action. (Picture: Adelaide FC)

Ahead of the AFLW grand final, The Inner Sanctum shines a spotlight on some of the most prominent cross-code champions set to take the field.

You’d have to be living under a rock to not know that Erin Phillips has two WNBA titles alongside her glittering AFLW resume.

But she is far from the only cross-code star who will be potentially taking to the field this Saturday.

So, who are some of Phillips’s other cross-code compatriots at the Adelaide Crows?

Let’s start with utility Marijana Rajcic, who played soccer for seven years for Adelaide United, Box Hill United, and in 2012 in Sweden for Gustafs GoIF in the Elitettan, the second tier of Swedish women’s football.

Defender/forward Stevie Lee-Thompson was a touch rugby star before a move to the AFLW after a car accident, and when she played off in the first Grand Final in 2017, she had been playing footy for just two years.

On the half-forward line, Chloe Scheer was a talented underage batswoman, playing in Grade A cricket teams from the age of 12.

She played in the all-boys cricket team at the Gawler Central for four years, and represented the South Australian state team in 2010, 2012 and 2015.

At the full-forward line, Eloise Jones, a talented basketballer, turned down a college scholarship in the United States to join Adelaide in the AFLW draft.

It was a decision that paid off when she took part in Adelaide’s second premiership in 2019.

But, in a familiar story for many, not all cross-code stars were that by choice.

Midfielder Hannah Martin tried her hand at a range of sports growing up, including netball, soccer, tennis, and basketball due to such limited opportunities for girls to play football. Upon moving to Adelaide, however she moved to footy, and has been there ever since.

It was a similar story for Deni Varnhagen, who had to stop playing football after a certain age due to no opportunities and made state teams for soccer and softball before returning to football.

Thankfully due to the AFLW, these two can continue pursuing the sport of their dreams.

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And it’s not just those who will take to the field with certainty this Saturday.

Ailish Considine and Lisa Whiteley, who are both in the mix to replace Chelsea Randall after she was ruled out with concussion, both have experience in other sports.

Considine, from Ireland was a Gaelic convert to Aussie Rules, while Whiteley played netball for several years, helping the Goolwa Netball Club to consecutive grand finals in 2017 and 2018.

But Adelaide isn’t alone in being full of cross-code talent. Grand final rivals Brisbane has its fair share as well.

Two key cogs of the Lions forward line Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw and Courtney Hodder, are both accomplished cross-coders.

Tawhiao-Wardlaw played netball for several years as an accomplished goal shooter earning selection in both the Queensland Under 17 and Under 19 state representative sides and even juggled the two sports for a couple of years before focusing on football full-time.

Hodder on the other hand is a former Rugby Union star, with stints in the Western Force and the Queensland Reds, that included once scoring six tries in a match. She also played two games for Australia.

Elsewhere Orla O’Dwyer played both Camogie and Gaelic football in Ireland, captaining Tipperary in Camogie as well as playing Gaelic for them.

Forward Greta Bodey has only played football for two years after a career playing soccer for clubs including the Gap FC.

The retiring Lauren Arnell was a talented state-level junior basketballer, playing until the age of 17, when she switched to football.

While Emily Bates, much like Chloe Scheer, was a talented cricketer, having represented Queensland in Under 18’s. But choosing footy was an easy decision for her.

And finally, a player with a strong athletic background is forward/ruck Taylor Smith.

Smith competed in heptathlons at a national level briefly, after stints in High Jump and hurdles.

A rare condition, however ended her athletics career, and she switched to footy.

Smith, like teammate Gretal Bodey, had only been playing football a short time before being drafted, and on Saturday, is a chance to cap off a remarkable rise.

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