Former Adelaide Lightning, now Carlton AFLW players Jess Good and Taylor Ortlepp (Picture: Carlton AFLW, Design by Will Cuckson)

Coming to the club in the off-season, new Carlton AFLW recruit Taylor Ortlepp becomes the latest former Adelaide Lightning player to don the navy blue and white in the league. In the company of other former Lightning players, captain Kerryn Peterson and ruck Jess Good, she is developing in a fairly young list at the club.

Making her debut in the Round Six loss to Carlton, Ortlepp completed her whirlwind journey from the WNBL to the AFLW. The former Adelaide Lightning prospect has overcome injury setbacks while learning the game from her teammates in the transition from basketballer to footballer.

Taylor Ortlepp and Jess Good spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about this season.

Ortlepp details how she has developed with Peterson and Good being mentors to her in her AFLW career so far.

“Since Goody’s been here, and Kez, I’ve been watching them the last couple of seasons,” Ortlepp told The Inner Sanctum.

“They were trying to convince me to come across and make the move, [and] I was really impressed with what they were able to do on the field and definitely having them in my corner and just learning and watching them has been awesome.”

Ortlepp reflects on the opportunity to debut after a broken finger, several niggling injuries as well as a late start to her first pre-season, revealing she honestly didn’t think she would play in Season Seven.

“I had a few little setbacks and to be honest I wasn’t really expecting the opportunity to play this year considering I didn’t really get a full pre-season in and I was still very much learning the game,” she explained.

“I am still learning but some things happened and I got the call-up earlier than expected so I was super excited. I just took every opportunity I could to just help the team where I could and do what I can do.”

“I was super excited, I was a little nervous but I was mainly super happy and excited to be apart of it.”

After a loss in her first match, she notched up a win in her second game to be duly rewarded with a powerade shower in their win against the Saints.

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For the Blues it was a season of growth and youth coming through due to the experience lost in expansion signings. Abbie McKay and Mimi Hill were key pillars in the middle following break-out seasons in season six that resulted in Hill earning the Rising Star Award.

Joining them in fine form was Keeley Skeeper, a first year talent that was exposed to the league this season. She showed what she has to play at the level in her first few games, earning a Rising Star Award nomination in Round Four for her effort against the Dockers.

When asked about Carlton’s list and their improvement, Ortlepp spoke about what these players have done to lift the team.

“They’ve played massive roles in the team this year, like I said I’m new so I haven’t played with them prior to this season. They’ve obviously had a massive impact this year putting up big numbers each week, which we’ve needed and really contributed to those steps where we are heading in the right direction,” Ortlepp said.

Good explained what she’s seen from Mia Austin and Skepper with the talent at the Blues coming through with more time and experience.

“They’ve just had to step up really and they have, [with] ‘Skep’ being a new draftee [and a] rising star nominee, she’s just been incredible and you can just see the talent from being able to play footy from a young age that the talent and growth for the league is just so exciting,” Good said.

“I’m definitely excited even for Mia (Austin) to get a full season under her belt as she had a few games and then was out with an injury. I’m really excited for the younger kids coming through and the draftees to get their opportunities to shine because it’s just a good opportunity for the league to see that growth firsthand.”

With the results not being what they would have hoped off-field, the Blues will be taking the learnings from a tough season to help them become a more united team going forward. Good speaks about the silver linings behind season seven.

“We’ve definitely been disappointed, we didn’t have the results we’ve been wanting however we’ve just got such a young group that the progress that we’ve made off the field has been really good,” Good explained.

“We’ve just become a lot more united off the field which hopefully in a future season with a proper pre-season not the quick turnaround and everything that it will translate to success on the field really.”

Coming into the group a few weeks into pre-season, Ortlepp speaks about the culture at the Blues and how the group have stuck together through the season that was.

“Obviously I’m new to the program this year but I’ve seen a massive [amount of] growth in the short time that I’ve been here. The way everyone gets along off-field and wants to work hard for each other will definitely translate off field once we get that groove going,” Ortlepp explained.

“It has been a learning experience [but] it has brought us closer together as a group. We have been through a rough season not getting the results that we are after but culture and the vibes around the club [are great], the girls have stuck together, no-one’s pushed in their own direction or on their own agenda, everyone’s stayed together which I think is a massive credit to the group.”

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