Nelson Bay's Pippa Smyth in the mix for AFLW contract
Article Courtesy of Renee Valentine & Newcastle Herald. Photo: Marina Neil
Pippa Smyth could not have done any more to state her case for inclusion in the 2018 AFL Women’s competition.
Now it is a waiting game for the Nelson Bay 22-year-old to see if her stand-out results at the draft combine in Melbourne on October 3 and 4 were enough to earn a contract with the GWS Giants.
Whether her name is read out during the draft next Wednesday or not, Black Diamond AFL football operations coordinator Garry Burkinshaw said she was paving the way for all female players in the Hunter and Central Coast.
“It will mean a lot if she gets drafted,” Burkinshaw said. “She’s a really good chance of being drafted and she couldn’t have done any more to push her case.
“If not, she’ll be even more determined and what it will do for us is it makes the proposition of playing in the AFLW real for the other girls.”
The personal trainer and fitness fanatic was one of around 200 aspiring players who took part in the Giants testing day last month.
She then earned a surprise call-up as one of just four Giants picks to attend the two-day combine at Etihad Stadium for representatives from all AFLW clubs.
The combine comprised medical screenings, interviews and fitness testing.
The towering ruck and sometimes forward, excelled in the latter. She recorded top-10 efforts in five of six endurance and agility tests conducted and clocked the fastest 20-metre sprint time of 3.24 seconds.
Giants director of coaching and AFLW coach Alan McConnell said Smyth was well in the mix for a draft spot.
“Pippa was clearly the stand-out athlete at the combine if you look at the results across the board, which is a fabulous result. That’s a great platform,” McConnell said.
“Her athleticism was clearly evident. The game sense and the skill execution under women’s league AFL is going to be a stretch for her and that’s simply because of the time she’s had in the game and the level of football she’s played in.
“I guess in any draft selection the mirror balling is around what is a player like right now and what might they become with elite training and coaching, and that’s where we’re at right now.
“It’s deciding, can we harness what is innately a lot of raw talent and athleticism into something that’s going to allow her to compete at [AFLW] level.”
Smyth grew up playing netball and was first exposed to AFL at school.
But it was not until the BDAFL women’s competition began in 2015 that she got to pursue it.
“I loved it at school and I would’ve played it earlier if there was an opportunity to,” she said.
“I always thought I wanted to go further with netball but then nothing ever came of it. Since playing footy it’s been different and it’s so exciting.”
It was watching the progression of Marlins teammate Lisa Steane, who was a train-on player with the Giants this year, which drove Smyth’s motivation.
“This year was the year I put my head down and decided I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can to give myself a chance and then see where that would take me,” Smyth said.
“I was happy with how I played at the GWS testing and that was my main goal, to go down there and do my absolute best. And then I got the call, and I couldn’t believe it.
“I know GWS have roughly 10 spots available so hopefully I get drafted. But if I don’t get drafted this year at least that’s a start.
“I definitely want to be able to play at that level, whether it be this year or whether it be next year.”
The 2018 AFLW draft will be held in Melbourne on October 18 from midday and will be livestreamed through afl.com.au/womens.