Yamba AFL prodigy enters the Lions' den
AUSSIE RULES: Yamba teen Brianna McFarlane has taken a giant leap toward realising her dream of playing in the AFLW after she was signed by the Brisbane Lions.
Despite only being in her first full season of AFL, the 17-year-old's raw talent and athletic ability was what caught the eye of selectors.
A former round ball specialist, in six months McFarlane went from picking up a Sherrin, to playing for Coolangatta Tweed in the Queensland Women's AFL competition, representing NSW/ACT in a series against Tasmania, to selection for the Eastern Allies.
And now she can add a rookie AFLW contract to that list after impressing at last week's AFLW draft combine.
"It's pretty exciting, it hasn't really kicked in yet,” she told lions.com.au last week.
"It's has been a pretty quick process. I am still sort of learning the rules but I am getting there.”
While her rocket left boot is usually best utilised in the forward line, McFarlane said she will be happy to slot in any role across the park.
"I get thrown around a bit everywhere, just wherever they need a player, but mostly centre-half forward or up in the forward line,” she said.
Lions AFLW coach Matt Starcevich said the club was impressed by what they had already seen of McFarlane, and expects she will only get better.
"She won QWAFL Mark of the Year in what was her first game for the Coolangatta side and went on to kick 10 goals in her seven games,” he said.
"Bri is a natural athlete and her kicking and handball skills are very good, especially when considering the limited time she's had on field.
"We are excited by her potential.”
Lions women's CEO Breeanna Brock mirrored the coach's sentiments, and believed the sky was the limit for the emerging rookie.
"We are looking forward to putting a lot of work into her as we believe she's got a big future with us,” Brock said.
AFL North Coast development manager Matt Crawley, who was the person to initially push McFarlane to return to the sport, said it was a proud moment for the organisation.
"It just goes to show that the talent pathway is there for our local girls,” he said.
"She did all the right things, and I really think she can make it, it might take more than 12 months, but I think she has that dedication.
"Not being a massive student of the game she probably does have a way to go, but the natural power and ability she possesses, you can't teach that. I am very proud of her.”