From making the Murray Bushrangers squad to representing Vic Country and then debuting for Richmond’s VFLW team, 2019 brought surprise after surprise for Teagan Brett.
The 18-year-old former state-level cricketer last year returned to playing football for the first time since 2013 and this season aimed for nothing more than “to get a few games at the Bushrangers”.
Brett ended up appearing in all nine matches of Murray’s NAB League Girls campaign, averaging 14 disposals and 10 kicks per game and displaying the skill by foot that could set her apart from other prospects for October 22’s NAB AFL Women’s Draft.
The Shepparton Notre (Shepparton and Districts Junior FL) product soon graduated to national level, playing three games for Vic Country in the 2019 NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships.
Brett’s biggest surprise of the year was to come, though, when she was called up to Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s level for two outings with the Tigers – kicking three goals on debut in a late-season win against Carlton and stepping out in their elimination-final loss to the Western Bulldogs.
“When I trialled for the Bushrangers, I didn’t even expect to make that squad,” Brett said at last week’s NAB AFLW Draft Combine. “It’s all been a shock.
“Last year was my first season back in footy after a pretty big break. I wasn’t really enjoying playing cricket anymore so I had a break from it, then footy came up and I thought I may as well do something to keep myself busy.
“The opportunities have come and I’ve just taken them. This season has been unreal. I loved footy more this year than I have with cricket in a long time.”
An all-rounder in cricket, Brett also performed different roles on the football field in 2019.
She started the year running out of defence for Murray and played in the back line in her first match for Vic Country, before a shift to the other end of the field ultimately led to her memorable debut game for Richmond.
“When Vic Country said they were going to play me forward (in the later rounds of the Championships), I was like: ‘Yes!’” Brett said. “I’m definitely more comfortable in the forward line and I’d always played there.
“I was nervous for my VFLW debut and I missed a set shot with my first kick, but the three goals were pretty good – I got lucky with a couple of snaps. I’ll always remember my first goal when everyone just jumped on me.”
Brett’s time playing cricket may have put her football development behind that of her fellow draft hopefuls, but professionalism is one aspect of elite-level sport she’s quite familiar with.
“Some of the girls at the Combine have been in the system a lot longer than me while this is all fairly new to me,” Brett said. “But with state cricket, there was still a focus on nutrition and fitness, so I have some idea of the professionalism of women’s sport.
“It has still been tough because football’s a lot more physical than cricket, but that has definitely helped.”
NAB LEAGUE ‘FAST FIVE’ QUESTIONS
Most influential person on your football at Murray:
“Mario de Santa-ana. He came on board a couple of rounds into the season and gave me so much advice. He took me to Vic Country training because he was involved in wellbeing there and he’s someone I’ve been able to talk to about anything.”
Most valuable lesson learned in the NAB League:
“To have a balance. It’s important to not just focus on footy but also focus on school and have a balance of social and family life, so you don’t get too wrapped up in one thing.”
Teammate you’ve most enjoyed sharing the NAB League journey with:
“Olivia Barber is a character. She’s been fun to play with on the field.”
Most difficult NAB League opponent:
“Lucy McEvoy, for sure. We played against the Geelong Falcons in our last game and I was on her a couple of times. She’s just so strong in the air and on the ground. She does it all.”
Most memorable NAB League moment:
“I think every game was pretty memorable, because I wasn’t expecting anything. You hear it’s such a big thing to put on that Bushrangers top and then being able to do it myself was an unreal experience.”
* CLICK HERE to see other stories in our 2019 AFLW Draft Watch series.