WHILE most of Melbourne’s AFLW players have been locked away in 2020, Brenna Tarrant has had a rare opportunity.
The 18-year-old, who moved down from New South Wales to debut for the Dees earlier this year, returned home over the off-season and avoided the restrictions seen in Victoria.
But it wasn’t exactly an off-season.
Tarrant suited up for the East Coast Eagles in the AFL Women’s Sydney Premier Division, helping her side finish second on the ladder in a condensed nine-game season.
And although she hasn’t had a break, she’ll be all the better for it when the AFLW season kicks off in 2021.
“It’s been great playing, but I feel bad for all the other girls who haven’t really had that chance to even get out and have a kick,” Tarrant told Melbourne Media.
“I get that luxury to travel as far as I want to play and train and kick a football and be out in the open as much as I want.”
And that has given her an advantage on a lot of the competition.
After playing down back in the opening three games of her AFLW career, Tarrant took the opportunity this off-season to work on her craft as a forward, and it seems to have paid off.
Tarrant led the league with 17 goals throughout the COVID-interrupted campaign and learnt a lot along the way.
“It gave me a different perspective on football,” she said.
“I’ve always had the perspective of being a defender, because that’s what I’ve been my whole life, even when playing other sports.
“I didn’t really understand the leading patterns of a forward, because I used to just have to follow my player essentially.
“I even got some coaching from my old Academy coach ... and did some forward leading to learn what it is.
“The games were videoed, so I was able to get feedback from Mick as well.”
Playing in a new role, with a season at an AFLW club under her belt, Tarrant noticed her development, with some consistent performances on the field.
“I just felt confident playing back at East Coast, even when I played last year verse this year,” she said.
“Just the difference in my game, I was more confident to go and chase the football, go and kick for goal.
“I was always hesitant when I used to play as a defender for East Coast, but I feel a lot more versatile now.”
With the Demons’ pre-season just around the corner, Tarrant is preparing to head back to Melbourne in the coming weeks, with a new-found self-belief and a couple of tricks up her sleeve.