TAYLA Harris has come full circle.
The key forward, who first represented Melbourne during the women’s exhibition matches seven years ago, has enjoyed a homecoming of sorts in recent months – albeit a surprise.
With the dust now settled on the mega deal – seven players were involved during the AFL Women’s Sign and Trade Period – it’s finally sunk in that she’s a Demon, once again.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Harris told Melbourne Media.
“I’m so happy that it worked out the way it did. It certainly was not something I expected, at all, but…as soon as this became a reality, I got excited.
“I had no idea it was going to unfold the way it did, and then for Melbourne to become an option and it became more real that it was going to happen, I just [went] from nervous and worried to excited and looking forward to getting into training and meeting everyone.”
Harris arrives with 37 senior games and 29 goals to her name, having first earned herself a marquee signing at Brisbane for the inaugural year of AFL Women’s, before joining Carlton for four seasons.
But despite all that she’s achieved, including three All-Australian honours, it’s her early experiences in the red and blue that are most special.
“It’s a place where I had my first experience of, I suppose, playing any footy for a footy club, back in the exhibition series, many moons ago,” Harris said of Melbourne.
“I’m certainly still the same excited person who will give everything to the footy club.
“I’m all in and looking forward to getting involved.”
Although the past season presented its challenges, Harris remains among the top 10 goalkickers in the competition’s history and exudes star power both on and off the field.
She’s under no illusion of the hard work required too.
Speaking of her decision to return home, the 24-year-old acknowledged that it was the honesty of senior coach Mick Stinear and AFLW list manager Todd Patterson that rang true.
“They were just really clear in that all they wanted from me was to work hard and to try my best to be my best and that’s exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.
“I think the fact that that was resonating really quickly in the conversations, it was pretty clear what was going to happen.
“It was an easy discussion and an easy decision as well. I was really transparent as to where I was at.
“Since the second that Melbourne was real and I’m here, I’ve been working my arse off and I can’t wait to show what I’ve been up to in the off-season and the hard work, and hopefully it translates on-field quite quickly.”
And while day one at the Dees made for some introductions, Melbourne’s captain was a face that was all too familiar.
Having known Daisy Pearce for over a decade, the pair share a unique bond and one that Harris is forever grateful for.
“I think Daisy may as well be my mum because she’s known me for that long; since I was 13 or maybe even younger,” she said.
“There’s a photo of us that found its way onto social media the other day when we were both stick figures, just had no muscle on us at all.
“She already took me under her wing back then and I will never forget it.”