Maitland Saints duo Jess Cassidy and Taylor Quinton-Widi are treading the same AFL path as Maitland's Sydney Swan Isaac Heeney.
The pair are part of the Sydney Swans’ Hunter Academy and will play for the Swans AFL women’s team against the GWS Giants on Saturday.
Cassidy, 21, is part of the senior team and 17-year-old Quinton-Widi is in the under-18 team.
The duo’s selection is a vote of confidence by Swans officials and particularly exciting with the AFL to start a national women’s competition in 2017.
Cassidy said there was likely to be one NSW franchise, but it still hadn’t been finalised whether the Swans or Giants would seek the licence, or a combined NSW team would be entered.
“It’s an exciting time for the sport and I’m still bit amazed that I was named in the Swans academy and now named in the team to play the Giants their hometown rivals,” she said.
“I really didn’t expect to be picked for this game as I wasn’t overly pleased with my form in the trial selection game.”
Cassidy, who plays midfield or centre half-forward, and speedy midfielder or small forward Quinton-Widi were both part of the Maitland Saints inaugural women’s team last year.
They came to the sport from different paths, but both have embraced its emphasis on ball skills and speed and don’t mind the physical contact.
Quinton-Widi started playing Aussie Rules in Queensland when her family moved north from Maitland.
She played with the Gold Coast representative team for two years, but missing the Hunter she moved back to Maitland last year.
“I love the game. It was just such a perfect game for me. I love getting into the packs and getting the ball and then use my speed to race into attack,” she said.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to play down here, so when I saw the Saints were looking to form a women’s team I was straight down to the ground.”
Cassidy played Aussie rules at Maitland Grossmann High in her final two years of school and only returned to the sport last year.
The civil engineering student’s other sporting passion is speedway driving, competing in late sedans.