Maitland Saints player Jess Cassidy takes a giant step on Sunday to securing a contract in the new AFL Women's national competition.
Cassidy and BDAFL Women's best and fairest winner Lisa Steane, from Nelson Bay, have been invited to participate in the GWS Giants Draft Combine which will be held at GWS Giants headquarters, Tom Wills Oval this Sunday.
Steane and Cassidy will join 50 other prospective draftees at the all day invitation only event which will include testing as well as matches.
Cassidy said she was notified about the combine two weeks ago but did not realise it’s significance at the time.
“I just thought it was a courtesy type of thing to women playing Aussie rules. I had no idea it was such a significant chance to earn a spot in the new AFL Women’s competition,” she said.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, but there will be limited spots this year with only 16 places for NSW players on the Giants list.
“The competition is likely to expand in the future, so there will be other chances if I don’t get through this time.
“It’s very exciting, but something I didn’t expect.
I just thought it was a courtesy type of thing to women playing Aussie rules. I had no idea it was such a significant chance to earn a spot in the new AFL Women’s competition
The women who will be attending the combine were identified through their performances through the women's academy and state programs as well as those who were identified as part of the recently completed elite athlete talent search.
GWS Giants Women's Coach, Tim Schmidt says Sunday combine will be mini version of the AFL combine however will also include matches.
"Apart from the testing we will also play matches as many of the girls identified via the Elite Athlete Talent search have never played a game of football so this will give us an opportunity to assess them in match conditions" Schmidt said.
Schmidt also stressed that those players who have not been invited to the combine are not out of contention to be drafted.
"While Sunday does give us the opportunity to assess a number of players it does not rule out the possibility of players being drafted who have not been invited".
Cassidy, 21, who is studying civil engineering at the University of Newcastle, has been in training for the Giants combine for the past two weeks.
“It is going to be pretty stiff competition for a place. I just missed out on a spot in the NSW side this year.
“I was 24th selection so just missed the team and there are only 16 places for NSW players on the list.
“There will be all sorts of fitness testing, two kilometre time trials, skills sessions and then games. It’s going to be an exhausting day.”
A highly-ranked speedway sedan driver, Cassidy said she would wait to see whether she was drafted before deciding her plans for the racetrack next year.
“The AFL Women’s season runs over Feburary and March, which is right in the middle of the speedway season,” she said.
“I’ll see what happens this time around, but I certainly would love to be part of the AFL competition if another chance comes up.
“The good thing is that I’m in the mix now and as far as I know I will be in the draft for future years.
“It’s all pretty new to me. I come from Kurri and like most Kurri families my dad and the rest of us were rugby league mad.
“I used to kick a rugby league ball around the backyard with my brother when I was growing up so kicking in AFL came naturally.”
GIANTS TRIAL: Jess Cassidy is in line to become Maitland's second AFL draftee following Isaac Heeney.