A BRUTAL schedule travelling back and forth from Canberra proved more than worthwhile for Wagga schoolgirl Ally Morphett after she was named best-on-ground in Belconnen's AFL Canberra grand final win over Queanbeyan on Saturday.
The 16-year-old ruck, who also pinch hits up forward, was superb in the ten-point win, playing the whole match against the previously unbeaten Tigers.
The Wagga High student is part of the NAB AFL Women's Academy, who take part in high performance and personal development camps to prepare them for the AFLW.
Morphett is eligible for next year's AFLW Draft and after her plans to play again for Murray Bushrangers were curtailed by coronavirus, opted to play in Canberra to give her the best chance of being ready to take the next step.
"We made the decision I'd probably be better off playing to keep myself fit for next year when NAB League comes around," she said.
"The girls in the club were so hard working and they were really dedicated. All they wanted to do was win and as a 16-year-old it's really good playing with older women so then I can take a leaf out of their books.
"I definitely learned lots of lessons from playing in Canberra.
"At the academy I spent a week at GWS. I think the Giants were looking more to (selecting) the top age girls fort his year, and hopefully next year they'll be talking to us a bit more."
Morphett said coming up against bigger and more experienced rucks was a valuable initiation.
"I had to go up against the AFLW Giants ruck (Jessica Allan). She plays for Eastlake and I had to study and do heaps of work before I played the game, made sure my body and preparation was right
"I definitely had to pick up my game a bit playing against bigger bodies and tougher women."
Morphett said she was pleasantly surprised to be adjudged the standout player in the grand final.
"At the time when I was playing I was not expecting it at all. I personally thought I was playing one of the worst games I had for the season," she said.
"I was trying to lift every quarter and it was a massive shock when they called my name out because I definitely thought there was other girls who played way better than me."
Belconnen coach Bobby Moroney said Morphett's influence was a major factor in turning the tables on Queanbeyan.
"Morphett's game in itself was probably one of the biggest turning points," Moroney said.
"She was able to control the ruck, was dominant all around the ground. Her confidence grew as the game progressed.
"The biggest thing to highlight from Ally is that she's still learning the game. She's 16 years old and still has a lot to develop.
"She's loved every moment she's had coming from Wagga. Her parents drove her down every Thursday night for training and every Saturday for matches, back and forth. She's certainly going to be a name to look out for in the future."