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AFLW Player of the Week: Round 2

Each week, will highlight a Player of the Week during the AFLW season.

This week, after a dominant aerial display, Brisbane’s Tayla Harris receives the Round 2 honour.

Harris booted two goals  including the sealer — from 12 disposals and seven marks as the Lions defeated Fremantle in Sunday’s AFLW match at Fremantle Oval.

The 19-year-old marquee player is one of the emerging stars of the AFLW competition, known for her marking presence in the Brisbane forward line and her iconic goal-kicking style.

Brisbane forward-line coach and former Lions key position player Brent Staker provided his thoughts on Harris’ Round 2 performance.

“I thought her performance was gutsy, that’s for sure. She plays as a key forward means she’ll often be in some big contests at some big moments of the game.

Early in the game, she was involved in a heavy contest on the wing where she got sandwiched between two Fremantle players but she got straight up and played on immediately.

She handled that situation well, some people can get shaken up from it but she responded straight away, which led to her taking more grabs and setting the game on fire. I think anyone who saw her get to her feet after such a contest would’ve been impressed.

She’s really competitive and enjoys flying for the footy. She took a couple of good marks in defence as well, so she found herself up the ground. When the ball was turned over by us, she was the one taking those marks when it came back the other way. She probably saved us a few times in the last quarter.

She sees the ball really clearly in the air which sounds like a simple thing but her timing and judgement is very good and she has these sticky hands — not too many balls bounce off or through her hands.

Tayla’s goal-kicking is also a strong feature of her game, which she likes to focus a lot on at training. After most sessions she’ll come up to me and ask for more goal-kicking and I almost have to tell her to stop because we don’t want her to over-kick or do too many extras after a big session.

If she does an extra five or 10 more, I’ll work with her on that. The purpose being to allow her to work on her routine and make sure she’s comfortable while giving her pointers where she needs them.

She can kick the ball 40 metres and can kick it low and flat, which a lot of players are still learning how to do. She’s clearly got that motor skill worked out.

She kicks her leg through similar to the male footballers. A lot of the women tend to poke at the ball which leads to a lack of depth and power, so a lesson for any young male or female player is you need to have your leg float through with the ball for more control and power.

If you stab at the footy all the time, you’ll lose those vital skills. Tayla picked that skill up as a junior and she’s continuing to improve on it each week.

She’s like any other player in regards to training hard — I won’t say that she’s dominating training but she’s learning that aspect — and she’s learning the fundamentals of being a top-line player. She’s only 19 years old, so her signs so far are really good.

Once she figures out that the effort she puts in on the training track will correlate to games then her work rate will improve and she’ll be able to get to more contests and therefore take more marks.

We’ve seen how well she marks the footy and she could potentially take double the amount she gets now — she took seven contested marks on the weekend, but she might take even more than that.”

After the announcement of the AFLW Players’ MVP Award to be presented at season’s end, Harris could potentially be in the running following a stellar first-up performance.

AFLW Player of the Week winners