On Saturday night, state of origin football will return for the first time since 1999, but for the first time at AFL level, it will be an all-female affair at Etihad Stadium.
The exhibition match will be the first of its kind, in what Collingwood forward and proud West Australian, Emma King hopes will be a long standing tradition.
Despite playing her footy for Collingwood in the AFLW and the Eastern Devils in the VFLW, King is well and truly a West Australian and hopes the Allies have what it takes to win over their Victorian rivals.
“It’s amazing to be a part of it. I am really excited to represent WA even if it’s in an Allies jumper, because I love the competition against Victoria, I really hope we can get the win,” King told AFLplayers.com.au.
Players were allocated based on where they were born and the teams were selected from the 2017 season’s All-Australian squad.
King will be joined in Allies colours by superstars Katie Brennan, Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Tayla Harris but is the only Magpies representative in the Allies’ side.
“A lot of my close friends are in the Victorian side so I’m looking forward to having a bit of beef with them on the field if I can get close enough to them, it will be very interesting.”
Despite playing up forward, she is hoping to go toe-to-toe with her club captain Steph Chiocci, who she says she plans on roughing up, but says she will steer clear of good friends Sarah D’Arcy and Jasmine Garner.
The tall West Australian is especially keen to get out onto Etihad and play in front of the supporters.
“Etihad is my favourite ground to play on, it’s a really hard, big surface so there will be plenty of run and plenty of contests.”
Most of all, King is looking forward to getting the opportunity to play alongside Allies captain, Chelsea Randall, and says there are a few Victorians her fellow Allies need to be careful of.
The 186cm forward has the utmost respect and admiration for Randall and expects her to lead from the front and be a big factor on Saturday night.
And she has identified a key Victorian who will need to be stopped.
“I think we need to watch out for Karen Paxman, she goes under the radar at Melbourne while everyone is looking at Daisy Pearce, but I rate her very highly and think we need to shut her down.”
Along with showcasing Australia’s best female footballing talent, the game will feature supergoals, rewarding players that kick truly from more than 40 metres out with nine points.
King is already thinking about lining up from outside the arc, too.
“If I can find the space, you can bet I’ll be having a crack at a super goal and I’m not the only one. Tayla Harris, Sarah D’Arcy and Jas Garner will have a real go, along with Sabrina Frederick-Traub.”
As for State of Origin as a whole, King thinks it’s something that should be brought back to the men’s game as well.
“It changes the way you look at footy,” King said.
“It brings a different edge and atmosphere to the game and it’s a great way of mixing up the teams and supporters.
“I would love to see them bring back the State of Origin, especially because WA would have shredded the other states this year.”
Kara Donnellan is in a similar situation, being Victorian born but is now the captain of Fremantle in the AFLW and Swan Districts in the WAWFL.
The Dockers skipper has called Perth home for five years now but spent 21 years in Victoria and is honoured to be able to pull on the ‘Big V’ with some old friends.
“I can’t wait to play with Daisy Pearce, Mel Hickey and Karen Paxman,” Donnellan told AFLplayers.com.au.
“They’re girls I’ve played a lot of footy with and I’m looking forward to playing alongside them again.”
The 25-year-old was ecstatic when found out she would be representing Victoria under legendary coach Debbie Lee.
Lee was player-coach when Donnellan won a premiership with St Albans and can’t wait to play for her long time mentor and friend again.
“We have made so many memories on and off the field together, I’m hoping we can add a win this weekend to that.”
Donnellan is looking forward to getting her chance to tackle some of her Fremantle teammates such as Ebony Antonio and Kirby Bentley for the first time, but will be steering clear of Allies captain Chelsea Randall.
“I’ve played a lot of footy with Chelsea Randall at Swan Districts and she used to try and take hangers on me when we were on the same team, so I’ll be staying well away from her on Saturday.”
Overall, both King and Donnellan are hoping to put on a show for the fans and to showcase what the AFLW has to offer, but while both agree the game will be close, they have different opinions on the outcome.
“I think we [the Allies] have the height advantage, but the Victorian midfield is very strong. Everyone is going to be giving 100 percent, but I think we can take the win,” King said.
“I never play footy to lose,” Donnellan said.
“I hope we put on a spectacle, but I’m definitely heading out there to get a Big V win.
Sarah Perkins (Adelaide), Kaitlyn Ashmore (Brisbane Lions), Brianna Davey, Darcy Vescio, Alison Downie, Danielle Hardiman, Nicola Stevens (Carlton), Sarah D’Arcy, Jess Cameron (Collingwood), Kara Donnellan (Fremantle) Alicia Eva, Jess Dal Pos (GWS), Karen Paxman, Daisy Pearce, Melissa Hickey, Lily Mithen, Jasmine Grierson (Melbourne), Ellie Blackburn, Emma Kearney and Hannah Scott (Western Bulldogs)
Chelsea Randall, Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff, Courtney Cramey (Adelaide), Sabrina Frederick-Traub, Emily Bates (Brisbane Lions), Emma Zielke, Jess Wuetschner, Kate McCarthy, Leah Kaslar, Sam Virgo (Brisbane Lions), Tayla Harris (Carlton), Emma King (Collingwood), Ebony Antonio, Kirby Bentley, Dana Hooker (Fremantle), Erin McKinnon, Emma Swanson, Renee Tomkins (GWS) and Elise O’Dea (Melbourne)