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AFLW: Rowe ready to shine

Welcome to Collingwood: Sarah Rowe Meet our Irish recruit, 2019 AFLW rookie Sarah Rowe.

Sarah Rowe never shies away from a challenge, so it’s not surprising that she’s left her hometown in Mayo, Ireland, with the aim of making her mark in the AFL Women’s competition for Collingwood.

In her first weeks in Australia, the new recruit has been thrown into the deep end as the Magpies’ pre-season program ramps up.

“The move has been really good,” Rowe said. “It’s the jetlag that’s been a struggle to get over, but I’ve moved in with Ruby (Schleicher) and getting to know the girls and getting to know how the club works has been really good.”

The 23 year-old joins Collingwood as a cross-code rookie, having had great success as a star forward for Mayo in the Ladies Gaelic Football Association in Ireland, as well as having played soccer at an international level.

“I started playing soccer when I was eight or nine and then GA (Gaelic football) when I was about 11,” she explained.

“I played both sports until I was 19. I played with Ireland up until I was 19 … then got five caps with the senior team.

“Then I decided to focus on my GA career and haven’t looked back since.”

It was the success of other cross-coders in the AFLW program, including Collingwood’s own Ash Brazill, Eliza Hynes and Georgie Parker, which partly inspired her move to Australian Rules.

“There are a few people around who are in the same position as me, who have transitioned between sports,” she said.

“So I’m really looking forward to it – obviously nervous but looking forward to it.”

Having received an email from Collingwood back in May, Rowe knew it was the best time to join the league as the length of the current AFLW season allows her to play here in the Gaelic football off-season before travelling back home, having reaffirmed her commitment to Mayo for next season. 

After dislocating her shoulder in a college football match early this year, Rowe feels positive 10-weeks post surgery and is progressing well.

She notes her body will need get used to the physicality of AFL footy. But as a natural athlete, she is confident she can transfer her skills and adapt to a different type of pressure on field.    

“There are a few little tweaks I’ll have to make given the habits that I have from GA,” Rowe said.

Collingwood’s AFLW Coach, Wayne Siekman, has praised Rowe’s professionalism as one of her best qualities.

“She’s played at the highest level,” Siekman said. “She knows how to work hard and what to do.

“Although she’s never played our game before, she’s got those elite behaviors.

“Straight away she’s got the work ethic and knows how to push herself to be the best she can be.”

When asked what her best attributes are as a player, Rowe’s response was humble.

“We’re quite modest us Irish, so we don’t talk about those things as much,” she said.

“But I hope I can set standards in terms of looking after myself, making sure I do everything right, ticking all the boxes, making sure I’m as fit as possible and doing all the things that don’t take skills or don’t take talent.

“Working hard is the big thing for me. I’m here to work hard and I’m here to focus all my attention on this because that’s what I’m here to do, to train and get better as a player.”