A random run in with a stranger on the other side of the world has proven to be one of the catalysts for newcomer Courtney Murphy’s decision to become a GIANT.

A former basketball star who returned to footy last year after five years playing college basketball in the US, Murphy joined the GIANTS in November’s trade period following a season with the Brisbane Lions.

Having weighed up interest from the Eagles, Crows, Saints and the GIANTS, the 183cm ruck/forward revealed a random encounter with GIANTS AFLW assistant coach Jon Vlatko in Hawaii in February last year had a huge bearing in her decision to don the orange and charcoal this season.

“It’s quite a funny story. I ran into Jon [Vlatko], our forward line coach, in Hawaii at the airport last year when I was there for a basketball game. He was there wearing a GIANTS backpack and I’m not usually one to go up and ask people if they play footy, but I did in this case, and it led to him telling me he was a coach for the GIANTS’ women’s team,” Murphy recalled.

“We got chatting and I told him I was coming back to Australia to play for the Lions and then we kept in contactfrom there and then the opportunity came up for me [to be traded] and I decided to choose the GIANTS. I ran into Jon twice in Hawaii so it was meant to be I guess.”

A Brisbane Lions Academy member as a teenager, Murphy is only a little over a year into her return to footy after giving up the sport to chase her basketball ambitions in high school.

“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life and I first picked up a footy in grade seven, but I had to pick between them at the end of grade 12 as I was juggling the two which was intense and so I decided to drop footy and focus on basketball,” she said.

While Murphy’s basketball talent took her to the US for five years of college basketball, it was that experience which drew her back to footy after seeing many of her former Lions Academy teammates live out their AFLW dreams back home.

“I loved the experience but it is super intense over there playing college basketball and I kind of lost the joy for it [basketball] and I was missing footy, especially seeing all of my friends getting drafted.

“Pretty much all of my old Lions Academy teammates now play for the Lions [AFLW side] and I saw everyone enjoying footy so much and it made me really miss it and so I said to myself, that’s my goal when I come back [to Australia], I want to play [AFLW] footy.”

That goal came to fruition upon her return from the states last year when Murphy was picked up by the Lions, where she spent the 2023 AFLW season before her move to the GIANTS in the summer.

Now a few months into her new home, the 23-year-old from the Sunshine Coast says she’s rapt with her move to the GIANTS.

“I arrived in mid-March for the start of VFLW and I’m loving it,” she said.

“I’ve gelled with a lot of the girls and they’ve all been so lovely and making me feel at home which has been amazing.”

The exciting young ruck/forward - who loves film photography and surfing outside of her football commitments - said there’s two main goals that she’s striving towards this upcoming AFLW season.

“Debuting in round one is my first goal,” she said.

“The other is just growing with the girls. We had a great VFLW season and I think we can build on that and take it into the AFLW season and really excel.

“I’m really focusing on cleaning up my body positioning and my hands in the forward line, and then my goalkicking as well, which will all help me work towards that debut in round one.”

Murphy is one of eight new GIANTS for the upcoming AFLW season, which will get underway with an exciting clash with the Bulldogs in Canberra on Saturday, August 31.