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Next Gen on Show as Four Debut

Squad: AFLW Round 1 All the selection details ahead of the 2019 AFLW round 1 clash with Brisbane.
Alyce Parker will make her AFLW debut on Sunday. - GWS Giants,AFLW,Haneen Zreika,Alyce Parker,Brisbane Lions,Yvonne Bonner,Christina Bernardi
Alyce Parker will make her AFLW debut on Sunday.

Local teenagers Alyce Parker and Haneen Zreika will make their AFL Women’s debuts when the GIANTS take on the Brisbane Lions at Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex on Sunday.

The New South Wales duo has been named in the GIANTS’ 23-person opening round squad that also includes Irish import Yvonne Bonner and high-profile recruit, Christina Bernardi.

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18-year-old Parker has impressed across the pre-season since joining the GIANTS with their first pick (12th overall) in the 2018 NAB AFLW Draft. 

The Holbrook product’s ability to win the contested ball and provide outside run sees her win a place in the GIANTS’ midfield alongside her former NSW Under 18s coach Alicia Eva.

"We've got high hopes for Alyce. We think she's going to be a very good player for us for a very long time,” GIANTS AFLW coach Alan McConnell said on Thursday. 

“She’s very good around the contest and the ability to turn onto her left foot is a real advantage for players.”

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Zreika makes history becoming both the first Muslim and person of Lebanese decent to play in the AFLW.

Gaelic football star Bonner will make her AFLW debut after joining the club as a rookie in September.

The 31-year-old forward from Donegal in Northwest Ireland has quickly adapted to AFLW, kicking a goal against the Lions in a practice match a fortnight ago and taking a number of strong marks. 

“She’s pretty exciting, unfortunately she’s only had about 12 training session in our game which is pretty astonishing,” McConnell said. 

“She came over pre-Christmas but unfortunately due to a bereavement in the family had to go home for three weeks so we missed a fair bit of the pre-season preparation with her.

“What she’s doing now is basically on sheer, raw naturally talent and ability. It’s exciting to see what’s possible.”

Bernardi will play in the orange and charcoal for the first time since her trade from Collingwood in June. 

The 2018 Virgin Australia AFLW All Australian was last week named in the GIANTS’ leadership group and will bring some added power to their forward line.

While the GIANTS beat the Lions by 47 points in a practice match a fortnight ago, McConnell isn’t reading too much into the result and expects the two-time grand finalists to come out fighting.

“The biggest learning happened last year. Don’t think that what happens in a practice match happens in the real season,” he said.

“Both teams were trying out a lot of things, both teams played 28 players. 

“There’s some positives to take out of it in that I thought we used the ball a lot better than this time last year and that we’ll be able to spread the load a little more evenly across our group.”

The GIANTS’ final 22 to take on the Lions will be named on gwsgiants.com.au at 4:30pm on Friday.

Brisbane Lions v GIANTS
Sunday, February 3 at 5:05pm (EDT)
Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex, Queensland

FB: Cora Staunton, Maddy Collier

HB: Tanya Hetherington, Pepa Randall, Amanda Farrugia

C: Elle Bennetts, Jessica Dal Pos, Courtney Gum

HF: Yvonne Bonner, Alicia Eva, Christina Bernardi

FF: Haneen Zreika, Phobe Monahan

RR: Erin McKinnon, Emma Swanson, Alyce Parker

Interchange (from): Louise Stephenson, Aimee Schmidt, Nicola Barr, Rebecca Beeson, Jodie Hicks, Tait Mackrill, Brittany Perry