Irishwoman Yvonne Bonner has been a revelation for the GIANTS this season, despite still learning the rules and nuances of game-play while also coming to terms with the code's physicality.
Bonner has kicked one goal in each of her four games, including a left-footed goal-of-the-year contender from the boundary against Carlton in round three, and another impressive effort from the goalsquare against Collingwood last weekend.
"I'm enjoying every game … it's a short season, so you have to make a quick impact, but I've still got a lot to learn," Bonner said.
The 31-year-old from Donegal took part in the 'CrossCoders' talent identification program in Melbourne last year, impressing scouts with her strength, speed, marking prowess and ability to kick with both feet. About 20 elite female athletes from North America and Europe were invited to the week-long program. Bonner met GIANTS coach Alan McConnell during the camp and signed with the club soon after its completion.
Speaking in Sydney on Wednesday, Bonner said she was still learning "the tricks of the trade" but was enjoying the fast-paced nature of the AFLW competition. Although naturally strong, she has had to prepare mentally for the tackling and bumping, which are not features of the Gaelic game she has played for more than 15 years.
"I've probably been focused more on the ball … you have to get ready for the physical side of things. That will come with experience ... I have to bide my time and keep working hard," she said.
Bonner is the GIANTS' second Irish player; Gaelic star Cora Staunton made a significant impact in her debut AFLW season last year, and is also averaging a-goal-a-game this season.
"She (went) through it last year…she knows the ins and outs of it now and can really guide me. It's brilliant having a fellow Irish person (here)," Bonner said.
Bonner said the GIANTS were excited about being in control of their destiny, with last weekend's victory over Collingwood keeping them in contention for a preliminary final spot in Conference B. The GIANTS are fourth, a win behind second-placed Geelong.
Victory over Melbourne at Blacktown on Sunday would certainly improve their odds.
"It wasn't the start we were looking for (losing our first three matches)…but we're delighted we've still got a chance," Bonner said.