Cora Staunton’s decision to sign on with the GIANTS' AFLW team was an impulsive one made during a one-day trial almost three years ago.
Stanton, one of Ireland’s greatest-ever Gaelic footballers, flew to Australia during a two-week break in her club season having not had time to fully contemplate taking up a new sport.
After spending one day at the club she agreed to sign on, flying to Melbourne the next day for the AFLW draft before heading home two days later.
Staunton tells her story in the latest episode of Becoming GIANT, presented by Bingo Industries.
She remembers arriving in Sydney on a Tuesday morning and being out at the club shortly afterwards, showing AFLW coach Alan McConnell and former AFL assistant coach Nick Walsh what she could do.
Staunton had met Walsh during an event promoting Irish sport in China, and had been in regular contact with McConnell over email leading up to the trip to try out.
“I was only there an hour and within an hour we’d agreed that I’d sign. I flew to Melbourne the next day… not knowing what was happening, not knowing anyone,” Staunton said.
“I don’t think I ever had a proper look at it. I’m very much that type of person, I’m not going to say no.
“I say ‘oh yeah, I’ll do it , I’ll do it, it’s a while away.’ I can kind of put it in my head: ‘that’s still another three months away, it’s not a problem now.”
“It’s only when I was sitting on the plane coming home that I was going, ‘what have I done?”
Stanton, an 11-time All-Star who has also tried her hand at rugby and soccer, was ultimately drawn by the thought of taking on, trying and mastering something new.
The idea of getting to play sport semi-professionally and have more time to train and prepare also appealed.
“When you’ve played a sport like Gaelic football for as long as I have, it’s not like it becomes stale, but it becomes very instinctive,” she said.
“You still have to work hard at it, but you don’t have to work as hard as if you’re trying to pick up a sport from scratch.
“I just liked the challenge. While I still love playing Gaelic football, I love the challenge of learning something new and AFL was certainly a challenge from the start.”