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AFLW: Foley’s surprise shift into ruck

It’s intimidating to try and fill her [Metcalfe] shoes, but I will give it my all
Jessica Foley

New Crow Jessica Foley may not have trained in the ruck until recently in the pre-season, but she will have a wealth of knowledge behind her when she steps into the position on Saturday night in her AFLW debut.

Coach Matthew Clarke had prepared to play the 183cm as a utility around the ground, but when rucks Rhiannon Metcalfe and Jasmyn Hewett were injured in the side’s trial match, Foley was quickly elevated to first ruck.

“I was pretty daunted when I first found out I’d be playing ruck,” Foley told AFC Media.

“At first, I was just devastated for Rhi – she was in amazing form and just so focused… it’s intimidating to try and fill her shoes, but I will give it my all.”

Luckily, the former basketballer is no stranger to the position, being named in the ruck in the SANFLW Team of the Year for 2018.

“Ruck isn’t completely new territory for me but it is a higher level and the opposition will be taller and stronger, but hopefully my agility will help me,” she said.

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And having Clarke, recognised as one of the best tap ruckman of his time, supporting her does not hurt.

“Obviously Doc [Clarke] is an expert in the ruck craft so he’s been helping me find a way to be as effective as I can in that position,” she said.

“He’s teaching me that I don’t necessarily have to be the biggest or the strongest to be valuable in the ruck.”

It looks like Foley will also have close support from Metcalfe herself, as the injured Crow takes on a mentoring role from the sidelines.

“We’re looking at me taking on a bit of a coaching role for the girls that will be playing in the ruck,” Metcalfe said.

“Obviously Doc has showed us a lot of really good techniques since we started training this year but I guess one thing I have is that I’ve physically gone up against the opponents these first two seasons.

“It’s one thing to watch as much video and footage as you can watch, but it’s another thing to actually go up against the girls, so I’ll give as much advice as I can.”

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She said she had full faith in Foley’s ability to step into the role.

“It’s a bit daunting for her, being such a quick, unexpected change, but she’s a versatile player and with her basketball background, she’s the kind of player who can play anywhere on the field,” she said.

“I’m not even worried about her filling that role, she’ll absolutely kill it.”

Adelaide will take on reigning premier, the Western Bulldogs, at Norwood Oval on Saturday night from 8.10pm ACDT.

For all the information ahead of Round One, read the game day guide here.