Main content

'The female Juddy' Kara Donnellan to lead WA in exhibition match

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 9: Kara Donnelley of the Eagles in action during the 2016 AFL Curtain Raiser match between the West Coast Eagles and the Fremantle Dockers at Domain Stadium, Perth on April 9, 2016. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Media)
Kara Donnellan in action for the Eagles in their 65-point win over the Dockers

KARA Donnellan is a genuine ball-magnet likely to attract plenty of attention when she leads a combined West Australian women's team at Etihad Stadium in early June.

Donnellan has been likened to one of the game’s greats and is a sure starter for next year's inaugural AFL women's league, but recruiters can forget about trying to lure her home to Victoria.

The 24-year-old is in the final year of a bachelor of secondary education degree, but studying isn’t the only thing keeping her in Perth.

Originally from Langwarrin in Melbourne’s outer south-east, Donnellan played for Victorian Women’s Football League club St Albans before her studies and a serious shoulder injury saw her head west.

"You get to a point in your life where you need change and I love the lifestyle in Perth. I was only going to stay for a year, but I won't be coming back any time soon,'' she said, minutes after leading a West Coast team to victory over Fremantle in a women’s exhibition series match at Domain Stadium last Saturday.

Donnellan had a shoulder reconstruction in the summer of 2012, with her rehabilitation supervised by a physiotherapist from Perth club Swan Districts. So, it soon became clear where her new football home would be once she was passed fit to play again.

"My injury was a blessing in disguise. I was going to have a year off and then I fell in love with the game again,'' she said.

"You can imagine the change coming from Victoria with small grounds and cold weather to big grounds and hot weather. It took me a whole year to get into the rhythm of WA footy and the weather, but I love it.''

Donnellan led by example with 22 possessions in the Eagles’ 65-point win over the Dockers in a game played as a curtain-raiser to the AFL derby. She's expected to be captain of a powerful West Australian team that will face the women’s Western Bulldogs, prior to the Bulldogs-Eagles AFL game in Melbourne on June 5.

The quick and courageous midfielder has the nickname ‘Juddy’ after the recently retired West Coast and Carlton great Chris Judd.

"Years ago I kicked the ball to my coach on the left (foot) on the run in a drill and she turned around and said 'You kick like Juddy', so it stuck,'' she said.

And she happily admitted to boldly introducing herself to the dual Brownlow medallist after bumping into him at a St Kilda kebab shop.

"It was after a late night out. I was getting a kebab and he was getting a pizza and we had a bit of a chat about women's footy,” Donnellan said.

"It was great talking footy with him.”