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AFLW State of Origin medal comes up Daisy's

Daisy Pearce with her medal for best afield in the State of Origin clash - AFLW,Daisy Pearce,State of Origin
Daisy Pearce with her medal for best afield in the State of Origin clash

BY HER own admission, Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce is not an elite athlete.

She reckons most opponents and teammates would beat her in a sprint race for the ball.

But the determined on-baller more than compensates for a lack of speed with her Tom Mitchell-like nous to hunt the footy and be in the right place at the right time.

"I'm not very athletically gifted. You measure the girls on an AFL list over 20m and I would finish in the bottom third," she said after leading Victoria to an easy 97-point win against an Allies team in Saturday night’s NAB AFL Women’s state of origin match at Etihad Stadium.

"So, I'm not very fast. I try my guts out and I've worked hard to develop a bit of a tank. My strength is my ability to read the play."

Pearce enhanced her already lofty status with a near career-best display, which earned her the best on ground medal.

She won the award after amassing a staggering 37 possessions as the leader of a dominant midfield.

Even as a young footy fan, Pearce was instinctively drawn to the ball-winning exploits of players like Carlton’s Brett Ratten, a triple best and fairest winner, captain, coach and now assistant to Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn.

"I've watched a lot of footy over the years, but not as a pure spectator. I'm kind of strategising and thinking what I would do, and I think a lot of it comes from that," she said.

"Growing up I was a Carlton supporter and Brett was one of my idols. He had a big heart and a pretty good engine. He wasn't gifted with many other things, but he still managed to make his teammates look better and he was good in traffic, good under pressure."

A sense of history was a powerful motivating force for the first AFLW Victorian team and Pearce was delighted to share a lifelong bond with her 21 teammates who proudly wore the Big V to glory.

"That feeling was pretty much in the forefront of our minds … we had the opportunity to stamp what Victorian footy looks like in this AFLW format and we took a lot of responsibility with that.

"What did we want people to be talking about with a Victorian women's side? We wanted them to believe we were relentless, we were united and worked hard all night and, hopefully, that's what they are saying.

"It's a feeling of honour and pride. When you pull on this iconic and traditional blue and white jumper that a lot of people have aspired to wear before us and to have the opportunity to wear it on a big stage like that is very special.

"I remember wearing it for the first time in 2005, when I was in the first under-19 state team. No one knew about the game other than our family and close friends, but the feeling of wearing it and competing against the best at the time was special.

"Now with the stakes higher and more people behind this, I guess the feeling does get bigger and bigger," she said.

Always the consummate team player, the 29-year-old Pearce wasn't fussed at falling just one kick or handball short of her personal best possession record.

"Prior to the start of AFLW, I could count on one hand how many times I've had my stats done. You judge yourself on feel rather than numbers, so I have no idea what a PB is," she said.

"I measure myself on my work-rate and whether I’m getting to a lot of contests to help out teammates. There are probably times when you get the feeling you're not in the game and that feeling wasn't there at any time."

NAB AFL WOMEN’S STATE OF ORIGIN BEST ON GROUND MEDAL VOTING

Josh Vanderloo, AFL head of female football
3 Daisy Pearce, 2 Brianna Davey, 1 Karen Paxman

Jan Cooper, AFL female football development manager
3 Daisy Pearce, 2 Karen Paxman, 1 Emma King

Bruce Matthews, AFL Media
3 Daisy Pearce, 2 Karen Paxman, 1 Kara Donnellan

9 Daisy Pearce
5 Karen Paxman
2 Brianna Davey
1 Emma King
1 Kara Donnellan