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AFLW: Draft hopeful's quick rise to premiership glory

Emerson Woods is expected to be drafted  - AFLW
Emerson Woods is expected to be drafted

WINNING a VFL Women's premiership while still in year 12 is a fair achievement in anyone's book, let alone someone in only their third year of footy.

But speedy Vic Metro winger Emerson Woods did just that, for Hawthorn in its win over Geelong last month.

Woods is one of 36 girls who took part in last week’s NAB AFL Women's Combine and is expected to be selected in the NAB AFLW Draft on October 23.

Speaking about her June VFLW debut, Woods said she had enjoyed the experience, which led to seven games over the season.

"The Hawthorn girls were really supportive, and they welcomed us four TAC Cup girls (Wood, Georgia MacPherson, Mikala Cann and Sarah Kendall) in really well and I really enjoyed it there," Woods said.

"I felt comfortable playing seniors. It was a step up, but I thought I handled myself pretty well."

Woods played her first season of footy in 2016 for Mt Evelyn in the Eastern Region Women's League in Melbourne's outer east.

"I was playing basketball and wanted to give something else a go. My friends were all playing footy and I was quite jealous," said Woods, who turned 18 in July.

"I played a few games at school (Mt Lilydale Mercy College, where she is completing year 12) and loved it, and then I had to convince my dad because I had a fair bit on with basketball, but I made the transition and don't play any basketball now.

"It was a big decision… (basketball) had been a big part of my life and part of me didn't want to let go of it, but I knew footy was the right pathway to go and I've enjoyed it heaps."

The Carlton fan grew up watching the game but isn't a complete footy nut.

"I was a bit of a footy fan when I was younger. I was a big fan of (former Eagle and Blue) Chris Judd. I like watching (Carlton’s) Charlie Curnow now, but there isn't really anyone I watch [to emulate]."

Woods made her TAC Cup debut with the Eastern Ranges in 2017, also playing for Vic Metro in the NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships for the first time that year.

This year, she's much more settled playing at the top level, co-captaining the Ranges to fourth place in their TAC Cup under-18 campaign earlier this year.

Her time in the NAB AFL Women's Academy has also helped.

"I really didn't know what to expect at the academy. It's blown my mind a bit," Woods said.

"I've got some great skills out of it, like developing my leadership. My first year of TAC Cup was after my first season of footy. I was a bit quieter, I knew my role and what I had to do, but I wasn't really one to share or talk to many of the girls.

"Being accepted into the academy helped me to be appointed co-captain. I feel a lot more confident all around."

Woods' biggest asset is her speed. She's a strong link player along the wing and a fierce tackler.

An untimely heavy cold during the second round of the under-18 carnival stymied her performance somewhat, but she has proven her strengths on numerous other occasions.

Tom Humphrey, Woods' coach at the Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro, speaks highly of her.

"We constantly talk to Em about her speed and run and carry. She probably needs to get the confidence to really use that weapon," Humphrey said.

"She's a terrific young girl who's working hard at her game. She can be a bit hard on herself at times, which a lot of the girls are, but her character is second-to-none in the leadership stakes.

"All up, she's just a lovely kid."