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AFLW: New Blue Van Dyk paints a promising picture

Jayde Van Dyk with the Debbie Lee Medal as VFLW Rising Star - AFLW,AFLW Draft,Jayde Van Dyk,Carlton Blues
Jayde Van Dyk with the Debbie Lee Medal as VFLW Rising Star

ASK JAYDE Van Dyk to describe her last 12 months and the answer is pretty simple: "Full on."

It wasn't long ago when Van Dyk was a train-on player with Carlton's AFLW side, joining the Blues for the odd session in between matches with her local side in Chirnside Park in Melbourne’s outer-east.

At that time, making the AFLW was just a pipedream. But barely two years later, the talented defender is a fully-fledged Carlton player and has her sights set on a long career.

A lot has changed for Van Dyk in that short space of time, particularly in the last year.

She joined Hawthorn's VFLW side, won a premiership, claimed the club's best and fairest, won the league's Rising Star award and was recruited to Carlton via the NAB AFLW Draft.

There hasn't been much time for Van Dyk to sit back and take stock.

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But when it all dawns on the hard-working 22-year-old, she thinks back to her early days with Carlton during its inaugural season as the moment it clicked.

"It wasn't really my mindset to make it this far at that time," Van Dyk told AFL.com.au.

"It was all fresh and I knew I'd have to work for it if that's what I wanted. But after that, I knew. I knew if I wanted to put my best foot forward, I could definitely make it.

Once I got there I realised that's what I wanted to do. I got the chance at Carlton and it's all been pretty crazy from there.

Van Dyk's season with Hawthorn certainly proved she could make it at the highest level.

She averaged 15 disposals across half-back, improving her skill-set across the board and earning a place in the VFLW's team of the year.

Not surprisingly, she now feels much more comfortable in her second stint at Ikon Park than she did during her first. She does, however, credit her initial period with the Blues as a big step in her journey.

"It was weird (joining Carlton as a train-on player to cover injuries), coming in half-way through the season, not knowing many of the girls and trying to slot in," Van Dyk said.

"But it was a good experience, especially to recognise that there was a higher level in footy and if I wanted to do that, then I had to work for it.

"It opened my eyes … I'd have to put in the effort and improve myself."

Snaring Van Dyk with pick No. 21 in October’s NAB AFLW Draft completed a satisfying draft for the Blues.

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Regional zoning ensured they could recruit Madison Prespakis with the third selection, before matching a bid for father-daughter prospect Abbie McKay with their next pick.

When it came to their third selection, they didn't think Van Dyk would still be available. The fact she was made their decision a no-brainer – even if she didn't realise it at the time.

"I had no idea," Van Dyk said.

"There was talk, but I went into it with no expectations. I spoke to four or five clubs and Carlton wasn't one of them, so it was a shock to me."

Having ticked virtually every box throughout 2018, both individually and as part of the Hawks, Van Dyk is now fixing her focus firmly on 2019 – starting with an AFLW debut in round one.

"That's everyone's aim," Van Dyk said.

"You have to work for it. There are no expectations, so I'll just see how we go."