Lila Keck is presented her jumper by Kerryn Peterson during the AFLW Draft on December 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

AMONG the young contingent of Carlton players, including recent draftee Lila Keck, captain Kerryn Peterson has a nickname.


"It's a running joke, I'm Lila Peterson," Keck told with a laugh.

"We call her when we need."

Watching the pair interact, the nickname makes sense. Not because of the age gap – although Peterson is 14 years older than Keck – but in terms of the care they show one another.

If Keck is unsure, Peterson is there to bolster. If Keck swears, Peterson offers a reminder to keep it clean. It's about allowing the fun, while teaching professional standards at the same time. And Peterson takes it in her stride.

"I swear I'm Google to them. They ask if it's alright to tie their shoelaces," Peterson laughs.

"It kind of comes with the territory, but all of a sudden, I've gone from being one of the younger, inexperienced players, and then with a click of the fingers you're the oldest and little pipsqueaks are calling you 'mum'."


Peterson isn't the only one offering a friendly jibe sandwiched by support. Coach Mathew Buck also gets in on the action.

"We were just having a conversation about how much fashion has changed since there are a few players around a similar age to myself, and if we would be caught dead in what Lila had on that particular day," Peterson said.

"'Bucky' was in his office with a closed door … he comes out and someone said 'Bucky' how would you describe Lila's kit? And he said something to the effect of a 45-year-old dad."

Pure glee was painted on Peterson's face while retelling the story, as Keck repeatedly interjected like a younger sibling.

"It looked good though, yeah?" Keck asked.

No.7 pick Lila Keck during the 2023 AFLW Draft at Marvel Stadium. Picture: AFL Photos

It is this kind of relationship, emulating a family dynamic, that allows players to settle into the club. This is especially important for Keck who made the move from Bendigo after being drafted to her club of choice.

"I didn't think it was ever going to happen," Keck said of being selected by Carlton.

"I actually had no inkling. You sort of have an inkling of where you might end up, and it wasn't Carlton for me. And for 'Kez' to have been my idol since I was little, and then to be here and spend almost every day with her. I didn't think it was ever going to happen."

With Peterson also hailing from Bendigo, there was an immediate bond between the pair.

"It's a pretty small town, people know people in Bendigo," Peterson said.

"I know a lot about Lila and the sort of player she was and the person that she was, so for us to have access to her and for her to fall to us at pick seven was pretty exciting."

Their bond is an 'opposites attract' scenario. Peterson is a self-proclaimed "black boots operator". No fuss, get the job done. Your typical dour defender's personality. While Keck's goal celebrations and outgoing personality precede her.

Labelling her own style of footy as "rat up a drainpipe" – a phrase that has already enjoyed mileage within the club after Keck uttered it on draft night – it is an apt, albeit odd, descriptor.

"She's an excitement machine, she brings so much energy to our group," Peterson said.

When asked to describe Keck in one sentence, however, Peterson offers a more vivid picture.

"Like a Labrador puppy dog who needs plenty of opportunity to play and explore, but mostly needs to be on a leash so that she doesn't destroy anything," she said as Keck sat next to her with an incredulous look on her face.

But it makes sense. Keck is clearly energetic and enthusiastic about not just footy, but life more broadly, and just needs someone to offer up some boundaries along the way.

Her chance to reciprocate in describing Peterson takes some time, and although it is a chance to ruffle feathers, she goes for a sweeter, more sincere choice of words.

"Kez, apart from being my mother and my idol, she's a freak at her job on and off the field, and I wouldn't want to be under anyone else's wing," Keck said.

"She's just a legend."

For Peterson, as she enters her eighth season at the Blues, finding consistency in her body is key after a frustrating 2023 campaign.

"I've had my fair share of longer-term injuries, but last year was different because we were so close to playing and then to experience surgery a week out from the season, and probably came back a little but underdone. But that was the nature of the 10-game season," Peterson said.

"With a new coach and a new system, I felt like I had something to prove and wasn't really able to do that."

Kerryn Peterson and Mathew Buck at the Carlton AFLW team photo day, August 10, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

This year she has told Buck she'll be the best recruit he's got, with which Keck tends to agree.

"That's probably not a bad call, I think she goes alright," Keck said.

Focus for Keck now, however, is on applying herself fully throughout her first preseason in the hopes of opening round selection.

"Have a really good preseason, put my best foot forward, and hopefully get the call up," Keck said.

It seems like a no brainer for her captain.

"If I was picking the team she would (be selected), but we'll have to wait and see," Peterson said.

"We've got 12 weeks to work."