Mua Laloifi reacts to Carlton's loss in R10 of the 2023 season. Picture: AFL Photos

FOR FIVE seasons, Mua Laloifi was a permanent fixture in Carlton's backline.

She played 45 games, missing just one with concussion in 2021, including a final against Brisbane in 2020. But come the end of last season, the 30-year-old was not offered a new contract by the Blues and was forced to look elsewhere.

Sydney were interested, but she opted to join the Western Bulldogs in what is a return of sorts after she was drafted from the Dogs' VFLW side as a mature-age recruit in 2019.

Despite being excited by the new opportunity, she concedes her sudden exit from the Blues took a toll.

"It was a shock. I think I've had the summer to process it all. It's a tough one to really delve into at the moment, in terms of the emotions are still there from the exit," Laloifi tells


"But at the same time, it's a business. At the time, I was quite upset. I'd built some really good friendships along the way and met some incredible people at my time at the Blues, and thought I'd probably retire there as well.

"But it wasn't meant to be, and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity I got to play ... around that 40-mark. But things like this happen and I think I'll take the learnings from that exit and hopefully enter the new club, the Doggies, and bring my experiences I had there and some leadership into a new young side that I'm pretty excited to play alongside.

"At the end of the day, I love what I do, regardless of whether that's at the Blues or the Bulldogs. I'm extremely grateful for the platform I have in continuing to play and also helping those who are coming up."

Mua Laloifi celebrates a win in round three. Picture: AFL Photos

Laloifi will be a key part of the Bulldogs' new-look backline, with former Gold Coast key back Lauren Ahrens returning home to Victoria, swapping spots with Katie Lynch, while Fremantle-bound Gab Newton played at both ends of the field during the Dogs' last-placed season.

"I'm just going to go out there and have fun. Every year, I've gone into a footy year not proving to everyone what I can do, but proving those of my loved ones right, that I do belong at the elite level," Laloifi says.

"I thought I could continue that with the Blues. But now I've got a new opportunity to spice it up a bit with a new young group and a new coaching staff.

"I've never gone out there to prove anything to anybody. I think when I can role-model how I carry myself on-field, as well as off-field, and make my parents and my loved ones proud, and that's all I could ask for. I usually let footy talk, but sometimes there's a lot of outside noise you can't control. I'm happy where I am, and I'll take that to the field.

As it stands, the Bulldogs has the second-youngest squad on average (excluding inactive players across the competition), sitting at 23.3, with only West Coast – who is still to sign a replacement player for the pregnant Dana Hooker – younger at 22.9.

Sydney and GWS (23.4), Hawthorn (23.5), Port Adelaide (23.7) and Essendon (23.9) are the only other teams to sit below an average age of 24, with all but the Giants and Dogs having joined the competition in the second half of 2022.

Laloifi says despite the age gap with her new teammates, their enthusiasm is rubbing off on her.

"I think I've always been around young kids, hence why I feel like I'm young. But oh, right now I'm feeling quite old," Laloifi says with a laugh.


"Just the way we communicate throughout training sessions – there's not a lot of banter, because I just don't know what to say to these young kids when they shorten words.

"With a young side, they're so fresh. They're very raw, but it's super exciting to play alongside, and they just bring some excitement to the game.

"They're quite authentic in their abilities, and that's something that as a mature player – even though it gets on my nerves now and then – I'm extremely happy that they're just strutting everywhere.

"Strutting into the gym, out of the gym, onto the field, they're huge talents and I'm excited to play alongside them."