Ally Morphett before the round 06 match between Port Adelaide and Sydney at Alberton Oval, October 7, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

ALLY Morphett is excited to be pulling on the red and white again this year, for more reasons than one.

Last season the 20-year-old was put in the spotlight. First for her breakout form that resulted in a maiden All Australian guernsey. Then, for an injury that ruled her out of Sydney's first finals series. And finally, as speculation swirled around significant contract offers thrown her way from several clubs.

Ultimately, and much to Sydney's relief, Morphett opted to stay put and extend until 2027.

She now sits in the casual dining area of Sydney's headquarters. Relaxed in her chair, legs crossed, kindly acknowledging teammates as they walk by on what is a hectic day at the club.

It is the Swans' AFLW photo and media day, and all players clutch a piece of paper with a detailed schedule as they move from station to station. But everyone does so with a smile on their face, happy to be there.

Ally Morphett (right) during the Sydney Swans AFLW Official Team Photo Day, July 3, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"I want to be a part of a club that has something special, and I truly feel that the Swans are where I'm supposed to be," Morphett told

The conjecture around Morphett's contract was something new in the women's space, after the 2023 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) changed the way AFLW player contracts could be structured.

Previously, clubs could only sign players for a maximum of two years, with some limited AFL-approved exemptions for the final round of expansion teams. But the CBA removed that hard ceiling on contracts, meaning clubs could use the length of deals in their bargaining for players.

Given Morphett's breakout form in the specialised role of ruck, she was immediately a woman in demand when the change was made.

"It was definitely confronting at the time," Morphett admitted.

"There was a stage where I had to be a bit selfish and think about personal benefits… but I knew deep down, no matter how much was getting thrown at me, it wasn't the money that really bothered me. It was where did I want to go?


"I knew that it was a decision that I shouldn't rush, and take my time. I had my small circle of people with my agent and my family helping me decide on what to do. At the end of the day, I'm grateful that both the Swans and other clubs were backing my ability and putting offers to me."

When Sydney joined the League in 2022 a dream was realised for Morphett, who had spent a season on Greater Western Sydney's list.

"At the time the Giants were the only New South Wales team, but I was lucky enough to be picked up by the Giants," Morphett said.

"I got a phone call after my first season to play for the Sydney Swans and, being a Swans fan, it was 'holy crap, they've just offered me a contract'… just to be a part of the club's first ever women's team is something so special to me."

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Her first season at the club didn't quite go to plan. Morphett played nine of a possible 10 games, and Sydney went winless, anchored to the bottom of the ladder. But they went to work over the off season to rectify it.

Morphett focused on her fitness and became a key part of the team's significant growth in 2023.

"I was going through that stage of trying to get fit and trying to really be the best athlete I could be. There were thoughts that, well, 'I want to be the best ruck in the competition, so I'm going to do everything I can to put myself in that position'," Morphett said.

She put the competition on notice in round one against Greater Western Sydney, recording 29 hitouts, 18 disposals, and seven clearances – all career-bests at the time – in the club's first ever win. Against her old side no less.

Ally Morphett celebrates after the round one AFLW match between Sydney and Greater Western Sydney at North Sydney Oval, September 3, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Over seven rounds of footy Morphett stamped her authority, averaging 29.3 hitouts, 17.9 disposals, and 5.1 clearances, widely rated as the best ruck to that stage. A shoo-in for All-Australian selection.

But frustration crept in when she copped what would be a season-ending wrist injury.

"It was so devastating, it was honestly the hardest part of last year," Morphett said.

In Sydney's round seven loss to Hawthorn, Morphett suffered what she thought was a simple jarred wrist, but turned out to be a fractured scaphoid.

"I took the ball out of the ruck, and I went to run off and got tackled. I put my wrist out in a really awkward position," Morphett said.

"I thought it was just like, strap it up, it'll be okay… it's a bit sore but just get me a Panadol and I'll be fine for the weekend."

Clearly well-versed in all things scaphoid nine months on from the injury, she was able to explain in detail the process of healing the bone.

"It's a really hard bone to heal because there's low blood supply and low blood flow in that bone. It was supposed to be like a five-to-six-week recovery. I got a scan done and the surgeon said I didn't need surgery, it should be good, it'll heal on its own," Morphett explained, lifting her arm to show the significant scar running up and down her wrist.

"Then I came back six weeks later, got my scan. Unfortunately, it didn't heal so I actually had to undergo surgery and get a screw put in it, which made the rehab process from six weeks to five months."

Morphett's absence from the side threw into question not only Sydney's ability to continue to push on its upward trajectory, but also the ruck's viability for the All-Australian guernsey.

Coming off just seven games, selectors had a tough call to make, with Fremantle's Mim Strom also having a career-best season and playing all 10 home and away games. But eventually Morphett's form couldn't be ignored.

She is measured when talking about individual accolades. Clearly conscious that footy is about the team above all, but there is a burning motivation in her to be the best in her individual position bubbling away underneath it all.

Sydney Swans Laura Gardiner, Ally Morphett and Chloe Molloy in their AFLW All Australian blazers during the 2023 W Awards, November 27, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"It's obviously been a dream of mine for a long time, and I wasn't expecting it to happen after that season, going down with injury," Morphett said.

"I wasn't even thinking throughout the season about individual success, it was more about playing my role for the team."

Once injured, however, she was forced to find other ways to play her role. Although it was a maddening way to end a stunning season, she reflects on the experience as a positive one.

"I struggled a bit, but I knew that mentally I'd be better for it. I can be a better teammate, having this struggle at the moment," she said.

"It made me focus on a lot more rather than performance and footy, it was more about connections off the field."

Now, she is raring to go. After a taste of being back on the field during Sydney's invitational VFLW period earlier in the year, she's itching for the season proper to begin.

"It's the best time of the week, playing with your footy friends," Morphett smiles.