NEW AFL goal umpire Rose O'Dea admits she's a mixture of nerves and excitement ahead of her debut match on Sunday.
O'Dea will become the third female ever – after fellow goal umpires Katrina Pressley and Chelsea Roffey – to officiate in the AFL when she waves the flags in Greater Western Sydney's clash with Melbourne at Spotless Stadium.
For the Canberra native, the match will signal the high point of a seven-year career between the posts.
"You only get one debut so you just want it to go well, and you've been working very hard for a very long time," O'Dea said.
"Then all of a sudden the day's here and it's a strange feeling.
"Every time I think about it I get a swooping sensation in my stomach, so I try not to think about it too much."
Despite her relatively young age of 21, O'Dea has a strong umpiring background, which should hold her in good stead for her AFL career.
She umpired at the MCG on Grand Final day - in the Under-16s national championships division one decider which was a curtain-raiser to Hawthorn's upset win over Geelong in 2008 - and in two NEAFL cross conference deciders.
And O'Dea has had the guidance of Roffey, the only other female umpire in the AFL squad, who became the first woman to umpire an AFL Grand Final in 2012.
"She's been really supportive and quite lovely," said O'Dea, who is studying her honours in Biology at the Australian National University.
"When I did my first first-grade game in my second season, when I was 15, she sent me an email to say congratulations.
"I've had a bit to do with her, when I've been down to Melbourne we've met … she's been a good support."
And as for O'Dea's goals in her debut AFL season?
"I just want to try and goal umpire the best that I can do and see what happens," O'Dea said.
"But first year you just want to get out alive, basically."