AS THE first international player drafted by an AFL Women’s club, Greater Western Sydney’s Cora Staunton is holding her own in a side that is still in Grand Final contention.
The Gaelic football star, pick 47 in the 2017 NAB AFLW Draft, has averaged seven disposals and two tackles in her debut season and has slotted three goals playing mainly as a forward for the fourth-placed Giants.
Staunton, 36, is one of Ireland’s most decorated female athletes, winning 10 of the past 16 Ladies' Gaelic Football All Stars awards as best player in her position (forward). Although she has been involved in elite sport for two decades, she said the Giants had the most elite learning and playing environment she had encountered.
Staunton, who has also played top-level soccer and rugby, offers years of leadership and experience to her younger teammates. But she also praised them for helping her adapt to her fourth sport.
“I need to do extra sessions to make myself better. Instead of me doing the sessions alone, I have a few of the girls now join me on those days,” she said.
“I’m part of a really strong club (Mayo) at home that is like one big family. I never thought I’d get that feeling anywhere else. But walking into the Giants, I get that feeling.”
Staunton’s unique kicking style has also received plenty of attention from supporters and commentators as she continues to adapt from the round ball to a Sherrin.
“In Ireland I kick (the ball) around the corner. It’s the normal kicking style at home,” she said.
“I suppose they call it the ‘Stevie J’ [after former Giant and Cat Steve Johnson, who was one of the first AFL players to use that style] kick here. I don’t know if there are too many AFL diehards that are happy with the kicking style.”