YOUNG ruck Rene Caris will make her debut among two changes to the Geelong team for Saturday’s AFL Women’s Round 5 clash with Brisbane at Moreton Bay Sports Complex.
The Horsham-raised 18-year-old, who was drafted with pick no.35 from the GWV Rebels in last year’s National Draft, replaces Aasta O’Connor, who is serving a two-week suspension for striking following the Round 4 win over Carlton.
The suspension of Maddie Boyd has opened the door for fellow forward Kate Darby to earn an instant recall after being dropped for the clash with her former club.
Caris says it was O’Connor who passed on the good news that she’ll wear the Hoops for the first time against the Lions.
“I was just being slow, taking my time and I realised they were all waiting – ‘Hoody’ (coach Paul Hood) Nat (Wood, assistant coach) and Aasta O’Connor,” Caris said of the meeting where she found out she was playing.
“Then I went into the room, and they told me I wasn’t in trouble. Then Aasta delivered the news to me.”
“That was pretty special coming from someone I’ve idolised over the past few years.”
Hood says Caris is deserving of her opportunity.
“She played in the VFL practice match last week against the Bulldogs and did really, really well,” he said.
“She’s a really athletic, tall young player, and we’re going to need a bit of speed against Brisbane; they’re very athletic, too.
“She really suits this opposition and comes in at a great time to make an impact.”
Darby was squeezed out of last week’s team but did enough against the Bulldogs on Sunday to be the logical replacement for Boyd.
“Kate played really well; she really took the game on, was clean and physical in her approach, and looked to move the ball really well, ” Hood said.
“Looking at the field in that game, you could tell that was Kate an AFLW player who was a step above some of the other players out there.
“It was a real positive for her to be able to get some touch and have a big impact in the game and come back into the team in really good form.
“She’s been outstanding, Kate, since she missed out last week.
“She’s been really good in training and seeking feedback and acting on that feedback.”
AFL WOMEN’S ROUND 5
BRISBANE LIONS (1st Conference B) vs. GEELONG (2nd Conference B)
Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex
Saturday, March 2, 4.45 AEDT