'Where is everyone?' Lost Dog's first-game nerves

ISABELLA Grant's first game for the Western Bulldogs didn't start out the way she had hoped.

The forward was so excited about the informal practice match against Richmond last Saturday that she turned up to the wrong ground.

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"I was so nervous," Grant said.

"I didn't read the memo clearly enough and I went to Whitten Oval."

"I thought 'Where is everyone?' and called 'George' (Elisabeth Georgiostathis) and found out it was actually at Punt Road."

"Once I got there I was a bit flustered but I did a bit of meditation and got in the zone."

Captain Ellie Blackburn and veteran Brooke Lochland were quick to get around Grant and calm her down.

"Ellie (Blackburn) made me do the toss, which I was so scared about. But that made me feel a bit more confident," she said.

Grant always arrives at games half an hour before she's meant to, so she wasn't late, but she did get a fine from the playing group.

"I've definitely racked up the most (fines) so far," she said.

The start was a little smoother for No.1 pick Gabby Newton, who was able to really soak in the moment before her first game against another AFLW team.

"Just pulling on the jumper for the first time was like 'Oh my gosh, this is actually happening'," Newton said.

Playing against Katie Brennan, it was like 'Phew, it's starting'.

Gabby Newton

After finally relaxing, Grant – the daughter of club great Chris – felt the sense of occasion, too.

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"Walking into the change rooms and seeing the No.3 and knowing that's my jumper made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up a bit," Grant said.

"I feel grateful for the opportunity and really proud too."

Isabella Grant in action at Bulldogs training


With such a young list, the Bulldogs' expectations for the 2020 NAB AFL Women's season don't revolve around wins and losses, but Newton believes her new team is more than capable of upsetting other sides.

"For us, being young isn't an excuse. We still want to be really competitive," she said.

Newton has a few games circled on the fixture, starting with the Dogs' season opener against St Kilda, where she could match up against former Vic Metro teammate Georgia Patrikios.

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"I'd really love to win in round one – nothing against Patrikios, just I think it's so exciting playing a new team and it's (Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke) 'Burkey's' old club."

"The Pride Match (against Carlton), I'm really excited for that one as well."

The Dogs got through unscathed in their hitout against Richmond at Punt Road.

Newton and Grant both had stints through the midfield and up forward, as they have throughout their junior careers, but one surprise was seeing Isabel Huntington line up across half-back.

"She (Huntington) played amazing – the marks – just absolute sticky fingers," Grant said.

"She looked a bit different with the buns, I kept on forgetting that it was her. She was an absolute magnet."

Bulldogs No.1 draft picks Isabel Huntington and Gabby Newton

It was a step up in physicality and speed for both of the first-year players, especially for Grant who was only ticked off for full contact training a few weeks ago after dealing with a bout of glandular fever.

"I was still getting used to getting bumped around. I felt like a bag of sticks or something because they're all so strong," Grant said.

The Dogs will host Geelong in their first league-sanctioned practice match on Saturday, January 25 at 10.30am at Whitten Oval.