'Not being drafted really hurt': The All-Stars skipper refusing to give up


IT GOES without saying that not every player who nominates for the NAB AFLW Draft gets selected.

What happens if you miss out?

If you're Palmerston's Janet Baird, you rehab that ill-timed hamstring injury, dust yourself off, play two years of solid footy and re-emerge in draft calculations an older, wiser and better player. 

Baird, 20, has now been invited to Queensland's pool of the NAB AFLW Draft Combine (on the back of an alliance between Gold Coast and the Northern Territory government), and starred in last week's Northern Territory NAB AFLW All-Stars match

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"I'd probably 18-year-old Janet to be patient. Not being drafted really hurt, but I've been persistent, so I'd tell her to keep at it," Baird told womens.afl.

"Nothing's really changed, I've still been enjoying my footy, and someone's noticed that I'm good at it, so they're inviting me to things.

"Just keep playing footy and the rest will come."

Team Ponter's Janet Baird lays a tackle during the NAB AFLW All-Stars match. Picture: AFL Photos

Playing for the Central Allies, Baird was named in the 2018 AFLW Under-18 All-Australian squad despite tearing her hamstring halfway through the carnival.

It was a while before she got her spark back.

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"It took me a couple of months to get back into footy and be consistent. My following year in the VFLW season (playing for NT Thunder), I felt like it was my best season yet, so it was good to get over that," she said.

"Power and speed are two of my strengths, so I had to get back into that. Rehab didn't take too long, it was only six to eight weeks, but I was different.

"I was concerned about doing normal agility stuff I usually do."

If drafted, the AFLW won't be a foreign proposition for Baird, having worked with the Suns as a train-on player this year.

Where she fits on the ground is another matter.

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"I've been asking myself the same question (her best position) over the past couple of years, but I'm just an outside mid, really," Baird said.

"I'm happy to play wherever that works, whether it's running off back, leading up forward or hitting a forward up out of the middle."

Not only was Baird one of the victorious Team Ponter's best in the NT's All-Stars match, she also captained the side despite it containing a handful of players 10 years her senior.

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"It was a bit daunting. All the girls prepared really well before the game, and everyone was eager to get out there, because there haven't been any NTFL games for the past six months (over the off-season)," she said.

"Everyone was just keen to get out there and smash it. We didn't miss out on our normal season (like other states due to COVID-19), but we missed out on our Thunder season, so we hadn't really touched the ball in that game sense.

"I told my team we had got our momentum going earlier than the other team, so we just stuck to it. I told them to have fun and enjoy it, because when was the last time we had a kick?"

Stay tuned to womens.afl and the AFLW Official App for comprehensive coverage of the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft