Freo skipper shines in new forward role with 'interesting bunch'

FREMANTLE captain Kara Antonio was given two weeks to prepare when coach Trent Cooper came to her with the idea of playing forward in the Dockers' season-opener against Greater Western Sydney.

A tough midfielder and more recently a hard-running winger, Antonio was tasked with connecting the midfield and forward line when her team opened the new season at Fremantle Oval.

She jumped at the opportunity for a new challenge and it looks a winning move after the skipper's excellent contribution against the Giants, finishing with 16 disposals, a game-high four score assists, and a goal.

R2 RESHUFFLE Two games postponed due to COVID restrictions 

"A couple of weeks ago Trent said I want to throw you forward for round one and I jumped at it. I love a challenge," Antonio told womens.afl.

"I started in the backline in junior footy and then moved my way through the midfield as a senior player. But I've never really gone forward.

"Last year playing wing, I'd never really played that role and flipping forward was a little bit the same.

"I'm trying to find my feet, but the girls have been awesome over the last couple of weeks at training."

AFLW Match Highlights: Fremantle v GWS

05:36 Jan 31. 2021. 6:34 PM

The Dockers and Giants clash in round one of the NAB AFL Women's competition

Antonio linked up with star forward Gemma Houghton brilliantly in the Dockers' 30-point win against GWS and, as planned, was the often the glue that connected the midfielders and forwards.

Her influence was pronounced early in the third quarter when she won critical possessions at half-forward and had the poise and skill to find Houghton in attack, launching a game-breaking three-goal run for the Dockers.

AFLW TEAM OF THE WEEK Round one

"I know her strengths and she knows mine. So as soon as I saw her burst out, I gave it to her and she did the rest," Antonio said.

"Over the course of the season I think I'll find my feet a little bit more, but I really enjoyed it.

"We don't really care who kicks them down there, as long as we hit the scoreboard, which was probably evident. Everyone chipped in."

Giants helpless as Houghton takes over

00:38 Jan 31. 2021. 5:27 PM

Gemma Houghton is on absolute fire for the Dockers, kicking two superb goals in quick succession

The Dockers have a group of big personalities and stars in attack, headed by Houghton and Sabreena Duffy, who each booted three goals against the Giants.

While others bring the X-factor, Antonio said she would focus on leadership and using her running power to get up the ground and provide an option.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT A snapshot of round one

"I don't know if I fit in too much down there, they're an interesting bunch," she said.

"But I think what I can bring is my leadership and composure and settle the group when needed.

"I've worked extremely hard on my running ability over the off-season and pre-season, so using that to an advantage and then linking up.

"If I can lead out and then hit our deeper forwards on the lead that's definitely what I want to add."

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