IT'S EASY to forget Brisbane powerhouse Dakota Davidson is in just her second season, such is her influence on both her teammates and overall results.
The 22-year-old kicked three goals in the Lions' preliminary final victory over Collingwood at the weekend and again looms as a key pillar in Saturday's NAB AFLW Grand Final against Adelaide.
Davidson is not only the equal leading goalkicker in the competition – alongside Darcy Vescio and Chloe Molloy - but Brisbane's talisman, with her infectious joy at the heart of the club's terrific season.
It's been a quick rise.
Taking the sport up just four years ago, Davidson was plucked from the QAFLW competition and ushered into the Lions' outfit via the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft.
"I knew what was expected of me last year," she said.
"I came in as a new player and didn't know how real this experience would be.
"In the off-season I set some goals and I worked on them; my fitness, my goalkicking, my aggression around the ball.
"I took away a lot of things from my first year and learned from them."
Numbers tell part of the story. She kicked two goals in 2020 and is currently on 16 in 2021. Disposals have gone up by more than two a game, while her tackles numbers have also marginally improved.
But it's what Davidson has done in front of goal that has been eye-popping.
Anywhere within 45m, the 182cm forward is a threat. And when she kicks truly, watch out for the celebration.
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"I actually can't hear too much around me, I have one goal in mind and that's to kick it through the big sticks," she said.
"I talk to myself a lot, I tell myself, 'You've got this, just flow'.
"I like to talk to myself and know what my end target is and then I just kick through the ball.
"The celebration just comes when I'm so pumped.
"My teammates thrive off my energy and I'm glad I can bring that to this team."
Davidson admitted to having some nerves ahead of Saturday's decider, but with 24 family members making the trip to Adelaide Oval said she's "super excited".
"I get anxious before most matches … I think this one is a bit bigger and more pressure, but we're all handling it," she said.
"There's a freshness around the girls, around the team, around the club. Everyone is ready to click into gear and get ready for the Grand Final."
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