At just 18 years of age, Sarah Lakay will pull on the blue and gold jumper this Saturday to compete in her first game of AFLW football.
Standing at 186cm, Lakay has the ability to compete both in the air and at ground level and smashed all-time records at the AFLW Draft Combine this year in the standing vertical jump (72cm) and the running vertical jump (82cm).
The basketball convert will start in the ruck against Adelaide, after impressing senior coach Michael Prior with her work ethic across training and a pre-season practice match against Fremantle.
“He (Prior) just said go out there and do what you’ve been doing, so not much advice, but just a bit of congratulations,” Lakay said.
“I got heaps of congratulations, everyone’s just super stoked. Really excited.”
The announcement came as a surprise to Lakay, who was told after an extended main training in Thursday’s team meeting.
“I didn’t know at all. My heart went a million miles per hour and it was just jumping out of my chest,” Lakay said.
“I was just so excited but so nervous at the same time and just really, really shocked.
“I started crying a little bit, tears of joy.”
Lakay will play her first match against 2019 premiers Adelaide, and will come up against Caitlin Gould and Montana McKinnon in the centre circle.
The movement into ruck will see senior leader Parris Laurie shift to the forward-line alongside new recruit Aimee Schmidt and stalwart Melissa Caulfield.
“To be honest, I think I’m going to be really, really nervous, but when that first centre bounce goes up and I tap the ball, I think those nerves will just disappear,” Lakay said.
“I think it’s just getting out there and playing, seeing what I can do on the field.
“I’m really excited about playing.”