If arriving at a new club isn’t hard enough, imagine doing it after an intensive Royal Australian Air Force Reserves training camp and a two-week stint in home quarantine.
That’s exactly what new Eagle Tayla Bresland did before hitting the training track with her new teammates last Saturday.
Bresland officially crossed to the Eagles during the AFLW Sign and Trade Period when the club executed a three-way deal with Fremantle and North Melbourne that saw West Coast secure her services in exchange for its fourth round selection in the 2020 AFLW Draft.
But that was all the way back in August and just as pre-season training was about to begin Bresland was summoned to Queensland to complete the final stages of her training to become an Aircraft Woman specialising in air base protection and security.
“I originally got enlisted in September last year and then they told me that I was flying out in November to do four weeks’ training in Wagga Wagga,” Bresland said.
“That’s where they sussed out who was up to the task and I was lucky enough to make it all the way through. It was challenging, definitely one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life.
“I was meant to return in March but couldn’t due to my footy commitments – and that course got cancelled anyway due to COVID-19 – and then the next training block was last month. That was at RAAF Base Amberley Amberley in Ipswich, Queensland.
“Those four weeks were more geared towards the role I’ll be doing, which is air base protection and security, which involves protecting assets.”
Bresland not only endured the trying training camp, she passed with flying colours and graduated at its conclusion.
But there was one more hurdle before she could formally start life as an Eagle – quarantine.
As a result of leaving Western Australia before the state government implemented its controlled border policy, Bresland was required to isolate upon her return to Perth.
The 24-year-old said staying put in her home was almost as difficult as the RAAF training camp.
“It was nice to just relax for a few days after a hard four weeks of training, but then after the fifth day I was over it,” Bresland admitted.
“I binged Netflix, mostly Grey’s Anatomy, and I had a little gym setup in the garage and got my training done. I had a bike, so I could turn the legs over, and some weights from the initial COVID lockdown.
“I tried to keep a routine, mostly with weights in the morning and a ride later in the day. Keeping a routine was key.
“My big tip is if you’re in quarantine, don’t nap. I got caught out napping a fair bit and I woke up and half the day was gone.”
Ironically, Bresland’s ‘release date’ coincided with West Coast’s main training session last Saturday and she was thrilled to leave her house and hit the ground running with her new teammates.
“They were the first people I saw and all the girls got around me, which was great, because I basically forgot what it was like to be around people for a while,” Bresland joked.
“All the girls are great. Arriving at a new club and being the ‘new kid’ is always weird – I was a bit nervous when I came in – but everyone was so warm and welcoming.
“I played with all the girls that were at Freo beforehand and knew some of the other girls from local footy; that made it a lot easier.”
Now that she’s settled into the nest, Bresland is determined to get herself in peak condition and develop some chemistry with her new defensive colleagues.
“I want to get my body in its best possible shape so I’m ready to go for round one,” she said.
“On Monday night I did a fair bit of work with the backline in our smaller group, which was good because I haven’t played with many of those girls before.
“Everyone is building off everyone and I think it’s going to be a very exciting year in the backline.”