Lavey's 'surreal' start AFLW career

Tessa Lavey is loving AFLW life at Tigerland. Picture: NONI HYETT
Tessa Lavey is loving AFLW life at Tigerland. Picture: NONI HYETT

Dual-code star Tessa Lavey says making her AFLW debut for Richmond against Collingwood was a 'surreal' experience.

The defender collected 15 disposals (six kicks and nine handballs) in the Tigers' 17 point loss to the Magpies at Punt Road Oval on Sunday.

Lavey, who was selected by the Tigers with the 43rd pick overall in the 2020 AFL Women's draft, was able to reflect on the experience in the moments after her side's 4.7 (31) to 7.6 (48) defeat.

"As a kid, I didn't think this was ever going to be possible for me, yet to be out here on Punt Road ... the Tiges are my team as well, I barrack for them ... it's really surreal and I had a great day," Lavey said on the Richmond Football Club website.

The 27-year-old, who hopes to play a role in the Australian Opals' Tokyo Olympics campaign later this year, revealed the instructions given to her by Tigers AFLW coach Ryan Ferguson.

"Run hard, trust my instincts and go for it - that was the message as soon as I got selected," Lavey said,

"I think I backed myself in a little bit and just had some fun out there."

Despite a polished debut by Lavey and a stellar performance from fellow WNBL product and star midfielder Monique Conti, with support from skipper Katie Brennan and No.1 pick Ellie McKenzie, the Tigers were unable to manufacture their first win of the season.

On a positive note, they were able to keep the Magpies scoreless in the final term, while adding 2.3 of their own, but a 32-point margin at three-quarter time was always going to prove insurmountable.

Lavey pointed to the fourth quarter effort as an obvious source of encouragement for the Tigers, who squandered their chances by kicking seven behinds for the day, with several other shots missing or falling short.

"We battled hard all day - I think that fourth quarter showed what the group is made of," she said.

"We are not going to sit down and roll over, we are going to take it to them every step of the way

"I'm really proud of the group and what we are creating here is something really special that's going to happen very soon."

Lavey learned of her selection on the Thursday before the game and admitted some disappointment that family and friends were unable to catch her debut in person after Victoria was ordered into COVID lockdown from 11.59pm on Friday.

"At the time, I was on the computer trying to buy tickets for my family to come up and watch, because they were all coming down - but obviously lockdown happened," she said.

"That was unfortunate.

"It was still a surreal feeling to be happening, so hopefully lockdown will be only five days.

"Next weekend, hopefully, they will be able to come down."

Lavey's debut came only two months after she lined up with the Bendigo Spirit in the 2020 WNBL season.

Richmond will play Carlton (1-2) this Saturday at Ikon Park at 3.10pm.

The Blues will enter the match fresh from their first win of the season over St Kilda last Saturday.

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This story Lavey's reflects on 'surreal' start to AFLW career first appeared on Bendigo Advertiser.