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Women teammates become foes, Melbourne v Western Bulldogs

Date

Brad Elbrough

Rheanne Lugg, left and Kellie Gibson in Swan Districts colours.

Rheanne Lugg, left and Kellie Gibson in Swan Districts colours. Photo: WA Football Commission

When Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs do battle at Etihad Stadium on Sunday, two opposition players are in the rare situation of having been premiership teammates only a week ago.

And they will play alongside each other again the week following this weekend’s clash.

Both the Western Bulldogs Rheanne Lugg and Melbourne’s Kellie Gibson play for Swan Districts, who won the WA Women's Football League premiership for the first time in 2013.

Rheanne Lugg.

Rheanne Lugg. Photo: WA Football Commission

This weekend they will take part in the AFL Women’s Exhibition Match that is a curtain raiser to the men’s game.
For both girls, it’s more than a prelude to an AFL round 15 game though.

This is the second annual game between these two sides and is a further step that the AFL has taken in its bid to have a televised national women’s competition by 2020.

For Gibson, 18, that day can't come quick enough. "I'll be in my peak hopefully," said Gibson, who is also a member of Australia’s under 23 rugby 7s side heading to the Youth Olympics in China in August.

Rheanne Lugg, left and Kellie Gibson get ready for this weekend's clash.

Rheanne Lugg, left and Kellie Gibson get ready for this weekend's clash. Photo: WA Football Commission

"It would be a dream to have a national women’s competition.

“Whether I'm playing in it or not, I want to see women playing footy on the big stage."

Adding greater motivation for Gibson to play well this weekend is the fact that she has something to prove.

Kellie Gibson.

Kellie Gibson. Photo: WA Football Commission

She played in this game last year, in what she admits was a “good jump” in standard to WA’s State League, but she wore a Western Bulldogs jumper. However, she was delisted after the Dogs 35-point loss.

She was picked up by the victorious Demons in the recent Draft at number five. "I do want to prove that I was worth keeping on their list," she said.

“I definitely showed in the under 18s competition that I was worthy of a place.”

That WA youth girl’s side beat Victoria this year for the first time to claim the title. The side was coached by Michelle Cowan, who will also be at the helm of Melbourne on the weekend. 

Gibson may have to outdo her Swans teammate Lugg to get the job done though, as both are midfielders.
And Lugg, picked up at number six in the Draft, will take some keeping up with.

The 24 year old spent some time at the Talent Academy after being left out of this game last year and has been working on her leg speed - with considerable success.

"I've seen some improvement in my beep test, and am now one of the highest of any of the girls, with 13.4," she said.

The average among the AFL’s men is believed to be around 14, while Hawthorn’s Billy Hartung set a new Draft Combine record last year of 16.6, beating teammate Bradley Hill’s previous mark of 16.1.

Lugg does come from good stock though. Her Dad Gary played one games for St Kilda in 1979 as a 21-year old before falling to an ACL injury.

"He does give me heaps of advice," she said. "I used to kick the ball around with him a lot when I was little."

But does she have any problems playing on her teammate this weekend?

“It would be different, knowing each others' strength and weaknesses,” she said.

“But I’ll have a go!”

Western Bulldogs v Melbourne - 10.10am (AEST), Sunday June 29

The game will be streamed live online at http://www.afl.com.au/video/womens-exhibition-game

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