Rising star Hillier has sights on top level

BRISBANE Lions Academy AFLW Draft prospect Kiara Hillier is hoping to follow in the footsteps of her inspiration Shannon Campbell and make it to the elite level. The 17-year-old is in her top-age year, and has plied her trade at both ends of the field, standing at 173cm. Running out for Maroochydore in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition, Hillier is a relatively newcomer to the code, having crossed over from the round ball game.

“I started in 2019, I was in Grade 9 and my brother started the year before and I transferred over from soccer so it was just something new,” Hillier said. “(It was) more physical, I was always a bit of a pusher in soccer so now I get to tackle so it was good.”

Hillier played in defence for the Brisbane Lions Academy at the AFLW Under 17 Championships last year, averaging 11 disposals and 3.5 rebounds across the two games. Fast forward to 2022, and Hiller travelled with the Lions to compete against the Western Jets in the NAB League Girls competition. Though the Lions ultimately suffered defeat at the hands of the eventual premiers, Hillier still managed the 15 disposals, three tackles and six rebound 50s in the game. When asked about whether defence was her position, Hillier said she had played at both ends.

“Actually I was forward, now I’ve just switched, especially for club they switch me a lot between forward and back, but I’m more back in Queensland,” the tall utility said.

In Round e of the QAFL Women’s season, Hillier was awarded the Rising Star for the competition, amassing 22 disposals, six tackles and booting a goal playing up forward. When asked about winning the Rising Star nomination, the Roos utility admitted she was surprised.

“I was in the gym I got a notification and I was like ‘oh my god’ and then I got all these messages from all these people saying ‘congrats’ and I was like ‘thanks’,” she said.

Despite that effort up forward, Hillier returned to defence for the Maroons at the AFLW Under 18 Championships, where she was often tasked with the kickouts, and had another solid carnival. Across the three games against the two Victorian sides and the Allies, Hillier averaged 10.7 disposals, 3.0 tackles and 4.7 rebound 50s.

Enjoying the experience on Metricon Stadium against Vic Metro, Hillier said she was looking at improving her ground balls, whilst having a number of key strengths that helped her in the game.

“Definitely my kick, it’s very long and accurate I believe,” she said. “But tackling pressure I reckon’s pretty good, and reading the ball.”

Travelling down from Maroochydore can often be quite a trek and a journey that Hillier describes as “long” and featuring plenty of traffic, but admitted that there was not much she could do about that, and it was the sacrifice worth making “if you want to play footy that’s what you have to do”. Now Hillier has her sights set on achieving her ultimate dream of playing the AFL Women’s.

“I want to get to the next level,” she said. “I really am trying to push myself to get drafted, so yeah that’s the main goal.”

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