New challenger, same prize on offer for Lions stalwart

GRAND Final week is not a new experience for Brisbane stalwart Shannon Campbell, as she prepares to run out in her fourth AFLW Grand Final in seven seasons.

Speaking earlier this week, she said that the nerves had not really kicked in yet, but she was fully expecting them to come by the end of this week.

“We’re still six days out from the Grand Final so probably Thursday I’ll start feeling the nerves,” Campbell said.

“Even on the weekend against Adelaide, probably a couple of hours before we got to Metricon, I was stressing out a little bit. I think the girls that have participated in those Grand Finals, we have learnt how to settle ourselves, and we’ve been able to pass that onto some of the girls coming though at the moment too.

“We’re going to play at our home field for the first time. So nerves will be there but probably more excited than everything.”

Although not one for superstitions, Campbell does have a pregame routine she has developed over her long career.

“A lot of the girls you’ll see come out on the field before a game, I’m usually in the change rooms,” she said.

“I like to be in a bit more piece and quiet, don’t really like to come out onto the field too much prior to when we warm up. So I’m usually in the change rooms with my headphones on, kind of in my own space, that’s usually my way to go. But obviously everyone’s different, everyone’s got their routines and obviously no one will change them for the Grand Final.”

Campbell has huge admiration for her coach Craig Starcevich, and noted how much of an impact he has had on her career and those of her Lions team mates.

“Craig’s obviously been massive,” she said. “We’ve had a fair bit of turnover once those first few expansion teams came through, but Craig’s been unreal with making sure that we build a culture that everyone wants to be a part of.

“Everyone feels welcomed, everyone has their say when they need to, so obviously Craig’s been a huge part of that, and even Bre Brock and Matthew Green who have all been here since day one.

“We’ve built a really solid base that we’ve been able to build on year on year and we’ve been able to bring in a lot of really good players and staff that have then helped with that culture and being able to keep build on that.”

Campbell spoke glowingly of the rest of her defensive cohort, but is fully aware of what Melbourne’s forwards will bring on the Sunday and the challenges she and her fellow defenders will face.

“We’ve been pretty lucky that we’ve managed to keep our backline pretty much set most of the year, there’s a few of us that are ‘OGs’ and have stuck together and we’ve been able to add some other talent players around us,” she said.

“Obviously Melbourne’s going to be a threat, they’ve got some really good talls, they’ve got some really good [smalls], but hopefully we’ve got them pretty much sorted. We’ve kind of figured from our last game with them matchups, but obviously finals is a completely different beast and things can change quite dramatically.

Tayla Harris, will fly at everything, you’ve got Kate Hore who’s speedy and crafty, you thrown in Daisy Pearce who, she might be a veteran but she’s very smart when it comes to footy. So they’ve got their talent, they’ve got their ways of winning a game, so we’ve just got to make sure that we’re playing our role, locking them down.”

Since the defensive group is so settled, Campbell has a lot of confidence in the group as a whole. After all, they say that defence wins premierships.

“We know exactly how each other play and we know our roles within our group,” she said. “We’re a very tight knit defensive group. Obviously we’re a tight knit group in general, but we get around each other if things aren’t quite going our way, but we’ll pump each other up when it is going our way, so I’m excited to play alongside those girls on the weekend.”

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