Maher finds career-best form in 2022
NORWOOD youngster Tesharna Maher was a latecomer to Australian rules football, and though she came through the traditional pathway since crossing from soccer, it took until this year to find that consistent form. Always blessed with top line speed, Maher had a blistering finish to the 2022 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season.
“I was originally a soccer player. I started playing soccer when I was about 10 and played until I was 15, and converted over to footy, and I’ve been playing footy for the last five-ish years,” Maher said.
After playing for Woodville-West Torrens as a junior, Maher crossed to The Parade for the 2021 season. There, the youngster played a mixture of defence and wing, averaging 10 disposals, 1.9 marks, 3.0 tackles, 1.4 inside 50s and 1.2 rebound 50s in 10 games. Fast forward to 2022, and Maher had to crack into the team via the Development League, with the Redlegs having an abundance of young midfielders.
After a quieter first game return to the top flight of seven disposals, three marks and three inside 50s, Maher moved into the midfield with the loss of South Australian Under 18 representatives such as Sachi Syme, Lana Schwerdt and Molly Brooksby. Against Sturt in Round 5, Maher racked up a whopping seven clearances from 12 disposals and spent more time at the contest than ever before.
“I’d describe myself as an agile speedster,” Maher said of her game. “More of the run and carry type of player. Midfield is where I play my best footy.”
Having played in all thirds of the ground throughout her career, the midfield role helped her kickstart a season that would end in a best and fairest for the Redlegs. She averaged 16 disposals, 2.1 marks, 4.1 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 3.6 inside 50s, and had five games with four or more clearances. Not a natural ball-winner compared to others, Maher can be damaging with the amount of ground she takes with her runs.
Despite improving rapidly in 2022 with some consistency once she cracked into the side, Maher is still looking to improve that consistency, which she believes will come through greater endurance.
“Because I’m more of a short, sharp sprinter, I’d say my endurance and aerobic fitness, I’d like to work on that,” Maher said. “I’d like to be more of a consistent player. I had a pretty consistent season last season but missed a couple of games, I’d like to improve on that this season.”
Maher said Adelaide captain Chelsea Randall was a player she looked up to, particularly in regards to her contested game. Though an outside runner herself, Maher’s dip inside in the second half of the season has her eyeing off further developing into that midfield role. As for the biggest influence on her career, that was far closer to home.
“I’d say probably my mum, she’s the one who got me into footy,” Maher said. “She and my dad always coming out to my games and giving me tips.”