Starmer excited about North move

ARGUABLY the biggest off-season player move from one South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s club to another, was Isabelle Starmer. Though a relative newcomer to the league, her two seasons since coming into the state league have been sensational, developing into one of the most consistent rucks in the league. The former Central District tall has removed the blue from her jumper and will run out for reigning premiers North Adelaide in a bid to make the benchmark team even stronger.

Starmer, who said the decision to move was not easy, was looking forward to the challenge of playing for North Adelaide. In just an off-season, Starmer has already experienced the community and culture at the Roosters and loved every minute of it.

“I really enjoyed my time at Centrals and I was sad to leave but I’m starting a new job closer into Adelaide so the drive up to Centrals was a bit big for me. But everyone’s been super welcoming, it doesn’t feel like I’m new and the education we get from Krissie Steen is just so elite.

“I’ve never been coached by a female coach before and that’s been really awesome. She doesn’t treat us like men like a lot of coaches come in and being like ‘females and men aren’t different’ and so trying to coach that way, but she’s taken more of a creative and empowering approach and there’s so much more to footy than kicking long down the line.”

Starmer said though she had met many of the players in passing through previous SANFL Women’s matches, and in the local league, she was getting to know all the players and many had reached out to catch up once her move had been made public.

Starmer is undersized for a ruck at 176cm, but her production numbers and output continue to defy all odds in that role. Her 2022 season – which included winning SANFL Women’s Team of the Year honours – was in her own words “unreal”.

“I was the shortest ruck in the SANFL, I keep getting told that you’ll never make it to the next level, but I think I’ve kind of proven my worth as anyone 176cm that I can do just as much damage as on the ground and I think that was recognised,” Starmer said. “I was really chuffed.”

Having followed a rapid trajectory from local football to the SANFL Women’s, Starmer has her sights set on even higher levels, a dream she believes she can achieve at North Adelaide.

“Personally I want to get the most out of myself and having stepped up from the Adelaide League footy into the SANFL, I’ve just got a bit of a craving for that, elite environment,” Starmer said. “I had a bit of experience, I was a train-on at the Crows this year and that only made me want it more. There’s some really good coaching and some really good girls out there and it was awesome to train with the premiers for Season 6.”

Starmer said the experience with the Crows has helped her learn new things such as how to collect the ball cleaner off the ground and distribute it quicker. Just in her short time at the tri-colours, Starmer saw the speed difference between the SANFL Women’s and AFL Women’s. Looking up to the likes of Gabrielle Seymour and Tayla Harris at the top level, Starmer said she is hoping to diversify her game by learning a new role.

“I think some of the feedback I got was because I am a bit short, maybe being number one ruck isn’t going to be a pathway to the AFLW for me,” Starmer said. “I’ve taken that feedback on board and one of the reasons I did move to North is because Krissie is a bit creative how she could see me elsewhere around the ground. We’ve been trying out a couple of different positions while still going into the ruck. I’m not quite sure how it’s going to look but I’m excited for something new.”

As for Steen and the culture she has set at the Roosters, Starmer said that despite it being a relatively short relationship so far, she has “loved every second” of getting to know her, and has had the most impact on her career.

“I think that she has a vision for women’s footy that’s unmatched from anything else that I’ve seen so far,” Starmer said. “The community that she’s created at North Adelaide, I haven’t played in the team yet, but there’s League girls and Development League girls and you wouldn’t know who’s who, because everyone’s just so well respected and involved and she’s got a lot of First Nations culture building as well. We did some stuff at our preseason camp and that really solidified our connection to all of the girls and it was really nice to pay respect to such an important culture as well.”

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