New Bulldog Grigg follows in grandfather’s footsteps

ONE of the biggest signings of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s off-season was that of talented top-age teenager, Elaine Grigg. The pressure forward/midfielder announced she would be making the move from North Adelaide – where she won a flag last season – to Central District, where he grandfather has been involved in the club for four decades.

“Centrals has been a big part of my family,” Grigg said. “My grandfather has sponsored the club for 40 years and I was talking to him about it and I just thought he’s getting a bit old so I might do this and just make him proud.

“He’s had a big part to do with Centrals, I just thought I’d go through it and new beginnings and I’ve liked the girls they’ve been so welcoming and they’ve been great and really high achievers. They want to push that finals mark and hopefully I can help them through that.”

Grigg brings with her premiership experience, but also being a member of the Roosters juggernaut that has been successful over the past few seasons. Having predominantly played as a pressure forward in the red and white, and then as a midfielder – both inside and on the wing – at junior and representative level, the 17-year-old sees her 2023 role as a mix of both.

“I’d say mid-forward, depending if it’s the wing or inside mid,” Grigg said. “I’m not quite sure yet, I’m just happy to play wherever I’m needed and I’d really love to continue playing forward as well. I’d back myself in there, and any new positions I’d back myself as well. Wing-forward, maybe inside mid-forward, we’ll see.”

Grigg’s football journey is a long one, even though she only took up the sport at 13. It was at that point that the basketballer took up her father’s advice to join Aussie rules, and by her own admission “had a crack and loved it”. She went from her first club at Gaza to Broadview where she started in the Under 16s. Her love for the oblong ball sport grew by the season, and soon enough, her potential could not be capped.

“I thought maybe I can take my football further because dad was like ‘I think you can really go far in football and just play’,” Grigg said. “I played that first year we lost the grand final, so it was a bit shocking. That year I came second in the best and fairest and next year we played Under 17s and then I won the best and fairest for that year and I was pretty happy.”

After that season, Grigg was zoned to North Adelaide’s juniors, where she began playing in the Under 16s. Cracking into the side as a 15-year-old in 2021, Grigg came in with the club backing off a flag during the Covid-affected year of 2020, and though they missed finals, the teenager said she could feel the club was building to something special.

“We really tried and then onto after that year, we had a really big preseason,” Grigg said. “We really worked hard and we said to ourselves in the preseason ‘look we missed out on finals, we can make the grand final’ and we really pushed to achieve that.

“Obviously I thought I had a really good preseason but other things happened. I played reserve leagues for that first few weeks which really helped me grow as a player and helped me understand ‘okay maybe this isn’t working’ and maybe I can try different things to help myself as a player. I said ‘what am I doing wrong’ and they said ‘this, that’ and I fixed it.”

In a pure coincidence, Grigg cracked into the senior side in Round 5 against Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, the same side she made her debut against 12 months earlier. From there, aside from representing her state in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Grigg held her spot right until the final match of the season, where she joined her teammates in becoming a premiership player.

Grigg was named in the Under 17s Futures match, identified as one of the top talents for 2023, and soon received confirmation she had made it into the prestigious AFL Women’s Academy. Her sights are set on landing on an AFL Women’s list in 2024, and has been working hard to get there.

“I’ve been really trying to push that as a goal, I said to myself ‘this is where you kind of have to be to be at the standards to where you want to go to get drafted’. I set myself to a goal and I’ve achieved it, and I’m really proud and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to join the Academy and I can’t wait,” Grigg said.

Known for her pressure and speed, Grigg considers those aspects of her game among her strengths, as well as her game awareness. Looking forward, the Central District talent is working hard on her vision and marking in order to go to the next level. Her goals are varied, from individual to team to state success, all culminating in a big year for the AFL Women’s draft hopeful.

“My individual goal is I’d love to get drafted so this year I’m going to work through a few things to get me there and I’d love to get picked for state for the 24-squad team and hopefully at the end of the journey we win a premiership. I’d love to get into finals and push that premiership for Centrals,” Grigg said.

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