Duffy in it “100 per cent” ahead of Bushies return

AFTER only taking up football ahead of the 2022 season, Murray Bushrangers defender Paige Duffy is ready for a massive 2023. Averaging around seven disposals per game playing as a tall defender last season, the athletic 172cm top-ager earned a place in the Vic Country hub off the back of eight outings.

Returning for the 2023 Coates Talent League season which kicks off for Duffy on Sunday, the defender has been working overtime on preparing herself for what is ultimately her draft year.

“I’m really keen to go,” Duffy said. “I’ve been working hard, I’ve been in the gym heaps, going to training, doing what I can at home so keen to get on the footy field and playing some games.”

Duffy is a relative newcomer to the Murray Bushrangers program, having to jam-pack a lot of experiences into last season. Though it was her first year at the club, she admitted she “fell in love” with the code.

“I come from an athletics background, so I just grew up doing athletics,” Duffy said. “As soon as I could walk I was running so as long as I can remember, I was on the athletics field.

“Got a bit of a Muay Thai boxing background, bit of swimming, little bit of everything. I just recently picked up footy after a few injuries with athletics and I haven’t turned back, I’ve fallen in love with it.”

Not having the same game knowledge as others coming into the program, Duffy praised the Bushrangers coaching staff for getting her up to speed, as well as her teammates for supporting her.

“It’s (last year) set me up really well, the coaches have been really good, they’ve taught me everything that I know,” Duffy said.

“They knew I wasn’t really familiar with the game, so they worked with me and they’ve done a really good job. I feel like pretty keen for this year, big year coming I hope, so I’m just really keen for that.”

Determined to learn as many tricks as possible within the sport, Duffy said she expected to run around in the backline again, but would not mind having a crack on-ball if given the opportunities. Unsurprisingly, her athletic profile is a key to her game, while fundamentals such as skill execution is what she is currently focused on improving.

“I would say some of my strengths would be my speed and being physically strong, but more so on the footy field, I feel like i’m pretty good with my surroundings and where I am on the footy field,” Duffy said. “When I need to push back I’m pretty good at getting on my bike and going. I feel like that’s a strength.

“Something that I could improve on would be my kicking. I haven’t had a ball in my hands for too long, so get on top of the ball skills pretty much and concentrate on my kicking because kicking with 100 per cent accuracy would be great.”

As it stands, Duffy follows Carlton, though that has largely come from the influence of former Murray skipper and recently drafted Blue, Keeley Skepper. Prior to Season 7, Duffy had not seen much elite level football, but watching her former teammates run around on the television has inspired her to take more notice.

“I probably support Carlton and that would have a lot to do with Keely Skepper,” Duffy said. “She’s played a pretty big role in my footy career and she’s really inspired me. She’s been really good to talk to with advice.”

Looking ahead to the 2023 AFLW Draft, Duffy said she would likely nominate to remain in Victoria due to her family and friends being in the state, however she would not be opposed to moving interstate if the opportunity arose.

“I don’t really mind which way I go,” Duffy said. “I feel like it would be interesting to go out of state, but I definitely feel comfortable staying in Victoria.”

Before the draft rolls around, Duffy knows there is a lot of water under the bridge to go, and her main aim in 2023 is simple: Put 100 per cent into every game.

“(I want to) try my best,” Duffy said. “Come in there with a positive mindset and just do what I can. I don’t want to walk away thinking there is something more I could have done. Just give my 100 per cent best shot and be there to enjoy it.”

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