Bryde O'Rourke in Action for the VFLW Cats

BRYDE O'Rourke didn't know she was eligible as a Geelong father-daughter signing until six weeks before the AFLW Draft.

O'Rourke (whose first name is pronounced "bry-dee" rather than "bride") is the daughter of Ray, who played two games for the Cats in 1969 before knee issues curtailed his career and he returned to Hobart.

The Cats themselves were unaware of the connection with the athletic Bendigo Pioneers midfielder until late in the piece, but having already rated her quite highly were thrilled to have the talent effectively fall in their lap.

Melbourne – which also had its eye on O'Rourke – placed a bid during the draft, before the Cats matched with pick No.23.

The current father-daughter games minimum is just one, compared to 100 in the men's competition for father-son selections. 


"I had originally asked a few years ago if I was a chance, but I got knocked back (due to a mistaken assumption Ray had played VFL reserves, not VFL seniors), so I thought it was no, and I forgot about it," O'Rourke said.

"Then one of the clubs was like 'you're actually eligible', and it all ramped up from there.

"It's pretty surreal. All I've ever wanted to do is play AFLW, so to finally get here is amazing. Got a tough road ahead with pre-season.

"I remember watching the first game with Mum and Dad, sitting on the couch, Carlton and Collingwood, and just being like 'wow, hopefully one day'. But we've got here, which is good."

O'Rourke grew up barracking for Geelong and nominated Joel Selwood and Andrew Mackie as her favourite players.

While she may not feature at half-back, O'Rourke plays in a similar style to Mackie, covering plenty of ground and standing tall at 174cm.

"I moved down at the start of March, so been down for a while now, three months. I tried to get down early just to get [ahead] of it, so it wasn’t chaotic when I started pre-season," she said.
"I definitely feel playing those (handful of) VFLW games has helped me work out some of the structures and how our team like to play. 
"I've been put in the wing position. I haven't played much wing at Coates League, but I'm enjoying it. It suits my speed and the way I like to run and carry the ball."
O'Rourke is settling into life in Geelong, picking up a casual job as a swimming teacher, and has clear goals for her first AFLW pre-season.

"Definitely my physicality around the contest – being a lighter frame, and I like running, so trying to be more physical and engage in contact [and] not being thrown off the ball as much is something I have worked on in the off-season and will continue to work on," O'Rourke said.
"One or two players who have taken me under the wing and looked after me are Amy McDonald and Georgie Prespakis. 
"They've really looked after me, and when I first moved down, I didn't know a lot of people or had a lot of contacts, but they've definitely taken me under their wing and they're great girls."