Geelong forward Maddie Boyd is feeling refreshed and confident after an off-season like no other.
As players across the NAB AFL Women’s Competition had to contend with lockdowns, no VFLW season and various restrictions on training, Boyd relished the opportunity to home in on areas of her game she wanted in improve for 2021.
The 27-year-old said she is hoping to “hit the ground running” as the Cats prepare to take on Melbourne in a practice match this weekend, in what will be the team’s last hit-out before their season-opener on January 31.
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“I spent a lot of time in the off-season just trying to get my body right and work on things that I felt I needed to work on,” Boyd said.
“Leading into this pre-season, I’m feeling rejuvenated. I’ve also got a newfound confidence in myself, so hopefully that’s coming out on the track as well.
“I really enjoyed the pre-season – I enjoy it every year, but particularly coming back after the year we’ve all had, I think I’ve found a new appreciation for it and I am just even more grateful to be here and be a part of it.”
Boyd, who previously played for Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney, has played eight games across two seasons at Geelong, famously kicking the Cats’ first-ever AFLW goal in their inaugural game in 2019.
After a strong off-season and pre-season to date, Boyd has two clear focuses as the build-up to Round 1 continues.
“Just to get through (the season), hopefully the body holds up – I think that’s number one,” she said.
“The other thing is just to get some consistency with my performances. That’s a big thing for me: just to be consistent every week, do my role, do my bit for the team.
“If I can tick that off, I’m halfway there.”
Boyd’s energy and excitement is reflected across the Cats’ Women’s team following an intraclub match last weekend.
“It’s always nice to have a proper hitout and see where everyone’s at,” she said. “But obviously leading into this week, we’ve actually got an opposition, not just ourselves, (so) it’ll be an even better indication of where we’re at.
“There’s some good vibes … there’s a good energy amongst the group.
“It’s been such a long year, and everyone’s just excited to get a proper game in, I think.”
The Cats have named a near-full-strength squad to take on the Demons this weekend.
Nina Morrison, Maddy McMahon, Danielle Higgins and Madisen Maguire are expected to be the only Cats not to feature throughout the course of the practice match.
Morrison is working her way back from a knee reconstruction, while McMahon, Higgins and Maguire are all being managed with minor complaints, in the hope they will be available for selection in Round 1.
All five of the Cats’ 2020 draftees have been named to play, while a couple of young Cats in Mia Skinner and Nicole Garner, who are hoping to make their debut this season, will also have an opportunity to put forward their case for selection.
Boyd said she was looking forward to seeing what the team could produce as it heads into its third AFLW season.
“(In the first) two years, we built some foundations, so it’s just about building on those foundations and adding those next layers into our game,” she said.
“That’s going to get us from where we are now to the next stage.
“I think the team’s in a good position. Those couple of young players that started a couple of years ago, they’re coming into their third year, too.
“I think it’s all starting to come together for us.”