Valuable benefits for Taylor, Rebecca in higher level footy
STANDING 183cm tall, Taylor Mansell casts a prominent presence on the field when she plays for the Ipswich Eagles.
However, it wasn't only rising talent Mansell who gained valuable experience playing for the Wilston Grange Development Squad in the latest pre-season WQAFL game.
Mansell, 23, and Eagles captain Rebecca Mccarthy, 38, received a rare opportunity to join a squad two levels higher than their regular QAFW Division 2 competition.
Saturday's match against Yeronga was the first time two Ipswich Eagles premiership-winning players made their debut in the elite squad.
Former St Peter Claver College student Mansell was thrilled to be invited to play.
"It was amazing. It was a great experience,'' Mansell said.
"I was quite nervous as I've never been two levels above my Ipswich club.''
However, she didn't let a hit to her head late in the first quarter slow her down.
After being checked, she returned to complete her Wilston Grange trial.
She started in the midfield before a stint in the backline, appreciating having a familiar face in Mccarthy there as well.
"I love playing with Bec at the Eagles,'' she said. "I was lucky enough for her to come play with me at Wilston Grange. She killed it last season.
"She was pretty good out there.''
For Mansell, the bonus was playing against footballers with more height, skill and knowledge.
"Every coach has different game sets so just getting out there and understanding how they set up,'' she said.
"My goal is to get to where they are.''
While she welcomes further development opportunities, Mansell's loyalties remain with her Limestone Park based club for this season at least.
"I'm still playing with the Ipswich Eagles though,'' she said, having launched her senior football career with the club in 2018.
The QAFW Division 2 North season kicks off in late April.
Mansell and skilful Eagles skipper Mccarthy were part of the Ipswich women's side that created history winning the 2019 QAFW Division 2 North grand final.
Preparing for her third season as Eagles captain, Mccarthy has been one of Ipswich's most valuable recruits since joining the club.
Like Mansell, she savoured the opportunity to learn in a more professional environment.
"It was really nice to play up a level and just have the umpiring at that level and the whole package I guess,'' she said.
"You usually don't get that in community footy because we're always trying to find volunteers at weekends. We're always trying to get everything together.''
The Yamanto-based back flanker/midfielder also seized on the opportunity not having to captain the side.
"It was nice to be able to sit back and really enjoy footy,'' she said.
However, once the QFAW Division 2 season starts, Mccarthy will resume her vital on-field leadership role.
The RAAF Amberley avionics technician is delighted how the Eagles women are progressing as they prepare for their 2021 season opener in April.
"Every year I'm amazed,'' she said.
"The game has just evolved so much . . . the level of experience this year has surprised me.
"Not only we are doing a lot of skills stuff, it's just the way that the game is growing. We have a lot of girls that have played before and it's in the area now.
"It's just fantastic . . . where Ipswich has come and where the game of AFL now sits in the women's league is just 10-fold to when I started.
"It's really exciting for the club.''
Mccarthy hopes she and Taylor can bring their latest experiences back into the Ipswich team environment.
"I really like the way they warm up,'' she said, noting the professional standards that Ipswich can adopt.
"We're always learning, always learning.''
Mccarthy and Mansell will lace on the boots again in an Eagles pre-season trial on Friday night against Beenleigh at Woodcrest State College.
"We're going to have a little shake-up with the team to get rid of the cobwebs,'' she said.