FORMER AFLW best and fairest winner Maddy Prespakis said she was "disappointed" in some responses from Carlton teammates when informing them she was moving to Essendon.
With the Bombers set to face the Blues for the first time on Sunday, Prespakis said difficult conversations were had after she decided to make the move to the fledgling AFLW side.
"In some ways I was a little bit surprised in the way some people reacted to it, in terms of people we thought were really close to us, ringing some people and not getting the response we wanted back was probably a little disappointing," Prespakis said.
"But it's like any other workplace, you're not going to stay at the same workplace for the rest of your life. For me, it was something I had to do individually and if it was for the team perspective, I probably would have stayed for the love of the girls I was around.
"I was really comfortable there, and that maybe crept up a little bit in the last couple of seasons. For me, I just needed a fresh start and to be somewhere new, and I enjoy where I am.
"It was a big move, and it was spoken about, but I'm very thankful for the people who supported me, understood why and asked questions as to why. I'm very glad I've found my new home now, and the season's started, so I'm now a Bomber."
Teammate Georgia Gee echoed Prespakis, having also joined the Bombers after playing five seasons at the Blues.
"I was a little bit disappointed in a few of the responses we got, but I guess that's just what comes with it," Gee said.
"It's definitely hard losing teammates, so I understand, but we've moved on from that now, we're here and I'm happy to be here. Full respect for Carlton, but definitely happy where we're at now."
Prespakis – a three-time best and fairest winner at Carlton – said she felt a change was needed after an up-and-down few years at Ikon Park.
"I thought I wasn't getting any better, I was stagnant. My 2020 year I came from out of nowhere (to win the AFLW best and fairest), I put a lot of pressure on myself internally but I felt it pretty externally, and I wasn't sure how to deal with that," Prespakis said.
"I stayed pretty stagnant for the last 12-18 months, so I think as well I was so comfortable, I didn't push myself to different boundaries.
"I think there were a lot of back and forth conversation, what I thought was best, but in the end it came down to stepping out of my comfort zone, pushing myself forward and becoming a bigger and better person."
Prespakis and Gee were among the newly signed Essendon AFLW players who were involved in the club's 150th celebrations, which occurred in pre-match before the Bombers and Blues met in round 13 of the men's competition.
When the group were introduced, the Carlton fans made their displeasure at the move known, with boos scattered among the applause from Essendon supporters.
"It was kind of just a laugh. I just stood there, we were smiling, we heard the boos and it was like, 'are we actually getting booed?' I just laughed about it, it doesn't make me sad or anything. I still love Carlton no matter what, it's just unfortunate I'm wearing different colours now," Prespakis said.
"The boos are going to come, that's all part of footy, that's all part of any sport, so people get it wherever they go. I'm sure we'll embrace it, we have each other's backs and our teammates do too."