FRIDAY night will not only mark the inaugural official AFLW match between cross-town rivals Adelaide and Port Adelaide, but the first time McKenzie and Abbey Dowrick will play against each other.
The West Australian sisters – who started their footy in the small mining town of Kambalda before moving to Perth when McKenzie was around 16 – have been reunited in South Australia in 2022.
McKenzie, the elder at 22, has moved around for her footy – first a stint at Brisbane, then to West Coast before reigniting her career at Adelaide during season six.
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Abbey, 20, was a prodigious junior talent before falling out of love with the game. A trip to see McKenzie earlier this year, with a brief stint at SANFLW side Woodville-West Torrens (organised by McKenzie), ensured she caught the eye of Port Adelaide recruiters.
The two now live in the same building, just a few floors apart.
"'Kenzie' was away in Brisbane for a year, and that was hard, because neither of my siblings had left before (the pair have an older brother, Brandon), so this was a bit different," Abbey told womens.afl.
"We had gotten really close just before she left, so it was really hard. But her being here has really been definitely helpful in getting me over here, things like being homesick too."
In true sibling fashion, McKenzie is happy the pair have been reunited, but it has come with its downsides.
"Yes and no. I'll be doing my own thing – I leave the door open, and my housemates are Brooke Tonon and Abbie Ballard, and they give it to me for it – but I leave it open and I'll be chilling in my room or on the couch, and Abbey will just wander in unannounced here and there," McKenzie said.
"But it is really good, and I'm glad I can be here for her, especially if she's homesick, and it's her first time being away from home, so I'm glad to be that person and be there for her.
"We do catch up during the week. It's hard because we train on different nights, but we usually try to go out for dinner together. Weekends are also hard, because if I travel, she's here, and if I'm here, she's travelling. But the times I'm not travelling (if out of the side), I do get to watch her play, which is awesome."
Most sister pairings in the AFLW are quite similar – the Prespakises are tough midfielders, while the Moodys and Waleses seemingly occupy half the ruck spots in the competition – but the Dowricks are distinct players in their own rights.
"McKenzie is very versatile, you can chuck her almost anywhere but the midfield, because she'd have to run too much," Abbey said with a grin.
"You get the ball to her, and you know she's going to do something with it, especially with the leg she has and is well known for. She gets in and out of traffic pretty well."
McKenzie was a touch more complimentary about her little sister – who was nominated for the NAB AFLW Rising Star in round one – with a little backhander along the way.
"Abs is more of an in-and-under player, she loves tackling. You always see her on the floor – she needs to keep her feet – but she has an amazing kick as well," McKenzie said.
"I'd say she's a small forward and little midfielder, probably wouldn't put her in the backline. She's the player who gets the ball out."
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Abbey was involved in a horror incident in round two, accidentally breaking Bulldog Brit Gutknecht's leg in an attempted smother, that saw the game halted for half an hour.
"It definitely shook me quite a lot. The Western Bulldogs girls, they knew it wasn't on purpose, and it was reassuring. My girls got around me as well, and I was trying to reassure myself it was part of the game, but telling myself that didn't help for a week or so," Abbey said.
"Luckily enough when we were playing Carlton the following week, Lauren (Arnell, Port Adelaide coach), was talking to the Western Bulldogs coach [Nathan Burke], and I went up and apologised. He just reassured me it was just footy, that she was OK.
"I knew Brit through national academy, so I reached out to her and apologised myself. But it definitely turned my tummy quite a lot, and it was awful knowing I was the reason she was going to miss the season. It certainly got to me, that's for sure."
The Dowrick clan are coming to Adelaide on masse for Friday night's clash, with the pair's mum, dad, brother, cousin and various friends making the flight across from Perth.
McKenzie has been on the fringe of Adelaide's strong 21 this season (but is coming off a four-goal haul against Greater Western Sydney), and the pair are holding off on any pre-game chat until final teams have been named.
"I think once we both know whether we're playing or not, there'll be quite a bit of banter. I often get a lot of grief about Abbey being the better Dowrick," McKenzie said.
"It's hard, because we're two completely different players, but I'm sure we'll give each other a fair bit. If we're lucky to both take the field, I'm sure there'll be a lot going on. But I'll definitely give her some."
The Crows will go in hot favourites against the expansion Power side, but that's not stopping chirpy Abbey from having a crack at her big sister.
"For sure, I'll be letting her know about it even if we don't get up. I'll be giving her banter, win or lose. I'll be sure to let her know about it," she said.