From finals debut to hunting back-to-back flags: Hickie raring to go

FINALS are no mystery to Tahlia Hickie.

The Brisbane ruck made her debut in a semi-final in 2020 and has played in four finals - including a premiership - in her 23 games.

Now, alongside her Lions teammates, Hickie is on a mission to become the first AFLW side to win back-to-back premierships. 

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"Debuting in a final is definitely a very nerve-racking situation," Hickie told womens.afl.

"Especially when I debuted, I was coming into a team that had pretty much been playing together all season, so to come into that final was definitely hard." 

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But now finals bring about more excitement than nerves for the 21-year-old. With some success under her belt it's all about finding that again, armed with a confidence that it is possible. 

"I think last year, going through the whole finals series with the team and going all the way, this year it's not as many nerves, I want to say it's more excitement. Thinking back to how it was last year, and how it felt last year doing it with all the girls and just wanting to repeat that this year is the biggest driver this year." 

Heading toward a preliminary final at the MCG, it's Brisbane's focus on working as one unit rather than individual players that Hickie points to when asked about continued success. 

"What we strive for is those one-percenters ... it might not get looked at by everyone in the competition, but it's a big thing that we look at and we really like to get around each other for those little things," Hickie said. 

And that tight knit, team mentality has helped the Lions - and Hickie - get through what has been a tough few years for AFLW players.  

After debuting in a season that was ultimately cut short due to COVID, then spending 2021 on their toes ready to jump on a plane at any moment due to ever changing border restrictions, and now this season battling health and safety protocols and condensed fixturing, it's the club that has made it worthwhile. 

"It definitely hasn't been easy," she said. 

"We were ready for anything to happen and anything to be thrown our way, and we like to just look at it like, at least we get to play and we're still here on the field doing what we love every week," Hickie explained. 

She also credits Brisbane's Women's CEO Breeanna Brock as driving that positive outlook. 

"Bree's amazing, as always, but it all started with her 'we don't have to, we get to' kind of mentality. She said that to us and we all kind of clung on to that." 

And on Saturday, Hickie and her Lions get to make AFLW history and run out onto the MCG for their preliminary final against Melbourne, both sides desperate to reach the 2022 Grand Final. 

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