WEST Australian draft prospect Lauren Wakfer has nominated for next Wednesday's NAB AFLW Draft despite rupturing her ACL and being ruled out for the upcoming season.
The NAB AFLW Academy member is still widely expected to be taken with the second or third West Australian selection behind Ella Roberts, with all three picks held by West Coast.
Speaking to womens.afl before suffering the injury, the ruck gave an insight into her rapid rise to the top.
A state-level Under-20 goal defence with netball club Peel Lightning, Wakfer (pronounced Wake-fa) only picked up football in 2018, filling in for Safety Bay with her sister and friend when they were low on numbers.
The following year she moved to Warnbro Swans, before taking a break from sport in 2020.
The past two years she has played WAFLW with South Fremantle, where her grandpa is a life member.
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"I think I just took the break because I was undecided on where to go with footy, I was still up in the air, I was very new to it and still quite young at the time," Wakfer said.
"I was tossing up between local club footy or if I wanted to start my WAFLW footy. I kind of took that year break to recover from injury and work out what I wanted to do, but then I decided on South Fremantle."
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Wakfer has a history of injuries, and while it's safe to say a torn ACL is less than ideal, she's well prepared for rehab.
"I've had a couple of fractured ankles. I've done both of them I think, I can never remember if I've done one twice or both of them once," she said with a laugh
"I've had a few fractured fingers along the way, had a broken nose, broken toes. I just really needed to take a step back in 2020 and let my body heal so I could get back to my full potential."
Wakfer's athleticism – both in ruck contests and around the ground – will stand her in good stead at AFLW level, and she's worked extensively with Western Australia U18 coach and former Brisbane ruck Beau McDonald to hone her craft.
She's found a nice overlap between netball and footy, with footwork, body positioning, leading and basic ball handling crossing over between the two.
"I'm a defender in netball, which is a bit weird because I'm basically a midcourter in footy," she said.
"It's very much team-oriented still. Both sports you have to rely on other players to win, it's not an individual thing.
"You really have to bring everyone into the game. The communication around that helps with every team sport."
While her red-and-white striped South Fremantle socks have to line up perfectly before a game, away from footy, the AFL SportsReady Trainee and high school assistant is a little more relaxed.
"I do a bit of cooking, as long as I have a recipe in front of me. I love a bit of craft, my family is very crafty. We like sewing, we made a pillow for my aunty as a wedding present, we make face masks for each other, anything we can think up," she said.
"I'm not very good at painting or drawing, but it's always fun to whip some paints out."