AFTER solidifying herself as one of Carlton's key defensive pillars in 2021, Charlotte Wilson found herself battling injury and list depth last season.
Aiming for a fresh start, the 21-year-old made the move to Melbourne in May and has hit the ground running.
"All the girls are super welcoming, always have big smiles on their faces and just made me feel really welcome," Wilson told womens.afl.
Melbourne's tight-knit defensive group has lost regular contributors Gab Colvin to an ACL injury and Brenna Tarrant to Sydney, which opens a door for Wilson to stamp her authority on that backline in season seven, but she humbly just aims to earn a game come August.
"They all work super hard which really aligns with my values of having a strong work ethic and it's pushing me to work hard, because I know it's going to be a challenge to get a spot at the end of the day," Wilson said.
"My goal, when I came into the club was, obviously I want to play and to do that, I'm going to try to bring everything I've got every training, prove that I should be here and prove that I should be on the field."
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The defender has played 22 games across her four AFLW seasons to date, known for her strength in the one-on-one battle and ability to read and intercept the ball. But she isn't satisfied with where she is at and is concentrating on improving and learning from defensive leader Libby Birch.
"She's a great mentor to learn from," Wilson said of Birch.
"She talks a lot on the field, which is great to have some really good direction, and just support. So yeah, I'm definitely trying to watch her game, what does she do to get into those good positions and then hopefully I can translate that into my own game."
Wilson pinpoints her aerial contests and intercept marking as focus areas heading into next season, determined to become "one of the dominant key backs in the league".
Teammate Tayla Harris – with whom Wilson has played at both Carlton and Melbourne – is an asset in this respect, with the young defender able to go head-to-head with the star forward at training to test herself against the best.
"She is so athletic, and also has really long arms. She's very challenging to play on because she can mark almost every ball," Wilson said.
"I find a lot of the key forwards in the league pretty tall, so maybe I might be faster than them, or I can out body them or something.
"But Tay, she's strong, she's athletic and she's got a really good set of hands."
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And while every home and away game is equally important, Wilson is particularly looking forward to coming up against her old side Carlton in round five.
"I think a whole lot of emotions come with that. I'm excited to see my old teammates, I'm excited to hopefully play - I mean, that's always the goal: play, get a game - and I think it will be a good challenge."