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PROSPECTIVE AFLW players have thrown up their fair share of unusual sporting backgrounds before making the switch to footy, but Ally Morphett may well be the first barrel racer.

The 17-year-old Wagga Wagga product took out the national title in the under 11-14 category for the unusual sport in 2017, before playing her first game of football the following year.

Standing at 188cm, ruck Morphett has since leapt up the ranks, and is a member of the NAB AFLW Academy in just her third year playing the sport.

So, what exactly is barrel racing?

"I decided there was more of a career towards football than what there is horse-riding, so I definitely had to make a massive commitment there," Morphett told womens.afl.

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"It's rodeo sort of stuff. It's three barrels in a circuit, and you have to ride your horse around in a pattern as quickly as you can.

"We would travel a lot for that, I made the national finals in that in 2017. That was a 10-hour drive to Tamworth from Wagga, and I was lucky enough to be the national champion."

Travel has been a constant in Morphett's sporting career, whether it's making the weekly five-hour round trip to Murray Bushrangers training in Wangaratta, or playing for Belconnen in the AFL Canberra league due the 2020 border closures between New South Wales and Victoria.

She was named best-afield in the Magpies' premiership triumph in October despite being just 16 years old and playing senior footy.

"My mum and dad put in so much for me, and I'm very grateful for that," Morphett said.

Ally Morphett of the Murray Bushrangers attempts to mark during the NAB League match against Gippsland Power on March 20, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"I've sort of always been the girl to get out and always be tough, wrestle with my brother and get out and have fun and not worry about what other people think.

"That's sort of what's made me better at footy, to dig in and have a go and not worry about what's going to happen.

"My dad and I have this thing – when you horse-ride, you have to be really aggressive and want to go. It's hard to describe, but I guess showing that aggression towards the ball on the footy field sort of helps, being in the zone."

Morphett is a Sydney supporter and a big Lance Franklin fan, but keeps a close eye on the Moody twins, Celine (Western Bulldogs) and All-Australian Breann (Carlton), who both play in the ruck.

"They're both really strong in the air and in the ruck, very good with their endurance, they move around the ground really well," she said.

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"I want to work on my running, definitely. I think it's something that a lot of people worry about, getting fit and having to be a bit better.

"My tackling (also needs work), since I'm so tall, it's hard to get people in the right places and accidentally get a hand over their shoulder."

Morphett hasn't entirely given horses away, enjoying leisurely rides on the family's "little farm" in Gumly Gumly, on the eastern outskirts of Wagga Wagga, and made a big call in relation to her schooling this year.

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"I'm in year 12, I'm currently doing a TAFE fitness course, so hopefully I'll become a personal trainer or something within sport, just have some fun with that," she said.

"I've had to throw all my eggs in one basket with footy. I don't get an ATAR, I'm not doing any HSC exams this year, so it means I can't go straight to uni after school.

"I'll be walking away from school with my TAFE fitness course, so hopefully that can lead me somewhere else."