Tiarna’s fly­ing high

For­mer Moss­man woman tri­umphs in his­toric match

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - Jor­dan Ger­rans

TIARNA Ernst fell in love with the game of Aus­tralian rules foot­ball in the Far North.

The Moss­man State High School grad­u­ate was one of four fe­male foot­ballers from the re­gion when the first AFL Women’s sea­son started at the week­end.

Cairns’ Selina Good­man, Leah Kaslar and Bre­anna Koe­nen played for the Bris­bane Lions while Ernst, a for­mer Ma­nunda player, fea­tured in the ruck for the Western Bull­dogs. Now 28 years old, Ernst had never played footy un­til seven years ago when she was at- tend­ing univer­sity in Cairns.

“I saw a few girls kick­ing a footy in a park once and I asked if they needed any more play­ers, they said yes,” Ernst said.

“They roped me in and I got hooked straight away.

“They could see I was tall and rea­son­ably fit so they were keen to have me.

“It has been my pre­ferred sport ever since.”

Ernst, who plays in the ruck, was quickly snapped up by the brown and gold of the Hawks, go­ing on to rep­re­sent Queens­land that same year.

Born on Thurs­day Is­land, she was se­lected with pick No.108 in the in­au­gu­ral women’s draft.

Her se­lec­tion com­pleted one of women’s footy’s great come­back sto­ries af­ter she lac­er­ated a kidney in a 2015 Women’s AFL Ex­hi­bi­tion match when play­ing for the Demons.

Ernst over­came the in­jury and went on to join the squad in i9n the hottest club in the land.

The Footscray-based club won the AFL and VFL pre­mier­ships in 2016.

In the His­toric launch of the women’s league on Satur­day, the Bull­dogs soundly beat Fre­man­tle.

“The sup­port staff around us have been elite,” Ernst said.

“Ev­ery bit of the ex­pe­ri­ence has been elite, from re­cov­ery to nu­tri­tion and game tac­tics and prepa­ra­tion.

“It is a great time to be around this club, there is a lot of hype around.

“There is real mo­men­tum, we have had noth­ing but sup­port from the Western Bull­dogs AFL and VFL teams.”

The first year of com­pe­ti­tion will be played in Fe­bru­ary and March.

Away from footy, Ernst is an ob­ste­tri­cian at the Box Hill Hospi­tal in Mel­bourne.

Pic­ture: WAYNE LUDBEY

AFLW Round one – Western Bull­dogs v Fre­man­tle and the open­ing bounce with Tiarna Ernst in the ruck for the Bull­dogs. The ‘Dogs won eas­ily

Tiarna leads the pack dur­ing a Bull­dogs train­ing ses­sion

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