Mercury (Hobart)

ROOS STILL ON TARGET

Tassie star says flag dream’s alive despite loss

- ADAM SMITH

NORTH Melbourne will not be weighed down by lofty ambitions as the playing group backs coach Scott Gowans’ public stance the side can win the AFLW premiershi­p.

Gowans hasn’t hidden his belief he has a group at his disposal to be a legitimate flag contender, but the 2020 campaign started on a rocky note with an opening-round loss to Melbourne.

However Tasmanian Ellie Gavalas, who made her debut against the Demons after being drafted with pick No.10 last year, declared the players have embraced the expectatio­ns they have created.

“We definitely embrace it, that was a goal we made together, it wasn’t just Scotty telling us,” Gavalas said yesterday.

“We sat down at the start of the year as a group and asked what can we achieve together, and we all made the decision that is the intention this year.

“That hasn’t changed after our loss in Round 1, we know if we keep doing what we have set out to do, the results will come.”

The Roos led by five points at the last change against Melbourne,

but were held scoreless in the final term to go down by two points.

The club is looking for a swift rebound on Saturday in its first match in Tasmania against GWS at UTas Stadium in Launceston, which will mark Gavalas’s return to her home state five years after she moved to Victoria to further her soccer career. The 23-yearold only switched codes at the start of 2018 but has made a stunning rise through the ranks, having been crowned the Western Bulldog’s VFL best and fairest last year while also earning selection in AFL Victoria’s VFLW Team of the Year.

She then became the state’s highest ever AFLW draft pick when North added the midfielder to its list. “It felt pretty good running out, pretty surreal to be honest at the start with the crowd and everything,” Gavalas said of her debut, in which she gathered nine disposals and laid four tackles.

“Obviously we didn’t get the result we wanted.

“But it was still an amazing experience.

“It’s not Hobart but Tassie is my home so it will be good to be back and playing at UTas Stadium this weekend.”

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