Nina Morrison’s whirlwind first two years in football has placed the Geelong Falcons and Geelong Cats playmaker at the pointy end of 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Draft calculations.
The athletic 17-year-old (turning 18 in December) first played competitive football in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls for Geelong. She then represented Vic Country at last year’s AFL Women’s U18 Championships and was selected to join the AFL Women’s Academy before excelling as a ball-winning outside midfielder this season.
Morrison helped take the Falcons to the 2018 TAC Cup Girls premiership and jointly won the competition’s best-and-fairest award (alongside Madison Prespakis), while she again represented Vic Country at the AFLW U18 Championships – after which she was named the carnival’s joint-MVP (also alongside Prespakis) and earned selection in the AFLW U18 All Australian team.
To cap off a rapid rise, Morrison recently played four Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s games for the Cats – including starring roles in Geelong’s Elimination Final defeat of the NT Thunder and the club’s Grand Final loss to Hawthorn.
“Pretty much everything that has happened in my footy career so far has been a surprise,” Morrison said at the recent AFLW Draft Combine, where she set new records in the endurance-running-based Yo-Yo Test and 2km time trial.
“Prior to the announcement of the AFLW (for the 2017 season), I really had no idea that girls even played footy at all.
“At that stage I was pretty happy playing tennis and soccer at school, but my dad pushed me to go to a talent ID day at Deakin University and see if I enjoyed it. From there, I got asked if I wanted to be part of the Falcons.
“It’s escalated pretty quickly from then.”
Morrison’s background in long-distance running prepared her well for the athleticism required to play football, while her competitive nature allowed her to adapt to the game’s physicality “pretty quickly”.
Despite an impressive first season in 2017, Morrison thought earlier this year that she was still only “an outside chance” of being selected at October 23’s AFLW Draft, but another stellar campaign means this time she’s unlikely to be surprised to hear her named called out.
“The goal (to be drafted) has always been there but I didn’t necessarily expect it to happen,” Morrison said. “You hear in the media (about draft chances) and I didn’t really believe it earlier in the season; I didn’t think I was at the level they were talking about.
“The environment we had at the Falcons was really good and it felt like no one was working for themselves, which I think is better for everyone’s game in the end. It really helped being a part of that group.
“I was also pretty fortunate to be able to come into a Cats team that was already so well built and capable of making a Grand Final. To have those girls be so welcoming and so inclusive allowed me to play at my best.”
THE AFLW DRAFT WATCH ‘FAST FIVE’ with Nina Morrison
Why should an AFLW club draft you?
“I think I provide a lot of outside run and intensity and I have a pretty good work rate and work ethic.”
What is the funniest or weirdest question you’ve been asked by an AFLW club?
“One of the clubs asked me what was the naughtiest thing I had ever done. That was a bit interesting.”
Who is your football idol?
“I grew up barracking for Geelong, so some of the Geelong boys during that time like Jimmy Bartel, Corey Enright and those sorts of players.”
Who will be selected with pick no.1 in the 2018 AFLW Draft?
“Liv Purcell (Geelong Falcons and Geelong Cats) would be pretty deserving.”
Which of your 2018 teammates should also be in draft consideration?
“I would love to see Tarryn Love (Geelong Falcons and Geelong Cats) picked up by an AFL club. She had a good season in the TAC Cup Girls competition and was unfortunate not to be selected in the Vic Country squad. She is a really hard-working player and would make a great addition to an AFL list.”