DENMARK footballer Parris Laurie has earned a spot in the AFLW 2020 Team of the Year after a standout season in the ruck with the West Coast Eagles.
Part of the Eagles’ inaugural AFLW team, Laurie averaged 18 hit-outs, nine disposals, two marks and nearly three tackles per game.
The 25-year-old was twice nominated in the AFLW team of the week, including a commanding Round 2 performance against Fremantle where she finished with 27 hit-outs.
The personal accolade is a shining light in an otherwise difficult season for the first-year Eagles who only managed one win from six games and finished bottom of conference B.
West Coast were on the receiving end of some ugly thrashings in their debut AFLW season, going down by 45-points in the Round 2 derby against Fremantle and suffering a 59-point thumping in Round 5 against Melbourne.
While the results look bad on paper, Laurie said the season had been an invaluable learning experience for the young Eagles team.
“This year was about setting the foundations and learning to play with one another and learning the standards we need to play at,” she said.
“It was more about our improvement each week. We definitely progressed as the season went on and started to play out games much better towards the end.”
Even amongst the big losses, Laurie said a tight group of players had enjoyed a ‘special’ season together.
“Even if you are the new team and you don’t have the highest of expectations, we still definitely felt the losses,” she said.
“But being a close group, we were all smiles when we got back to training on Mondays and were looking forward to the next game.”
Persistence paid off in Round 4 when the Eagles made history with their first ever AFLW win.
The nail-biting four-point win at Leederville Oval against the Western Bulldogs was a memorable moment for Laurie, who was named amongst the Eagles’ best players for the day.
“It’s definitely my favourite win to date,” Laurie said.
“Everyone was on top of the world, it was an awesome feeling and I’ll never forget it.”
The 2020 season is Laurie’s second year playing AFLW having made her debut for Fremantle in 2019.
Laurie was selected by the Dockers with pick 49 in the national draft and she played eight games last year before crossing to the Eagles.
Having access to a full-time ruck coach at West Coast was a big part of the decision, according to Laurie.
“Knowing that I would have a full-time ruck coach going across to the Eagles was big for me,” she said.
“I’m not as tall in comparison to other rucks, so I really need some tricks up my sleeve in order to beat them.
“Freo couldn’t offer that. It was a hard decision, but I haven’t looked back.”
The 178cm ruck said it had been a privilege to be involved in the Eagles inaugural team.
But she would have liked to have played a full season so the side could continue its development.
Last month AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan made the decision to cancel the 2020 AFLW competition without a premier.
The home and away season had finished two games early to fast track a finals competition, but only got one week in before the series came to a grinding halt because of COVID-19 measures.
Fremantle, Carlton, North Melbourne and Melbourne had progressed to the preliminary finals, but those games will never be played.
With the AFL facing a dire financial position, there has been talk the women’s season might not go ahead in 2021, but Laurie said she was trying to remain optimistic.
“I know teams are go-ng through some hard times financially and are having to let people go, so it’s a possibility, but fingers crossed for now,” she said.