WHEN Kerryn Harrington first stepped foot into Carlton her goals were simple - earn the respect of her team-mates and try to cement a spot in the Blues' AFLW team.
On both fronts it has been a huge tick for the basketballer-turned-footballer.
In her two seasons at the Blues Bendigo's Harrington hasn't missed a game and that respect from her team-mates was highlighted last week when she was appointed one of Carlton's two AFLW co-captains for season 2020.
And considering just how one-eyed a Carlton supporter she was before embarking on her AFLW career, the fact she is now a Blues skipper is going to take some getting used to for Harrington.
"It probably won't be until round one (v Richmond, February 7) when we're running out that it will really hit me," Harrington said this week.
"The enormity of the position certainly hasn't been lost on me and I'm truly humbled and honoured to be in this position."
It has been a meteoric rise in the AFLW for the 27-year-old Harrington.
Having made her name on the basketball court, including playing for Australia at the 2009 and 2011 Under-19 World Championships, plus nine seasons in the WNBL, including with the Bendigo Spirit, Harrington was immediately hooked on the AFLW the night in February of 2017 when she was among the crowd of 24,000 at IKON Park for the inaugural match between Carlton and Collingwood.
So she pulled on the boots with the Bendigo Thunder in 2017, was a joint winner of the club's best and fairest and was rookie-listed by Carlton only two months into her football switch.
Harrington made her AFLW debut in round one of the 2018 season in an eight-point win over Collingwood and has quickly developed into one of the game's top defenders as shown by her selection on the half-back flank in the 2019 All Australian team.
"It has been a wild ride from the minute I got here... the unknown of a new sport after changing over from basketball was fairly daunting when I first got here," Harrington said.
"But I wouldn't have put myself in the position to play with the club if I didn't think I belonged here.
"It has been a step-by-step process; the first thing for me was to establish myself in the program and try to get a game in my first season and once I was able to that leading into season two I really wanted to accelerate my development.
"I guess I'm now in a position where I'm able to influence others within the group, so it has all come about very quickly."
Having finished on the bottom of the ladder in Harrington's debut season in 2018, the Blues took a massive leap forward in 2019 to play in the grand final, but lost to Adelaide by 45 points in front of a crowd of 53,034 at the Adelaide Oval.
"To see the rise of the group earlier this year was enormous. It has been a really rewarding experience and I'm looking forward to being able to contribute further again as co-captain."
Harrington is captaining the Blues alongside Katie Loynes.
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