When Dee Heslop is asked to reflect on 2022, she simply laughs and shakes her head in disbelief.

At the start of the year, the 21-year-old was playing for Gold Coast in what would be her third and final season for the club she was drafted by.

On Sunday, she'll line up for Brisbane, following a mid-year switch, in a dream Grand Final against Melbourne at the opening of the team's new home ground at Brighton Homes Arena.

To say it's been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

Heslop was delisted by the Suns, then snapped up by the Lions in June's draft, reuniting her with a number of players she's known since juniors.

Speaking to womens.afl from the club's new grandstand overlooking Michael Voss Oval early in Grand Final week, Heslop still could not believe how things had unfolded.

"Honestly, not really," she smiled.

"If you asked me at the start of the year, I would have not believed I'd be at Brisbane in a Grand Final.

"It's so surreal. It's crazy. I can't believe the season's gone so quickly."

Heslop was a latecomer to Australian Football, moving with her family from New Zealand late in primary school, before giving up netball and trying the sport in her teens.

She quickly progressed, making Queensland junior teams and playing alongside Belle Dawes, Lily Postlethwaite, Nat Grider, Taylor Smith, Jade Ellenger, Jesse Wardlaw and Zimmie Farquharson.

That 2018 team was the first Queensland under-18 outfit to ever beat Victoria Metro at the national championships, and now forms the core of Brisbane's current list.

Heslop would then be drafted by the Suns, playing 23 games, before her move prior to this season.

She knew going to the powerhouse club would be a challenge.

"It was a good feeling that I knew most of the girls, so it was quite an easy transition," Heslop said.

"It's only just up the road, so I didn't have to leave family or friends, which was nice.

"I set myself a goal to just crack in. All I wanted to do was put myself forward, train really well and get a spot.

"I knew from the start this team was going to be so hard to crack. No-one slacks off, so it just wants to make you work even harder. I knew what I was coming in for."

The clever half-back got her chance in the senior team in bittersweet circumstances, after Postlethwaite ruptured her ACL in the opening round.

Heslop has since made the backline spot her own, slotting in nicely alongside captain Bre Koenen, Shannon Campbell, Kate Lutkins and Phoebe Monahan.

"Every single person in our team wants to get better and wants to work hard, and it pushes you to do the same thing," she said.

"You look to your side and Emily (Bates) has won the best and fairest and she's training the house down, never slacks off, and even the younger girls are pushing so hard. 

"Everyone wants to be at this club and it's why it's so special."

And now for the cherry on Heslop's incredible year – Sunday's Grand Final.

Alongside Monahan, Ruby Svarc and Mikayla Pauga, Heslop is one of just four women that played in the preliminary final win over Adelaide that was not part of Brisbane's 2021 premiership team.

Her parents will make the trip from the Gold Coast to watch the decider, along with her brother.

"It's so exciting playing the first game at Springfield, so I'm just taking each day as it comes," she said.

"I might never get this opportunity again, so I want to grab it with both hands."