Brisbane defender Jennifer Dunne has made a fist of getting out of her comfort zone.

Whether it's jumping in the frigid waters of the 'Forty Foot' in her hometown of Dublin or landing in Australia two weeks before the AFLW season to take up a completely new sport, Dunne has adapted.

So much has changed in such a short period of time, but the 23-year-old is starting to look right at home in her new surrounds.

It was just three months ago Dunne was winning her fourth All-Ireland gaelic football championship in six seasons with Dublin in front of 45,000 fans at famed Croke Park.

On Saturday, in just her ninth game of Australian Rules football, she will run out for Brisbane as a key member of its backline to take on Adelaide in a qualifying final at Norwood Oval.

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

Dunne is a star in her home country, one of three players nominated to win the 2023 Player of the Year to be announced on November 18.

Brisbane coach Craig Starcevich first spotted her more than two years ago and was immediately taken with her athleticism and game sense.

"She's rare in that she's a mobile tall that plays in the middle, and you don't see a lot of those in GA footy," Starcevich said.

"Straight away I thought 'she could play behind the ball, a half-back type role'."

So, he put the wheels in motion to lure the 178cm Dunne to the Lions. She finished her teaching degree in the middle of 2022 and completed a year in the workforce before heading to Australia.

The eldest of four siblings, it was a tough decision for the self-described "homebird".

"It was an emotional move," Dunne told

"When people heard I was going to do it, they questioned me. You're so used to what you have at home and you're comfortable in your own environment and playing a sport you're good at and enjoying. It's hard.

"But it's an opportunity that's exciting, playing professional sport."

Just days after winning another championship with her home county, Dunne was on a plane to Brisbane, landing just two weeks before the commencement of the AFLW season.

She'd had the odd kick of the Sherrin with Starcevich, but was essentially coming in cold, trying to pick up a new sport with a group of new teammates.

Dunne was familiar with countrywoman Orla O'Dwyer, while Ally Anderson and Tahlia Hickie had visited her with Starcevich in Dublin at the start of the year on an overseas holiday.

But the rest was new.

"It's an overload," she said.

"I definitely struggled the first few weeks as expected.

"I just had to be really patient and not be too hard on myself.

"As Irish, we can sometimes focus on the negatives and just want to constantly be better.

"I just had to be open to making mistakes and knowing that it's not going to be perfect.

"I remember the first drill I joined in. I was so apprehensive and thought 'the girls are going to be staring at me', but they were so helpful."

Dunne lives in a house with five teammates including O'Dwyer and Anderson and said it had been a huge help in adapting to the lifestyle and the game.

One of the biggest changes to her life has been the temperature of the water she swims in.

With a pool in the backyard and Brisbane's summer approaching, she's getting the quintessential Australian experience. It's a far cry from the daily dips in Ireland.

The 'Forty Foot' is a renowned spot on the coastline that Dunne, her family and friends frequent.

With water temperatures around the six-degree mark in winter, it was closer to an ice bath than a swim.

"When Craig came over, I brought him down to the water and he did not get in," Dunne laughed.

"It was March and freezing cold. I hopped in and he sat there with his big fluffy coat on.

"It became a thing in COVID. I live a kilometre from the water, and we obviously didn't have a heap to do, so we just got into the habit of going for a swim every day.

"Our ice baths here are the equivalent of the sea at home.

"The first day here I hopped in no problem, and the girls are like 'are you insane?' as they struggled to get their shins in."

On the field she has adapted just as quickly.

Starcevich threw her in the deep end with a round three debut against Sydney, and Dunne has continued to flourish since.

In Brisbane's two biggest wins of the season – over Adelaide and Melbourne – she has shone as an intercepting key defender.

"You see different parts of her game grow and grow," Starcevich said.

"The kicking skills, the handball, the backing yourself to handball and run off and create and take a bounce … she's courageous enough to try that in front of 5000 people when she's not sure whether it's going to come back to her.

"That's a gutsy move in the first place.

"We just see different stuff layer on top each week.

"She's miles off the finished product but we're seeing good growth."

If Dunne’s willingness to take a chance and ability to adapt is any indication of the future, the sky is the limit.

"It's a competitive environment so you've got to learn fast. Sink or swim," she said.

"I can’t wait to learn more and grow as a player and keep trying to get better."