Nat Grider can put her stunning early season form down to a huge pre-season.
And a little help from her fella.
The round 3 Rising Star nominee has a live-in coach in boyfriend and Lions AFL midfielder Connor McFadyen and the time the pair spend working on her game is paying huge dividends.
The 20-year-old focussed on shutting down her opponent in her first two seasons in the AFLW but this year she has revealed an eye-catching new attacking flair to her game.
Her disposal numbers have gone through the roof as her improved endurance allows her to wreak havoc on oppositions.
She is now the leading possession winner at the Lions with her last three games seeing her gather 16 disposals against Richmond, 20 in the landslide Q Clash win over Gold Coast and another 16 against West Coast on Monday to earn the Rising Star nomination.
She says it is a new willingness to take the game on, based on confidence in her fitness, that has led to her improvement.
My first two seasons were pretty quiet, but I’m determined and always trying to get better and I just looked at areas I wanted to improve on,’’ she said.
“I wanted to make more impact and I knew one way to do that would be to get as fit as I possibly could.
“Pre-seasons are so important because our competition is pretty short and there’s only a limited amount of time to really make your mark and I really wanted to hit the ground running.
“I think having the ability to give that extra effort is really helping me.
“And I feel like I belong at this level and am willing to back myself in and that probably hasn’t always been the case’
However it is also the creativity and game awareness that has helped take her game to a new level.
During last year’s Covid 19 lockdown she worked on her running with McFadyen and this year the third year has served as an in-house skills coach.
“It is awesome having someone so skilful helping me with my craft.
“He comes home from training and he’s always happy to do more work with me, I can’t thank him enough.”
McFayden never misses a home game and has also taken to watching other games around the league and passing on a bit of opposition analysis to Grider.
“I turn to him a lot for advice,’’ she said.
“He knows a lot about the other teams as well and is always giving me tips on how the next opponents are going to play.