Premiership Lions’ skipper reveals next big footy move
Lions skipper Emma Zielke will now set her sights on coaching after announcing her retirement from AFLW footy just moments after the final siren in Saturday's thrilling grand final win.
The club's inaugural captain from the 2017 team finished up her decorated five-year career in "the best way possible", holding the AFLW trophy aloft for the first time ever.
Zielke has been a stalwart of the Brisbane club, with coach Craig Starcevich labelling her the "heart and soul" of the Lions.
The 32-year-old said she now planned to take on a coaching role to help mentor the future stars of the AFLW.
"My passion is coaching as well," Zielke said.
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"I've done all the certificates that you can probably do, it's just getting out there and actually coaching which is what I want to do now.
"Obviously, I can't do that while playing.
"I want to get into that and the club is pretty supportive of that as well."
Her decision to retire came as a surprise to many supporters, but Zielke revealed it had been in the back of her mind for several weeks.
She told her head coach in the lead up to the preliminary final against Collingwood, "if we win (the grand final), I'm calling it".
"It was a fairytale ending," she said.
"I hadn't made a decision and thought to let it all settle and make a call in the following weeks.
"I struggle with full-time work, the older body, can't keep up with the young ones any more.
"I just thought I'd go out while I was still playing all right footy and keep my pride in tact.
"It was getting too much for the old body now."
Zielke hoped Brisbane's 6.2 (38) to 3.2 (20) win over Adelaide to claim the 2021 AFLW Grand Final would be an inspiration for many of the younger generation.
"I'm so proud that Brisbane were able to get a flag," she said.
"The participation numbers in Queensland - for boys and girls - have gone through the roof.
"I hope that this helps the younger girls pick up the footy earlier now.
"They've got 30 more role models in Queensland and I'm really proud to bring the cup home."
ROBBO: HOW LIONS CRASHED, BASHED AND CONQUERED CROWS
- Mark Robinson
Cathy Svarc epitomised what the Lions brought to a hostile Adelaide yesterday.
Grunt and work ethic.
The best afield medal could've been Svarc for her shut down role on Ebony Marinoff, although the winner, Brisbane's veteran backs Kate Lutkins, was certainly deserved.
Lutkins was superb in defence and when you accept the avalanche of ball she and her defensive teammates had to contend with - the Crows led inside 50s 44-24 - it was a game-saving performance.
She was the queen of the underdog and she and her team left Adelaide as the AFLW premiers.
It was a remarkable team performance against a team which finished on top the ladder, which had seasoned stars and which was playing home in front of a massive home crowd.
The Crows can kick a winning score. The Lions thwarted it. And it was on the back of obscene pressure.
The Lions' pressure across the four quarters was 245, 242, 217 and 217.
The Crows were 212, 204, 192, 182.
The point is, and to borrow Al Clarkson's line, they were harder from the start and then for longer.
Overall, the pressure factor was 232-198. Not even the AFL men's grand finalists go at 232.
When the time in forward half was 60 per cent to the Crows and 40 per cent to the Lions, the way they absorbed that was why they won the game.
The Crows were wounded entering the game and by three-quarter-time, stand-in captain Ange Foley was off the ground with a serious knee injury.
Wonderful stories abound at the Lions.
Jess Wuetschner was struck by lighting in January last year. Her career was temporarily on hold and her wellbeing was severely challenged.
On Saturday, she struck lightning twice when she kicked goals in the second and third quarters.
The first was a snap around the body, the next a long kick from 50m which dribbled through and which probably gave the Lions belief they could win the match.
On the scoreboard, anyhow.
The Lions led by a goal at halftime on the back of that effort and commitment and the opportune moments executed by small forward Courtney Hodder.
Hodder is 20-years-old and playing her first season of AFLW and there would be few players as exciting.
Her strength in the contest and ability to keep her feet - developed somewhat as a Union player with the Queensland Reds before converting to AFL - contributed to her two first-half goals.
Her first was a snap goal with two Adelaide players on her, the next, in the minute before halftime, came after a desperate, lunging kick-off-the-ground kick from between the goal and behind post.
It was a moment to savour.
Svarc's performance was a game to savour.
She came off a preliminary final role on Collingwood's Bria Davey and on Saturday went head to head with Marinoff.
The Crows playmaker last week had 35. In the grand final it was 17 and three clearances.
Svarc finished with 12, seven tackles and four clearances.
Coach Craig Starcevich had a win in the box.
Erin Phillips was beaten by Brea Koenen (defence) and Emily Bates (midfield).
She only had seven touches and now we wait to learn if she retires or continues.
Starcevich seemed to orchestrate a game of fewer stoppages.
It meant the likes of Marinoff and Hatchard couldn't exert their prowess at stoppage because the ball seemed to be in continuous flow.
"The ball was also flowing, as if it was a directive from Starcveich. If so, it was a master stroke from him,'' was the remark in the Fox Footy commentary.
"They rope-a-doped them. They kept the numbers back and were able to attack and make ground on the counter, which is important on Adelaide Oval.
"The Lions were toughest team all year and, importantly, were the toughest team in the ground final. It was a super win.''
Originally published as Premiership Lions' skipper reveals next big footy move