<
>

Young gun Grider a Lions 'jet' in AFLW Grand Final

Natalie Grider pictured at Brisbane training during Grand Final week. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images

Brisbane Lions defender Natalie Grider has been mentored by the biggest stars in the club's defensive line and now they look to her for inspiration.

The 22-year-old will line up in Sunday's AFLW Grand Final against the Melbourne Demons as one of the most promising young players in the game.

She is part of a defensive line that includes established big guns and Lions foundation players Bre Koenen and Kate Lutkins.

Lutkins missed most of AFLW season six and half of this season while recovering from an ACL rupture.

The 34-year-old is proud to have Grider by her side.

Lutkins said Grider was "a beautiful human" and has also been blown away by the development in her game.

"Natalie Grider is a real jet back there. She took her game to another level last season and has taken her game to an even higher level this season," Lutkins said.

"She has just grown in confidence over the years and worked really hard on her kicking, fitness and skills. She takes absolutely amazing intercept marks and has composure on the ball. She creates time and space around her when there is no time and space."

Grider's form in her fourth AFLW season was such that she was named in the All-Australian side this week on the interchange bench.

She said she was fortunate to have such "incredible people" as Koenen and Lutkins to mentor her about defensive play and what it means to play for the club.

The recovery by Lutkins from an ACL injury suffered in January has lifted all the players, Grider included.

"She was my role model playing footy and someone I tried to base a lot of my game off," she said.

"Seeing her go down one in round one last season was really hard for myself and the rest of the group. To have her back out there with us is just phenomenal.

"I don't think there is any other athlete in the AFLW who could finish their rehab so quickly to get back on the park. It is a credit to her attitude and strength."

The match-up between the defensive clout of the Lions and the attacking flair of the Demons has Grider pumped.

"They are an amazing forward line with talent across the group with Tayla Harris and even players that are pretty quick by foot like Alyssa Bannan," Grider said.

"It is a forward line that we love matching up on. It will be a really good challenge for us."