Proud teammate and a tattoo to show it: How 'Demon spirit' brings out the best of Tayla Harris

Tayla Harris has achieved the title she's desperately been chasing -- premiership teammate.

Winning the AFLW flag with Melbourne after three crushing Grand Final defeats with the Demons, Carlton and Brisbane didn't represent sporting justice for the 25-year-old but the chance to be part of something bigger.

"I'm still growing as a person and every single day want to be a better person and my best strategy to do that is to focus on being the best teammate, and ultimately that helps me be the best person I can be," Harris tells ESPN.

"Being in a Grand Final is an achievement in itself. I honestly wasn't thinking about the other ones, I had no real connection with previous experiences other than learnings.

"It wasn't that I deserved it more than anyone else because I'd lost (three), that's not anything I'd consider to be true. I think everyone no matter who you are, where you come from and what your story is deserves to win the Grand Final should that be what unfolds.

"I'm lucky the stars have aligned, I ended up at Melbourne, am super happy, this group has been unbelievable and we won."

Harris' pride in being a good teammate is why she burst into tears on AFLW awards night when close friend and former Brisbane ally Alexandra Anderson stormed home to claim the league best-and-fairest.

"We were in a separate room at the awards and Liv Purcell (Melbourne teammate) was up there, we were cheering for her. I was kind of hoping for a tie between Liv and Ally," she explains.

"Ally wins and I couldn't hold it in. I was howling crying.

"I'm just so proud, I thought back to when we were running together years ago, growing up together in Brisbane. She never gets the recognition, doesn't demand attention.

"I just love when people achieve great things, are happy, have success and can be really proud of themselves."

It's why in the aftermath of the premiership, Harris got a tattoo of captain Daisy Pearce and coach Mick Stinear raising the cup -- a matching tattoo also worn by the Dees skipper.

"I texted Daisy early in the finals series and said 'will you get a tattoo with me if we win the premiership?' and she said yes. I held her accountable and made the booking," Harris explains.

"The outline of Mick and Daisy holding the cup was something she imagined throughout her whole career but leading up to the Grand Final that was the moment I was so excited for.

"When I saw it actually happen, I was so emotional. I was like 'that's it! -- that's the moment that will be remembered forever'.

"I had to get matching and I love this particular moment more than anything."

The elusive premiership represented many things for Harris, like achieving the ultimate with a tight-knit group who she says were happy to play in Queensland because it meant spending more time together.

"It was just another chance to hang out," she says. We feel like we're super connected, really love each other's company and would do anything for each other.

"Demon spirit is the thing we go on about within our group, it isn't just a cliché or something we say -- we genuinely believe it, live by it, believe in it and think about it in day-to-day life beyond the team environment.

"I think that's really powerful and something we drew on this season to help us get success."

This flag, the first for Melbourne's women's program, also came in a season where the league was finally whole, Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Sydney all given licenses and joining the competition.

The home-and-away season, however, remained at 10 rounds.

"Realistically this is the very first season ever with 18 teams, a full competition, and the only next phase for validity -- or whatever certain people seem to need -- is a full season playing every team once," Harris says.

"But in terms of this Grand Final and satisfaction, I feel really honoured to have been part of the team that wins it in the very first era of 18 clubs."

Harris is one of the most famed and recognisable female athletes in Australia, and her influence, and interests, extend far beyond what happens on a football field.

An ambassador for Tissot, Harris was captivated by September's FIBA Women's World Cup in Sydney -- an event also sponsored by the time piece -- where one of Australia's greatest ever basketballers Lauren Jackson made a stunning international comeback at the age of 41.

"I was disappointed I couldn't be up in Sydney," Harris says. 'We were in season but I was watching and cheering the Opals to bronze.

"Lauren is someone I watched as a young person -- she was in the thick of it and taking on all-comers, not backing down and she's been someone I've looked towards.

"To come back as if it was that easy, and of course it wasn't... she made it look easy when no one else could do it. In terms of admiration for the human body, discipline and returning to the highest level, it was just awesome. What a legend.

"Women's sport more often than not has those awesome stories.

"If LJ can do it on an international level, I can bring it here in Australia in AFLW and boxing."

With two football seasons complete in 2022, Harris is now turning focus to bringing it in the boxing ring.

Now premiership celebrations are complete, she is back into full training and preparing for fight camp, with plans to compete in March.

Currently holidaying in Japan, Harris has found common ground when it comes to donning the gloves.

"I'm on holidays but doing pad work and going into random gyms," she says.

"When you're in Japan, I've discovered you may not speak the same language but you can communicate via boxing, so ultimately you do speak the same language -- and that is boxing."