Hunting the footy - Meg Ryan debuting last weekend against Sturt. (KD’s Footy Photos: Kurt Donsberg)
Less than 12 months ago Meg Ryan was an NDIS support worker and gym manager in Broken Hill.
The 26-year-old from Ireland had never handled a Sherrin, let alone set foot on an AFL field.
Fast-forward a season and she’s an emerging midfielder in North Adelaide’s SANFLW side.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface of her talent,” said head coach, Krissie Steen.
Since joining the team a couple of months ago, “Mego Lego” as Steen and her teammates call her, has improved out of sight with her skills and fitness.
“She’s tall but she’s strong and she’s agile. She’s really got something,” said Steen.
But not only this, she’s come out of her shell as well — and become one of the team’s most beloved team players.
“Her first session, she was very quiet … It’s like there’s a completely different person now because she’s loud and hilarious, and a bundle of energy and she’s absolutely adored,” she said.
“I can’t compare [playing in Broken Hill to the SANFLW] … it’s actually 45 steps up here,” Ryan said.
Making the leap to SANFLW has been tough, with players expected to run more than 30 kilometres a week at training. (KD Footy Photos: Kurt Donsberg)
Beginning in Broken Hill
Ryan spent last winter playing for South Broken Hill, in the local women’s league in far western New South Wales, before being spotted at the SA Country Champs, playing for the Northern zone.
"They approached me after the final and asked me if I’d be interested in playing with North Adelaide … and at the time I didn’t really take any notice of it.
“They rang again maybe a month later … and I said, ‘Yeah, why not’. I just made the move down to Adelaide … and here I am now,” she said.
Meg Ryan (second back left), Rebecca Deer (fourth back left) and Hannah Muscat (second back right) were all asked to join North Adelaide after the side won the Country Championship. (Facebook: SANFL)
Despite catching COVID and missing the first two rounds of the season, Ryan’s aggressive playing style makes her one to watch moving forward.
The Irishwoman acknowledged she’s certainly got white-line fever.
“One of the coaches said that too me yesterday, he said, ‘You’re so nice, then you step over the white line and I’m terrified of you’.”
Her head coach believes if she continues her current trajectory she could push for the highest level.
“I’m not actually sure if the AFLW do a rookie pick … but if it was, I would imagine she would be the type of player they would definitely be looking at,” said Steen.
For now, the 26-year-old is enjoying living in Adelaide and is taking it game by game.
“I’m extremely happy that I made the move,” said Ryan.