A hard-tackling, never-say-die defender, Nicole Bresnehan’s on-field exploits personify the Shinboner spirit, and her addition to the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos leadership group on Thursday comes as little surprise to keen watchers of the team.
The Kangaroos have named a six-player leadership group ahead of the 2022 campaign, an increase of two players from 2021.
While Emma Kearney remains captain, Emma King has earned a promotion to vice-captain, and Jas Garner and Ash Riddell have maintained their spots amongst North’s leaders.
The two new faces in the group are anything but new faces to the club, with Bresnehan and Dani Hardiman both members of North’s inaugural AFLW squad, and playing in the side's first ever game.
Bresnehan says being named in the group was a welcome surprise.
“It was a bit of a shock at first, but it’s obviously a really exciting opportunity. I really value what we want to stand for as a team this year and it’s something I’m really passionate about, so I’m really grateful I’m in a position to drive that,” Bresnehan told North Media.
“I would hope I’m a leader that doesn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t. Whether that’s things like second efforts, or unrewarded running, I’ll try and make sure I get around the girls that are doing those small things.
“A few of the girls have mentioned that’s something they see in me. I like to think I come to training and really help push the standards of the group and drive everyone to get the best out of themselves.
“I know it sounds cliche, but those are the things that are important to the overall team and how successful we’ll be.
“As a group we’re really starting to understand that, recognise it, and celebrate it.”
With her selection as captain for the 2022 season, Emma Kearney remains the only player to have held the role in the history of North Melbourne’s AFLW program.
A successful player before arriving at North, Kearney continues to be a trailblazer in women’s football, and she’s become one of the most iconic names in the sport.
While North’s changing room possesses a number of strong leaders and characters, Bresnehan says re-electing Kearney as captain was a simple choice to make.
“She was definitely an easy vote. She just epitomises all the values we speak about. She comes to each and every session and works hard, it’s not just when she feels like it,” Bresnehan said.
“She really leads from the front and that’s something she’s done from day dot. She’s not only done that, but she’s also adapted with the group over the last couple of years and really strived to be better.
“You can see her passion extends beyond her own personal views, goals and successes. It’s all about the successes of the team and the program for ‘Kearns’.”
After being selected with the 63rd pick in the 2018 draft, Bresnehan struggled to leave her mark on a strong North side in her first season at the club, before injury restricted her to just three games in the 2020 season.
It was last year, though, that we saw the best of the half-back flanker, with grit, determination and assertiveness in the contest defining her game and making her an important cog in the team’s defence.
A Tasmanian native, Bresnehan says a change in lifestyle prompted her massive improvement, and she’s targeting an even stronger 2022.
“Before the 2021 season I came over and lived in Melbourne. Creating that extra sense of community and being able to get to every session with the girls was so important and invaluable,” she said.
“Getting that constant feedback from every training and education session gave me a massive opportunity to grow my game and really grow as a player, but this year I want us to grow as a team.
“I had a full off-season to get fitter, stronger and more skilful. I was working on a few things and refining bits of my game, and that gave me a really good base coming into pre-season.
“We’re not far away from the season now and everyone’s getting really excited that competitive games are upon us.
“It’s a bit of a slow burn, but everyone’s really starting to feel that excitement coming into Round 1."