WHEN Pagan Harrison-Brown first came to Bathurst she'd only played one season of youth Australian rules but now, four seasons later, she is part of the experienced core of the Lady Bushrangers.
Since linking with the Lady Bushrangers the talented defender has taken more defensive marks and launched more counter-attacks from the half-back line that she could count.
She's played in the AFL Central West women's representative side and last year played on grand final day.
"I was a youth girl when I first started in Canberra, but when I moved to Bathurst I couldn't play juniors anymore, so switched to women's," Harrison-Brown said.
"Compared to my Gungahlin Jets team, the team work was there and they were a very tight-knit community, which was fantastic especially given I'd moved.
"They had their arms open to anyone who came in with any sort of experience, which is what I loved about the Bushies, and I haven't looks back at all."
While the 21-year-old laughs that: "I'm really bad for it, I play the sport, but I don't follow it," she said it has been clear that the AFL Central West's women's competition has grown in reputation and standard.
Even since last year she's seen the progress within her own team. They lost the 2019 season-opener to the Bathurst Giants by 72 points, while the first game of 2020 between the pair was decided by five points.
The Giants won that match, but the match-winner came on the siren.
"It's amazing to see how much it has grown and the sport is there now for the women, even for someone who doesn't really follow it, you can still see it and that's great," she said.
"Like when we played them [Giants] in the first round last year the score difference was huge compared to this year, but that shows how far we've come, it shows the progress that everyone has worked towards."
It is the Giants who Harrison-Brown and her fellow Lady Bushrangers will face again this Saturday in the third round. It comes just 14 days since that five-point nail-biter and the defender can't wait.
The Lady Bushrangers will carry with them the confidence that comes from last Saturday's 11-6-72 to 2-5-17 win over the Orange Tigers, but Harrison-Brown knows beating the Giants will be tougher.
"It's going to be a really tough and exciting game, it's always good to play the Giants, especially because it will be our second game with them this season," she said.
"Playing against them is always a pleasure because we get to see where our team is at, they always play so well and are so competitive.
"I think the one thing we always love when it comes to getting to play them in the first round is that it shows where our strengths and weaknesses are and how we can improve that for our next game."
The Lady Bushrangers will be without experienced pair Amelia Wright and Kelsey Richards, who were injured during the win against the Tigers. Opening bounce at George Park 2 will be at 1pm.