Collingwood’s AFL Women’s captain Steph Chiocci believes a change of scenery may ease the pressure on her struggling side ahead of the Magpies’ must-win clash in Brisbane.
Starting the season as one of the teams to beat, the Pies are in jeopardy of falling out of finals contention after going winless through two rounds.
With only the top-two placed teams earning a spot in the grand final, Collingwood would effectively need to win their remaining five matches to have any chance of playing off for the premiership.
Chiocci, who also captained Victorian Women’s Football League team Diamond Creek to fifth last year, acknowledged her side’s season was on the line on Saturday.
“I think so when you look at the fact that we are zero (wins) and two (losses),” Chiocci told reporters on Friday.
To make matters worse, the Magpies run into a red-hot Brisbane Lions outfit at South Pine Sports Complex.
But Chiocci said there was a great deal of excitement within the squad about travelling interstate for the first time this season, saying the game felt more like a mid-season camp.
“Brisbane is undefeated and they’re going to be a really big challenge, but I think a change in environment and the travel up north will be what our girls need,” she said.
“It might mean that we have other distractions, which might be good for us.”
Chiocci said containing the Lions’ top goalkickers Sabrina Frederick-Traub (two goals) and Tayla Harris (two) would be key, nominating backs Stacy Livingstone, Tara Morgan and Cecilia McIntosh to shut them down.
Despite temperatures forecast to hit 32 degrees on Saturday, the 28-year-old believes the humid conditions might favour her side.
“We’ve played in similar conditions at Ikon Park when the sun goes down it gets quite dewy. So I think that will hold us in good stead,” she said.
“I’m really looking forward to playing in the heat, I think it will suit our girls. We’ve trained really hard in the Melbourne heat.”
Under the AFL’s heat policy, quarters may be altered and extra water carriers allowed on the field if a wet-bulb reading of 28 or higher is recorded.