Ash Brazill has never really liked having birthdays, but that might change after she received "the best birthday present you could ever wish for."
Ben Collins (AFL Media)
Ash Brazill has never really liked having birthdays, but that might change after she received "the best birthday present you could ever wish for".
Collingwood's gun defender turned 30 on December 29, and just eight days later her wife Brooke gave birth to their first child, a son they named Louis.
It's the latest, and clearly the most significant, life-changing development in Brazill's busy existence as an Australian netball star, an AFLW star and, of course, a new mother.
"I'm still coming up with words to describe what it's like becoming a mum, because Louis is only four weeks old and we're still getting used to him and he's getting used to us," Brazill told womens.afl at the Magpies' AFLW season launch on Thursday night.
"We're extremely lucky, he's a really chilled-out kid, and Brooke is so supportive (of my career) so it's making life extremely easy for me at the moment."
With the AFLW season preparations heating up shortly after Louis' arrival, Brooke joked that Brazill had "the shortest maternity leave known to man".
Some change was also required.
"I've learned you need to plan everything you do, which is something Brooke and I don't do very well – we just jump in the car and take off. That's probably been the one thing where we've gone, 'OK, this needs to change.' Just always having the nappy bag on hand, having extra nappies in the car and things like that.
"So far we've been on time to everything so we're doing something right."
In expressing her love of motherhood, Brazill revealed one of the secrets to her sporting success – she's a good sleeper. Perhaps too good.
"I wake up and say to Brooke, 'Gee, he must have slept well,' and she's like, 'He was up every hour,' Brooke's a machine, but I reckon a car could go through our house and I'd have no idea because I can sleep through anything," she said.
On the field, Brazill tends to put her opponents to sleep. In fact, with Adelaide co-skipper Chelsea Randall to miss the season with a knee injury, some rate Brazill as the best defender in the competition.
It's been a steep rise for the left-footer, who was limited just two games in her injury-marred debut season in 2018 before she exploded last year with All-Australian selection and second placing in the Magpies' best and fairest. She has since been appointed joint vice-captain with recruit Bri Davey.
"Just being mentioned in the same sentence with Chelsea Randall is pretty exciting. She's someone I try to model my own game on and someone I've known back in WA (where Brazill played both netball and football). It's sad that she's out," she said.
Despite her elite status, Brazill believes she still has some untapped potential.
"I feel like last year was me just playing netball on a footy field. I didn't really understand the game that much. My knowledge of the game has grown but it's still nowhere near actually knowing the game," said Brazill, who works in Collingwood's media department.
"There's still so much more for me to learn, which is exciting because it's like, 'Where can I go with this?'"