Mackenzie Barton's first foray into Aussie rules with the Tamworth Kangaroos was far from easy.
The basketball-turned-footballer was lining up against the New England Nomads midway through the 2019 season.
Armidale's weather was close to its worst. It was cold and the wind was whipping around as it can at Bellevue Oval.
But, the brisk weather didn't mean a thing once Barton was on the field.
"I got out there, made a tackle and thought 'we're on here, this is it'," Barton said of her instant love of the game.
Fast forward to 2021 with roughly 10 games under her belt, Barton finds herself captain of Kangaroos as they return to the AFL North West women's competition.
She was supposed to co-captain with Em Southwell but her teammate wasn't able to commit to the season in the end.
However, instead of finding another co-captain with more experience, the club decided to let Barton do it on her own.
President Brett Douglas expects Barton to lead from the front.
"She only goes one speed and that's flat-out," he said.
"It was a pretty easy choice to have a new face and and some experience [as captains] but with Em pulling out we thought 'let's stick with Macca with the captaincy' and she'll have a good leadership group around her as well."
Barton was looking forward to combining with Southwell but is more than happy to take the job on on her own.
"I'll go in head first. I'm new to the club and I haven't played a lot but I feel over past year and a bit, I've made strong connections with the girls," Barton said.
She continued: "It's a good group of girls. Everyone's supportive. I might be named captain but everyone's there to help out."
The Roos face a tough test to start the season when they travel to Gunnedah to take on the reigning premiers this Saturday.
About a dozen of the players had a hit-out last weekend when they combined with Moree at the Crossroads Cup.
The Kangaroos and the Suns aren't strangers with a handful of Roos - including Barton - turning out for the Suns in 2020.
And on the weekend, Barton was happy with what she saw.
"The weekend was a bit of an eye opener. I was impressed how the girls went," Barton said,
"We only had three girls from Roos who had played before - the rest were new players. We mixed in well with Moree - they have bunch of new girls as well.
"I'm keen to see how this year pans out. If we can back that up and keep going from last weekend, I think we'll be in for a cracking year."
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