Emma Zielke of the Lions.
Emma Zielke of the Lions. Scott Barbour

'I don't want it to end,' says Lions star

AFL: A week may be a long time in footy, but six of them have flown by for Emma Zielke and her fellow pioneer AFLW Brisbane Lions teammates.

"We were having a chat the other day and saying 'oh my god, this is over in two, possibly three weeks'," Zielke told News Regional Media before the penultimate round.

"It's sad. I don't want it to end. It's been the most amazing experience.

"It wasn't that long ago we were talking about the comp starting. Six weeks into it, it's nearly over."

That said, Zielke said she believed the AFL got it right with the eight-team national competition's maiden season spanning just eight weeks.

"I think having the eight is perfect," she said. "It's in its infancy, so you just want it to be a short, sharp version, give everyone a bit of a look at what we've got."

In the immediate future, however, she said "my thoughts would be extending the finals, having a top four", as opposed to one final between the top two.

At a table-topping 5-0, Zielke's Lions are well and truly in the frame to not only contest the winner-takes-all finale on March 25, but host it, most likely at the Gabba.

She said whichever team finished with the inaugural minor premiership deserved to "hold it in their state - whether it's Adelaide, whether it's us".

 

Emma Zielke of the Lions kicks during the AFLW round-three match against the Collingwood Magpies at South Pine Sports Complex.
Emma Zielke of the Lions kicks during the AFLW round-three match against the Collingwood Magpies at South Pine Sports Complex. Chris Hyde

But, in true footy fashion, Zielke is attempting to take it one week at a time.

"At the start of the year we wanted to finish in the top two. You can never imagine going five from five. It's a dream come true," she said.

"There is that carrot hanging in front of us of a possible grand final, but we really just want to focus on week by week.

"We still do have to come across two really good teams."

Zielke said it was a credit to the work done over the summer under coach and former Collingwood premiership player Craig Starcevich.

"We put in a really tough pre-season, slugged it out in the hot sun," the Bundaberg product said.

"The results are showing now.

"We've run out every single game. Our fourth quarters are one of our strongest."

 

Emma Zielke of the Lions is congratulated by teammates after kicking a goal.
Emma Zielke of the Lions is congratulated by teammates after kicking a goal. Bradley Kanaris/AFL Media

The Lions snatched a thrilling win over the second-placed Crows last week in front of more than 10,000 fans at Norwood Oval.

They are back home today at South Pine Sports Complex to welcome the Bulldogs.

Zielke said the key to maintaining a perfect record was to stop midfielders Ellie Blackburn and Emma Kearney.

"They do rely on those two a lot," she said. "They get a lot of the footy.

"We're trying to work on our midfield set-ups around the ground.

"We don't win as many clearances as we'd like. Sometimes our structures do fall away in the middle."

Whether they can go on and claim the first ever AFLW flag, women's footy will still reap the benefits of the Lions putting the game on the map in Queensland.

"With the success that the team is having we hope that AFL is looked at more now by the parents for their girls," said Zielke, who also works in admin at the Lions.

"Hopefully they can pick up a footy at an earlier age."

News Corp Australia

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