Tarni named SESA Aussie rules player of year

High flyer: Tarni Evans flies high out of the ruck during a representative clash for SESA, where she was named Players' Player and Player of the Year. Picture: Kevin Bull
High flyer: Tarni Evans flies high out of the ruck during a representative clash for SESA, where she was named Players' Player and Player of the Year. Picture: Kevin Bull

Tarni Evans has a bright future in the rapidly growing women’s AFL. 

The Bega teen was named the South East Sporting Academy’s Player of the Year and Players’ player from the under 16s women’s squad that trained in Queanbeyan. 

Assistant coach and manager of the squad Steve Miller said Tarni had exceptional on-field skills, but also an excellent off-field demeanor and approach to the game, which was promising for her future. 

“In terms of raw physical skills, her kicking ability is elite, she’s got an excellent vertical leap and is hard and aggressive at the ball,” Mr Miller said. 

“But she also has a fantastic manner, her coach-ability, the way she goes about play and her football sense.”

Tarni said she was one of four girls travelling from the Far South Coast to take part in the 20-week program and was stunned to accept the accolades. 

“I was surprised, but stoked to get Player of the Year and Players’ player,” she said. “It was such a fun and helpful opportunity that I learnt so much from.

“The SESA academy was so good, we had the opportunity for a camp at Jindabyne, and a competition at Newcastle as well as access to the AIS gym and training.”

Mr Miller said Tarni had been a “significant contributor” to the SESA outfit’s undefeated run to be named state champions and one of the seven players from the squad named to take on Victoria in a national rep clash. 

“It was the first time in history there had been a national match in that 16s age group, Tarni was key at centre half-forward and also defensively,” Mr Miller said. 

Thanks to an anti-congestion rule, players were required to compete in each zone and Tarni’s immense kicking reach proved pivotal both up front and from the centre half-back role, where she provided counter-attack and long range punch to the NSW roster.

Tarni said each of the players had been given an individual kicking analysis and plans to improve their game. 

Mr Miller said the Bega teen had been incredibly responsive to the program and showed good growth. ”The good thing about the AFL is we now have a final destination with the AFLW,” Mr Miller said. 

He said Tarni’s consistent work ethic and stunning ability demonstrated “she is definitely on a pathway for greater things”. 

Tarni will be eligible for the Youth Girls Nationals next year and the AFLW combine draft in 2020. “Should she continue her form and development - there's no reason she shouldn't position herself for that draft combine.”

Nominations have opened for the coming round of the SESA program, with trials to be held on September 12.