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Cora Staunton will leave decision on AFLW future until last minute

Cora Staunton

Cora Staunton will leave it as late as possible before she makes a decision on whether or not to extend her career in Aussie Rules.

Having won everything possible in Gaelic football, Staunton decided to make the journey Down Under in 2018, where she has played for Greater Western Sydney in the AFLW for the last four years.

The Mayo legend has yet to decide whether she will extend her time with Greater Western Sydney however, and with next season expected to be pushed forward to this August, the clock is ticking.

Despite the league’s mooted earlier start, Staunton actually has more time than she usually would to make a decision on her future, and said at the launch of the 2022 Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour Series that she would not rush her decision.

“Normally the date for sign and trade is announced now but the AFL are working through our CBA, which is the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for the next three years,” Staunton explained.

“That’s all to do with wages, holidays, insurance, everything. That’s what the delay is at the moment so once that’s worked through they’ll announce a sign and trade, which is normally a two-week period.

“It’ll probably be very last minute. I’ll keep in contact with the club, our strength and conditioning coach, we’re all on programmes so I’ll keep myself ticking over either way anyway.”

Cora Staunton on the different challenge that Aussie Rules presents.

While Staunton now has four years of Aussie Rules under her belt, she is of course still far more familiar with Gaelic football, having played with Mayo’s senior team since she was just 13 years old.

Not being quite so familiar with the sport is a big part of what Staunton enjoys about Aussie Rules however, as she likes how she is still learning how to improve so far into her sporting career.

“I’m at a different stage in my career where I’ve played Gaelic football for the guts of 30-plus years, and at a high level since I was 13,” Staunton said.

“I find AFL a different challenge to Gaelic football. In Gaelic football, I’ve been lucky enough to achieve most of the things that I want, whereas AFL, I’m a little big different.

“I went over there at the bottom of the ladder trying build my career up, and trying to get somewhere near the top. I find that it’s obviously a different challenge, especially now that I don’t play at the highest level in Gaelic football. I haven’t played for Mayo for four years.

“Do I prefer one over the other? I couldn’t pick. I do love learning about the game. I still don’t know the whole ins and outs of it, the whole coaching side of it, the intricacies of it.

“I’m still always learning. I probably do that by watching a lot of the men’s games, and doing extra work around the club.  I certainly have a huge love for [Aussie rules].

“When I sit down and watch a game, attend one or play in it, I always feel like I’m learning. Whereas with Gaelic football, I probably feel that’s not there as much anymore.”

Helping to build the club culture at Greater Western Sydney.

Staunton won no shortage of silverware with Mayo and her club Carnacon in Gaelic football, although she is yet to get her hands on a trophy with Greater Western Sydney.

The New South Wales side finished in ninth place in this year’s AFLW and will need to improve considerably if they hope to have any chance of being crowned as champions.

While an AFLW triumph would certainly be welcomed by Staunton, she insists that she will be happy to finish up her Aussie Rules career without any silverware, having helped to make the club what it is today.

“I suppose my main reasoning was to go and help build the club and help build probably a better culture in the club. I feel with my time there that I’ve done that,” Staunton stated.

“Obviously from a personal point of view I have my own goals and I’m trying to make myself better in whatever area that might be. I suppose every year that I’ve gone out there I feel that I’ve improved.

“Add in the leg break in between that, there was probably a down period just shortly after that. But every year bar the leg break I feel that I’ve improved and got better. The more games you play, I feel I’m learning more and I am improving.

“So from a personal point of view that’s the biggest thing I can do and then from a cultural point of view, it’s just building a really good culture in the club. Whenever I leave and I’m not there any more that the culture is there.

“As I said, AFL in New South Wales isn’t a big market at all. So it’s to try to grow the game in New South Wales. This year we’ve Sydney Swans coming in for the first year as well, so the game is growing and growing.”

Joe Canning and Cora Staunton pictured at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Legends Tour series at Croke Park. Following two years of virtual tours, fans will once again join their heroes for in-person tours of Croke Park as they give fascinating insights into their careers. The tours, which start on Saturday 28 May, will feature both Joe and Cora as well as a host of legends from across the GAA world. Bord Gáis Energy customers will get the exclusive opportunity to attend all tours throughout the summer. The full schedule and details of how to book your place on a tour can be viewed at crokepark.ie/legends

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