Lutkins and Lions ready to do battle in AFLW
AFL: Kate Lutkins is someone you want in the trenches - be it with the Australian Defence Force or in the AFLW.
The 29-year-old from Ipswich was named the Brisbane Lions' Most Courageous Player in the maiden season of the women's domestic competition last year.
Marshalling the troops in defence and always there to lend a hand to a teammate, you could call her the Luke Hodge of the AFLW Lions.
Better yet, Hodge, also known as The General, might just become referred to as the Kate Lutkins of the men's team in his first season at Brisbane.
Her commitment to a contest is second to none, an attribute that came to the fore after initially being rejected by the defence force.
"Certain things from my past ... being a silly teenager I guess ... they denied me," Lutkins recalled of her first application.
"You fill out a questionnaire and your life is summed up in a few answers. From that they decide whether you can get in or you're not someone they're after."
With help from a friend, Lutkins persisted, gathering "reference letters from coaches, previous employers, friends and family, doctors".
"Who I was back then wasn't who I was when applying for the defence force," she said. "It got overturned and I got in."
A private, Lutkins is now a transport driver at the Enoggera Army Barracks in Brisbane.
"My march-out parade was a really special day," she said.
Lutkins was filled with a pride not too dissimilar to when she stepped out for the first time as a Lion in the new AFLW competition 12 months ago.
She had captained the Australian futsal squad, but fell in love with Aussie rules when enticed to the sport by friends nine years ago.
"It's pretty amazing running out in that Brisbane Lions jersey," she said.
"To be a part of the club, a part of that history and a part of that culture..."
The AFLW's first season was an overwhelming success, breaking attendance and television viewing records for women's domestic sporting competitions.
And, importantly, it was another cog in placing women on the national sporting landscape alongside the WBBL, W-League and Super Netball.
"No one expected it to be as big as it was," Lutkins said.
"It was really cool seeing the actual affect the competition had on people, children ... girls and boys.
"I have three nephews and they see women as equal in the sporting arena now."
The only thing missing from a Lions perspective was a flag after the side claimed the minor premiership. They were beaten in the grand final by the Adelaide Crows.
The two teams will come face to face Saturday in their opening-round clash in Adelaide.
"You've got to put it aside," Lutkins says of the defeat.
"Most of the teams have had about a 50cent turnover ... so it's almost irrelevant this year."
What won't change though is the Lions bracing for their trip to play at Norwood and in front of South Australian supporters. Even for a member of the defence force, it can be a truly "hostile environment".
"They're not the nicest fans over there," Lutkins said. "They're pretty passionate about their team. But, in turn that drives us and makes us more determined to actually give it our all. I can't wait to get out and go hard at it."