Moree's Jess Maher selected in Brisbane Lions AFL women's Winter Series squad

ONE STEP CLOSER: Jess Maher has been another positive step towards an AFLW career after being selected in the Brisbane Lions squad for the 2019 Winter Series. Photo: Duane Macey.

ONE STEP CLOSER: Jess Maher has been another positive step towards an AFLW career after being selected in the Brisbane Lions squad for the 2019 Winter Series. Photo: Duane Macey.

Moree's Jess Maher has moved one step closer to her AFL dream after being selected in the Brisbane Lions women's squad for the 2019 Winter Series.

The Lions have already played the first of their three winter games against the Gold Coat Suns with a win at Metricon Stadium on May 25.

Maher unfortunately missed that clash due to a hip injury that has kept her off the park for the last 11 weeks.

However, she is progressing well and if her recovery continues to go as planned then the Bond University and Simon Black Academy representative will be set to pull on a Lions guernsey on June 23 in Mackay.

After playing for the University of Queensland in the QAFLW last season, the ex-Moree Sun joined Bond University in 2019.

Head coach of the Simon Black Academy in Brisbane Nathan Clarke said a selection in their Winter Series squad says that Maher is on their radar for the AFLW draft later this year, after being overlooked in the last two.

"One way or another, whether it happens this year or the next year or two she's got a great opportunity," Clarke said.

"I think that's the whole idea of the Winter Series, to promote it in the non-footy states and more of an elite pathway to the AFL."

If Maher can continue on her way and get drafted by the Lions, it would be an incredible achievement for a player who only picked up the game three years ago.

Clarke definitely sees a lot of potential in the young player.

"She's not always the most confident girl but when she is confident she certainly matches it with the boys we've got at the academy," Clarke said.

Maher has a background in soccer and Clarke said her speed and athleticism are some of her biggest strengths, having represented the state in athletics.

Clarke has seen her show a lot of improvement in her 18 months at the academy.

"She's actually really got a real determination about her, when she's in close and in congestion," he said.

"She's quite elusive, tackles well. There's no holding back. She's a determined, very athletic player.

"Her kicking has improved out of sight. That was probably the only thing that may have held her back, but she's been quite an efficient kicker.

"It's all credit to her. She's really diligent. She works incredibly hard."

Clarke said the Lions are looking at playing her along the half back line or on the wing.

"Her versatility, she could play anywhere," he said.

"She's lightly built. Maybe the midfield might test her out a little bit while she's still young, but she'll more than hold her own in the middle."

He believes Maher is a "huge chance" of making the AFL one day.

"I don't say that lightly," Clarke said.

"It can put pressure on her, but she's got to learn to deal with that.

"She's at that point of her career, she's at that point where she's got to start dealing with a few expectations.

"I think it's good for her to be under a little bit of pressure and see if she can perform.

For now, she is hoping to be fit for the Lions second clash against the Suns, which will kick off at 12pm at the Great Barrier Reef Arena in Mackay on Sunday, June 23.