She wants to play finals footy. She wants to do it with these girls. She’s never won a grand final. That is what’s driving her.
Anything she does is redundant effort unless she can sing the song after the game.
Her ruthless attitude on the field marries up with her words.
Doubts she had about her fitness leading into the season have been quickly quashed. She gives and gives and gives.
Against the Western Jets she spent under a minute on the bench, after playing 100% game time in Tassie.
“Her running numbers are through the roof,” coach Wayne Cripps said.
Sofia’s rest is when she is cast as the deepest forward, but it’s hardly a break because she gets attracted to the contest. She wants to impact.
A ball winner who wants to be a big-moment player, Hurley can’t stand watching and hoping – she wants to be amongst it.
That’s the way she has always been according to her junior coach, Rebecca Marshall.
She’s a player that if you need something to happen, she’ll change the game and make something happen,” Marshall said.
She stood up every time - it’s a natural thing.”
The Dragons’ results have been up then down to start the season. There is a genuine belief that Sandy has the talent and buy-in to be undefeated after five games. Sofia is sure of it. They just haven’t brought the intensity, dare and grit each minute of each game.
Hurley struggles to separate her distinction from the midfield group’s inconsistency.
Despite getting 49 touches and 25 tackles across Sandy’s two losses, she felt she was “flat-footed.” If Sandy lose, there is always area for improvement.
“I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special when the mids are not working well as a team,” Hurley said.
“Yeah I’m happy, but at the same time I don’t really care about my own performance because as a mids group I want us to lead the way for the rest of the girls.”
But Cripps gives her credit.
In a team meeting ahead of their round six clash with Gippsland, the coach highlighted Hurley as one of a very small number of players that has been unwavering in her commitment to the cause.
“She’s the female version of Matt Rowell,” Cripps said later in a one-on-one interview.
“I have always compared her to Matt Rowell in terms of her being a competitor and she brings effort both ways.
“He was never the best at anything, the one thing he brought was effort – Sof’s the same; she’s always the first one to leave the stoppage and always gets back to help the defenders."
Hurley didn’t win Sandy’s preseason time trials, yet her GPS numbers are in the top echelon. Through pure grit, she applies pressure and has a defensive presence.
“She’s got that chip and she pushes herself beyond that point of exhaustion – she’s comfortable being uncomfortable,” Cripps said.
“She gets so much of the ball and so many tackles because she loves bringing 100% effort 100% of the time.”
Hurley averages 24 possessions and 10 tackles per 80 flat minutes of footy.
Against Eastern she had 16 tackles.
Junior coach Marshall said she has always been willing to get her hands dirty.
“When I think of Sofia Hurley, I think of her attacking the ball no matter where, hiting the pack hard and picking the ball up and stepping around 2-3 players and going for goals.
"And even if something didn’t happen the way it was supposed to happen, she would go again harder.
"For such a little girl, she could always tackle and take a bump, then go again."
Playing against 15-year-olds as a little eleven-year-old girl under Marshall helped dismiss her fear of contact and embrace physicality.
But Hurley struggles to explain where her next-level desperation has come from this season, other than to say that she has a clearer understanding of what it takes to win, a greater want to get those results.
“It’s not something I’ve worked on," Hurley said
“Because (tackling) is such a mental thing and I’ve been hungry for the ball and don’t want them to get away, I’ve given the effort.”
With so much of her possession coming in the contest in the first four rounds, both Cripps and Hurley identified a need to give her a chance to show what she can do offensively.
That means backing her cleanliness and athleticism.
“I want to explode out of the stoppages and create space,” Hurley said, a belief echoed by Cripps.
“I feel like I haven’t had the energy to burst offensively so we’re going to try and manage my running on the field so I can dedicate an equal amount [offensively and defensively].”
Her class was on display against a weaker Gippsland side with a season-high 27 disposals and she kicked a goal playing purely as a midfielder and resting on the bench, rather than forward, to heighten her impact.
Working on her fundamentals at training will take her to the next level according to Cripps.
“Sof’s biggest challenge is that she hasn’t trained and prepared necessarily to be the best she possibly can – she’s getting by on talent and will.
"She’s never a leader at training and that’s why her ceiling is so high because she isn’t scratching the surface on what her potential is.
“She could be more damaging by working on her decision making and kicking – we put it to her to drive her legs out of stoppage and she’s been a lot better at that instead of being a stand and deliver player.
“She sees pressure now and is happy to evade that pressure instead of getting rid of the ball – that’s been a massive improvement for her and now is the time for her to be really effective with her kicking.”
Cripps is confident that she will be drafted: “yes absolutely she does,” he said assertively and without hesitation when asked his opinion.
“She wants to succeed at everything she does – she wants to be good and I think she shows that on game day.
“It’s the effort and output of someone who wants to be drafted.
“She’s the sort of person you want to coach from a personality point of view and output point of view – she’s so reliable as a player and she’s fun to coach so she’s the full package.”
The AFLW draft is not immediately on Hurley’s radar, though she confirms that she plans on nominating.
Having committed so much effort to year 12 last year, she is keen to take some time travelling around Europe later in the year and although footy is easily the highlight of her week, she works as a waitress, helps out at her dad’s business and balances her social life.
Regardless, she says thinking about her own footy would reduce her output – she is too team-driven to get caught up in such discussion.
“I’m not against it or anything, I’m just not really thinking about it because I want to see how I go," Hurley said.
“I feel like anyone who cares too much about their personal accolades drops off anyway. I think that’s a terrible mindset so I’ve never had it.
“If it happens, it happens, if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”