THE old adage goes that the best defence is a good offence, and there are not many cases it rings truer than that of Sarah Hartwig.
When the Sherrin enters the Dragon's backline, it often comes back with interest. Much of this can be accredited to Hartwig, whose innate capacity to read the ball and intercept mark places her in the upper echelon of draft hopefuls for 2020.
The 173cm defender's ability to transition from lockdown defense to all-out attack is indicative of a player who possesses a skill set beyond her years, and a player you can build a team around.
This potential saw her represent Vic Metro in 2019, with football IQ and clean hands also notable traits of her game.
Whilst 2020 wasn’t the draft year Hartwig was hoping for, three games were enough for her to stamp her authority on the competition. In this period she averaged 15 disposals, 4.3 marks, 2.7 rebound 50’s and 1.3 inside 50’s.
The talent is uneasy with being characterised as merely a defender though, conceding that whilst that might be where she plays her best football; she is versatile enough to play through the midfield.
The star Dragon has come to terms with the now cancelled season and is focused on controlling what she can.
“Obviously at first it was pretty disappointing,” she said.
“It’s an opportunity to show how committed I am to the program and to football, and hopefully make myself stand out.”
Whilst unable to prove her footballing potential any further this year, Hartwig has linked up with teammates Bella Eddey and Alice Burke ahead of this year’s AFLW draft in order to share ideas and ensure the best possible chance of fulfilling her dream come draft night.
“Bella, Alice and I are kind of in the same boat at the moment,” she said.
“We talk about how we have been going and the questions we have been asked by clubs, it’s just really supportive and helps a lot.”
Hartwig’s eyes have been set firmly on the draft for some time now, eager to take her football to the next level.
“Seeing some of my friends and the girls I have played with become successful and make it to the AFLW is really cool, but also really motivating,” she said.
“With all the interviews coming up you really get a taste for what it takes, but I’m confident I won’t be overwhelmed.”
You only have to look at her weekly schedule to understand her commitment to gaining a spot on an AFLW list in 2021.
“On Tuesday and Thursday I am doing strength training, and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I am doing a running program which has kept me on track,” she said.
With Melbourne’s lockdown erasing the vast majority of people’s activities, Hartwig has been staying busy by painting and making clothes.
Her footballing journey so far has been defined by grabbing the Sherrin and opportunities with both hands, and after establishing herself as a dominant force in the NAB League, she will be counting down the days until she can lace up the boots again on the biggest stage of them all.